October 26, 2012 - by David Hess
Thursday night’s game sure didn’t go as expected.
The Minnesota Vikings were nearly a touchdown favorite for most of the week, but managed to get themselves blown out at home by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That’s good news for those of you following our official picks, as it knocked out about 10% of the public. However, we did recommend Minnesota as the second option for some people, or even the first for a few unlucky souls who had Minnesota available but not Chicago. So the Vikings’ loss is triggering some mixed emotions around the TR office.
For those of you who didn’t pick Minnesota, has anything major changed since Wednesday?
Here’s a look at the updated Survivor data table. As a reminder, this helps us answer the three main questions we ask ourselves about each team when making our Survivor pick.
1. How likely are they to win? (consensus sportsbook Spread at -110 payout odds, Pinnacle Money Line, and TR Odds from our NFL win picks page)
2. How popular is this team? (Average public Pick % from sites like Yahoo! and OfficeFootballPool)
3. Should I save this team for later? (Future Value: the estimated number of future games where the team is expected to have win odds of 75%+, based on averaging projections from our NFL Survivor Tool [which uses data from only this season] and our NFL Season Projections [which incorporates our preseason team projections]. Near Value: a modified version of Future Value that places more emphasis on near term value and is more relevant to players in very small pools.)
Teams are listed in order of how attractive we think they are as a choice this week. They’re also separated into rough tiers. If two teams are in the same tier, you may want to choose among them based on which pros and cons are more important to your particular situation.
|Team||Opponent||Spread||Money Line||TR Odds||Pick %||Future Val||Near Val|
|Tier 1: Top Options|
|San Francisco||at Arizona||-7.0||-300 / +264||74%||2.5%||0.5||1.0|
|Chicago||vs Carolina||-7.5||-375 / +326||78%||17.2%||1.5||1.6|
|Green Bay||vs Jacksonville||-14.5||-800 / +638||87%||52.8%||3.0||2.7|
|Tier 2: Worth A Look|
|Denver||vs New Orleans||-6.0||-255 / +227||69%||1.7%||2.5||1.1|
|New England||vs St Louis||-7.0||-305 / +269||74%||5.8%||3.3||3.3|
|Pittsburgh||vs Washington||-4.5||-210 / +188||66%||1.0%||1.5||2.1|
|Tennessee||vs Indianapolis||-3.5||-180 / +162||59%||1.0%||0.0||0.0|
|Philadelphia||vs Atlanta||-3.0||-139 / +126||63%||0.2%||0.5||0.5|
|Detroit||vs Seattle||-2.5||-134 / +121||51%||0.3%||0.0||0.0|
|NY Giants||at Dallas||-2.0||-130 / +118||55%||0.3%||1.3||2.0|
|Kansas City||vs Oakland||-1.5||-123 / +111||50%||0.2%||0.0||0.0|
|San Diego||at Cleveland||-2.5||-142 / +129||56%||3.7%||1.8||2.2|
|NY Jets||vs Miami||-2.5||-125 / +113||45%||0.8%||0.0||0.0|
Teams We Already Picked: Houston Texans (WIN), Cincinnati Bengals (WIN), Dallas Cowboys (WIN), Green Bay Packers (WIN), San Francisco 49ers (WIN), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WIN), Minnesota Vikings (WIN)
It’s been a relatively quiet week overall, but a few changes at the top have caused a reshuffling of our top tier.
Chicago Bears — The Bears-Panthers game hasn’t seen any line changes or shifts in the TR win odds. However, Chicago’s popularity has crept up a bit. But the more important change is a rise in their future value. Given the stench emanating from the Vikings on Thursday, Chicago’s Week 12 matchup at home against Minnesota now looks like it could be a playable option. Chicago is still a very solid pick this week, but they are no longer clearly ahead of the pack.
San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers look a little bit safer now than then did Wednesday, thanks to a slight boost in their spread, money line, and TR win odds. Combined with Chicago’s increased popularity and future value, the 49ers now seem like the best pick for people that have them available. However, it’s worth noting that they are on the road against a division opponent, which may turn a lot of you off.
Green Bay Packers — Well, first of all, we have a money line for this game now. None were released yet when we posted Wednesday’s column. There also are more spreads available now, so we’re more comfortable with the consensus spread listed today. Second, the Packers look a bit less popular now than they did Wednesday. Third, their home game against Minnesota in Week 13 looks like a playable option now, so their future value has increased, but that has minimal impact, given that it was already pretty high before. Add it all up, and it looks like Green Bay is third-best option in both small and large pools, so we’re bumping the Packers up to the top tier. It feels crazy to do so when they are this popular, but they really are huge favorites against Jacksonville.
There were a few more minor shifts in the lines and win odds for teams in the AVOID section of the table, but they’re not really worth discussing.
Given that Chicago is the only Tier 1 team we have left available, our decision hasn’t changed since Wednesday’s Week 8 NFL Survivor post. We’re choosing the Chicago Bears as our official Week 8 NFL Survivor pick.
However, if you have both San Francisco and Chicago at your disposal, we would now recommend the 49ers rather than the Bears. San Fran looks a bit safer than they did Wednesday, while Chicago’s future value looks a bit higher, plus the Bears look a tad more popular. That’s enough to close the gap that existed between them.
Plus, there’s a hidden factor — Minnesota’s loss knocked out 10% of the public, which means that the public pick percentages actually underestimate how popular a team is among players still alive. For example, we list Chicago as being picked by 17% of the public. But 10% of the public got knocked out Wednesday, so Chicago pickers actually now make up 19% of the remaining entries (because 17%/[100% – 10%] = 19%]. It seems like a small difference, but details matter when you’re at the margins.
Remember, all the discussion above is designed for large pools, where future value is still very important. Many of you are probably in pools with only a few people left. It’s important to remember that in small pools, the correct strategy can change considerably. Here’s a refresher on key three points about Survivor end-game tactics:
For an expanded discussion on these points, see the Week 4 NFL Survivor post.
Here is some updated specific advice for Week 8 for those in smaller pools:
Pools With 10 – 20 People — Future value is less important in small pools. However, all of our Tier 1 options this week are good choices despite future value, not because of it. So the advice for small pools is similar to that for large pools. We think San Francisco is the top option by a hair over Chicago, and Green Bay remains a valid alternative, despite their popularity.
Pools With 3-10 People – If you’re in a very small pool, where you can take some rough guesses about who your opponents will choose, all bets are off. Our picks are made based on the assumption that these public pick percentages roughly match the pick rates in your pool, and that won’t be true for your pool. In very small pools, the general strategy this week is to take Green Bay if you think less than half of your pool will choose them, and otherwise try to take the team you think will be least popular out of Chicago, San Francisco, New England. If you’re having trouble predicting who your opponents will choose, you may want to just default to San Francisco or Chicago, and preserve the option of using Green Bay in a later week.
Head-to-Head Pools – Strategy totally changes here again, as the pick percentages will always be 50% or 100%. It’s impossible for you to pick an unpopular team, because you are half the pool. And future value means very little, as the pool may be over this week. In those cases, safety becomes the number one priority. So in head-to-head pools, we generally recommend taking the biggest favorite you have available, UNLESS that leaves you with no good options in one of the next few weeks. For many of you, that probably means going with Green Bay or Chicago.
As always, feel free to ask questions about your specific situation in the comments section. If you’re in a small pool, be sure to include information about pool size, who you have available, and who you think your opponents will choose, as those are the key factors in small pools. If you’re in a large pool, please include info on why you think your pool is different than the generic Yahoo! and OFP pools.
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