Week 8 NFL Survivor Final Update: A New #1 Team, But We’ve Picked ‘Em

posted in NFL, NFL Survivor Pools

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.)

Week 8 NFL Survivor Decision Factors (Updated)

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.

TeamOpponentSpreadMoney LineTR OddsPick %Future ValNear Val
Tier 1: Top Options
San Franciscoat Arizona-7.0-300 / +26474%2.5%0.51.0
Chicagovs Carolina-7.5-375 / +32678%17.2%1.51.6
Green Bayvs Jacksonville-14.5-800 / +63887%52.8%3.02.7
Tier 2: Worth A Look
Denvervs New Orleans-6.0-255 / +22769%1.7%2.51.1
New Englandvs St Louis-7.0-305 / +26974%5.8%3.33.3
Pittsburghvs Washington-4.5-210 / +18866%1.0%1.52.1
Tennesseevs Indianapolis-3.5-180 / +16259%1.0%0.00.0
AVOID
Philadelphiavs Atlanta-3.0-139 / +12663%0.2%0.50.5
Detroitvs Seattle-2.5-134 / +12151%0.3%0.00.0
NY Giantsat Dallas-2.0-130 / +11855%0.3%1.32.0
Kansas Cityvs Oakland-1.5-123 / +11150%0.2%0.00.0
San Diegoat Cleveland-2.5-142 / +12956%3.7%1.82.2
NY Jetsvs Miami-2.5-125 / +11345%0.8%0.00.0

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)

What Has Changed Since Wednesday?

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.

Official Week 8 NFL Survivor Pick: Chicago Bears over Carolina Panthers

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.

Advice For Other Pool Sizes

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:

  • It’s less likely that your opponents’ picks will closely mimic the national public picking averages.
  • Future value means less.
  • Resist the urge to play overly conservative just because you’re close to winning.

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 poolIn 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.

  • PatrickFSU

    Awesome stuff here thanks for the write ups. We have 12 left in our pool of 189, and so far I have picked Hou, CIN, CHI, BAL, SF, TB and MIN. No one left has used GB in our pool so I expect probably 90% to pick them. Should I just go with GB or look at DEN or NE, which 7 people picked NE last week leaving only 5 people available to use them for future value.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.melvin.94 Adam Melvin

    Last time we talked the line between My two best options of NE or Denver in a pool of 14 left was razor thin, In that pool 10 have GB to choose from and i expect most the smart people will use them. My two best options are Den and NE, on Wed you suggested Denver, are you now suggesting NE?

  • Mike S

    Absolutely love the site, my friends and I have taken all your advice so far and appreciate the success it has brought us. Unfortunately, we’ve taken all your Tier 1 teams so it’s between Denver and New England. Less than 50% of our pool has New England available (almost all have Denver), would that make them the smarter pick? Thanks in advance.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    If you think GB will be that popular, I’d definitely stay away from them. DEN or NE are both decent alternatives. I’d lean DEN to save NE for the future, but it’s pretty much a toss up.

  • kingchr

    Same boat.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    No, I still think DEN would be my pick, and I still think it’s pretty much a toss up between the tow.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, NE seems reasonable. In a generic pool it’s pretty much a dead heat, so if you think NE will be less popular in your pool than DEN will be, that’s a good reason to go NE.

  • Shivah Blast

    What if there are 5 people in your pool and you know that 2 are picking GB and that 2 can’t pick GB and you still have GB and CHI available.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    What are the chances the other non-GB guys pick CHI?

    If you’ll be the only one on CHI, they are definitely my choice. If you’ll be the second one on CHI, it’s borderline but I’d probably go GB.

  • Brian

    cowboys, texans, giants, falcons, and raiders. are the teams i have chosen meaning that i have all 3 of your tier picks available. i didnt see this site till last week and went with oakland, one of your tier 1 picks, and hung on to win. I am wondering who you think i should start. The Site is awesome and it looks like you put a lot of work into running this. keep up the good work.

  • jlhdc

    My pool started with 803, we are now down to 68. I have followed all your picks, but missed the last minute change from Chicago to Dallas in week 3. Since I cannot choose Chicago for week 8, who should I go with? I am contemplating either New England or Denver. I also want to try to offset any future conflict with our picks. Please advise. Thanks, I really appreciate your expertise.
    P.S. Last year I followed your advice, and made it all the way through week 17, ending up splitting 8K with 4 people, my take…..2K…..Thanks!

  • Brian

    reading other posts i see they list how many people are in the pool and how mand are left… it is a pool of just under 250 with 34 now left after 3 people chose vikings to win last night…

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Unless you have info about how your opponents’ picks might differ from the public pick rates we listed above, I would just stick with what’s in the article.

    “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.”

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    That’s awesome that we made you some money last year.

    I lean DEN over NE right now, but they are both decent picks for your spot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.melvin.94 Adam Melvin

    In a toss up situation like this do you base your selection simply on a formula integrating win%, FV, and public pick% or do ever look at the matchups or a possible reason one of the teams is mispriced in the market. Obviously upsets happen, like the vikings yesterday, but like most people considering Denver we have to be worred about how well the saints offense is playing lately. Is the key to avoiding an upset like the vinkings game yesterday, just having a lot of luck and having better options at your disposal?

  • SF Fan

    My pool goes into playoffs if needed. It is a national pool with lots of players still in it. I have picked Chicago and SF already and would like to keep some higher level teams for later in the season or playoffs (New England and Green Bay for instance). I would like to take a team this week that won’t make it into the playoffs. I am leaning towards Tennessee at home vs Indy. What are your thoughts?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Well, it’s partly luck and having options available … and it’s partly that our models do differ from Vegas sometimes, and that leads me to be a bit up or down on a team’s chances.

    For example, if I went purely by the Vegas lines and ignored our models, I probably would have stayed on Arizona two weeks ago rather than switching to Tampa Bay.

    However, that’s not based on my puny human brain trying to look at a couple of pieces of info and somehow figure out whether the market is judging a team correctly. It’s based on a broad historical analysis of thousands of games (and hundreds of data points for each game), which we have tested out of sample to make sure it’s relatively accurate.

    In other words, I trust Vegas and our computers, and try to completely ignore my own gut. :)

    In the end, though, when it’s really close like this, it’s more of an art than a science. You just have to ask yourself — assuming the math works out to be equal both ways, would you rather take on the additional risk with Denver now, or postpone that risk for later and take NE this week? If your gut says Denver is riskier than the numbers are letting on, there’s no harm in playing it safer with NE this week.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yes, if you want to pick a non-playoff team, I think TEN is the way to go Or, possibly PIT as they are no lock for the playoffs themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffrouk Jeff Shaw

    Decisions decisions… 5 left in my pool (including me), all have GB available. One I’m sure will take either GB or CHI. The other three could go for any of the top choices, except CHI in all cases – I can see any of them taking NE or GB (or another team). I have used CHI and SF. I can’t bring myself to take DEN (partly because I think the Saints are pretty unpredictable, partly because I am a Saints fan). So that really leaves NE or GB. It really pains me to take either because of future value and also GB since they are so popular, but I guess I should tell myself that I only have 4 opponents, so get a grip… But then which one?

    Maybe I’ll take NE, since I’m in London and am going to the game – at least it gives me more to cheer for!

  • Amy

    Hi David,
    I’m in a pool where you need to pick 2 teams in Week 8, Week 12 and Week 16. We are also a double elimination pool and have usually made it to week 17. I’m one of the few without any strikes and have been following your advice. For one of my picks this week I’m going to take CHI (already took SF & GB and many in my pool already too CHI). I was hoping to save DEN for week 12, so I’m debating my 2nd pick between: NE, PIT or TEN. I’m leaning toward NE since many in my pool have already selected them, but gambling on TEN also appeals to me. Any thoughts on who would be a better 2nd pick for this week? I’d also like to continue to follow your advice if that help in the 2nd pick choice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.melvin.94 Adam Melvin

    Thats what I have been doing the last 2 nights is try to take emotion out of my selection. Thinking if team A plays Team B and I know nothing about each team who would I just take Team A because they are 69% to win. Obviosly other factors have to be considered because if you take even an 80% favorite blindly for 5 weeks your going to get eliminated in 5 weeks just going off simple math.

    I have no model for the saints and I just have to go with my puny human brain which I don’t trust.

    Just as an example I am curious what other factors do you think played in Tampa Bays upset of a team you had as a 72% team to win yesterday? How do you continually avoid upsets like this in your final selections? When its a hard decision like this would you trust your model first, or what really would put you over the edge as to take Denver instead of NE if you were in my shoes?
    I love your column and thanks for your willingness to answer questions. You do a great job. Thanks for your philisophical advise I really appreciate it.

  • James

    Thanks once again for your advice. I followed your lead and went with Minnesota. In our pool we can take teams twice and after Thursday night’s game there are only about 300 people left. I have already taken San Francisco but can still use them (but maybe I want to save them for the possibility of the playoffs), but I have not yet used either Chicago or Green Bay. How much does the fact that I could still use Green Bay affect my decision here? Should I use them this week since they seam like such a lock or should I lean more towards Chicago, or SF since I can still use them once more?

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    You might find this article interesting:
    http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/week-8-n-f-l-game-probabilities-patriots-in-london/

    Talks about how the NE v STL game may be closer than commonly thought, based on statistical analysis.

  • PL

    So I am head to head and I have already used CHI, GB, SF, and NE. Does that make Denver my best (only) pick? My opponent still has GB available, so this is a bad week for me, it seems.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I think I would go with GB in your case. The worst case scenario there is if 3 of your opponents take GB and 1 takes Chicago. But even then, GB is only marginally worse than NE. It sounds like the odds are good that fewer people will take GB, and in those cases the math definitely points to taking GB.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    New England looks like a pretty good option in Week 16 (at JAX), so I think I would go either PIT or TEN for the second pick.

    As crazy as it seems, I think I might go with TEN. The fact that you have no strikes makes the bigger risk a little more acceptable. And PIT looks like they could be useful in Week 16 as well (vs CIN).

    You would definitely be trading safety this week for better options in future weeks. So I think this is only a good move if you are SURE that the pool will last til Week 16. If you’re not certain, I think I’d take PIT … or even NE.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffrouk Jeff Shaw

    Thanks – I kind of realized that, I think – but needed you to tell me! Very much appreciate it. Guess that means I’ll now be supporting the Rams in the London game – assuming at least one of my opponents has NE!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    I don’t really spent time dwelling on why specific upsets happened. Strange things happen in the NFL. (Though … a 72% chance of winning does mean that about 1 in 4 times the team will lose. That’s not exactly rare.)

    As for how I have avoided upsets in the final picks … that’s mostly luck. If you look at what I thought the odds were for every game, it seems likely that we should have lost by now.

    But the key point to this strategy is that when we DO get lucky (like this season), the rest of the pool gets decimated because they’re picking the more popular teams. So our good luck leaves us in more valuable situations than if we had picked the popular teams. Let’s say we picked all the popular teams, and had gotten lucky with all of them winning. We’d still be alive, but so would most of our opponents, so we wouldn’t have gained much value.

    At any rate, since I posted the original article, there have been some line changes, and now DEN looks like the better choice.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Your pool extends into the playoffs? That completely changes things. I think I would not take SF this week, in case you need them for the playoffs. I’d go CHI in your case (assuming GB is as popular in your pool as they are in Yahoo).

    Though re-reading your comment I am not 100% clear which teams you have already used.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, I think you have to go with DEN here.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Cool. Upsets are more fun to watch, anyway.

  • James

    Ok, thanks. Of the top options I have only used SF (but can still use them one more time), so I guess Chicago it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.melvin.94 Adam Melvin

    Yea I like the article and thanks for sharing it. I felt in my mind NE is not playing well and overvalued after watching them play seattle and watching the Jets take them to OT, so its not to suprising to me the stats don’t like NE. Obviously stats, odds, FV all point to Denver so because I don’t trust my brain I will just go with the best team to put me in position to set myself up for future weeks which is Denver. Thanks for the advice and help David and Daniel.

  • Scott

    I’m in a pool that is double elimination and has no tiebreaker so it could go into the playoffs. It started with 15 people, we’re down to six people, 2 still perfect (including myself). I’ve already used San Francisco and the Chicago Bears; should I go with the easy win with Green Bay or roll the dice with a team like the Titans who have good odds this week to save possible playoffs teams for later?

    I’ve picked Bears/Bengals/Cowboys/Texans/49ers/Bucs/Vikings

    Of the 5 other players remaining no one has used the Packers or Titans, three people left have used the Patriots, one person has used the 49ers, and one person has used the Bears.

  • J

    I’m in a league that started with 338 people and I’m one of 17 left to win 30k so I’m very excited. I wish I found your site earlier this is a lot of good info. I found it bc I like betting second half lines and you have points scored in 2nd half

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Ooh, tough one.With only 6 people left, even WITH the double elimination, I would think your pool will most likely be over before you reach the playoffs. However, it seems prudent to save at least 1 or 2 likely playoff favorites if at all possible. That means saving one or two out of New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Green Bay, and NY Giants. Out of those, you’ve got NE, BAL, DEN, ATL, GB, and NYG left, so you’re looking pretty good, and I wouldn’t worry about the playoffs this week.

    As for the actual pick, it depends on who you think your opponents will pick.

    Do you think anybody will pick NE? If not, and If you think 4 or 5 opponents will pick GB, then I think the Patriots would be the best choice. Otherwise, I think GB is probably the best choice.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Wow, that is pretty exciting, good luck!

    And thanks for letting us know how you found the site. Did you see that we have 2nd-half power ratings? These are basically simple ratings that just look at a team’s opponents’ predictive power ratings, and their second half point margins, and see how much better or worse than average the team has done against those opponents. They are not designed to really be predictive of how a team will do in the second half going forward, but more as a quick way to see how well a team has played in the first vs. second half so far this year, compared to all other teams.
    http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/ranking/second-half-by-other

  • NJR

    Hey D. Hess, love your blog and written to you in prior weeks. In a league that has less than 200 ppl (from 700) and I have 4 teams left (1 solo and 3 with one other partner). In a look ahead to next week, should I choose SD for at least one of my picks? Only asking because in my pool, Thursday night games must be selected by Wed at noon (and your initial Wed pick usually comes late afternoon so I wouldn’t have the luxury to wait and see). SD has not looked good at all but I’m curious as to what your early numbers suggest? Thanks D, look forward to your response. BTW, have not used SD on any teams.

  • Bob Sanders

    I reeeeeeally hope we don’t have to pick SD this week. They scare me! I think I’d rather do a road Detroit team or a home SEA team against a better opponent

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    Same. Detroit @ JAX has similar win odds according to the Survivor Predictor but is half as popular as SD v KC. In terms of future value, DET only has Indy In week 13, and not sure how good a pick that will be. Could also pick Atlanta or Buf that week. SD may or may not have some late future value. Only big negative – Vegas only has DET as 4-point favorites vs SD ‘s -8.5. Guess it comes down to whether you believe Vegas or the models more.

  • John

    Remember, the models will get updated. Worried about SD too, but next best game might be SEA vs. MN.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Hard to say without having pick data yet, but it at least seems somewhat plausible that SD could be a decent second option. They are a bit risky, but all the teams above them have higher future value.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.silberfarb Daniel Silberfarb

    Yup. Detroit just dropped significantly.

    After crunching the numbers, looks like SD may be the best bet after all. (I’ve already used GB).

    Using this site’s #s, SD and SEA seem tied, but adding in Vegas numbers and advancednflstats #s from last week, SD would seem to have the edge. For now.

  • Dave

    Unbelievable that the Panthers found a way to lose that game Sunday vs the Bears. The worst decision I thought was the Panthers choosing to go for a hail mary right before the half instead of a 50 yard field goal. Yes I know it was windy there, but if you don’t have confidence in your kicker to kick a 50 yarder, you need to get rid of him. Do you guys have any data on what the right decision to do there is? How does Ron Rivera still have a job? And Cam Newton just can’t get it done these days. Anyways, I picked NE, but anyone who picked Chicago was very lucky to advance this week.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yup, tons of luck involved there. But that’s what it takes to survive a whole season, so I’ll take it!

    We do not have any data on how likely a team is to convert a hail mary, so couldn’t make an informed comment on the right move there. I would see if AdvancedNFLStats.com could answer that for you. They generally have info on in-game probabilities for various events.

  • jhowa09

    been following you all year in yahoo…..its down to me and another from 500. thanks

  • YB

    In a pool that started with over 100 and now down to four. Trying to decide between Houston and San Diego for week 9 – two of the four finalists have already used the Texans. Which do you like more given the scenario in my pool?

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess
  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess