Week 12 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2022)

Week 12 of the 2022 NFL season brings us to Thanksgiving, and we have several turkeys to pick against in value plays.

Don't look now, but the Patriots are in playoff position (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

Week 12 in NFL pick’em contests is here and we are thankful, as we get a full 16-game schedule this week, starting with three Thanksgiving Day games. 

In these columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our premium product.

We plan to periodically update to this post through Sunday of Week 12, so check back for updates. Here’s what’s available now:

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Tuesday 11/22

NFL Week 12 Early Value Picks

Here are some value picks we are seeing early on for Week 12. 

New England Patriots (at Minnesota Vikings)

Spread: +2.5
Win Odds: 45%
Pick Popularity: 15%

The Vikings were blown out at home against Dallas last week, but the public still sees their 8-2 record and is picking them like a heavy favorite. Fun fact: Minnesota has now given up more points than it has scored this year.

Cincinnati Bengals (at Tennessee Titans)

Spread: -1.5
Win Odds: 52%
Pick Popularity: 33%

This is a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Round game, which Cincinnati won on its way to the Super Bowl. The Bengals are favored slightly in this one, but the public is on the Titans at a 2-to-1 ratio.

Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Baltimore Ravens)

Spread: +3.5
Win Odds: 40%
Pick Popularity: 8%

The Jaguars are only a 3.5-point underdog in this one, but the Ravens have similar popularity as teams that are favored by nine or more points this week.

Denver Broncos (at Carolina Panthers)

Spread: -2.5
Win Odds: 54%
Pick Popularity: 52%

In a game between two of the worst offenses in the NFL, the Broncos are the betting-market favorite right now, providing some slight value against a split public.

Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Indianapolis Colts)

Spread: +2.5
Win Odds: 46%
Pick Popularity: 26%

Our models like the Steelers getting the points in this matchup, giving them a better chance than the public is.


Tuesday 11/22

Week 11 Results Summary

Week 11 was really good for both pick’em game-winner and spread pools. We will also give a year-to-date summary now that we are entering the stretch run with seven weeks to go.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 9.2 wins out of 14 games in Week 11. Most of the favorites won, and only three favorites lost (all favored by a field goal or less).

Overall, our season-long “Max Profit” picks finished well ahead of the public at 11.0 wins thanks to the betting favorites winning, including unpopular ones like Dallas.

Weekly picks finished a game-and-a-half ahead of the public at 10.7 wins.

Spread Pools

The public finished near .500 in Week 11 in spread pools, averaging 6.9 wins in 14 games.

Our pick recommendations in season-long pools finished nearly three games ahead of that, with 9.8 wins on average. Weekly picks, which tend to also account for public pick popularity more to differentiate, did nearly as well at 9.4 wins.

Overall Season Summary

Here is where things stand so far in both game-winner and spread pools for the season:

TypePublic AvgMax ProfitWeekly Top
Game Winner94.8100.694.3
Spread81.196.396.3

Game-winner season-long max-profit picks are nearly six wins ahead of the public average through 11 weeks, and they have outperformed the public in seven of the 11 weeks. Spread-pool picks have done even better, as both the season-long and weekly picks have outperformed the public by more than 15 wins in pools that pick every game.

Our picks are designed so that the weekly pick sets take a little more risk and play against the public more, so we should see more variance in the weekly performance.

That’s what we do see so far, as max-profit season-long picks in game-winner formats have finished +/- 1.0 wins on average from the public, while the weekly picks have averaged +/- 1.6 wins. In spread pools, we see a similar, split, as the season-long ATS have finished +/- 1.7 wins from the public average, while weekly picks have finished +/- 2.1 wins from the public average.


FYI

Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick’em contest strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires exploiting the best opportunities to differentiate your picks from your opponents’s picks. Ideally, you want to fade the public while taking on minimal additional pick risk to do so. For example, taking a betting market favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
    Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post for your pool specifically—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for you depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
  3. Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
    We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity) current at the time we publish this article, but that data can change before kickoff. For example, key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.

We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.


FYI

About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes pick recommendations from our Football Pick’em Picks product different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.

In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your current place in the standings and how many weeks are left.

So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated 6-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.

Technology to the rescue

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 71% of our subscribers win a prize (season-long or weekly) in a football pick’em contest.

If you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pick’em contest, use our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks our product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

This column can also help educate our readers with pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.


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