Over the past few years, we have given the subscribers of Footballguys.com the Staff Confidence Pool Challenge, where numerous staffers try and pick the winners each week with a confidence ranking, and Jeff Pasquino’s “For The Win” column where Jeff attempts to pick each and every NFL game against the Las Vegas spread. Both of these have been very popular features, so this year Footballguys is proud to bring you the combination of the two. The Footballguys.com Staff Against the Spread Pool Challenge. Multiple staff members (22) will pick the winner of each NFL game against the Las Vegas line. As a tie-breaker, the person who is closest to the total points scored on the last Monday Night game will be the winner. Winners will be announced from week to week and the best overall record will be crowned Against the Spread Champion. Picks and ranks are due on Wednesday, so any late-breaking news may not be reflected in the choices.
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
Here are the results from this week.
|Point Spread:||-7.5||-2.5||-1.5||-3.5||-2.5||-8.5||-2.5||-8.5||-3.5||-8.5||-0.5||-7.5||-3.5||-2.5||-13.5||-6.5||MNF||Last||Year to|
|Staffer||Last Week's Picks||Tot Pts||Week||Date|
The first three weeks were tough on the staff, with a historically bad Week 3 that pushed the staff under 50% for the season. The good news is that the staff had a strong Week 4, racking up 30 more correct picks than incorrect (191-161, 54.3%), which is the first true winning week even when you factor in the Las Vegas house advantage (to beat the house, you must go over 52.3%). This helped the group get closer to 50% on the year (674-712, 48.6%).
The winner for Week 4 was Matt Bitonti, who nailed 12 out of 16 picks and barely edged Justin Bonnema's 11 correct selections. Two more staff members (Jeff Haseley, Phil Alexander) racked up 10 wins and nearly everyone had at least eight right for the week. Now comes the tougher part of the season with some bye weeks mixed in, but at least the staff has more data points to really gauge which teams are good at what and which matchups are likely to be exploited going forward.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Here are the picks for this week.
|Staffer||The Picks||Tot Pts|
If there was a phrase I would use to characterize Week 5, it would be "Whoo boy". This one looks rough, right out of the gate. There are no major favorites - every spread is under a touchdown except for Pittsburgh over Jacksonville - and lots of the favorites are on the road. Some games barely have a favorite, and some matchups are downright ugly. So it should not come as a big surprise that there is not much consensus in the staff picks for this week. Only Minnesota (20 out of 22 picks) had a major majority as the Vikings go out on the road to take on the Bears on Monday Night Football. That just reenforces what a strange week this appears to be, as the top choice for the staff is a road team in a divisional contest, and a team that just lost their star running back and has been without their top quarterback for two weeks. "Whoo boy".
Six teams had what I would consider reasonable majority selections for the week, with 14-17 out of 22 choices from the staff. Three of them are home teams and two are favorites. The Colts (17) host San Francisco, Philadelphia (16) take on Arizona and Miami (15) host the Titans as an underdog, but Marcus Mariota is still questionable as of this moment. The other three teams with a larger lean from the staff include three road teams in the Jets (17) at Cleveland, Green Bay (16) at Dallas and the Ravens (14) at Oakland. The Raiders are another team with injury woes, as Derek Carr will be out several weeks with a back injury, but Baltimore has still not looked good at all on offense this year. Frankly I am still surprised so many of the staff went with Baltimore, but we shall see how it plays out.
The rest of the games were near toss-ups, with five road teams getting slight leans from the staff, but just one of them is a favorite. The Chargers (at the Giants), Jaguars (at Pittsburgh) and Seattle (at the Rams) had 12 votes each, while the Bills (at Cincinnati) and Chiefs (at Houston) received 13 selections from the staff. Kansas City is the lone favorite from this group. With four teams on a bye this week, there are just 14 contests and two are split down the middle by the staff - New England / Tampa Bay and Carolina / Detroit. That leaves 12 games, and 8 out of 12 underdogs and 9 out of 12 road teams were chosen by the majority of the staff. I told you it was a weird week.
ODDS AND ENDS
We are four weeks into the season - a quarter of the games have been played - and the picks are due by Wednesday night. Most of the staff would agree that picking this weekend's games on Wednesday night is very difficult because you don't have much information about injuries and practice. If your league allows you to pick the later games separate from the rest, take advantage of it and make your Sunday and Monday picks as close to the weekend as possible.
A reminder that these picks are against the Las Vegas lines – so getting above 50% is respectable, above 53% gets you into the “profitable zone” (accounting for the Las Vegas house odds of taking 10% of every losing wager) – and anything above 60% is outstanding. That may sound easy enough, but it is much, much harder that it might seem.
Good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org