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 (23) 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 last week:
Week 10 was a tough week for the staff, as the group ws just over 40% correct as a whole (129-143, 40.2%). Only four staff members had winning weeks, led by Phil Alexander with a 9-5 record. Andy Hicks, Chris Kuczynksi and Jason Wood were just one game off that pace at 8-6 on the week. Losses by the Jets (19 picks), Packer (19), Saints (18) and Panthers (17) led the way, along with two teams that failed to cover the spread in the Giants (17) and Browns (17). Six of the top seven picks last week were all incorrect, which never leads to a strong week. Week 10 was the worst for the group by far on the year. Keep in mind that a lot can happen in a day or two, and the picks are due on Wednesday night, so it is not surprising to see the group below the mark overall. Hopefully Week 11 is the week that will mark the turning point for the staff on the way to a winning path for the rest of the season.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Here are the picks for this week:
With about two-thirds of the season now behind us, we should be getting closer to some collective understanding as to which teams are good and which are bad. Of course, the point spread is the great equalizer, and Las Vegas does their job quite well - as reflected by the huge number that New England (13.5 points) must cover to "beat" San Francisco on the road. All but one person, Andy Hicks, is on the Patriots to do just that on Sunday, as New England is the closest to a unanimous choice we have had this season. Both the Raiders and Giants come in next with 21 selections, as no one seems to like the Bears this week after Jay Cutler's meltdown in Tampa Bay and Alshon Jeffery's suspension. Oakland is an interesting call as the game is not really a home game as the Raiders "host" Houston in Mexico City on Monday Night Football. Many must be on the Raiders partly for their return to action after a bye week but also as a fade against the Texans, who just cannot get out of neutral on offense. Seattle was the fourth-most common pick with 19 of 23 selections as the Eagles are 5-4 on the year but just 1-4 on the road, and Seattle is a tough place to visit. Four teams come in with 18 picks (Miami, Detroit, Pittsburgh and New Orleans) including our first two underdog picks with the Saints at Carolina and Miami at the Rams. The Dolphins-LA game is a "Pick 'em" contest, so the underdog status is barely legitimate here, but I completely agree with going against a rookie quarterback (Jared Goff) in his first NFL start for the Rams. Tennessee (17) and Dallas (16) round out our clear majority picks, and the Titans are another underdog majority choice with a trip to Indianapolis this week. Normally picking a divisional team on the road (and against a team coming off of a bye) is not a good choice, but after watching how the Titans humbled Green Bay - and knowing that the Colts need 14 months, not 14 days to fix that defense - I am firmly on board with that choice. Kansas City (14) and Green Bay (13) are barely majority picks, with the final two games (Buffalo - Cincinnati, Arizona - Minnesota) too close to call. Week 11 looks to be yet another interesting week, so let's see how it all plays out.
ODDS AND ENDS
We are getting close to the midpoint of the season, 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.