Over the past few years, we have given the subscribers of Footballguys.com some help in playing office pools, one of the most popular methods to follow the NFL aside from fantasy football leagues. For the past few seasons, the staff members have done 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 adding a combination of the two called the “Against the Spread” Challenge and also the Eliminator Challenge, where staffers have to pick a team to win each week. Just one? That sounds easy, but here is the catch – you can only pick the team you choose in a given week once all season long. Many contests and pools out there get pretty big, so an Eliminator (or Survivor) Pool can go 16 or 17 weeks.
Jeff Pasquino has provided some insight into this kind of contest with two pre-season articles, first one that describes this kind of contest along with some advice on how to pick a team each week:
The second article is rather interesting, which describes Jeff’s preseason plan to get all the way through 17 weeks. Will it work? We are about to find out.
This pool will run all season long, but to keep participation up, the pool will crown the staffer with the best W-L record for the season (which means that everyone in the pool will continue to make picks every week).
THIS WEEK'S PICK SUMMARY
Here are the picks for this week, along with last week's results:
Week 13 was rather boring, but boring is good for December Survivor (as long as you advance). Ideally you win and many others lose, but such was not the case in Week 13 for the staff. The chalk (Chargers) won but so did Green Bay, Jacksonville and New England. Still, 20 for 20 is a strong performance in December with 12 teams already used on the year. Looking ahead, I expect many to go with the Patriots this week as several staffers still have them available and they are the only big favorite for Week 14.
The picks are in, and I have to say that I am quite surprised. Dallas is the top choice with five selections, and I just do not see it. Eli Manning is back at quarterback for the Giants, and I see them as a very live underdog this week that would love to upset the Cowboys. No way would I risk a pick on Dallas in a road divisional game in December. Now to be fair, I may be considered hypocritical to say that and recommend New England (my pick this week, and a popular one with two other staffers joining me) - but the Patriots are big favorites (11+ points) and Miami looks terrible. The Dolphins are clearly just playing out the string, and New England is motivated with three divisional games and the Steelers yet to come.
As for the rest of the picks, again I am surprised that more picks did not go towards New England. The Cincinnati Bengals were the second favorite with four selections, and even though they are the second-largest favorite on the slate (nearly a touchdown favorite at home over Chicago), the Bears could easily go in to Ohio and take this one. Both teams have had plenty of bad football on their resume this season, and the Bengals are going to come out flat after blowing a lead over the Steelers on Monday Night Football. A short week for a team that blew a big lead? Seems like a risky call to me - but again, the Bears are not world beaters either. Green Bay (-3.5 at Cleveland) also was chosen three times by the staff, which looks like the "always pick against Cleveland" play. With Josh Gordon back for the Browns, however, and the suspect Packers secondary, I would not be surprised if this is the spot that Cleveland finally gets their first win.
To round out the picks, the Chargers (home against Washington) were the only other team chosen more than once (two votes). Buffalo (vs. Indianapolis), Houston (vs. San Francisco) and the Rams (vs. Philadelphia) received one vote each. All three look somewhat risky as well with the 49ers starting to play better behind Jimmy Garropolo, Tyrod Taylor possibly out this week for the Bills, and the Eagles and Rams likely locking horns in an epic game Sunday afternoon. This could be a big "moving week" in the standings.
Please note a few things: We will be doing these picks every week, win or lose, to keep it entertaining all season long. Normally a Survivor / Eliminator pool would end once all but one player lost once, but to provide our subscribers with more perspectives, everyone will pick every week even if they lose. That said, we will still try and honor the spirit of an Eliminator / Survivor Pool, trying to win every week and not re-use any teams during the year.
Each week, contestants are invited to submit any comments that they might have about their picks. If they submit them early enough, we post them with the article. If not, the comments will be within the section below.
Jeff Pasquino: I decided to toss out most of my preseason plan - except for one part, New England. I had written them up extensively back in August and after several weeks of commentary I just stopped talking about them and just said that they were in play most weeks. From the bottom of the article:
Bonus - New England, the team that should be favored nearly every week (based on this article, I see them as strong favorites every week but Week 15 at Pittsburgh), is NOT USED throughout this plan. That means when the plan starts to look off for any reason, dropping the Patriots into the plan at any point is a viable option to get back on track.
Not too bad for August, but don't call me Nostradamus just yet. It isn't too much of a stretch to forecast New England as a big favorite most of the season, but this is exactly why you saved them (if you did). No other team is a double digit favortie this week, and I do not see a better spot to use the Patriots the rest of the way with three divisional games left and a trip to Pittsburgh next week. Take New England and be happy to survive for one more week.
The Pick: New England
Good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org