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 15 was pretty dull, but when you get to December and survive, dull is perfectly acceptable. The staff went a perfect 20-0 for the week despite five different teams selected. Everyone moved one step forwards for the week, and the four leaders (Bear Heiser, Jason Wood, Justin Howe and Matt Bitonti) all stayed at 13-2 on the season. With two weeks left, the choices will get slim now so there can still be plenty of movement throughout the standings. If you are still alive in your Survivor league, congratulations and best of luck this week and next - but do not be afraid to approach the other team(s) still alive if you want to call the pool off and agree to "chop" the winnings. A portion of a big pool is better than not winning, so consider that especially if you have some iffy teams left to select from.
Looking at Week 16, there are lots of teams to pick from that are touchdown favorites or more. Baltimore, New England, Kansas City and Carolina are in the double digit favorite range, so I expect all four of these teams to be popular (if still available). Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are just below double digits, while the Chargers are right at a touchdown. Lastly, the Bears and the Rams are close to touchdown favorites, so none of these teams would surprise me as choices. With so many options, however, it pays to look ahead at Week 17 and see what options are available for that week. Pittsburgh (if still left) should be saved first, as they host the Browns. Baltimore would be my second choice as they host Cincinnati and the Ravens should be in a must win situation. The Saints are likely to be motivated at home against Tampa Bay, so that is another strong option. Minnesota may be motivated, but that is unclear, so if you still have Baltimore left I would try and save them one week and choose one of the other big favorites.
All the picks are in and two teams are the top selections. Baltimore (7) received the most votes, while the Panthers (5) were one step behind. Both picks were expected, but again I would still have saved the Ravens if I could. Carolina looks overlooked this week to me. Three other teams were chosen twice, as six staffers split their votes amongst the Rams, Chiefs and Patriots. Kansas City (hosting Miami) and New England (hosting Buffalo) are big home favorites by double-digit spreads, so both look like safe selections. The Rams are road favorites by about a touchdown (-6.5) at Tennessee, which looks reasonable but I would still try and avoid a road team (and a West Coast team playing early as well). The two unique picks were Washington hosting Denver and Chicago hosting Cleveland. Washington looks like a shaky pick to me as it is very hard to figure out the motivation for either Denver or Washington this week, and Cleveland is still dangerous as they chase their first win. Then again, it is Week 16 and these picks are more and more challenging with just 50% of the teams from which to choose.
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 have decided not to stick with my preseason plan and move on with just two weeks left. Carolina is in a great spot and I still have them left, but really any team that is favored by 9+ points at home this week is a strong option. As I mentioned above, if you still have Pittsburgh or Baltimore left I would hold off on using them until the last game, as both the Steelers (home against the Browns) and Ravens (hosting CIncinnati) will be big favorites and motivated to win their regular season finale. Carolina looks like a great combination of a big home favorite with plenty of motivation. However it plays out, best of luck!
The Pick: Carolina
Good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org