Eliminator Pool: Week 16 - Footballguys

Footballguys.com Staff Pick One Team to Win Each Week in a Eliminator / Survivor Pool Format

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 preseason articles. The first one that describes this kind of contest along with some advice on how to pick a team each week:

Survivor Pool Strategy

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.

I Will Survive

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).

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS

NFL Week 15 was not kind to the staff as half of the 16 Footballguys' staff suffered a loss once again in a tough December. All week long the staff's picks were dropping like flies, starting with Andrew Garda's selection of the Chiefs at home against the Chargers. The pain continued with Denver's loss at home to Cleveland on Saturday, costing Ari Ingel's pick. Big hits to the staff continued all Sunday long, with Washington upsetting Jacksonville (4 staff picks), then Seattle losing on the road to the 49ers (one pick - Mark Wimer) and finally Devin Knott's selection of the Rams who also suffered a surprising loss to the Eagles. All told the staff went 8-8 for the week, and only three staffers really remain in contention for the league title. Aaron Rudnicki remains atop the standings at 13-2, while Jeff Pasquino and Dave Larkin are just one game back at 12-3. Game theory could really play a part in the final two weeks for these three, so keep that in mind with their picks as they get posted this week and next.

THIS WEEK'S PICK SUMMARY

Here are the picks for this week:

Staff Member
Record
Wk01
Wk02
Wk03
Wk04
Wk05
Wk06
Wk07
Wk08
Wk09
Wk10
Wk11
Wk12
Wk13
Wk14
Wk15
Wk16
Wk17
Aaron Rudnicki
13-2
BAL
LAR
MIN
GB
CAR
HOU
LAC
CIN
CHI
KC
NO
DAL
SEA
NE
ATL
CLE
Jeff Pasquino
12-3
NO
LAR
PHI
LAC
CAR
HOU
IND
PIT
CHI
KC
ARI
BAL
GB
TEN
ATL
NE
Dave Larkin
12-3
BAL
NO
JAC
LAC
CAR
MIN
IND
NE
KC
GB
ATL
PIT
LAR
SEA
BUF
MIA
Devin Knotts
11-4
BAL
DEN
CLE
LAC
NE
MIN
ATL
PIT
KC
PHI
ARI
HOU
SEA
BUF
LAR
CHI
Mark Wimer
11-4
BAL
LAR
MIN
LAC
NO
GB
ATL
CIN
HOU
KC
CAR
DAL
CHI
TEN
SEA
NE
Jeff Haseley
11-4
BAL
LAR
MIN
LAC
NE
GB
ATL
KC
CAR
PHI
NO
IND
SEA
PIT
JAC
CLE
James Brimacombe
11-4
NO
LAR
MIN
GB
CIN
HOU
LAC
NE
CAR
KC
BAL
IND
SEA
PIT
JAC
CLE
Alessandro Miglio
11-4
NO
LAR
KC
JAC
DEN
MIN
ATL
HOU
SF
GB
ARI
DAL
TEN
BUF
CIN
IND
Sean Settle
11-4
NO
LAC
JAC
NE
DEN
HOU
LAR
PIT
KC
GB
BAL
CHI
CAR
DET
BUF
MIA
Matt Bitonti
10-5
NE
DEN
MIN
LAC
CAR
GB
ATL
CHI
KC
SF
ARI
DAL
TEN
HOU
JAC
CLE
Andy Hicks
10-5
BAL
LAR
MIN
LAC
NE
GB
PHI
PIT
KC
NO
ARI
DAL
SEA
HOU
JAC
TEN
Ari Ingel
9-6
BAL
LAR
MIN
JAC
NE
GB
LAC
DET
KC
PHI
ARI
DET
HOU
NO
DEN
TEN
Justin Howe
9-6
NO
LAC
JAC
GB
TEN
MIN
LAR
CHI
KC
ATL
CAR
BAL
SEA
DEN
BUF
IND
William Grant
9-6
NO
SF
MIN
LAC
NE
HOU
LAR
PIT
DAL
NYJ
ARI
BAL
IND
GB
CHI
TEN
Andrew Garda
8-7
DET
BAL
HOU
SEA
TEN
GB
LAR
IND
DAL
LAC
PIT
NO
PHI
NE
KC
CLE
Bear Heiser
8-7
NO
LAR
KC
ATL
LAC
HOU
MIN
DET
CHI
NE
ARI
DAL
IND
BUF
BAL
GB

DISCUSSION

The picks are in for Week 15, and with just two weeks left the pickings are slim. Anyone who has the ability to pick one of the four teams that are favored by Las Vegas my more than a touchdown (Tennessee, New England, Indianapolis, and the Rams) should definitely lean towards one of those four teams, but also keep in mind that if both are available, the Colts and the Titans may both be teams with strong motivation in Week 17. Cleveland actually leads the staff's picks this week with five votes, as the staff is counting on the Browns to win over the Bengals. Cleveland still has very remote chances at a Wild Card, but even winning out to go to 8-7-1 is strong motivation for a franchise that has suffered for a long time. The Titans are the next-most popular pick with three votes, while the Colts and Patriots are joined by Miami (hosting Jacksonville) with two selections. All three teams are favored at home and still in the AFC playoff hunt, so these are all solid choices - especially this late in the regular season. Two unique picks round out the staff's choices with Devin Knotts taking the Bears in San Francisco while Bear Heiser sides with the Packers at the Jets this week. These are the penultimate picks, as there is just one more week to go. The standings are still close at the top with Aaron (12-3) just one game ahead of Jeff Pasquino and Dave Larkin. This should be a fantastic finish.

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.

COMMENTARY

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: Going back to my preseason plan, I did not point out to keep New England for Week 16, but if you have - this is the week to use them as they host Buffalo in a very meaningful game for the Patriots. In this particular contest with the staff, I sit in second place and one game back of Aaron. My hope is that he stumbles at least once and that I play teams that he cannot, starting with New England this week. If that holds up well, I will do a similar strategy next week with Minnesota, Dallas or Seattle - all teams he has used already. This is part of the game theory of these contests, and those of you still alive for big prizes need to do the same type of analysis in your league. Best of luck the last two games.

Going back to New England, as a did say point out four teams for this week - Tennessee (good), Jacksonville (oops), the Chargers (strong pick) and Dallas (also a solid pick). Not too bad for four months in advance. Clearly taking any team favored by a touchdown or more is a great choice in Week 16. The Patriots are favored by nearly two touchdowns and over -1000 on the Money Line, putting their win chances above 90%. The Rams are in a similar spot, but they are on the road (plus I used them). Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Cleveland round out my Top 5 picks for the week.

The Pick: New England Patriots

Last week I included the bonus (below), and I will keep it and edit it through the end of Week 17.

Now - here is the bonus!

I have been asked what my December plans are for Survivor, so I thought I would break down the five four weeks that remain. Fading the Cardinals, Raiders and the New York teams is a good general plan, and the usual rules apply (take a home team that is a big favorite and try to avoid potential trap games). There are 4-7 games each week you can target, based upon which teams you have left. Week 14 looks the trickiest with just a few good games to choose from, and that might be you close your eyes and hope for the best with the Bills hosting the Jets. Week 16 is the week I have been saving New England for (home against Buffalo), and Seattle looks like a solid option in Week 17. The Seahawks will be hosting Arizona in what will likely be a “win and in” situation for Seattle. That brings up a different topic, which is teams that could be packing it in early because they have clinched all that they can. Since the Rams and Saints are likely to push one another to 15-1 (hard to imagine the Rams a #2 seed at 15-1, but it can easily happen), that makes the Bears the one NFC team likely to take a significant break in Week 17. Chicago will host the lowest Wild Card team on Wild Card Weekend, so they will not get an extra week off like New Orleans and the Rams, so look for the Bears to rest anyone close to banged up in Week 17. Use Chicago in Week 15 (hosting the Raiders) if you still have them available. In the AFC, odds are that everyone will be fighting it out until the end, for byes, seeding and even to get into the playoff tournament, so there is not much risk there. (Based on an early look at the month of December, my final four week picks should be reasonably clear - Washington or Buffalo in Week 14, Denver or Atlanta in Week 15, New England and then Seattle - but stay tuned to see if this is the plan I stick with the rest of the way).

Here are the games that should be the favorites (listed first) expected by Las Vegas to win each week by at least a touchdown (thus a big favorite). Plan your final five weeks based on this list. Good luck.

Week 16

  • New England (vs. Buffalo)
  • Indianapolis (vs. NY Giants)
  • Dallas (vs. Tampa Bay)
  • LA Rams (at Arizona)
  • adding Tennessee (vs. Washington)
  • adding Cleveland (vs. Cincinnati)

Week 17

  • New Orleans (vs. Carolina)
  • Pittsburgh (vs. Cincinnati)
  • Baltimore (vs. Cleveland)
  • New England (vs. NY Jets)
  • Kansas City (vs. Oakland)
  • Seattle (vs. Arizona)
  • LA Rams (vs. San Francisco)

Good luck this weekend!

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com

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