Prepping for Survivor Leagues

Using Las Vegas to find survivor strategies

For the past several years, I have been running several staff Survivor Pools. For those who are not familiar with the concept, it is pretty simple - pick a winning NFL team each week. The catch is that you cannot use a team more than once all season. Lose and you are out. Hence - "Survivor", or "Eliminator" pools.

I've done some prep work each year in getting ready for the coming NFL season. I have outlined in the past my strategy for the general planning for Survivor Pools, and I will continue to review and refine that process. I like to read plenty of other people's thoughts on football and strategy, but one article caught my eye and sparked a new idea. Dave Larkin (right here at Footballguys) wrote an interesting article about the win totals that are published each year for NFL teams, and that gave me a few thoughts. What if I took those numbers and tried to forecast the best matchups throughout the season? Could I find the easy games to pick, forecast the landmine weeks, and maybe find a few diamonds in the rough? I think so, so this is my first attempt at doing just that. Stick with me as I go through this because I think the chart at the end of the article could be worth the price of the Insider Pro membership all by itself (yes, I'm boasting, but I think it is really, really valuable).

So here was my plan - break down the entire NFL schedule and use Las Vegas to help me out. We do this all the time in fantasy, daily or season long. The guys that run the sportsbooks in Las Vegas are sharpest of the sharps, so why not use their numbers to start our analysis? The first step was to assign every NFL team a number equal to their Over/Under line for wins for the coming season, and then to just compare each matchup for all 256 games. Now, there are a few wrinkles, mostly due to suspensions and changes since the numbers came out, but this is a reasonable start of a baseline to figuring out a plan for the Survivor season.

Let us start the breakdown for the 2019 season by looking at the expected wins set by Las Vegas. Sometimes these numbers can be challenging to find, but Betonline.ag offered up a very good option this year for Over/Under totals for team wins. Table 1 summarizes these numbers:

Team
Expected Winds
Team
Expected Wins
New England
11.5
Carolina
8
Philadelphia
10.5
Houston
8
Kansas City
10.5
NY Jets
7.5
LA Rams
10
Buffalo
7.5
LA Chargers
10
Jacksonville
7.5
New Orleans
10
Denver
7
Indianapolis
10
Detroit
7
Pittsburgh
9
Tennessee
6.5
Green Bay
9
Washington
6.5
Minnesota
9
Tampa Bay
6.5
Dallas
9
Oakland
6
Baltimore
9
NY Giants
6
Chicago
9
Cincinnati
5.5
Cleveland
9
Arizona
5.5
Atlanta
8.5
Miami
4.5
San Francisco
8.5
Seattle
8.5

Table 1: Expected Wins for All 32 NFL Franchises in 2019

Next comes the math part, where we take one team's expected wins and compare it to their opponent's number. Table 2 presents the results:

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