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 (22) 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 in 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 this week.
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The staff had another strong week, winning big (197-155, 56.0% correct). Will Grant and Bear Heiser tied with 12 wins, but Will won the tiebreaker with a lower total score (49) than Bear (52). The total was just 45 points, but an overtime session might have changed the outcome in the 24-21 Falcons win. Four staffers racked up 11 wins and two more logged 10, so it was quite a strong week. The solid overall performance raised the combined overall record to 2,571-2,357, or 214 games above .500. The staff is hitting at a 52.2% clip, which is nearly ideal to the breakeven number for Las Vegas (usually viewed as 11-10, or 52,4%).
With two weeks left, it is time to take a hard look at the overall standings as well. It takes 128 wins to achieve 50% or better for the year, and 134 to tie Vegas. Tall orders, for sure. Right now, we have eight of the staff at 50% or better for the year (120 or more wins), with just the leader (Matt Bitonti) beating Vegas with his 129-111 record (53.8%). See how hard this is? So with two weeks left, Matt has has a five game lead on four of the staff that have achieved 124-116 records (51.7%): Bear Heiser, Danny Tuccitto, Mark Wimer and Phil Alexander. Well done, guys. Let's see if Matt can hold on with two weeks to go. Let's take a look at what Week 16 looks like.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Here are the picks for this week.
All the picks are in, and two teams stand out above the rest in Week 16. Minnesota received 20 out of a possible 22 picks, but that is likely due to the site (CBS Sports) relying on an early point spread of just -2.5 over Green Bay. After Aaron Rodgers was placed on IR, that line moved to -9, so it is no surprise to see the Vikings getting 90% of the votes. The surprise is Detroit getting 19 picks, but the Lions are highly motivated to beat a Bengals team that has all but given up on the season. Detroit must win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Cincinnati has 14 total points the past two weeks.
The rest of the picks are closer this week. Pittsburgh (16) was third-most popular as the Steelers visit Houston, and four road underdogs (Indianapolis, Buffalo, Miami and the Giants) all received 15 votes. The Colts, Bills and Dolphins are all double-digit underdogs, but clearly the staff think that they can cover those big numbers. Three teams (Atlanta, Seattle and the Chargers) received 14 votes while still three more (Washington, Cleveland and the Eagles) received 13 this week. Two teams were barely in the majority (Tennessee, San Francisco) and one game was a dead heat (Carolina-Tampa Bay). The interesting things to note are that 11 of the 15 games with a majority pick went towards road teams, while 9 of 15 went toward underdogs. Once again, Week 16 has all the makings of yet another very interesting week in the NFL and for the staff picks.
ODDS AND ENDS
It is almost all over - just two weeks left - 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 than it might seem.
Good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org