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 (23) 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 on 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 last week:
This week had just one staff member (Chris Feery) atop the standings, as he went 12-4 on the week. Two other staffers (Devin Knotts and Andy Hicks) hit the 11 win mark, while two more (Keith Roberts and Phil Alexander) were one step back with a 10-6 record. Phil's performance pushed him to the best mark overall (131 wins this season) but several other staffers are within a few picks of the group title. The staff overall had a winning record once again (181-171 for the week, 51.4%) which helped push the staff towards a record that would even be a winning result against the Las Vegas sportsbooks (2,781-2,499 overall, or 52.7% success rate). This is rather remarkable by the staff considering that the picks are due on Wednesday night, making it even more challenging. With one week left to go, a strong finish could make this a great year for the staff.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Here are the picks for this week:
With only one week to go, you would think that the picks would show better alignment for the final weekend. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the picks are all over the place for Week 17. Only five of the 16 majority selected teams are favorites in Las Vegas this week, with eight road teams also chosen. The final NFL week can be very difficult, and the scattered results reflect the indecision that lies out there for Week 17. Houston and Kansas City lead the group with 19 choices (out of 23), as the Chiefs have to go for a win in San Diego to secure the AFC West title. The Texans do not have anything to play for except tuning up for next week. Carolina and the Giants come in next with 18 selections, but New York could be resting players and Tampa Bay needs to beat the Panthers to keep their ridiculously thin hopes alive for a playoff berth. Baltimore (17) is motivated only to get to 9-7 as they were eliminated last week, but the Dolphins (17) are pushing to try and get the fifth seed instead of the sixth and avoid the Steelers next week. Seattle (16) is our highest home team as they host San Francisco in a game that could be meaningful for a bye, while the Packers (16) are favored at Detroit in what could be an elimination game. The Eagles (15) and Jets (15) are home underdogs this week against the Cowboys and Bills respectively, but those two road teams do not have much motivation to pick up a win this week as Dallas has secured the top NFC spot and Buffalo gets a better draft pick with a loss. Three home teams come in with 14 picks (Pittsburgh, Denver, Atlanta) with just the Falcons motivated for a possible bye. The Steelers will be resting players, but the Browns are still not very good. Denver will look to rally behind Paxton Lynch and put a damper on Oakland's divisional hopes. Arizona (13), Indianapolis (12) and Chicago (12) round out the slight majority picks as teams wrap up the regular season. Week 17 looks to be one of the most challenging of the year, so it will be quite interesting to see how it all plays out.
ODDS AND ENDS
We are getting close to the midpoint of the season, 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 that it might seem.
Good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.