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:
For the second week in a row, the staff was perfect with their picks, going 20-0 on the week. That leaves a four way tie atop the standings with Bear Heiser, Jason Wood, Justin Howe and Matt Bitonti all tied at 14-2, with six more one game back at 13-3. Week 17 is always a tough one to call, so this could still be rather interesting come Sunday.
All but one pick is in (holidays), and as you might expect, the picks are all over the map. Week 17 is the hardest week of the year for several reasons. First, half of the teams have been used. Second, about half of the NFL teams are just playing out the schedule and don't really care about this week. Third, trying to outwit your opponents at the top of the standings can complicate the strategy. I will walk through our standings and picks, but first I want to try and help you if you are still alive this week. Here are my rankings of the top 5-7 picks to make this week:
- Baltimore - 100% motivated as they are in the playoffs with a victory, and favored by more than a touchdown at home
- New England - Huge favorite (16+) at home over the Jets, and a win gives them home field and the #1 seed in the AFC
- Minnesota - A win gives them the bye and the #2 seed in the NFC
- Pittsburgh - Facing Cleveland at home and get the #1 seed if the Patriots lose, and they love to beat up on the Browns
- New Orleans - Win and they get the third seed and the NFC South crown
- Seattle - Need a win to get in, and favored by more than a touchdown at home
- Los Angeles Chargers - Need a win to get in, favored by more than a touchdown at home
- Buffalo - Also need a win to get in, but on the road at Miami
After those eight games, it gets tricky. San Francisco is a very sneaky pick at the Rams, as Los Angeles will be resting players and expect to lose that game. They really want to lose it as they want the fourth seed and to avoid Minnesota as long as possible and hope to go to Philadelphia, but they would never admit that.
I go over all 16 games in For the Win and explain who I pick and why there, so if you are in a giant pool and still alive - congrats! - but if you have to go past my Top 8 list, really think about seeking a split of the winnings. It starts to get rather sketchy after these eight games when it comes to confidence in picking a winner this week.
Now, back to our staff pool. Four of the staff are tied at the top of the standings, and all four chose different teams this week! That is going to make for a fantastic finish. Bear Heiser was able to save Pittsburgh for this week, while Jason Wood went for Washington. Just Howe chose Tennessee and Matt Bitonti went for the Seahawks. All four could win this week, but the clear favorite to get a win has to be Bear. Justin and Matt both have teams that are in must-win spots, so you have to like their chances as well.
As for the entire group, three teams received three votes each - Baltimore, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. One of these teams is not like the others. I have no idea why anyone - let alone three - would choose the Colts at home over Houston as their eliminator pick, but so be it. Four teams had two votes - Washington, Seattle, Detroit and Tennessee. The Titans and Seahawks must win to survive for a playoff spot, so those are solid picks, but the Titans are facing a Jaguars team that wants to knock them out. Washington is on the road at a chilly MetLife Stadium to face the New York Giants, who have been on ice for a while. The Giants were shut out last week in Arizona, so Washington is not a bad call. Detroit is tricky as they were just eliminated from playoff contention after a bad loss to the Bengals. I never like taking a freshly eliminated team.
Two unique picks round out our Week 17 list with Minnesota and Kansas City getting one vote each. The Chiefs are on the road at Denver and could be resting players, but in the NFL the rosters are not that big so the question has to be if the Kansas City backups are still better than the Broncos. I think that they are. As for the Vikings, they must win this week to secure a bye and are big favorites to do so at home against the Bears, so I like that pick.
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 decided to scrap my preseason plan last week as its usefulness had passed after Week 15 (which is still pretty darn good). In last week's article I pointed out that I wanted to save Baltimore for Week 17 as most of the projected favorites were used up and I needed a viable and solid option for this week. Taking Carolina was a bit risky but it paid off and left me the Ravens for Week 17, so I am sticking with that call.
The Pick: Baltimore
Best of luck to you in Week 17, and I hope you enjoyed this article this year! Feedback to Footballguys is always appreciated, so let them know if you liked this article! I will be back one last time next week to summarize our results.
Happy New Year and good luck this weekend!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org