Staff Confidence Pool (No Spread) Week 18

Weekly Staff Confidence Pool (No Spread)

We are proud to bring you the return of the Footballguys.com Staff Confidence Pool Challenge. 22 Staff members will pick the winner of each NFL game, and rank each choice from most confident (16 points) to least (1 point). 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 Confidence pool Champion. Picks and ranks are due on Wednesday, so any late-breaking news may not be reflected in the choices. Also please note that no point spread is taken into account with these picks – it is a straight up pick of which NFL team will win this week. See the other confidence pools for picks against the spread (ATS) or Survivor / Eliminator style.

WEEK 17 RESULTS

WHAT A WEEK! While most of the field were looking at Alex Miglio or Dave Larkin to see who would take home the top overall spot, Danny Tuccitto walked in and showed everyone how it's done. In a week with big upsets and surprise finishes, Tuccitto zigged when everyone else zagged and crushed the field with an impressive 118 point performance. Tuccitto missed only three games, and only lost a few confidence points when others lost their top picks. Stephen Holloway also had an impressive week, finishing second with only four missed picks and 103 total points. 

Staffer WAS NYJ TEN BAL NE DET PIT JAX PHI NO SD STL OAK TB SEA MIN TOT
  DAL BUF IND CIN MIA CHI CLE HOU NYG ATL DEN SF KC CAR ARI GB Pts
Tuccitto WAS BUF IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU PHI NO SD SF KC CAR SEA MIN 118
  13 3 12 16 9 1 14 11 4 5 8 6 10 15 7 2  
Holloway WAS BUF IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU PHI ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 103
  10 1 8 9 15 3 13 12 4 5 14 7 11 16 6 2  
Hindery DAL BUF IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU PHI NO DEN STL KC CAR SEA MIN 101
  8 4 11 12 15 7 14 10 6 3 13 5 9 16 2 1  
Howe WAS NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU PHI NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 100
  9 4 7 16 11 2 12 10 1 3 13 8 15 14 6 5  
Bitonti WAS NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU PHI ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 100
  13 11 14 12 9 3 15 8 7 6 16 5 2 10 4 1  
Garda WAS NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU PHI NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 99
  10 12 9 7 15 6 8 14 4 2 11 1 13 16 3 5  
Wimer WAS NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU NYG NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 96
  5 9 8 7 10 6 11 16 4 3 15 2 12 13 14 1  
Hicks WAS NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU PHI ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 94
  4 8 1 3 7 6 16 5 9 10 11 2 12 13 15 14  
Lee DAL NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU PHI NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 94
  9 11 10 13 12 8 14 7 2 4 15 6 5 16 3 1  
Pasquino WAS NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 93
  1 10 6 11 14 3 15 9 8 4 16 2 13 12 5 7  
Larkin WAS BUF IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU NYG NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 91
  6 3 5 11 16 2 15 9 7 1 14 8 12 13 10 4  
Gray DAL NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 87
  1 8 9 10 15 3 14 13 5 6 11 4 12 16 7 2  
Grant DAL NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU PHI NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 84
  5 10 11 12 15 4 14 7 1 2 13 3 8 16 9 6  
Miglio DAL NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 84
  2 6 8 10 13 3 14 9 4 5 12 11 15 16 7 1  
Rudnicki DAL NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 83
  7 11 10 12 16 2 15 14 5 4 13 1 9 8 6 3  
Brimacombe WAS NYJ IND CIN NE DET PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 83
  1 9 10 11 12 2 13 8 14 3 16 4 15 7 6 5  
Heiser WAS NYJ TEN CIN NE DET PIT JAX NYG NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 82
  12 11 10 16 15 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 13 14 2 1  
Buzzard DAL NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 81
  5 7 8 9 12 3 16 13 4 11 14 10 6 15 1 2  
Feery DAL NYJ TEN CIN NE CHI PIT HOU PHI ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 74
  6 16 3 13 15 5 14 7 9 4 8 2 12 11 10 1  
Tremblay DAL BUF TEN CIN NE CHI PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 71
  8 3 2 13 11 6 15 5 4 14 16 9 12 7 10 1  
Wood DAL NYJ TEN CIN NE DET PIT JAX PHI NO DEN STL KC CAR ARI MIN 63
  16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  
Haseley DAL NYJ IND CIN NE CHI PIT HOU NYG ATL DEN STL KC CAR ARI GB 60
  16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 7 6 4 3 2 8 5 1  
Away WAS NYJ TEN BAL NE DET PIT JAX PHI NO SD STL OAK TB SEA MIN  
Total Pts 84 173 29 0 281 55 290 16 55 35 8 101 0 0 9 35  
Home DAL BUF IND CIN MIA CHI CLE HOU NYG ATL DEN SF KC CAR ARI GB  
Total Pts 83 14 161 249 0 51 0 196 68 78 255 6 222 275 131 32  

New England was the big upset of the week, taking down 281 confidence points with their loss to Miami. The Patriots were the most confident pick this week, just proving how diffcult the final week of the season can really be to predict. 

OVERALL RANKINGS

We've been tracking Miglio vs. Larkin for the top spot for the last two weeks. It didn't matter though, because Tuccitto's killer performance gave him a come from behind win of the overall board as well. Tuccitto's only weekly victory was in Week 17, but his consistent performance week over week and his crushing performance at the end gave him a big win when he needed it and the overall crown: 

Staffer Wk01 Wk02 Wk03 Wk04 Wk05 Wk06 Wk07 Wk08 Wk09 Wk10 Wk11 Wk12 Wk13 Wk14 Wk15 Wk16 Wk17 Total
Tuccitto 100 54 117 89 88 66 81 84 55 33 71 73 96 95 111 90 118 1421
Miglio 85 51 121 87 81 74 72 86 63 31 84 108 105 97 116 73 84 1418
Larkin 111 50 120 89 74 75 68 79 60 39 79 96 97 98 105 78 91 1409
Howe 109 42 112 92 84 66 91 81 41 40 62 90 95 103 117 83 100 1408
Garda 92 50 120 97 78 73 61 72 48 36 70 91 91 75 115 99 99 1367
Buzzard 100 45 114 96 75 72 81 85 52 26 69 81 96 93 122 77 81 1365
Lee 96 39 101 96 82 71 63 72 56 36 69 88 91 105 102 98 94 1359
Grant 106 51 117 88 76 68 72 88 49 29 74 84 95 85 112 77 84 1355
Rudnicki 93 33 130 88 85 73 75 82 53 28 69 98 90 92 106 71 83 1349
Pasquino 87 44 124 82 76 65 77 69 46 44 68 97 91 88 107 81 93 1339
Hindery 94 48 115 93 74 65 83 78 33 28 74 79 94 91 116 73 101 1339
Bitonti 98 52 125 76 79 76 74 91 56 22 65 57 85 91 101 82 100 1330
Tremblay 92 95 80 78 75 49 70 88 50 47 68 86 107 88 95 88 71 1327
Haseley 101 49 117 87 83 64 72 63 59 34 72 78 107 84 105 84 60 1319
Gray 88 46 128 83 70 82 79 83 41 28 64 80 80 83 114 83 87 1319
Holloway 90 45 124 88 75 76 68 78 40 29 74 79 78 93 94 78 103 1312
Hicks 82 50 135 78 71 66 83 70 48 38 36 101 82 82 97 94 94 1307
Wood 99 60 125 91 80 85 75 60 39 39 47 76 85 115 99 55 63 1293
Wimer 86 42 95 89 79 68 79 68 52 33 65 80 81 87 117 73 96 1290
Brimacombe 81 40 117 72 72 74 71 64 57 31 76 81 90 90 111 76 83 1286
Heiser 72 18 98 93 70 65 64 82 51 51 68 82 86 87 108 84 82 1261
Feery 81 43 114 95 89 51 70 71 50 31 58 76 85 84 89 71 74 1232

I asked Danny to give us some of the strategy that he used for his big comeback. Here is what he shared with us: 

Danny Tuccitto

Without getting into too much detail, my normal process for making picks and assigning confidence each week is almost entirely stats-based, and involves combining what the Vegas lines say in terms of perceived win probability with what Pro Football Reference's Simple Rating System says about implied win probability. This process got me to fourth place, and within 31 points of first, going into Week 17, so by no means should one construe what follows as a rejection of my own system. Rather, I was presented with a unique and straightforward game theory situation that should sound familiar to anyone who's played a March Madness pool or has been short-stacked in a poker tournament or has entered a tournament lineup in DFS: If I played it safe and went with what works in the long run (i.e., a low-variance strategy), I'd have a minimal chance of finishing first, so I had to go with what works in the short run (i.e., a high-variance strategy).

And that's exactly what I did...within reason, of course. At the end of my normal process, I had the following picks that I would have made in previous weeks:

TeamConfidence
NWE 16
KAN 15
HOU 14
IND 13
WAS 12
PIT 11
CAR 10
CIN 9
DEN 8
ARI 7
STL 6
ATL 5
NYG 4
NYJ 3
GNB 2
DET 1

Of course, these picks represented the safe, low-variance strategy, which I figured was what Alex Miglio would use -- as he should have being in first place by a comfortable margin. Therefore, I tried to figure out how I could rearrange these picks such that I'd have the best chance of making up my deficit. Via logic, there were two paths: I get a game right that he gets wrong, and I have more confidence in games we both get right. To accomplish the former, I figured that the games we'd most likely have different were the ones in the bottom half of the table because, after all, the closest games are the toughest to pick. And so my first course of action was to go contrarian in the Bottom 8 such that my pick was San Diego rather than Denver, Seattle rather than Arizona, San Francisco rather than St. Louis, and so on.

To accomplish the "higher confidence when our picks are the same" goal, I flipped the confidences such that New England was my 9-point pick rather than my 16-point pick, Kansas City was my No. 10 rather than my No. 15, and so on. Aiding this line of strategy was that I've noticed recently how the most obvious winners don't just fail to cover the point spread; they lose outright. This insight -- totally bunkum or not, statistically speaking -- added onto the difference-in-confidence strategy I had already decided upon. For instance, if New England lost as the most likely winner on Sunday, and Alex indeed went the safe route by picking them as one of his most-confident choices, me having the Patriots lower down the totem pole would make for a "better" loss than him. Similarly, if Cincinnati, a middling favorite this week, won, then me having them as my 16-point pick would give me 6, 7, or 8 points more than his assumed safe strategy of "Bengals for 8, 9, or 10 points."

In the end, make no mistake, I got incredibly lucky. Most everything had to go my way, and it did. That said, they say that "luck is where preparation meets opportunity." To me, in the context of game theory, "preparation" means figuring out the best strategy to beat your opponent. Albeit a largely unscientific endeavor stats-wise, I did my best to do just that. On Sunday, opportunity knocked.

Final Wrap Up

We hope that you have enjoyed this season's picks and really hope that you found this article helpful enough to dominate your local office pools. Look for our straight picks, Against the Spead picks and Eliminator picks next season as well!