Last week, I was tempted to take the Cowboys due to the better pot odds, but shied away because the Colts weren't a disproportionately large draw (only 35.1 percent), and the Cowboys aren't particularly resilient. Had the Colts been up to 60 percent, I very well might have taken the chance on Dallas (or Baltimore - if the Colts had more of the pool, the Ravens would have had somewhat less).
This week is different. The Steelers draw Colt McCoy at home in his first career start, Ben Roethlisberger's back and so Pittsburgh's a huge draw. Here are the relevant distribution numbers according to Officefootballpools.com and the Vegas odds for the teams I'd consider:
|Team||Opponent||% Picked||Vegas ML*||Vegas Odds|
1. San Diego Chargers
I was all set to take the Giants, but when I ran the numbers, the Chargers came out as the best choice. I know - taking a Norv Turner-led team on the road seems insane with all the rock solid options out there, but unless you want to push San Diego down to about 77 percent, I think they grade out just slightly better than the G-Men when you factor in pot odds. I also think the Rams are a worse team than the Lions, though the home/road factor does more than make up for that. And unlike last week when I had a good vibe about the Colts and a bad one about Dallas which made me adjust the Vegas odds a bit, I think these are about right. I give the Chargers an 80 percent chance to win this game.
2. New York Giants
It's really close between the Giants and Chargers, and the G-Men have the luxury of playing at home. But the Lions are the more dangerous team than the Rams, and the pot odds are good enough for San Diego to get the slight edge over New York. I give the Giants an 82 percent chance to win this game.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are easily the best straight up choice on the board for obvious reasons, and that's reflected in the Vegas line. In order for them to be the better play despite the bad pot odds, you'd have to view them as roughly 91-92 percent favorites. With Roethlisberger playing his first game, and the Browns having a solid offensive line, I think it's closer to 88.
4. Chicago Bears
There's really not a great case for the Bears here unless you put them close to 80 percent, and I think that's a stretch with Jay Cutler coming off a concussion, and Seattle still being somewhat of an unknown quantity. I give Chicago a 75 percent chance to win this game.
Notable Omissions: none