Surviving Week 5
I wound up using Tampa over Green Bay last week in the full article, and I won't deny the Monday Night game was pure torture. From Raheem Morris burning a challenge and timeout that cost the Bucs a field goal at the end of the first half, to the two fluke big play TDs from Pierre Garcon to Tampa trailing for the vast majority of the game. But the Bucs were better than the Colts by a large enough margin to overcome those things, so I stand by the pick (especially given the relative payout compared to the Packers). The Green Bay game was the opposite – the favorite got the bounces, and it's easy to see what happens in that case. But the bounces can go either way – and you just need to have a team that can withstand as many bad ones as possible.
Let's take a look at this week's games:
|Team ||Opponent ||% Picked* ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|GIANTS ||Seahawks ||65.30% ||412.5 ||80.49
|PATRIOTS ||Jets ||9.60% ||385 ||79.38
|Saints ||PANTHERS ||8.80% ||267.5 ||72.79
|TEXANS ||Raiders ||4.80% ||230 ||69.70
|LIONS ||Bears ||2.50% ||230 ||69.70
|STEELERS ||Titans ||2.00% ||175 ||63.64
|Chargers ||Broncos ||1.70% ||190 ||65.52
|Packers ||FALCONS ||1.40% ||235 ||70.15
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
1. Green Bay Packers
I realize they're on the road against a decent team that plays much better at home, but (1) They're the best team in the NFL right now; and (2) They have a better chance to win according to Vegas than anyone but the Giants (terrible payout with more than 65 percent on them), the Pats (I put their chances at far lower than Vegas does against a desperate Jets squad that dominated them in January) and the Saints (who also face a dangerous opponent on the road). I give them a 72 percent chance to win this game.
2. New Orleans Saints
If you've used the Packers, I'd roll the dice with the Saints on the road as they're a top-five NFL squad playing against one of the league's worst defenses. Of course, the Panthers' offense is dangerous, and New Orleans' defense has given up a lot of points so far, but I doubt the Saints will take an upstart division rival lightly. I give the Saints a 71 percent chance to win this game.
3. New England Patriots
The Pats are Vegas' pick with nearly as good a chance for the win as the Giants but far fewer people on them. But I see the Jets-Pats as a much closer contest, regardless of what the two teams have done so far this year, and if I were in Vegas, I'd definitely put something down on the Jets with the moneyline. The Baltimore game was a nightmare for the Jets as their offensive line was overwhelmed, and their good defensive showing was wasted. But the Pats' defense is one of the weakest in the league right now (and they lost their best player in Jerod Mayo
), while the Jets are the one team that might be able to slow down Tom Brady
. They certainly did nine months ago in the playoffs, when they dropped seven men into coverage, and Tom Brady
had no idea where to go with the ball. I give the Patriots a 68 percent chance to win this game.
4. New York Giants
The Giants are the biggest favorites on the board, and deservedly so at home against the Seahawks. They're also the team most likely to win this week. But more than 65 percent of pools are on them, making them a very bad value. To illustrate this, let's imagine there were 100 people left in your pool for a $1000 prize. That means everyone starts Week 5 with $10 in "pool equity." If the Giants lose and some other team wins, that means 35 people would be left, and everyone's share would be worth $28.6. But if the Patriots, for example, lost, and the Giants won 90 people would be left, and everyone's share would be worth $11.1. The difference is obviously stark. The ratio of 28.6 to 11.1 is 2.6. That is, the payout is 2.6 times as much if you make it through Week 5 with 35 people left rather than 90. The question then is whether the risk of losing is 2.6 times as great. The Giants, according to Vegas, have a 20 percent chance to lose. The Patriots, according to me, have a 32 percent chance to lose. That's just 1.6 times as much. For the Giants to be worth choosing over the Pats, let alone the Packers and Saints, who have fewer people taken them, and in my opinion greater chances to win, they'd have to have an 88 percent chance to win. I give them an 82 percent shot, and so they're my fourth choice.
- With Andre Johnson
out, I don't see where they have a huge advantage over the Raiders. Both teams run it well, and neither team is that dangerous through the air. I expect this to go down to the wire.
- They were gifted the game in Dallas and very well could have lost in Minnesota, too. The Bears will be up for an undefeated division rival on Monday night and will probably put some hats on Matt Stafford.