Surviving Week 6
I'm never happy to see the Giants lose, but if they were going to, it was good to see them take down two entire pools in Survivor, and advance me near the end of several others. I laid off the Giants not because I didn't think they'd win - in fact, I had them at 82 percent, my biggest favorite on the board - but because so many people were on them. If you had the Giants and lost, please do yourself the favor of seeing how well positioned those who avoided them are in your pools heading into Week 6. (My bet is that only 10-20 percent of most pools are still alive, meaning their pool equity is between five and 10 times what it was at the beginning of the year.)
It's a good reminder of two things: (1) There's no such thing as a lock in the NFL, i.e., every team is risky; and (2) It's not simply about surviving to Week 10 or 12 or 13, but surviving while others do not. It's about building your equity until it equals 100 percent of the total money in your pool. And taking whatever risks you need to as long as they're justified by the payout.
All that said, most pools are not finished yet, so let's take a look at this week's games:
|Team ||Opponent ||27.4 ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|PACKERS ||Rams ||27.40% ||950 ||90.48
|JETS ||Dolphins ||21.10% ||300 ||75.00
|STEELERS ||Jaguars ||20.30% ||600 ||85.71
|RAVENS ||Texans ||7.60% ||365 ||78.49
|RAIDERS ||Browns ||7.00% ||240 ||70.59
|BENGALS ||Colts ||6.70% ||310 ||75.61
|PATRIOTS ||Cowboys ||4.50% ||300 ||75.00
|FALCONS ||Panthers ||2.00% ||197.5 ||66.39
|Saints ||BUCCANEERS ||1.20% ||205 ||67.21
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
1. Green Bay Packers
I don't think this one needs a whole lot of explanation. The Packers are arguably the best team in the NFL, and the Rams have been one of the worst so far. Moreover, the pot odds aren't that significant as only 27 percent of people are on the Packers. I give Green Bay a 90 percent chance to win this game. (I used the Packers last week, so I can't use them here).
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers seemed to have righted the ship last week against the Titans, and they draw one of the league's worst teams at home. The Jaguars do run the ball well, and given Pittsburgh's offensive line problems, could put up a fight if this turns into a slugfest. But the Steelers have a massive advantage in the passing game, and that should be the difference. I give the Steelers an 82 percent chance to win this game. (I used the Steelers in Week 2, so I can't use them this week).
3. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are my pick here, as they face a Texans team that's missing its two best players, Andre Johnson
and Mario Williams
. Houston is still dangerous - their offensive line is among the best in the league, and Matt Schaub
can still get the ball down the field. But the Ravens defense is still elite, they're playing at home and they should be able to move the ball consistently. I give them a 78 percent chance to win this game. (This is my pick)
4. Cincinnati Bengals
As well as the Bengals have played so far, and as bad as the Colts are, the prospect of relying on a rookie QB and an overly cautious coach is scary. But Cincy's at home, and the Colts have their own QB and head coaching issues. I give the Bengals a 75 percent chance to win this game.
5. New England Patriots
The Pats are one of the best teams in the league, but their defense has been suspect all year, and they draw a Cowboys team loaded with weapons on the outside, especially with Miles Austin
due back. They should be able to handle the Cowboys at home, but they might have to score 35 or 40. I give the Pats a 73 percent chance to win this game.
6. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are playing well and even showing some signs of life in the passing game, while the Browns are likely without top cover corner Joe Haden
. That said, Cleveland should be able to move the ball against an inconsistent defense, and keep this game reasonably close. But in Oakland and with Sebastian Janikowski
a threat to kick a field goal anywhere from 60 yards and in, I give the Raiders a 70 percent chance to win this game.
7. New York Jets
Coming off two losses, the Jets should handle the Dolphins at home on Monday night, especially with Chad Henne
out for the year. But Miami should be able to run the ball, and unless the Jets improve their pass protection this could be a close game, the kind that turns on a bad bounce or two. I give the Jets a 69 percent chance to win this game.
- I think the Falcons will handle the Panthers at home, but Cam Newton
scares me, and Atlanta will be missing its best deep threat in Julio Jones
New Orleans Saints
- I don't like the setup for this at all - New Orleans going on the road outdoors to face a division rival that just got embarrassed.