Surviving Week 17
Last week, I won with the Panthers fairly easily, though the Redskins and Texans probably cleared out some pools. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
|Team ||Opponent ||% Picked* ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|EAGLES ||Redskins ||35.60% ||385 ||79%
|JAGUARS ||Colts ||11.90% ||187.5 ||65%
|SAINTS ||Panthers ||9.70% ||385 ||79%
|49ers ||RAMS ||8.90% ||600 ||86%
|BRONCOS ||Chiefs ||8.70% ||177.5 ||64%
|PATRIOTS ||Bills ||4.30% ||517.5 ||84%
|FALCONS ||Buccaneers ||6.10% ||700 ||88%
|GIANTS ||Cowboys ||3.50% ||140 ||58%
|RAIDERS ||Chargers ||3.30% ||150 ||60%
|Steelers ||BROWNS ||1.50% ||300 ||75%
|Titans ||TEXANS ||1.10% ||145 ||59%
|Bears ||VIKINGS ||1.00% ||100 ||50%
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
Keep in mind at this point, you've probably used most of the league's better teams, and the number of people on each one is less important than who's left for the remaining competitors in your particular pools.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are playing for a first-round bye, and they're playing the league's worst team with its third string quarterback. I give them an 88 percent chance to win this game.
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots are playing for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, and draw the Bills at home. While Buffalo beat them in the first matchup, it got a lot of lucky bounces, it was much healthier and the game was in Buffalo. I give the Patriots an 87 percent chance to win this game.
3. New Orleans Saints
The Saints destroy just about everyone at home, and while the Panthers have been on a run of late, their defense is below average. The Saints are playing for a possibly first-round bye (if SF loses), and Sean Payton has vowed to leave his starters in. I give New Orleans an 80 percent chance to win this game.
4. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons (late game) will have nothing to play for if Detroit wins in Green Bay, and the Lions are favored. In that case, I'd expect Matt Ryan
and the other key players to sit out for significant portions of the second half. Still, Tampa is probably the worst team in the league other than the Rams right now. I give the Falcons a 75 percent chance to win this game.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are playing for a first-round bye if the Ravens lose, and the Ravens are nearly even money to go down in Cincinnati. Ben Roethlisberger
is only slated to play a half, but if the Ravens win is in doubt, I can't see the Steelers pulling him at any point. The Browns play decent defense, and the game is in Cleveland, but the Steelers are too balanced. I give them a 74 percent chance to win this game.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have nothing to play for, and they face a division rival that knows them well, plays good defense and isn't a total doormat. I give Philly a 74 percent chance to win this game.
7. Detroit Lions (my pick)
The Lions need this game to secure the fifth seed and avoid a likely matchup with the Saints in New Orleans. The Packers have nothing to play for, and I expect them to rest their starters early. I give the Lions a 74 percent chance to win this game.
8. Denver Broncos
I expect Tim Tebow
to play better at home with the division title on the line, and the Chiefs aren't likely to pull away and get him out of his comfort zone. Still, this is close game between two roughly equal teams, so I'd only use this if I were desperate. I give the Broncos a 65 percent chance to win this game.
9. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are playing for a possible playoff berth with a win, while the Chargers have nothing to play for. San Diego was on a nice run, but they couldn't stay alive in Detroit, and it's easy to see them mailing this one in for their lame duck coach. I give the Raiders a 64 percent chance to win this game.
10. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are better at home, while the Seahawks are worse on the road. I give Arizona a 60 percent chance to win this game.
- The Colts with Dan Orlovsky
are more like a 6-10 team than a 2-13 one, and that's about equal to Jacksonville, a team with the worst passing game in the league.
The Texans have nothing to play for, but on the off chance they don't want to go into the playoffs on a losing streak, I think they might go all out here.
New York Giants:
The Giants-Cowboys is essentially a 50/50 game, and the Giants haven't played particularly well at home.