Last week, we sailed through fairly easily with the Texans. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
The big question is whether to go with the obvious favorite, the Patriots, at 48 percent picked, or someone else. If we assume a 100-person hypothetical pool with a $10 entry fee, the Pats losing, and you getting through, there would be 52 people left. Your equity share in the pool would go from $10 to $19.23 in that case.
If on the other hand, the Giants lost, and you took the Pats, 86 people would be left, and your equity share would go to $11.63. So the Giants offer a payout of 19.23/11.63 over the Pats, or 1.65 to 1.
On the other hand, (according to Vegas) the Pats have an 89 percent chance of winning (11 percent chance of losing), while the Giants are at 78 percent (22%). In other words, the Giants are twice as likely to lose as the Pats. But they're only offering a 1.67 to 1 payout.
Based on that – and the Texans would also be close to (and probably ever so slightly higher than) the Giants with a 77 percent chance to win, but only 7.7 percent of pools on them – I'm taking the Pats.
1. New England Patriots
It's not as though I need to convince anyone why the Pats have a good chance to beat the Cardinals at home. If I expected 65 or 70 percent of my pool to be on the Pats, I'd have switched to another team, but that's not likely to be the case here, based on the polling numbers. I give the Patriots an 89 percent chance to win this game.
2. New York Giants
The Giants' lack of depth at cornerback was exposed against the Cowboys in Week 1, but getting both Prince Amukamara and Michael Coe back at practice this week should remedy that. The Bucs are stout on the offensive line and shut down Carolina's running game - at least until Carolina gave up on it - last week, too, so they could be tough in the trenches this year. Still Eli Manning and the Giants receivers should carry the day, especially at home. I give the Giants a 79 percent chance to win this game.
3. Houston Texans
I can't use them because I took them last week, but that doesn't mean you can't. The Texans are sound on both sides of the ball, and keep in mind this team with a backup rookie QB nearly beat the Ravens who nearly beat the Pats in the playoffs last year. In other words, the Texans weren't far from Super Bowl quality a year ago, and now they have Matt Schaub and a healthy Andre Johnson back. The Jaguars probably aren't doormats this year, though, and the game is in Jacksonville. I give the Texans a 75 percent chance to win this game.
4. San Francisco 49ers
The Lions aren't an opponent you want to fade in survivor because they're explosive enough offensively to hang with anyone. But the 49ers look like the class of the NFC right now and might even open things up a bit on offense. I think they pull away from Detroit at home. I give the Niners a 73 percent chance to win this game.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals got blown out Monday night, but the game was close for more than a half, and the score didn't accurately represent the disparity in team quality. The Browns played a much closer game on the scoreboard, but Brandon Weeden did not look ready for prime time and should have a rough go of it on the road against a decent defense. I give the Bengals a 74 percent chance to win this game.
Green Bay Packers: The Bears might be an elite team in their own right, and games between these division rivals are usually tough.
Pittsburgh Steelers: No one has much success throwing on the Jets, and the Steelers are not built to run the ball very successfully. Pittsburgh should win because they have the better quarterback, and they're at home, but with James Harrison still iffy, the Jets probably have the better defense. Too much risk here.
San Diego Chargers: The Oakland game was a joke, so there's not much to glean from Week 1. I simply don't trust the Chargers against anyone except the league's worst doormats, and I don't think Tennessee, who went 9-7 last year, is one of them