Last week there was more carnage – which we avoided by taking the Bears – and it's gotten to the point where some pools are already over. But in case you remain alive – or happen to be one of many contemplating starting a new pool - let's break down the games below:
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
If you're re-starting a new pool this week, these numbers won't be accurate because a lot more people will have the Texans available. But assuming you're still alive in your original pool, you can see the Texans are the obvious choice between being both the biggest favorite on the board and only 12.9 percent picked.
If you're still alive, but already used the Texans, then the question is whether you go with the Ravens (57.4 percent taken) or the Packers (2.3%). Let's do the math.
In our hypothetical 100-person, $10 pool, if the Packers win and Ravens lose, you'd be down to 43 people, and your equity would grow from $10 to $23.26. If the Ravens were to win and the Packers lose, there would be 98 people left, and your stake would grow to $10.20.
The ratio of $23.26 to $10.20 is 2.28.
But the Ravens are 86/14 favorites, and the Packers only 76/24. In other words the risk in picking the Packers is 24/14 (1.71) times greater than that in picking the Ravens. But you'd be well compensated for taking this risk because your payout is 2.28 to 1. So I'd advise you to take the greater risk and pick the Packers.
1. Houston Texans - If you still have them available, they're the slam dunk as they offer a strong payout in the event of a Ravens loss, and they're just as heavily favored at home against the Titans. Tennessee is a little dangerous considering they have plenty of explosive offensive players and might have turned a corner last week against the Lions. But that game was at home and against a bad Lions defense. I give the Texans an 87 percent chance to win this game.
2. Green Bay Packers - It's a bit scary going against a Drew Brees-led offense, but if you need courage, consider Aaron Rodgers going against the league's worst defense. Moreover, even last year's Saints (of whom we've seen not even a glimpse in 2012) were just 5-3 on the road, and their wins included games against JAX, TEN, STL and CAR. In fact, the only good team they beat on the road was ATL, and that went to overtime. I give the Packers a 78 percent chance to win this game.
3. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons are tough at home, and they've looked good early on, but I have an odd Panthers feeling here. Carolina was destroyed by the Giants, but has had 10 days to make adjustments, and the Panthers know the Falcons well. Moreover, the Atlanta secondary has played well so far, but is missing its best cover corner in Brent Grimes. Cam Newton could very well be able to exploit that. In the end, the Falcons efficient offense should move the ball consistently against a weak Carolina defense, so I'll give them 74 percent chance to win this game.
4. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals aren't just 3-0, they're 3-0 with wins over 2-1 Seattle, 2-1 Philadelphia and the Patriots in New England. That said, the Dolphins are the type of physical smashmouth team that can turn this into an ugly slugfest either team can win, so long as Ryan Tannehill isn't forced to do a whole lot. In the end, Arizona at home is a strong enough play, and the risk is worth the reward on the off chance the Ravens lose. I give the Cardinals a 73 percent chance to win this game.
5. Baltimore Ravens - They're nearly as good a bet as the Texans to win, hosting the Browns off a short week. There could be a slight chance of a letdown after a dramatic win over the Patriots and a Sunday night game with such a quick turnaround, but at least they're at home, and the Browns have to travel. The real knock on them is that 57 percent of pools are on them, making them a great team to avoid in the event that they do lose. I give the Ravens an 86 percent chance to win this game.
New England Patriots - Sure they're desperate at 1-2, but going on the road against an improved division rival is a tall order.
Detroit Lions - Even if Matt Stafford plays, it's unclear that the Lions are even good this year, and the Vikings might be significantly improved with the development of Christian Ponder.