We wound up taking the Packers last week, though when it was 14-12 in the fourth quarter, and the Bears were also losing, we wished we had had the courage to take the Broncos. Nonetheless, all the big favorites except the Vikings wound up getting through. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
The reason the Chargers – an abysmal team – are the most popular this week is two-fold: (1) They have a home game against the Chiefs; and (2) most people have already used the Texans and Packers.
If you have Green Bay available, I'd probably go with them, followed by Houston. The more interesting scenario is whether to go with the Chargers if you've used those two squads already.
Comparing San Diego to the next best option, the Seahawks, we can see the Chargers are given a 76 percent chance to win, or 24 percent chance to lose. The Seahawks, by contrast, have a 31 percent chance to lose. In order for the Seahawks to be the better play – at least according to the Vegas odds – they'd have to offer more than a 31/24 (1.29:1) payout relative to the Chargers.
With 39 percent on the Chargers in our hypothetical 100-person, $10 pool, there would be 61 left if they lost. One's equity would therefore go from $10 to $16.39. If the Seahawks (6%) lost, there would be 94 left, and one's equity would go from $10 to $10.64. $16.39/$10.64 = 1.54. Clearly, the payout with Seattle justifies the added risk.
1. Green Bay Packers - It's pretty much a coin flip between Green Bay and Houston. The Packers are without Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson is iffy as well. Last week, it seemed to slow them down considerably against Jacksonville who put up a good fight. Arizona is better defensively than the Jaguars, but the Packers pass rush should cause the John Skelton some problems. I give the Packers an 82 percent chance to win this game.
2. Houston Texans - The Bills are terrible defensively and have a below average passing attack, so Houston should be able to handle them at home. The one concern is Gary Kubiak trying to slug this out on the ground, where Buffalo might be as good or better than Houston. But even so, the Texans will be facing the much softer defense. I give the Texans an 81 percent chance to win this game.
3. Seattle Seahawks - This is risky, but it's a better risk than the Chargers for the reasons above. The biggest issues are Minnesota's two elite playmakers (Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson) and their stout front. The Seahawks, though, should give Christian Ponder problems, and they always play much better at home. I give the Seahawks a 69 percent chance to win this game.
4. Chicago Bears - If you don't like Seattle, and want to fade the popular picks, I'd go with the Bears. Even though they didn't look good last week, and they're playing on the road, Chicago should have room to run against a soft Titans defense, and the Bears defense is elite. I give Chicago a 67 percent chance to win this game.
San Diego Chargers - The Chargers get to face one of the league's biggest doormats at home, and San Diego beat the Chiefs easily in Arrowhead earlier in the year. But we're talking about a team that mustered six points against the Browns last week, that blew a 24-0 lead at home against the Broncos a couple weeks ago and that routinely makes the worst possible mistakes wherever possible. When you add that 39 percent of the field is taking them, I'm going to stay away. I give the Chargers a 70 percent chance to win this game