I detailed my picks last week above, and while there was some carnage if your pool counts ties as losses (which it should), most people squeaked by with Pittsburgh. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
The Cowboys are at 35 percent, and should be higher than that in pools that started at the beginning of the season. I would fade them for the Texans (obviously), Broncos, Falcons or Patriots. The tougher call will be if you've used all of those whether you take Dallas or gamble on New Orleans, Washington, San Fran, Green Bay or Cincy. Dallas has a 23 percent chance to lose according to Vegas, so you'd need at least a 3:2 payout to take one of those which are 35-38 percent likely to lose, at least according to Vegas.
1. Houston Texans - Few people have them left, but this is a no-brainer if you do for reasons I don't need to explain. I give the Texans a 90 percent chance to win this game.
2. New England Patriots - The Colts are a live dog (even though their advanced metrics grade out poorly) due to an improving rookie quarterback and the defense playing better of late. But Andrew Luck has been significantly worse on the road, and the Patriots offense is a tall order. I give the Patriots an 83 percent chance to win this game.
3. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons got the obligatory loss out of the way, and now they can go back to crushing doormats like Arizona which has lost five games in a row. But the Cardinals are coming off a bye, and the Falcons actually had a lot of trouble with both Oakland and Carolina at home this year. I give the Falcons a 77 percent chance to win this game.
4. Denver Broncos - The Broncos are starting to look elite - finding themselves on the short list of contenders in the AFC. But the Chargers are a dangerous team because while they can fall apart at any moment against anyone, they also can play at a high level when they're on. I give the Broncos a 76 percent chance to win this game.
5. Dallas Cowboys - Dallas is the most popular choice, and they should handle the Browns at home. But the Cowboys have almost no home field advantage in the new stadium, Cleveland's rested off the bye and Jason Garrett can't be trusted if the game is close. I give the Cowboys a 75 percent chance to win this game.
San Francisco 49ers - It looks like Alex Smith will play, but the Bears defense is tough, and one big play could make the difference in what should be a low-scoring game.
New Orleans Saints - The Saints aren't as good on the road, and their defense is still poor. The Raiders can't stop anyone, either, but there's no reason they won't hang in a shootout.
Washington Redskins - The Eagles are a disaster and likely starting a rookie QB, but the Redskins defense is among the worst in the league and RGIII has no reliable targets to whom to throw.
Cincinnati Bengals - This team isn't good enough to back on the road - even against a doormat like Kansas City, who incidentally didn't look like a doormat in Pittsburgh.
Green Bay Packers - I don't like them on the road, missing Clay Matthews and facing a division rival that seems to have the league's best downfield playmaker back healthy.