Last week, most people sailed with Seattle, though we faded them given the pot odds and wound up taking the Giants (over Tampa Bay). Most of the carnage came from those who did back Tampa, so it's likely your pools thinned out some. Let's take a look at this week's slate:
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
The Dolphins jump out as this week's Seahawks – likely the best team you have left, but worth fading given the payout. But unless you have the Texans left – and you probably don't – there's not a lot of comfort in these other choices.
I expect most people to take the Dolphins and most of the rest to take the Lions. No way I'm taking Miami given the pot odds, but it's a question of whether I'd take Detroit or go off the board (and reservation) with the Broncos or Steelers, two teams I expect to win despite very small point spreads and moneylines.
1. Houston Texans - I'm sure almost no one has them available - certainly I don't. But if I did they'd be my top choice coming off an embarrassing Monday night loss and facing a soft Colts defense at home. I give the Texans an 80 percent chance to win this game.
2. New England Patriots - The Pats probably aren't available to many of you, either. San Francisco is tough, but New England's record at home in December is impressive, and this is a cross-country trip to a cold-weather venue for the Niners. I give the Patriots a 71 percent chance to win this game.
3. Denver Broncos - Backing a team in Baltimore is dicey, but the Ravens are overrated, and Denver is arguably the best team in the NFL right now, stout on both sides of the ball and with one of the league's elite quarterbacks. I give them a 65 percent chance to win this game.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers - This might be insane, but I don't think Dallas - especially with Dez Bryant in danger of missing the game - is anywhere close to as good as the Steelers with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. Moreover, Cowboys Stadium confers almost no home field advantage, and Steelers fans tend to travel well. I give the Steelers a 62 percent chance to win this game.
5. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks don't play as well on the road, and it's a long trip to Toronto, though they catch a break playing in a dome rather than in frigid Orchard Park. My worry here is overconfidence after the absolute demolition of the Cardinals last week. They'll be on guard for that, but it's human nature to lose focus when things come so easily. Finally, cornerback Brandon Browner is suspended. I give the Seahawks a 61 percent chance to win this game.
6. Detroit Lions - Anyone against Arizona seems like a good bet these days, but Detroit is almost San Diego Chargers-esque in its capacity for self-destruction, the Cardinals are like a wounded animal after the beating they took in Seattle and the game is in Arizona where the Cardinals are significantly better. Finally, the Lions are 20 percent taken, higher than any team other than the Dolphins. I give Detroit a 64 percent chance to win this game.
Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins would be my No. 2 choice after the Texans, but for the bad pot odds. Given that they're only 75 percent to win, anyone with even a 50 percent chance to win is a better overall value.
New Orleans Saints - I think they'll beat the Bucs, but you don't want to trust that defense with the game on the line.
Oakland Raiders - See the Saints comment, but extend that to defense AND offense.
Cincinnati Bengals - I want no part of a short week on the road against a rejuvenated Eagles team with an improving rookie quarterback.