Last week, I lost with the Steelers – a pot odds play given the large numbers of players on the Dolphins and Lions. I don't regret fading those two, but the right call was the Seahawks in that case. In any event, let's take a look at this week's slate:
|Team ||Opponent ||%Taken ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|PANTHERS ||Raiders ||43.70% ||387 ||79.47
|Colts ||CHIEFS ||17.70% ||260 ||72.22
|Patriots ||JAGUARS ||12.10% ||1075 ||91.49
|BRONCOS ||Browns ||9.80% ||700 ||87.5
|PACKERS ||Titans ||5.30% ||775 ||88.57
|Redskins ||EAGLES ||3.80% ||225 ||69.23
|Bears ||CARDINALS ||2.00% ||220 ||68.75
|BUCCANEERS ||Rams ||1.70% ||155 ||60.78
|DOLPHINS ||Bills ||1.00% ||195 ||66.10
|Falcons ||LIONS ||0.90% ||192 ||65.75
|STEELERS ||Bengals ||0.80% ||193 ||65.87
|TEXANS ||Vikings ||0.60% ||350 ||77.78
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
Carolina jumps out as the big favorite among teams that are still available to most people. The question is whether to fade them for the less popular Colts, Redskins, Bears, Dolphins or Steelers. (I'm assuming no one has the Pats, Packers, Broncos or Texans available). The answer: it really depends on how many people are taking Carolina in your pool.
For example, if there were six people left, and you knew three were on Carolina, you would double your pool equity (16.7 percent to 33.3 percent) if Carolina lost and you survived. If you took Carolina, and someone else lost with Indy or Washington, you would go from 16.7 percent to 20 percent. So you'd be getting 5/3 odds by fading CAR. If Carolina is 80 percent likely to win (20 percent to lose), then you'd be justified in taking any team that was 33 percent to lose or less, i.e., 67 percent to win or better. A few teams (Indy, Washington and Chicago) qualify.
But if there were four of six taking Carolina, then your equity goes from 16.7 to 50 vs. 20 if you stuck with Carolina. In that case, you'd be getting 5:2 odds, and anyone 50 percent or better would be a better pick than the Panthers, assuming you agree with Vegas that they have a 20 percent chance to lose.
1-4. Patriots, Broncos, Packers, Texans in that order, none of whom anyone has left.
5. Carolina Panthers
- Assuming the numbers above (44 percent) are correct, I think I'd stick with Carolina who I expect to roll over Oakland, a beaten-down West Coast team that has to travel east for an early game. I give the Panthers an 83 percent chance to win this game.
6. Washington Redskins
- It's a close call between Washington and Indy, but I'll give the nod to the Skins who are far more efficient on offense and far less popular this week. I give the Redskins a 68 percent chance to win this game.
7. Indianapolis Colts
- Kansas City is a doormat of doormats, but you rarely like to take a dome team on the road in a cold-weather venue against a team that was just embarrassed. I give the Colts a 68 percent chance to win this game.
- I don't trust that offense on the road against a tough defense.
- This matchup is fairly equal except for the venue which hasn't been a major advantage for the Dolphins this year.
- The Steelers always have their way with the Bengals, but their secondary is severely banged up, and Cincy's been the better team so far.
- High of their win against the Giants, Atlanta could have a letdown game on the road against an embarrassed Detroit squad off a short week.