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Survivor: Backing San Francisco

Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Surviving Week 8

Last week, I went down with the Dolphins, though from a process standpoint I don't regret the pick. In my pool with eight people remaining, five had the Packers, and in the one with 20 remaining, 14 had them. So fading the Packers was the right call. The question is whether the Dolphins were a decent pick, and I think so. They gave up a quick pick six, got down 14-0 and overcame that and a missed FG to take a one-point lead. They were at midfield with three minutes left when a sack-fumble crushed them. In short, it was a pick that overcame a few bad bounces - just not that last one.

The argument against the Dolphins is more that there were other good choices, namely the Panthers, Falcons and Chargers, all of which won pretty easily. I think in retrospect the Panthers especially should have been the play, given that I laid the six with them against the Rams in Beating the Book, but took the eight with Buffalo-Miami. But perhaps I was influenced by the bigger line in the Dolphins game. Sadly, by Sunday morning, the Panthers were laying seven and the Dolphins only six.

That's one caveat about these numbers - the article is due Wednesday night because of the stupid Thursday game, and so the lines are only mid-week ones, not the Sunday morning ones which reflect far more action. In fact, it might be worth checking in on the Sunday morning lines if you're on the fence about a pick. Obviously, the lines don't affect the outcomes of the game (at least not in any discernable way), but they do tell you what the market thinks of each team's chances to win.

That out of the way, let's take a look at Week 8:

Team Opponent %Taken Vegas ML** Vegas Odds
SAINTS Bills 36.90% 600 85.71
49ers*** Jaguars 35.00% 2000 95.24
CHIEFS Browns 8.70% 330 76.74
Packers VIKINGS 4.60% 380 79.17
Panthers BUCCANEERS 3.50% 250 71.43
BRONCOS Redskins 3.30% 750 88.24
Seahawks RAMS 3.10% 600 85.71
PATRIOTS Dolphins 2.10% 260 72.22
BENGALS Jets 1.70% 250 71.43
Home team in CAPS
** Average of the two moneylines
*** Game in London

Doing the math, the 49ers - as 95 percent favorites - are the Vegas top choice even with 35 percent of your pool on them. The Broncos check in at No. 2, and the Seahawks check in at third. After that it's a close call between the Saints and the Packers.

My Picks:

1. San Francisco 49ers

Sometimes when a large number of people are on a team, you want to fade them, but here the Niners overwhelmingly high chance to win trumps their popularity in pools. Moreover, the Niners have struggled against good teams this year (Seattle, Indy) but absolutely pasted doormats like Jacksonville. I give the 49ers a 95 percent chance to win this game.

2. Seattle Seahawks

I don't love taking road teams, but the Seahawks against a bad Rams team missing their quarterback is about as good as it gets. While Vegas prefers Denver - higher chance to win, roughly the same number of people on them - I think the Redskins with a healthy RGIII are a much more dangerous team than the Rams, even with Denver at home and Seattle on the road. I give the Seahawks an 87 percent chance to win this game.

3. Denver Broncos

I'm slightly nervous about this one as RGIII looks like he's finally healthy, but the Redskins play no defense, and Peyton Manning should carve them up, especially at home. I give the Broncos an 83 percent chance to win this game.

4. New Orleans Saints

Jimmy Graham's health status is an issue, and there are 37 percent of pools on them, but the Saints defense is much better this year, they're coming off a bye and they're especially tough at home. Moreover, while Thaddeus Lewis has played well, it's going to be a tough environment in the Superdome. I give the Saints an 87 percent chance to win this game.

5. Green Bay Packers

Christian Ponder isn't good, but he's also not likely to be the trainwreck that was Josh Freeman last week. Still, unless Adrian Peterson finally gets free for a monster game, this isn't likely to be close with Aaron Rodgers torching a terrible Vikings secondary even without three of his top four receivers. I give the Packers a 79 percent chance to win this game.

6. Carolina Panthers

Maybe Tampa will show the requisite desperation at home, especially in a nationally televised game, but it's had plenty of back-to-the-wall games already and just look worse every week, particularly on defense. The Panthers are an underrated team with a stout defense, and they should handle Tampa even on the road. I give the Panthers a 74 percent chance to win this game.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

Geno Smith and the Jets alternate between good and bad, but the Bengals strike me as a tough matchup for them, given the strength of their defense and improving passing game. I give the Bengals a 74 percent chance to win this game.

8. New England Patriots

The Patriots had trouble with the Jets, but with Rob Gronkowski back for a second week and a home game against a Dolphins squad that can't protect the quarterback, they should bounce back. I give New England a 72 percent chance to win this game.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are undefeated, but they've played an incredibly easy schedule, and the Browns defense is among the league's best. Still Kansas City should handle them at home, especially with Jason Campbell making his first start of the year. I give the Chiefs a 72 percent chance to win this game.

Notable Omissions:

Philadelphia Eagles - Granted the Giants are bad, and Philly is at home, but Michael Vick is gimpy, and that defense can't stop anyone.