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Survivor: Backing the Ravens

Chris Liss

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

Last week, I changed my inital pick from the Giants to the Chargers with disastrous consequences. It was a risky play (and it got a lot worse when Antonio Gates and eventually Malcom Floyd went down), but one that had a good payoff relative to the other games on the board. I want to avoid judging the merit of a decision solely by how it turns out, but at the same time, I don't want to avoid all responsibility for making a losing pick by claiming that the decision was good, and that it was just a matter of bad luck. How do we know the decision was good? Maybe the Steelers really should have been 93 percent favorites and were the no brainer pick? In the end, while I am convinced that the method of balancing likelihood of winning with magnitude of prospective payout in terms of pot equity is the right way to play it, which team you choose is always going to depend on your inputs. And in cases like last week when the Chargers went down, I think there's a good chance I used inaccurate inputs. And/or maybe I was unlucky.

For this week, there are two big favorites, and then two more viable teams. Here are the numbers:

Team Opponent % Picked Vegas ML* Vegas Odds
RavensBills 44.9%600 85.7%
SaintsBrowns 22.0%600 85.7%
BroncosRaiders 16.2%337.5 77.1%
ChiefsJaguars 9.1%375 78.9%
SeahawksCardinals 4.0% 250 71.4%
OtherN/A 3.8 N/A N/A
*average of the two money lines

My Picks

1. Baltimore Ravens

Vegas likes the Saints much better, and I even considered switching to the Chiefs based on the likely payout, but I like Baltimore more than the 86 percent Vegas gives them - I'll call it 90. Baltimore's coming off a tough loss in New England, and they'll be hungry to get back on track at home against a Buffalo team that can't stop the run or rush the passer. I give the Ravens a 90 percent chance to win this game.

2. New Orleans Saints

The Saints looked like last year's version in Tampa last week, but I'm not sold it's here to stay. Moreover, given how well Colt McCoy played in Pittsburgh last week, the Browns are a more dangerous team than the Bills. I give the Saints an 83 percent chance to win this game.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

The Jaguars with Todd Bouman are arguably one of the league's worst teams, but keep in mind Jacksonville beat Indy a few weeks ago with David Garrard at the helm, and he's not far above replacement level himself. The Chiefs have looked good early on, and Arrowhead's a tough place to play, but I can't trust them as much as the Saints or Ravens just yet. I give the Chiefs a 78 percent chance to win this game.

4. Denver Broncos

The Raiders actually knocked off Denver in Denver last year to win me a survivor pool, and Oakland does tend to play inexplicably gritty at times. But I like the Broncos coming off a bad loss and needing a win to stay in a winnable AFC West race. I give the Broncos a 77 percent chance to win this game.

Notable omissions

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks played well in Chicago last week, and Arizona has looked pretty bad at times, but Max Hall's had two weeks of first-team reps to get ready for this one, and I don't trust Seattle to play consistently well just yet.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are better at home, but they're just a modestly good team playing a desperate Cincy squad that already knocked off Baltimore this year.