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Survivor: Backing the Bucs

Chris Liss

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

Surviving Week 4

Last week, I recommended the Steelers, but had used them so I took the Chargers. Both games were torture, but it was better than taking the other two big favorites, the Pats and Eagles, both of which lost.

Let's take a look at this week's slate:

Team Opponent % Picked *Vegas ML Vegas Odds
PACKERS Broncos 41.80% 600 85.71
BUCCANEERS Colts 21.70% 430 81.13
Saints JAGUARS 13.80% 300 75.00
BEARS Panthers 7.10% 275 73.33
CHARGERS Dolphins 4.80% 300 75.00
EAGLES 49ers 3.70% 400 80.00
Falcons SEAHAWKS 2.50% 200 66.67

Home Team in CAPS
* according to
** average of the two moneylines

Since I first wrote this up in East Coast Offense, some of these lines have moved, notably the Packers have dropped a bit, and the Eagles have gone up to 80 percent. Based on these numbers there are three viable choices: Packers, Buccaneers or Eagles. And roughly 32 percent of your pool will go elsewhere at a 75 percent success rate, i.e., an additional eight percent are expected to lose, no matter which of the three you choose, so I've factored that into the equations below, with the assumption of 100 players remaining for a 1000-unit prize.

Here are the eight possible scenarios:

Scenarios 1-4 GB win/TB win/PHI win GB win/TB win/PHI loss GB win/TB loss/PHI loss GB win/TB loss/PHI win
% Chance 55.63 13.91 3.23 12.94
# remaining 92 88.3 66.6 70.3
equity 10.87 11.33 15.02 14.22
Scenarios 4-8 GB loss/TB win/PHI win GB loss/TB win/PHI loss GB loss/TB loss/PHI loss GB loss/TB loss/PHI win
% Chance 9.27 2.32 0.54 2.16
# remaining 50.2 46.5 0 28
equity 19.92 21.51 0.00 27.78

And here's the expected equity for each team in the scenarios where they win:

GB Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Total
Expected Equity 6.05 1.58 0.49 1.84 9.95
TB Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 5 Scenario 6 Total
Expected Equity 6.05 1.58 1.85 0.50 9.97
PHI Scenario 1 Scenario 4 Scenario 5 Scenario 8 Total
Expected Equity 6.05 1.84 1.85 0.60 10.33

As you can see, Philly comes out the best with the Vegas numbers, with TB and GB probably too close to call. The question then is whether you really think Philly is an 80 percent favorite, given Michael Vick's recent in-game injuries, though Vegas does price those in. If we move Philly down to 77 percent, for example, it's a three-way tie. If we keep Philly at 77 and move GB up to 87, GB is the best pick by a small margin.

Bottom line - Philly is the Vegas odds pick, but not by a whole lot.

Here are my picks:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I don't really trust Philly that much for whatever reason. Maybe it's Vick's recent injuries, Jeremy Maclin being at less than 100 percent, or the Niners giving Dallas all it could handle a couple weeks ago. And I actually think Denver could be dangerous for Green Bay, given the Packers failure to stop opposing offenses, and the possibility of a letdown after beating the Bears in Chicago. Tampa probably won't take the Colts lightly after last week's near upset of Pittsburgh, and I think the Colts are clearly worse than the 49ers or Broncos right now. I give the Bucs an 81 percent chance to win this game.

2. Green Bay Packers

They're the most likely to win, but Tampa gets a slight edge because of the bigger payout. The Packers are probably the best team in the NFL right now, but the pass defense has been suspect, and I could see them overlooking the Broncos, especially after the big win in Chicago. Kyle Orton has the weapons to keep pace in a shootout, and we could be looking at a Bills-Pats scenario if a couple bounces go Denver's way. Still, I give the Packers an 85 percent chance to win this game. If you don't care about pot odds, this is your pick.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

I'm not sure what the Eagles are right now, especially with Vick getting so banged up, and the pass defense falling apart against Eli Manning and the Giants. Philly also can't stop the run very well. Still, unless Alex Smith plays out of his mind, or Vick gets hurt, it's hard to see San Fran keeping pace. I give the Eagles a 77 percent chance to win this game.

Notable Omissions

New Orleans Saints - I'm not taking them on the road on the slower surface.

Chicago Bears - Cam Newton has too much upside, and Jay Cutler too much downside behind that awful line.

San Diego Chargers - Any team that can be life and death at home against Kansas City is a big risk against the desperate Dolphins.

Atlanta Falcons - The worst road team in the NFL (relative to their norms) against the team with the league's biggest home field advantage.