Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 NFL Survivor Pool: Week 4

We have now used Indy, Baltimore and Seattle as we survived the first three weeks of the NFL season.

This weeks games have one fairly safe pick and a whole slew of iffy selections. There is one sleeper that intrigues us as well.

Philadelphia (+10.5) @ Denver - If you still have the Broncos available (and we do), that is the safest game on the slate this week. Peyton Manning may throw for 12,000 yards this season with 95 touchdowns. And that is only a slight exaggeration.  We just don't see the Eagles putting up much of a fight at Mile High. The only thing we don't like about this game is Denver coming off a short week. But having both games at home, we're not too worried about the Broncos.

Indianapolis (-7.5) @ Jacksonville - The Colts looked very good in San Francisco last week. The Jaguars are, well, the Jaguars. On paper, this should be no contest. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on perspective), the games are played on the field. Just ask those that picked Minnesota over Cleveland last week. That's what makes these survivor games so tough. We don't like this game for a few reasons: Road favorite, division game, Indy coming off a very physical West Coast game, now traveling to East Coast. The Colts are off our board since we have already used them, so there is no decision for us. But we would stay away from this one.

Miami (+6.5) @ New Orleans - A battle of two 3-0 teams. We just don't get why anyone would risk this game with much better possibilities out there. One person who writes about this stuff is actually making the Saints his pick. And he has Denver available. Says he's saving the Broncos for Week 6. What if he doesn't make it to Week 6? We generally stay away from the Monday nighters if we can. And we think the Dolphins are for real. Miami may not pull the upset, but we are not taking that chance.

Cincinnati (-4.5) @ Cleveland - Division game. On the road. And did anybody see what happened in Minnesota last week? No thank you.

New York Jets (+3.5) @ Tennessee - This is the sleeper game we mentioned earlier. The Titan defense looks like it can play. Geno Smith looks like a rookie in pressure situations. With wins over Pittsburgh and San Diego and a road loss to Houston, we really don't know what to make of the Titans quite yet, but they are always in the game. We would gamble on this game if it weren't still early in the season and such a good game still available to us.

The Pick
We're going chalk. Take the Broncos and live to see Week 5.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 NFL Survivor Pool: Week 3

Ok, since this week has three ridiculously easy picks, we are going to depart from the normal format.

What do we know so far?
 - Seattle and Denver are the best teams in their respective conferences.
 - Jacksonville is not good. Downright atrocious.
 - Green Bay and San Francisco are good.

That about sums up what we know for sure. After two weeks there are still a lot questions.

Seattle at home against Jacksonville is about the surest pick you will ever see in a survivor pool. As of right now, the Seahawks are 19.5 point favorites. And that is probably too low.

Denver is a 14.5 point favorite at home against Oakland in the Monday night tilt while San Francisco is favored by 10.5 at home against Indianapolis.

Pick any of those three, and you are pretty much safe, in our opinion. If anyone goes out this week, they were trying to get too cute.

After sweating out the first two weeks with Indy and Baltimore, we are personally ready to sit back and relax this week. Therefore, Seattle is our pick. But there is some method to it.

Denver and San Francisco both have Jacksonville on their schedule this season within the next six weeks. So it would make no sense to take either of those teams if you still have Seattle available.

Only two weeks into the season, everybody has at least one of the three near-locks available. But if you want to get cute, there are some options available.

Cleveland (+5.5) @ Minnesota - The Vikings have the lowest future value of any somewhat decent pick this week. The Browns lost their QB. We could make an argument for making this pick, but we don't think it's worth the risk.

Tampa Bay (+7.5) @ New England - The Bucs are obviously an unmitigated mess at this point. The Pats could very easily be 0-2 against teams that are not very good. New England may get Gronkowski back this week, but that does not give us enough confidence to to risk a pick here.

Arizona (+7.5) @ New Orleans - This seems like a good pick. But for some reason, just doesn't feel right to us. We think the spread is too high, but the guys in Vegas are good at what they do. With the "easy three" on the board this week, we are staying away.

The Seahawks should pummel the Jaguars this week. That's where we're going. Could be over, for all practical intents and purposes by halftime. We will take the (supposedly) easy route this week and start sweating again in Week 4.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013 NFL Survivor Pool: Week 2 Pick

Anyone who was not nervous at some point during week one picked Denver on Thursday night and was sitting back laughing at everyone else. The Sunday and Monday games were crazy.

We sweated out the Indianapolis win over Oakland and survived to week two.

With all of the week one results in, we are even less confident going into week two.

Here's how we see things shaping up:

NY Jets (+12.5) @ New England - Largest early spread of the week. We don't like that that this game is on Thursday. Strange things happen in short weeks.  But we feel this most likely benefits the Patriots more than the Jets. Despite last week's win, the Jets are a team in disarray. And New England seems like a team more likely to be ready after a short week. Early picks are heavy on the Patriots.

Tennessee (+8.5) @ Houston - The Texans barely escaped the late Monday game with a win. The Titans played surprisingly well in their upset of Pittsburgh  Houston will have a short week coming off the late Monday night game in San Diego.

Washington (+7.5) @ Green Bay - Robert Griffin III looked very rusty in the first half of the Redskins' Monday night game. He looked much better in the 2nd half. The Packers lost to a superior San Francisco team on the road. Again, Washington will have a short week and has to go on the road.

Cleveland (+6.5) @ Baltimore - The Ravens' defense looked bad against Denver. But the Broncos do have Peyton Manning. The Browns lost to Miami. At home.

Jacksonville (+5.5) @ Oakland - We can't believe we are actually talking about this game. But the Terelle Pryor-led Raiders took Indianapolis to the gun. And the Jaguars were absolutely atrocious at home against Kansas City. We are quite confident this will be the only time Oakland is mentioned positively regarding Survivor Pools.

The Thought Process:
While Houston is probably a pretty safe pick, coming off the Monday night game and the fact that they still face both Oakland and Jacksonville later in the season, we are passing on this one. While it is still way to early to make picks based on who a team faces in the future, we were going to pass on this one anyway. The future games are only a bonus.

Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers. Washington has RGIII. We'll take Rodgers any day. But with RGIII anything is possible. If he catches fire, the Pack will be running around trying to stop him all day long. We really think Green Bay wins going away, but there are better picks and the RGIII factor is enough to scare us away from this game.

Oakland is very, very tempting. If this were week five or six, then we're probably pulling the trigger on this one. But this early in the season, we are really in survival mode, move on to the next week and deal with things as they come.

That leaves two games. New England/NYJ and Cleveland/Baltimore

Both games are divisional games, which we like to stay away from. But these seem like the best best bets to survive. The Browns and the Jets are not very good. The Patriots and Ravens both lost key pieces to their teams during the offseason.  New England has Bill Belichek, and after that close call in Buffalo, he'll have the team ready to play. Baltimore has had extra time to prepare since they played the opening Thursday game. The Patriots have more future value than the Ravens.

All that being said...........

The Pick:
Baltimore. With the other games being eliminated for various reasons, we think the Ravens and Patriots are the surest picks for week two. We don't thing either pick could go wrong. We are going with Baltimore based on future value. Yes, we know what we said earlier about future value. But when that is the tiebreaker in deciding whom you pick, it's relevant.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 NFL Survivor Pool: Week One

Here in the Cheap Seats, we have entered an NFL Survivor Pool for the fourth year and will be keeping everyone abreast of our picks, reasoning and results.  Let it be known right up front, we have not done well the three previous years. Last year was an unmitigated disaster (thanks Patriots), although it wasn't entirely our fault. Yeah, right.

For those unfamiliar with Survivor games, it's really quite simple.  Everyone in the game puts up an entry fee. Last person still alive wins the whole thing.

How the game works:
Everyone entered picks one team to win their game that week. The team you pick wins, you survive. Your team loses, you're out. But the catch is that you can only pick a team one time per season. Sure it would have been real nice to pick New England every week during their 16-0 regular season. But once you pick a team to win, you can not pick that team again. Ever. Until next season. Or the playoffs, if it gets that far.

The first week always scares us. We don't really know what to expect. There are always the surprise teams that come out of nowhere and the disappointing teams that fall on their face. The pre-season is of no help whatsoever.

We try to stick to a couple of loose rules when making our picks. Stay away from games involving division rivals and stay away from picking teams on the road.

Week One offers some fairly good choices.

Oakland (+9.5) @ Indianapolis - Some pools restrict the number of times you can pick against a team. Ours does not. So picking whoever is playing the Raiders every week is an option. The Colts at home against Oakland seems to be the surest pick on the board.

New England (-9.5) @ Buffalo - Yes, it is an intradivisional game. Yes, the favorite is on the road.  But it's the Bills and the Patriots. What could go wrong, right?

Baltimore (+8.5) @ Denver - The spread on this one surprised us. The defending Super Champs more than a touchdown underdog?  Of course the oddsmakers in Vegas know much more about this than we do. It is also the opening game of the season on a Thursday night. Thanks, but we will pass.

Tennessee (+7.5) @ Pittsburgh - The Steelers at home are always tough. The Titans don't look to be all that good this season.

The Thought Process:
There are couple of ways to go. And a couple we will stay away from.

We will pass on the Broncos for the reasons stated above and Denver has the highest future value of the four teams.

We will also not go with Patriots, for two reasons. Strange things can happen in Orchard Park and New England has the second highest future value.

That leaves Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.

The Colts seem to be the surest pick. That has been played out with early picks in Survivor Pools. Indianapolis has an astronomical 41% pick rate of those that have already made picks. So going with the Colts means going along with the crowd and everyone moves along into week 2. On the flip side, Indy also has the lowest future value of any of the four teams.

The Steelers only have an 8% pick rate. So if Indy somehow goes down (doubtful, but anything is possible), the pools will be cut down considerably.  Pittsburgh does have more future value than the Indy.

The Pick:
In the end, the name of the game is Survivor. With the Colts having the best chance to win and a lower future value, we're putting in the pick for Indianapolis.