NFL Survivor Analysis – Week 11

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates as Percy Harvin returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Only seven weeks left to stay alive.  Fortunately, there are a lot of options this week to choose from.  Of course, that all depends on who you have already picked to get to this point.  I’ll analyze the full slate and give out my picks to survive and advance to Week 12.  Here is the survivor grid for the remainder of the season.

week-11-survivor

There are six teams highlighted in green indicating they have greater than a 70% chance of winning this week according to the model.  Here are those same six teams’ current betting line:

Patriots -13
Steelers -7.5
Chiefs -7.5
Cowboys -7.5
Giants -7
Lions -6.5

The Patriots look like the obvious choice.  But we also don’t want to make the obvious choice if it’s the most popular.  However, looking at the current percentages this week, New England is not a popular pick this week.  It’s not because people don’t trust the Patriots on the road this week, it’s because most entries have already used the Patriots this season and don’t have that option available.  Here are the current pick percentages at ESPN’s Eliminator Challenge:

Steelers 29%
Giants 22%
Patriots 8%
Chiefs 7%
Lions 7%
Cowboys 2%

In a vacuum, the Patriots are my pick this week.  The model and the betting market give them the best chance to win and it is a contrarian play.  The problem is, we’re not in a 1-week vacuum.  There are future weeks to consider.  Most notably Week 13 which only has three games highlighted as of now.  Here is the full slate of games for that week:

week-13-schedule

The three teams currently highlighted are the Patriots (vs Rams), Broncos (at Jaguars), and Cardinals (vs Redskins).  If you have already used the Broncos and Cardinals, it may be worth saving the Patriots for this week rather than getting stuck using the Chargers or Colts or something like that.  If you still have one of those teams available (most notably Denver, not sure how much I really trust Arizona at this point), then you can feel a little bit better about using the Patriots this week.

So here are my picks for this week in ranked order:

Patriots
Chiefs
Lions
Cowboys
Giants
Steelers

Again, that’s in a vacuum for this week but it’s important to start planning ahead to make sure you have some decent options left later in the season to take down the pool.

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