I love to gamble. I am also not afraid to admit that I love to gamble when there is no edge in my favor. For every time I find an arbitrage where if you bet $1000.00 on Team A at +130 and $1250.00 on Team B at -120 and win $45.00 no matter who wins (once per day makes you an extra $16,000 per year), Mr. Johnny Detroit is a sucker for a Wheel of Fortune slot machine in hopes of getting to hear "Wheel....of.....Fortuneeeee". I love pools. I love squares. I really love contests. So besides playing in numerous fantasy leagues, I plan to enter tons of handicapping contests for the upcoming football season. Out of all these unique football contests, one of my favorites is the infamous NFL Survivor Contest where you pick one team per week with no spread and move on if you win under the ruling that the chosen team can never be picked again. So being a betting nerd and a betting junkie at the same time, I am going into the contest this year with a strategy that should increase my chances of winning. Nothing is 100% and with all the babbling and math you are about to read, there is still the chance I get knocked out in week #1 and the waitress who picks the nice jersey each week cashes out in the end. So here we go.....
First off I pulled the projected lines for the NFL season by Cantor Gaming for their Las Vegas properties (Cosmopolitan, Hard Rock, M, Venetian, Tropicana, etc). Four Cantor oddsmakers set lines for each game individually and after the games were reviewed, Mike Colbert (Cantor's overall race and sports director) made the final ruling. These numbers were released in June.
Second, I pulled the projected season win totals and focused on the teams expected to be bottom dwellers. The Carolina Panthers are only expected to win 4-5 games this season and I can play against them 6 to 7 times on the road as close to double digit underdogs each time. Teams favored by 10 or more at home win at around a 84.4% clip. Yes, I am quite aware of the "any given Sunday" stuff, but you can't pass up something winning at that type or percentage.
Third, the schedule was reviewed and emphasis was put on homes teams and the ability to not use the top tiered teams until they provided the most bang for their buck. For example, why use New England Patriots on the road -7.0 in week #1 when they could be saved until week #11 at home as potential -11.5 favorites over the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. In week #11 and being a -10.0+ favorite at home the Patriots (using long term historically data) are 84.4% to win outright versus being 73% in week #1 on the road at -7.0. Overall a home favorite of -7.0 should win outright 82% of the time, while a road favorite of -7.0 is at 76%. Taking the Cardinals over the Patriots might seem odd, but the math on each is close in week #1 and allows me to save the Patriots late and get a 84% scenario.
Week 1: Arizona Cardinals over Carolina Panthers (projected line -7.0, projected Carolina wins 4.5, projected Arizona wins 7.0, -7.0 home favorites 74%).
Week 2: New York Jets over Jacksonville Jaguars (projected line -8.0, projected Jacksonville wins 6.5, projected New York Jets wins 10.0-11.0,-7.0+ home favorites 82%)
Week 3: San Diego Charges over Kansas City Chiefs (projected line -6.0, projected Kansas City wins 7.5-8.0, projected San Diego wins 10, -6.0 home favorites 73%)
Week 4: Chicago Bears over Carolina Panthers (projected line -12.0, projected Chicago wins 8.5-9.0, -10.0+ home favorites 84%)
Week 5: New York Giants over Seattle Seahawks (projected line -7.5, projected Seattle wins 6.0-6.5, projected New York wins 9.0-9.5)
Week 6: Atlanta Falcons over Carolina Panthers (projected line -12.5, projected Atlanta wins 10.5-11.0)
Week 7: Miami Dolphins over Denver Broncos (projected line Miami -6.0, projected Denver wins 5.5-6.0, projected Miami wins 7.5-8.0)
Week 8: Baltimore Ravens over Arizona Cardinals (projected line -11.0, projected Baltimore wins 10.5-11.0)
Week 9: Dallas Cowboys over Seattle Seahawks (projected line Dallas -6.5, projected Dallas wins 9.0-9.5)
Week 10: Philadelphia Eagles over Arizona Cardinals (projected line -10.5, projected Philadelphia wins 10.5-11.0)
Week 11: New England Patriots (MNF) over Kansas City Chiefs (projected line -10.0, projected New England win 11.5-12.0)
**Week 12: Indianapolis Colts over Carolina Panthers (projected line with Manning -11.5) or back-up of St. Louis Rams over Arizona Cardinals (projected line -6.5, projected St. Louis wins 7.5-8.0)
Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Carolina Panthers (projected line Tampa Bay -9.0, projected Tampa Bay wins 8.0)
Week 14: Pittsburgh Steelers over Cleveland Browns (projected line -9.0, projected Pittsburgh wins 10.5-11.0)
Week 15: Houston Texans over Carolina Panthers (projected line Houston -8.0, projected Houston wins 8.5-9.0)
Week 16: Cincinnati Bengals over Arizona Cardinals (projected line -7.0, Cincinnati projected wins 6.0)
Week 17: New Orleans Saints over Carolina Panthers (projected line -11.0, New Orleans projected wins 10.5-11.0)
*all above selections are home teams
**planned ahead in the event the Colts have no Manning and the back-up is a cluster
Even though there is a 16% chance I lose in week #1, overall I think the above scenarios and scheduling gives me a great shot at getting deep into the tournament. In later weeks when most people exhaust teams like the Patriots, Steelers, or Saints I am not forced to take teams -3.0 or -4.0 where the outright win rate is only around 59%. Even if the Panthers shock the Cardinals this weekend, I stand behind the selections over the length of a complete season. Injuries or changes on a roster can totally toss the above out the window, but as of now it is based with the information available at time of this post. Regardless of the outcome, I wish everyone the best of luck this season and would love any feedback on where you agree or disagree with the picks above.