NFL Survivor Pool Picks 2016: Studying the Point Spread is Crucial

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The 2015-16 season was a tough one for NFL Survivor Pool players. I know this firsthand as I was knocked out of my main pool way too early, as were many other good players that I respect. There was a lot of parity in the NFL last season and many upsets early in the year. Last season was one where there were probably some random Survivor Pool winners that got by on some luck rather than genuine skill. Well, your grandma had her moment in the sun last year, but let’s hope this season is a more straightforward year for serious Survivor Pool contestants.

Luck always plays a role in winning an NFL Survivor Pool. Heck, both years I wound up in the money I can look back on one game where I needed a miracle to advance and got it at the opportune time. Even though it was a tough season overall, there is always a winner in every Survivor Pool and we plan on doing much better this season and dodging the inevitable upsets that will happen on a weekly basis.

If you have visited this blog in the past you know we always state how important it is to look at the NFL point spread for every game when they are released as a starting point to assembling your weekly picks. We looked at all the spreads last year and the year before and have mined some interesting data.

Of course, favorites of 10 or more points are always going to be your best bet. Seattle laying a big number at home to Miami in Week 1 is the only spread on the board that fits the bill this week, but there will undoubtedly be some big lines on the board in the coming weeks. Here is how favorites at different point spread levels did in avoiding upsets last season:

Big Favorites

10 Points or More

This was very interesting when compared to the 2014-15 results. In that season there were only two upsets in this category in 25 games played among the massive favorites. That was a 92 percent winning percentage for favorites of 10 or more points. Last season, however, there were 27 games played where one team was favored by 10 or more points. Six of those teams were upended for a 78 percent win rate for avoiding the upset. Three of these big upsets were in Weeks 16 and 17 when most Survivor Pools were long finished (and surely the big favorites had already been used by competitors that were still alive). But a drop from 92 percent to 78 percent is pretty shocking. It’s no wonder that last year was so tough for Survivor Pool competitors. But favorites this large are still the safest bet. You just can’t blindly pick these teams based on the spread alone, and last year’s results make that very clear.

Between 7.0 and 9.5 Points

We had a larger sample size from games in this point spread range than 10 points or above. Favorites in this range played 40 games and were upset 12 times for a winning percentage of 70 percent. This is also down from the 2014-15 season when favorites in this range won at an average of 76 percent. These teams did almost as well as the 10+-point favorites, so these are very attractive favorites to consider for your weekly NFL Survivor Pool picks.

Moderate to Small Favorites

Between 3.5 and 6.5 Points

These favorites were pretty solid at a 64 percent winning rate last season. However, when I was doing my research I found that the wins and upsets were pretty close to even during the first half of the season. The bookies who take bets are not perfect. They also don’t set the lines according to who they think will win the game but instead based on the betting patterns of their clients. And it normally takes them some time to get up to speed at the start of the season as teams will all have a bit of a different makeup from one season to the next. Well, the bookies were even slower to react than normal, and that is a reason that there were so many upsets in this range early in the season. That’s why looking at the lines is important but should just be used as a starting point of your research.

Three or Less

These favorites won at a paltry 53 percent on the season. When I was putting together these numbers from week to week I thought the underdogs might wind up on top by season’s end, but the favorites barely pulled ahead in the last few weeks of the season. Favorites of three or fewer points are not very reliable at all and won last season at a rate just a tad better than flipping a coin. If you are considering picks in this range for your Weekly NFL Survivor Pool picks then be sure to do a lot of extra research and make sure you are very confident in your picks that fall in this spread range.