By Carolyn Stransky
The NFL season consists of two of the greatest activities: playing football and gambling. Most offices, sports bars, and even families participate in an NFL pool each season. Although the pools themselves are simple, picking a winning team each week can be rough, and as we’re approaching the end of the season, it only seems to get harder. Here are some things to help that end-of-season frustration.
As you reach the final quarter of the season, be sure you review and fully understand the rules of your pool. This is obvious, but often overlooked. Ask yourself general questions, such as does your pool allow re-use of teams? Does it use “buybacks”? Are you allowed more than one wrong pick before you’re done? These specific rules can have a major effect on your picking strategy.
Also, take a good look at where you stand in your pool. If you’re in the upper fourth, you’re in a good position to win. If you are in the lower ends, you need to start making up some games fast.
If you’re in the bottom, one way to make up wins is go with a solid, but unpopular pick. Think about who is playing consistently good football, but maybe their record isn’t reflecting it. Those teams are the teams that will be able to pull it out towards the end of the season.
Keeping up your knowledge of the teams you’re picking is essential. Stay aware of injuries, especially with quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs. Be conscious of the game settings, because playing inside a dome or outside in the snow can turn a game a different direction depending on the team’s ability to adjust. Know rival teams, even if a team isn’t doing well during the rest of the season, teams tend to play better against their rivals. They may have lost, but who would have thought the first Green Bay-Minnesota game would be the highest scoring thus far for the Vikings?
Finally, avoid the upset team. There’s always at least one team that is having an awful season, but then they will go against and beat a team that is clearly better. Teams posted at zero wins are always at risk of becoming an upset team. So far this season, the greatest upsets have come from the Dolphins and the Seahawks. On the surface, these teams seem like a guaranteed win – but I’d say avoid them at all cost.
Remember that smart and steady picks win every time over arbitrary ones. Think it through, stay steady and you will soon be a threat to win your pool.