Expert Week 16 NFL Picks Advice: Tips for Pick ’em Pools, Survivor Pools
As we near the end of the year, the public tends to think it has everything figured out when it comes to NFL picks. But the numbers still matter, and it’s easy to overlook certain teams — both favorites and underdogs — that have better win odds than you think. Fortunately, the experts from TeamRankings are here to help with strategy and tips for your Week 16 NFL pick ’em and survivor pool picks.
To finish the year strong in your football pools, you need to make calculated bets on high-value Week 16 picks and avoid trendy upset picks that aren’t worth the risk. TeamRankings is the only site that provides customized picks that maximize your edge in survivor pools. Since 2017, TeamRankings subscribers have reported nearly $1.5 million in survivor pool winnings.
Week 16 NFL Pick ’em Pool Tips, Analysis
Review of last week’s pick ’em analysis
Last week, we discussed three teams: Dallas, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh. These games were all close to being toss-ups, but the public was picking the opponents more frequently than the win odds suggested. Dallas ended their losing streak in impressive fashion, while both Pittsburgh and Tennessee lost in closer games.
So, it was the first time in several weeks are calls came in below the public expectation, though the public still only got 1.3 wins in these three games, on average, thanks to how extremely unpopular Dallas was.
Value picks for NFL Week 16 pick ’em pools
Getting the biggest edge in your NFL pick ’em pool requires knowing not only every team’s win odds (i.e. how risky of a pick it is), but also how popular of a pick it is. Why? Because when you pick less popular teams and they win, you’ll shoot up your office pool standings.
Based on win odds and pick popularity, the three teams below offer some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 16 picks from your pool opponents. To get all our pick recommendations for your pool — customized for its size, rules, and prize structure — check out our Football Pick ’em Picks product.
Note: Win odds and estimated national pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our football picks product updates multiple times per day.
Week 16 features one favorite that the public is picking at a lower rate than their chance to win. These types of teams are as close as you can get to “no-brainer picks” in NFL pick ’em contests since both win odds and value are on your side.
Minnesota Vikings (vs. Green Bay)
We’ll start with the final game of the week, the last Monday Night game of the year, between Minnesota and Green Bay. It’s a game with major playoff implications, as these two teams are still battling to win the NFC North. Minnesota cannot move into the tiebreaker lead, but they can tie the Packers at 11-4 overall by winning, which would make Week 17 meaningful for both sides.
Our projections give Minnesota a 70-percent chance of winning this one, and they are 5.5-point favorites. The public, though, is giving Green Bay more of a chance here, picking the Packers to pull the upset 40 percent of the time. That means there is value in playing the favored Vikings here to continue rolling.
We’ll note that despite Green Bay’s 11-3 record, this is the largest home spread for the Vikings in a game against Green Bay since 2000. Minnesota has gone 7-3 against the spread in the past 10 home games with Green Bay. For the season, the Vikings have outscored opponents by 119 points while Green Bay is plus-47 in point differential.
When a matchup is pretty much a 50/50 proposition, it usually makes sense to pick the less popular team. To win an NFL pick ’em pool, you’re probably going to need some luck in these “coin flip” games, and when you get it, you want to maximize the upside by scoring points the majority of your opponents miss. We say “usually” because that strategy could differ if you are leading your pool late and want to cover the most likely pick your opponents will make. So, for our subscribers, make sure you use your customized advice that takes into account your place in the standings when deciding on these kind of plays.
Cincinnati Bengals (at Miami)
The Bengals can clinch the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft with a loss to Miami. It seems the public are expecting them to do just that. (They are likely to get the top pick whether they win or lose, as they have a two-game “lead” on everyone else with two games to play).
The Bengals are only a one-point underdog and have 49-percent win odds. The public is only picking the Bengals 16 percent of the time, so you can get a lot of value here by going against the crowd in this matchup of bad teams.
If you’re going to make a gamble on an underdog, you need to make sure that the potential reward (that is, how much your odds to win your pool will increase if your gamble pays off) is as big as possible. Take a bunch of extra risk on a super trendy upset pick, and the joke is on you.
The pick below is not appropriate for all pools. These are ideal picks in a single-week pool with a larger number of entries, and also can be the type of choices you need to start making if you are trailing or just outside the money and need to gain some ground by zigging when the leaders are probably zagging.
New York Jets (vs. Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh has overachieved after the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and is playing for its playoff life this week in New York. But things may be finally catching up to the Steelers due to offensive deficiencies, as they are averaging only 15.5 points over the past six games. Devlin Hodges threw four interceptions in the loss to Buffalo, and the team had already benched Mason Rudolph in favor of Hodges.
The Jets have been inconsistent but have put together some big home performances to pull off upsets against Dallas and Oakland. With just 14 percent of the public picking New York here, this is another good value spot. The Jets are just a three-point underdog and have a 43-percent chance of winning according to our models.
Week 16 NFL Survivor Pool Pick Tips, Analysis
Review of last week’s survivor pick analysis
We thought our subscribers were in great shape last week, with San Francisco available at a much higher rate than the public, thus resulting in fewer “risky” recommendations. Well, it did not work out that way, as San Francisco lost after having a two-score lead in the fourth quarter. The go-ahead touchdown came in the final two seconds on a play that was originally called down at the one-yard line. With that 49ers loss, around 40 percent of our recommendations were eliminated.
Add in that we also recommended the Raiders at a rate higher than the public as well, our recommendations had a rare week where they took the losses while the public survived at a greater rate. Our subscriber recommendations survived at a 34-percent rate, while the public survived at an estimated 79-percent rate.
For the full year, our survival rate is still up on the public, 1.2 percent to 0.3 percent.
Week 16 survivor pool breakdown
The Seattle Seahawks are the most popular choice this week at 24-percent popularity, followed closely by the Atlanta Falcons at 21 percent.
Of those two options, Seattle has the higher win odds as a 10-point favorite against Arizona at home, while Atlanta is a 7.5-point favorite against Jacksonville. Our models give Seattle a 78-percent chance of victory and Atlanta a 73-percent chance of winning.
The only other team this week drawing over five-percent pick popularity is the Denver Broncos (13 percent), who host Detroit. Denver has not been used often in survivor pools this year and seems to be a popular choice for those searching for options. Our projection models are not as optimistic about the Broncos chances, giving them 64-percent win odds compared to 73-percent implied win odds from betting money lines.
Those are the most popular options, but our two most frequently recommended choices to our subscribers this week are not among them. If you need help deciding who to use this week, check out our NFL Survivor Picks product for customized advice for you pool.
Which Of These NFL Week 16 Picks Should You Make?
Once you know the best value opportunities of NFL Week 16, you can increase your odds to win your pool by making educated gambles on them. But there are a lot of potential decisions to make. Not all of them will make sense for your specific pool(s), and it takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answers.
Fortunately, we’ve built technology to do all the analytical heavy lifting for you. You can use the links below to learn more about our data-driven game predictions, betting picks, and customized picks for pick ’em and survivor pools:
Those are the most popular options, but some other options this week might be the best play for your pool. In fact, a team not discussed above is currently our most frequent recommendation to subscribers. If you need help deciding who to use this week, check out our NFL Survivor Picks product for customized advice for you pool.