I think I have a bead on how to cruise through my NFL suicide pool. For those that don’t know, a suicide pool is a competition where each participant picks one team every week to win straight up (no point spread stuff). If your team wins, you advance to the next round, where you repeat the process; moreover, you can’t pick the same team twice in a season. On paper it sounds like this would be pretty easy, but in the years I’ve been in this pool I don’t think it ever went to the end of the regular season without a winner being declared. And that winner has never been me.
Well, maybe this time. Here’s my new system:
1. Don’t pick good teams; pick against bad teams. Obviously if you can pick a good team playing against a bad team, that’s ideal. But good NFL teams still lose a few games a year, usually, while bad NFL teams tend to win only one or two games, with the majority of those wins being at home. Bringing me to point 2:
2. Pick against bad teams on the road, playing against good teams. Good teams win most of their home games, bad teams lose most of their road games. This is a lock strategy. And we’re setting the deadbolt and chain by adding this little refinement:
3. Pick against bad teams on the road, playing against good teams who aren’t in the same conference. Last year the league’s three worst teams were the Lions, Rams, and Chiefs. They had a combined record of 4-44. The four wins were by the Chiefs and Rams, and ALL FOUR WERE IN CONFERENCE GAMES. This is because bad teams are still loaded with coaches and players who have played against their conference and division rivals a number of times previously; they tend to play more to the level of a division or conference opponent than when facing a similarly good team who they haven’t played against in five years. I’ve always tried to stay away from division rivalry games, but I think leaning toward inter-conference games is taking things to the next level.
The only stumbling blocks for my plan for suicide domination (…hmmm) are these: a. it’s hard to always pick against a bad team on the road in a non-conference game – these games are not that frequent and occasionally would entail me picking the same opponent to win, which I can’t do. So I think I’ll be actually using option 2 (and even option 1) a lot of times throughout the season. And b. you have to identify the truly bad teams. The league’s three worst had four wins last year, but if you moved up to the tepid likes of Cleveland or Cincinnati, you could easily double the win total – and thereby halve your percentage chance of surviving any given pick. Luckily, on this last point, I’m pretty sure the Lions, Rams, and Chiefs are all going to continue to blow this year. So that’s my starting line-up, with substitutions to be made at a later date as needed.
Applied science: my all-stars this week are St. Louis on the road vs. Washington, Detroit hosting Minnesota at home, and Kansas City hosting Oakland at home. All three are conference games unfortunately. Oakland is a division rival and a poor team – immediate red flag. Minnesota and Washington are both good and should easily win, but Detroit is at home (St. Louis is not) and Detroit/Minnesota is a division game, so my choice is clear – I’m taking the ‘Skins. Wish me luck.