What the Pick Data Says About NFL Week 1
For weeks, users across RunYouPool, OfficeFootballPool, and Splash Sports have been submitting their picks for Week 1 of the fresh NFL campaign. With the season set to kick off tonight, it’s time to scour the statistics.
At my disposal are Splash users’ picks against the spread for all 16 NFL games this week, plus survivor pick data. Let’s see what we can glean.
Group Consensus: Jaguars Cover
The most lopsided pairing, according to the consensus of Splash users picking against the spread, will take place in Indianapolis on Sunday. The Jaguars go to Lucas Oil Stadium with a Vegas-approved 4.5-point cushion, an amount that had Splash pickers snickering – 78 percent predicted the road team to cover. No pick attracted more Splash users.
But a few were close. The Splash universe – 77 percent of it, anyway – foresees the Eagles covering the 3.5-point spread in their showdown with the Patriots in Foxboro. Third-fourths of Splash pickers chose the Commanders to outdo the 6.5-point gap Vegas assigned to their introduction against the Cardinals in Landover. The Vikings will cover their 6.5-point spread when the Bucs come to U.S. Bank Stadium, so say 73 percent of Splash pickers, anyway.
Splash users collectively yawned when they were prompted to pick against the spread for the Texans at Ravens game. Baltimore is favored by 9.5 points, the biggest line of any Week 1 matchup by three full points, and 71 percent of Splash pickers still went with the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Houston was horrific last year, and the franchise did little to convince the masses that its fortunes will flip after one offseason. Baltimore has been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL for years, and there’s fresh optimism surrounding its offense specifically. Add in the game’s location, and it makes sense.
If Splash users are right, then you should find a different way to spend three hours on Sunday, like watching one of these games instead:
Most Controversial Spreads
Splash pickers are torn completely down the middle on two games: Dolphins at Chargers and Titans at Saints.
In each, the home team is favored – the Chargers by 2.5 points, the Saints by 3.5 – and in each, Splash pickers went 50-50 between the two options.
To me, this implies that Splash users think the visitors have pretty good shots at coming away victorious on their travels, but not by a wide margin. Based on the data, these are the two most even matchups out there in Week 1. If Splash pickers know what they’re talking about, then these will be two of the cream of the crop to watch this weekend.
In two instances, the majority of Splash pickers went for the underdog against the spread.
The Broncos haven’t beat the Raiders since the Trump administration. It’s been six-straight Ls for Denver in this divisional matchup, but the Broncos are the favorites at home this Sunday. But 56 percent of Splash users aren’t buying it, opting for the Raiders against the 4.5-point spread. Maybe that’s a sign that Splash pickers believe the spread is too big. Maybe it means that they think the Broncos will never beat the Raiders again for as long as they walk this earth. Either way: upset alert.
The Giants are 3.5-point underdogs to the Cowboys despite holding this weekend’s NFC East clash. Vegas seems to think the guests are in a better position to start 1-0 than the hosts, but Splash users are skeptical, with 56 percent of them picking New York to keep it within three or better. Both the Giants and Cowboys enter this season with some level of expectations – playoff returns are minimum accomplishments for acceptable outcomes – and you can’t set a more proper tone than by defeating an in-division rival off the rip. This is a line that most Splash pickers predict to be crossed.
Most Popular Survivor Picks
Remember that whole deal about the Texans-Ravens game? Yeah, that bled over to the survivor picks.
The Ravens are the most popular choice to survive this weekend with 31.36 percent of pickers opting for them. That displays a strong confidence among Splash users that Baltimore will beat Houston on Sunday. It also means more than 30 percent of the competition will disappear after just one week if C.J. Stroud and the Texans prove perceptions mistaken.
Next, 22.7 percent went for the Commanders to take care of the Cardinals, another selection that makes sense given what’s expected from each team this season. Arizona doesn’t have many believers this September with just about everything going terribly wrong over the last 12 months and not much suggesting solace in the immediate. The Commanders aren’t suave picks for the Super Bowl, but when compared to the Cardinals, it seems that a good number of survivor players are willing to put their chips on Washington now while it’s at home against seemingly-awful opposition so they can choose better teams later. Not a bad strategy, but relying on one of the least-reliable franchises could come back to bite.
No games attracted as many survivor players as those two. The next-most popular pick of Vikings over Bucs engrossed just 11.97 percent of users. If the Ravens or Commanders lose, a lot of players will be wiped out one week in.
Least Popular Survivor Picks
The teams that almost nobody believes in – or didn’t want to use this early in the game, but framing it as a slight is more fun – are: Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York (both teams), Carolina, and Miami.
The Patriots earned the smallest percentage of backers among those who have any at all, with just 0.05% of players choosing the Patriots to outlast the Eagles on Sunday. Some of the other lowest-picked teams include the Texans at 0.11%, the Bucs at 0.11%, and the Rams at 0.12%.
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