One week after mass carnage in NFL football pools, last week brought a return to normalcy, as favorites dominated the results. Heading into Week 12, those in NFL pick 'em and survivor pools are more determined than ever to stay alive, but with several toss-up games and interesting underdogs, they're also looking for any edge or scrap of advice they can find when making their picks. That's where the experts from TeamRankings can help.
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 12 NFL Pick 'em Pool Tips, Analysis
Review of last week's pick 'em analysis
Last week, we highlighted two favorites (Cleveland and Indianapolis) and one underdog (Philadelphia). Cleveland won against Pittsburgh to open the week, while 60 percwent of the public took the Steelers. Indianapolis also rolled to victory. The potential upset pick we mentioned for weekly contests, Philadelphia, came up just short against New England in a defensive struggle. That followed the larger pattern from Week 11, where 12 of the 14 teams with the better win odds ended up winning the game.
Value picks for NFL Week 12 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. 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 either offer some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 12 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 12 features two favorites that the public is picking at a lower rate than their chances 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.
San Francisco 49ers (vs Green Bay)
The 49ers lost their first game two weeks ago at home to Seattle before barely surviving at home last week against Arizona, so they're not exactly rolling. Perhaps the public is a little down on San Francisco as a result. It is are still third in point differential at plus-140 for the season, well ahead of This week's opponent, Green Bay.
The point spread on this game is San Francisco by three points at home, and our models put their win odds at 59 percent. The public, meanwhile, is picking the 49ers just 54.5 percent of the time in early public picking data. That means their pick rate is lower than their win odds, a situation that gives you both the favorite and the chance to gain on a significant chunk of the public if you win.
San Francisco is not the only value favorite this week where that is the case, though, as there is one favorite that is being picked by less than half the public.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Seattle)
When we last saw Seattle, it was winning in overtime at San Francisco in prime time to move to 8-2. The Eagles left a less appealing taste in the public's mouth on Sunday, as the offense struggled against the Patriots and the best defensive unit in the league. That struggle was partially due to injuries on offense, both prior to the game and during the game.
But these two teams are separated by less than a point in our predictive power ratings, with Seattle at No. 10 and Philadelphia at No. 12. The primary difference here is performance in close games, as Seattle is an incredible 7-1 in one-score games; Philadelphia's performance is near average.
That has 60 percent of the public taking Seattle in the cross-country game in Philadelphia. The Eagles, though, are favored by two points (which is in line with our predictive ratings, once you account for home field). Our models give the Eagles a 55-percent chance of winning this one, but you get a situation where more than half the public is going the other way.
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. if you take a bunch of extra risk on a super trendy upset pick, the joke is often on you.
The pick below is not appropriate for all pools. If you're in a smaller, season-long pool with lots of games left, it may not be worth the risk. However, if you're in a single-week pool with a larger number of entries, or if you only care about winning weekly prizes, highly unpopular underdogs have a compelling profile.
New York Jets (vs. Oakland)
Which Jets team will show up? We've seen the Jets look absolutely terrible at times, and at other times (beating Dallas in Week 6, quarterback Sam Darnold throwing four touchdowns last week) look decent. The Raiders, meanwhile, are a surprise darling at 6-4. However, they have still been outscored on the year, are only No. 26 in our predictive power ratings, and could be looking ahead to a potential AFC West title showdown next week in Kansas City.
The point spread is just Oakland by three, and our projections give the Jets a 45-percent chance of victory. The public is going with the Raiders 70 percent of the time, so you can get some decent value by playing the slight upset.
Week 12 NFL Survivor Pool Pick Tips, Analysis
Review of last week's survivor pick analysis
After one of the biggest survivor elimination weeks of the last decade two weeks ago, almost every entry survived last week. It didn't always look like that would be the case. Oakland, the most popular choice, let Cincinnati score first and hang close all game long. Minnesota, the second-most popular choice, was behind 20-0 at halftime against Denver before rallying. San Francisco trailed late against Arizona before scoring in the final minute.
Our recommendations largely avoided the extremely popular Raiders, who were selected by over half the public and went instead with several other teams, led by Minnesota, Dallas, San Francisco, and Buffalo. All of our recommended picks advanced last week. For the public, 3.6 percent of entries were eliminated, with the largest single contributor being 2.2 percent of the public going with Carolina.
Week 12 survivor pool breakdown
The Cleveland Browns are the most popular choice this week (45 percent) as they host Miami. The Browns are also the largest favorite of the week. Our projections have them at 80-percent win odds (highest of the week) and the betting market implied odds are at 82 percent for the Browns to win.
Nevertheless, Cleveland is merely a moderate value as a pick this week because of the vast difference between them and all the other options in pick popularity. The Browns are attractive (in addition to the higher win odds) in part because they have only modest future value. That said, if you do go with a different choice, Cleveland is about as good of a pick (by win odds) in Week 14 vs. Cincinnati, when it will be far less popular and thus have higher expected value.
The next two most popular choices are the New Orleans Saints (16 percent) vs. Carolina and Pittsburgh Steelers (11 percent) at Cincinnati. By win odds, this looks like the best remaining week to use either of those two options. We project the Saints to be favored in all their remaining games, but this week, the win odds (77 percent) are higher than any future week. Pittsburgh is at 68-percent win odds against Cincinnati, and they also are not projected to be that high again this season.
Because of the drop-off in win odds between New Orleans and Pittsburgh, we prefer the Saints as the better value play this week. They are coming at about one-third the popularity of Cleveland but have similar win odds.
If you have used the Saints, though, there are other options to consider this week, and which is the best choice for you depends on your specific pool rules and the number of entries remaining. If you need help deciding who to use this week, check out our NFL Survivor Picks.
Get our Week 12 Survivor Pool pick recommendation
Once you know the best value opportunities of NFL Week 12, 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 above to learn more about our data-driven game predictions, betting picks, and customized picks for pick 'em and survivor pools: