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Getting the winning edge on the office football pool takes some effort

Winning the office football pool is not the easiest thing to do. The basics of choosing teams to win a pool goes beyond just picking your favorite teams and my favorite, “I picked that team because they had nice colors in their uniform.” Let’s face it there is some skill to it.

Of course you are probably saying, but what about the Raiders vs Chiefs game, who could have picked that one? That’s true, but you can’t win them all, but what you can do is narrow your chances.

I have been playing football pools for some time now and have watched the sport for 45 years, and to win it just takes a little time. Add just a little homework and some luck and you can be deadly.

This week there are quite a few games that can go either way like the Packers vs the Falcons.

I will show you some quick steps you can take to limit your losses and almost bet like a professional. The internet has really shaped our lives and has changed the way the professionals bet. Gone are the guys who carry stacks of magazines and betting sheets. Everything is now done on computer.

A basic in football pools is home field advantage. Ask Seattle fans if home field is an advantage. Over the past decade, the Seahawks’ home/road winning percentage differential (.646/.373/.273 difference) is the league’s third-best. Many teams just play better at home. Of course there are teams that just don’t do well at all regardless of where they play. Take the Oakland Raiders this year, they are 1-11. The statistics are saying you have a 51 percent chance of winning if you always pick the home teams.

Since the Packers are at home this week let’s plug them in and see how they have done. The game will be played in Green Bay. As of week 11 of the 2014 season, the Packers have compiled a 213–111–5 regular season mark at Lambeau Field.

As of the 2014 season, there are three NFL teams that have never won a game at Lambeau during its existence, which are the Arizona Cardinals (0–7), the Baltimore Ravens (0–3), and the Denver Broncos (0–4). The Kansas City Chiefs (3–0) and Houston Texans (1–0) still remain unbeaten at Lambeau.

Favorites are another factor. Find out who is favored. Look up the odds makers, the people who do this for a living. Each week they pore through the stats and then make an educated guess. The more experts the better. For the Packers it looks good. They are 10.5 point favorites and this can go to 14. They also have a four-game winning streak and are coming off a big win over the Patriots.

Injuries play an important role in deciding a game. Ask the Rams. They had to go through four quarterbacks this year before getting it right. Sometimes a replacement does well and fills in with no problems. The San Francisco 49ers had good replacements for Patric Willis and Navaro Bowman, but most of the time when a starter is out in a key position, it means the team will struggle. Up to date injury reports can be found at NFL.com/injuries.

The Falcons are in good shape. They should have safety William Moore and maybe cornerback Robert Ashford. The Packers are looking good too with most of their injuries as probable. Will injuries be a factor? Probably not.

Weather is another consideration. Who has the advantage when playing in near-blizzard conditions? Which team can play in the rain better? The weather does matter. In the great Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry the two went head to head in the “snow bowl” in 1950. Weather was such a factor that the two teams punted 45 times.

The winning team was Michigan, 9-3, and they won by a touchdown even though their offense never made a first down. the two teams played in a blizzard and the game of 1950 where there were 45 punts in one game. This week for the Packers vs. Falcons game the high will be 37 degrees and the low 30 degrees. This is in favor of Green Bay.

As usual, in December it’s fricking cold at Lambeau field. In addition, there is a chance of some precipitation.

Then there is game importance. Some teams have more to lose than others. A 9-2 team going to play a 1-10 team might not have as much to lose and might not play harder. A team not going to the playoffs might play harder because they have nothing to lose. Teams that have everything to lose might also play harder. This week in week 14 teams playing for a wild card playoff berth might put some extra effort into the game. In this case, both teams are division leaders. Believe it or not Atlanta at 5-7 is tied for their conference. Green Bay is a game ahead of Detroit. So game importance is a factor and in this case both teams will be going hard, but I think the Pack has a lot more to lose. Game importance goes with the cheese heads.

Statistics and matchups. The stats say a lot about a team. The weekly stats can tell a fan how a good running team will match up against a mediocre run defense. Looking at the stats tells you trends. Going with statistics takes time to look them up.

Looking at the game comparison, offensively, the two teams match up well. Per game the Falcons average 374.0 and the Packers 377.9 so this goes to the Pack. Rushing, the Packers win again, per game they average 108.9 to 97.2. Passing is the only factor the Falcons win. They average 276.8 yards to 269.0 yards for the Packers.

On defense, Atlanta is rated second to last in sacks and this is what they will need to stop Green Bay and Aaron Rogers this week. Whereas the Packers rushing defense is not that great, but they make up for it in their pass defense which has dominated. Based on those stats I am still going with the Packers. Green Bay has the seventh best offense in the NFL.

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