Welcome to week 16's Upset Watch.
Last week we went 4-1 on the main picks of the week in a difficult schedule. I pre-empted this a few weeks ago, but Covid was as big a nightmare as we could have possibly imagined, and multiple changes occurred throughout the week that disrupted everything, so in many ways, we were lucky to come out how we did.
That said, being on the Raiders early was a huge bonus, as were the more straightforward wins for the Bengals, Texans and Steelers.
This week, the dynamics of the league become different compared to previous years. Week 16 is often the end of the road for teams, but in the new 18 week format, 27 teams remain in playoff contention - even the 4-10 Giants have a shot!
This week I've also launched the mailbag - your chance to get your questions answered in Upset Watch. Every week I receive dozens of emails from users about the column, and I'm going to start answering the best of them here for all to see. If you have a question, drop me an email at [email protected] and you could be featured in next week's article!
Individual picks ($100 on each underdog win pick): +$2,601
Double Round Robin Picks ($10 on parlays of 2, covering every combination of underdog picks) +$1,320.35
Treble Round Robin Picks ($10 on parlays of 3, covering every combination of our underdog picks) +$1,670.20
Total of all parlays (doubles and trebles): +$2,990.55
Another strong week in difficult circumstances as we wet 4-1, and approach $3,000 profit. I was particularly happy with the Texans pick, but the Patriots... nope. That was the real miss of the week, but for the most part, I was content with how we did and we now have a pretty solid chance of finishing with over 50% of this column's picks ending in victory, which is staggering given how few underdogs we pick, and how hard they are to get right.
Number of weekly upsets
As mentioned, week 16 is now a very difficult one to evaluate, given the importance of the week for a lot of teams who in previous years would be way out of contention for the playoffs.
That means applying some thought to how much we respect the historical data in a new situation. For me, we treat this like a week 13 or 14 for many of these teams, especially as the matchup gods have deigned to give us so many games of meaningful value - even to the basement dwellers who would ordinarily be thinking about their offseasons.
Historically, week 16 generates 5.1 underdog victories, and 7.9 underdog covers - so slightly more than some other weeks anyway, particularly the covers, which are 4th highest of all weeks.
With Covid, we've added a new section to highlight games where covid is or may be a defining factor. This should help signpost to you where you may wish to avoid picks, or throw caution to the wind and try to outsmart covid, depending on your mindset!
New: Mailbag Section
Each week I invite you to send in questions to [email protected] - I'll answer as many of those questions as I can each week. Here are a few that have built up over the last few weeks:
djcountry writes: "I'm in several pick'em pools straight up - What do you recommend for Pick'em pools and upsets?"
If you're in a pool, I'd be wary of selecting all of the upsets we have in a week.
Winning pools is all about percentage plays. Ideally, you want to have 12-14 of your 16 picks pretty much locked in with the big favorite. These should be the picks that your rivals are also likely to play, meaning that if they lose, it's no loss to you.
In a pool, try to aim for those 2-3 weekly underdogs who are facing a low spread, which indicates there may be a split between the two teams among your fellow players. Your tactic should be to try and nail these games above all else, as they will likely define your championship!
Good luck in the last 3 weeks.
yawkey5 writes: "Who writes Upset Watch? Is it one person or a Team effort? It's Fabulous."
To answer your question, it's one person writing them (me!), but the Pickwatch development team provide the data and tools with which research can be done quicker than in the past. In that sense, I consider it a team effort! I truly never rule any team out on reputation, which means a lot of time spent evaluating every team and their opponent's relative strengths and performances, rather than just those that make the cut as plays.
A lot of my research done on Upset Watch begins early in the week to update strength/weakness profiles of each team and make notes on recent games. The development of the tools and the data we use has a residual benefit too, in that it can then be used to power new features, and in time, we plan to transform the data that powers Upset Watch into a database that anyone can access with a Pro package.
Also, thanks for the feedback - we get a lot more positive feedback on UW than we do negative, but I don't mind saying that one of the incentives to put in the days of work each week is that people genuinely appreciate the level of thought that goes into each pick.
Got a question? Drop me a line at [email protected]
Week 16 Picks
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