NFL Pick 'em Pool Picks Week 1: Expert advice on favorites, upsets to consider in confidence pools, office pools

NFL Pick 'em Pool Picks Week 1: Expert advice on favorites, upsets to consider in confidence pools, office pools

In this post, we highlight five Week 1 picks that can help give you an edge to win an NFL pick ’em contests or confidence pool in 2021. By finding Week 1 picks that are being underrated by the public, this value-driven pick strategy can yield incremental weekly gains that really add up by the end of the season in pick ’em pools.

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Week 1 NFL Pick ’em Pool Picks: Tips, strategy

How We Identify NFL Week 1 Value Picks

Good NFL game predictions are only part of the story when it comes to maximizing your edge to win a football pool. You also need to consider how you expect your opponents to pick each game. After all, you can only rise in your pool standings if you score points that your opponents miss. 

In order to distance yourself from the competition, you need to do two things:

  • Look for unpopular picks that might be worth an educated gamble
  • Avoid trendy upset picks that aren’t worth the risk.

This approach to making picks is a big reason why since 2014, an average of 71 percent of our subscribers have reported winning a prize in a football pick ’em contest.

We are not saying that you should make all of the picks in this article — the upset picks especially. The best Week 1 picks for your NFL pool depend on things like your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure. (To learn why, check out our free articles about strategy for winning football pick ’em pools.)

What we are saying is that the teams mentioned in this post provide some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 1 picks from your pool opponents by taking on little or no additional risk. We also call out matchups where picking an upset is probably a terrible idea.

(If you want our game-by-game pick recommendations for all of your specific pools, use our Football Pick ’em Picks product.)

Note: Win odds and estimated pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.

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Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks

Point Spread: +2.5

Popularity: 18%

Category: Value Gamble Play in Weekly Contests

The Seahawks are road favorites at Indianapolis, and the public is heavily on board with the Seahawks. This game originally had the Colts as 2.5-point favorites at the end of July in the betting markets and moved five points on the news of QB Carson Wentz’s foot injury. So, this spread is already accounting for his injury, and, if anything, the recent news has been positive, with Wentz practicing early in the week.

The public is giving the Colts very little chance here relative to the odds. Two other games feature a 2.5-point underdog, and the public is picking the Texans and Giants on average more than twice as often as they are picking the Colts. That makes taking Indianapolis a big value play in weekly contests.

If you are in a weekly contest that uses confidence points, you should consider picking Indianapolis at a high confidence value, especially in a pool with lots of entries. Why? With so many entries likely going the other way, you want to set up a scenario where if the Colts win, you make a big leap while most of your opponents get no points. In a confidence pool with weekly prizes, you want to push for more points when you have pot odds in your favor. Getting a slight favorite at home being picked by less than 20 percent of the public qualifies.

MORE TEAMRANKINGS: Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool advice

New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

Point Spread: -3

Popularity: 59%

Category: Value Favorite Across All Game Winner Pools

The Patriots provide the best of both worlds, as you’re getting the favorite and getting them when the public is close to evenly split. That means you can pick the team most likely to win while still getting good differentiation from how others are picking. 

New England is starting a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones in this one, and Miami finished with the better record a year ago. Those factors are probably leading to some public hesitancy here and giving you an opportunity with New England. 

If you want to know what the betting markets think, the point spread has moved up a half-point with Jones being named the starter and Cam Newton being released. People putting money down on the game haven’t been any more turned off by the rookie factor.

WEEK 1 NFL DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | Yahoo | FanDuel

Washington Football Team vs. LA Chargers

Point Spread: +1

Popularity: 38%

Category: Unpopular Toss-Up

The game between Washington and the Chargers is the closest matchup on the board in Week 1 according to the oddsmakers. It’s basically a toss-up, with Washington as a one-point home underdog.

The public is showing a stronger preference, though, for taking the Chargers because for the 10th year in a row, according to pundits, they are going to be the sleeper surprise team.

In weekly contests, you want differentiation from other entries to try to leverage a handful of key results into a victory. With the public picking the Chargers 62 percent of the time, you get some of that by taking Washington to win.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Denver Broncos at NY Giants

Point Spread: -2.5

Popularity: 53%

Category: Value Favorite Across All Game Winner Pools

Like New England, Denver is a value favorite, being picked just 53 percent of the time. Also like New England, Denver has a new quarterback, as veteran Teddy Bridgewater has been named the starter for the Broncos. 

The public may be down on the Broncos coming off a 5-11 season, but last year featured a lot of issues for Denver that should be better this year. In 2020, the Broncos had four different starting QBs, including a week where they had to promote a practice squad wide receiver to play the position who completed one pass. Star DE Von Miller and WR Courtland Sutton also missed the season with injuries.

The betting markets are higher on Denver this season, and they are projected to win about half their games. So you are getting a little public discount on the Broncos early.

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans

Point Spread: +3

Popularity: 20%

Category: Value Gamble Play in Weekly Contests

Finally, if you’re looking for another upset to sprinkle into your repertoire in weekly contests, Arizona provides a good mix of win odds versus popularity. They have about a 40-percent chance of winning but are only being picked by 20 percent of entries against Tennessee. 

This game is tied for the second-highest over/under total at 52 (behind only Chiefs-Browns), so rolling with the Arizona offense and QB Kyler Murray is a reasonable risk to take on in weekly contests. It’s probably too risky for season-long pools this early, though, especially smaller ones.

Football Picks From TeamRankings:
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Get All Our Week 1 NFL Picks

Our Football Pick ’em Picks is the only product that gives you the picks, tools, and content you need to maximize your edge in NFL pick ’em pools. It uses algorithms to identify the calculated risks that give you the best chance to win your straight-up, point spread, or confidence pool based on characteristics like your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure.

Over the past seven years, our subscribers have reported winning prizes in season-long football pools more than three times as often as one would expect. So, if you learned something from this article, we encourage you to check it out.

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Good luck in your pools this week!