Week after week in the 2013 NFL season, the favorites ruled the roost. Until Week 10 that is, when the underdogs finally came to play. If you made it to this point, you are most likely either sitting pretty or have already won your pool.
Four of the five most picked teams lost this past weekend -- including the most popular pick, the Tennessee Titans, who gave the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars their first win of the season. The Titans were selected by 49.5 percent of players in Eliminator pools, demonstrating why it is so important to play a win-maximizing strategy. Unfortunately, it was not just the Titans who were upset, as the Indianapolis Colts (the second-most favored team in Week 10) were destroyed at home by the St. Louis Rams and the Redskins lost a thriller to Minnesota on Thursday night.
If you're still alive, read on. This week, one of the public's favorite picks is the Houston Texans -- losers of seven straight -- to take down the Oakland Raiders. The Texans finished last year at 12-4 but have been absolutely miserable so far in 2013. What's the real scoop on these Texans? Obviously Matt Schaub's quarterback play was dismal -- surprising given his history as an efficient signal caller -- with pick-sixes being the main culprit.
Case Keenum has been solid in relief, adding 10 points to the Texans' offense above expectation; most of them, however, have come on big plays and not through consistent play. In fact, his per-pass success rate is a mere 45.1 percent.
Let's give Schaub a break, though. The real reason for the Texans' demise is their pass defense. Last year, Houston's pass defense ranked No. 3 in the AFC after adjusting for strength of opponents. This year, it ranks second-to-last, only ahead of the Jaguars. How bad have they been? Houston has allowed almost 50 more points through the air than a league-average defense.
Each week, we at numberFire.com will be here with our projective modeling to help you survive and advance in your Eliminator pool. Our job is to provide you with the best information possible to empower smarter decision-making.
Keep in mind: We are dealing in probability. The NFL is extremely volatile, oozing with random variation -- "Any Given Sunday" certainly holds true. Upsets will happen. We will be the first to tell you we can't be right all the time. But we are here to help you try to navigate the madness.
To help you visualize, here's our Eliminator Pool threat matrix that shows you how each team projects each week based on our model. It will be updated each week as results come in over the course of the season.