If you had to pick, and could only choose one, would it be to participate in a hockey pool or a football pool?
Both are incredibly popular in most if not all regions of the country.
I have enjoyed taking part, in both in one form or another over the last 35 or 40 years.
For most of those years, various hockey pools were at the top of my list but in recent memory, I would choose football if I was forced to make a choice.
While my hockey pools are still about picking players, the football pools I enter offer a wide range of options.
I am not into fantasy football, picking top QBs, running backs, receivers etc. because I want to cheer for teams winning and losing over the course of a season rather than players.
What I like about picking winners in the NFL, is that each game matters.
For example, in Week 1 of the 2023 season on Sunday, September 10th, one of the games has Carolina at Atlanta.
Ordinarily, I would not care about who wins between those two have-not teams, but in a pool, my interest peaks.
For those keeping track of odds, the Falcons are favoured by 3.5 points to beat the visiting Panthers.
I am a bit old-fashioned in that the pools I enter do not take point spreads into account, just winners.
With this being the Labour Day weekend, the countdown is on and there is less than a week to go before the NFL season kicks off on Thursday, September 7th with Detroit at Kansas City.
I know the Lions may be on a bit of an upswing, but why did the league decide to put a non-playoff team from the last several years on the big stage opening night against the defending Super Bowl champions?
The Chiefs are favoured by 6 1/2 points, one of the biggest spreads for a league opener.
P.G. is no different than most cities as interest in the NFL elevates by competing in a pool.
Some, like the one hosted by 94.3 the Goat is free.
Others have a token entry fee.
— Pooltracker (@pooltrackercs) August 31, 2023
There’s a wide spectrum of pools that include:
- Time frame: weekly winners or season-long chase.
- Elimination pools: Pick one different team each week to win, and keep going until the last player is left alive.
- Survivor pools: Pick one different team each week to lose, and keep going until the last player is left alive.
- Team-win pools: Draft certain teams whose wins count for you during the season.
- Here are some guidelines that I try to follow when picking winners:
- Know the line: Vegas odds-makers are professionals when they establish a line. Use that as a gauge.
- Past reputations: Avoid picking teams living off previous reputations that have not been successful recently.
- Key to Success: The blueprint for winning a pool is “nailing” the games that are close on the spread (three or fewer points). In this realm, upsets are common. Still, it is important to have some basis for believing the so-called better team will lose.
- Have an even-keel approach: Do not get discouraged about having a bad week. Standings fluctuate and it only takes a few games to change the direction of the leaderboard.
Week one is usually difficult picking a team in an Elimination and Survivor pool.
This year for example 15 of the 16 games have a spread of seven points or less, with
10 of them, four or less.
The only team favoured by more than a converted touchdown is Baltimore, who is home with a line of -10 against Houston.
I generally don’t like taking a road team as a lock.
Going by the odds, the best picks for a sure-fire win in Week One would be Baltimore over Houston, K.C. over Detroit or Washington (-7) over visiting Arizona.
At this point, my best guess for upsets would be Pittsburgh (+2.5) over visiting San Francisco or the New York Jets (+2.5) over visiting Buffalo.
NFL week one odds can be found right here.
Is this Gregg Drinnan’s last column?
Statements abound as Hurricanes welcome Peters as head coach; social media firestorm follows announcement . . . Patrick says he’s not done with coaching https://t.co/wXQWnMs1li
— Gregg Drinnan (@gdrinnan) August 31, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Citing violations under former coach Herm Edwards, Arizona State has self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2023 season. That’s like the Oakland As self-imposing a playoff ban.
Mike Yastrzemski of the San Francisco Giants, who is the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl, is having a decent career of his own but he has been rather injury-prone. A doctor diagnosed his latest injury as a sprained Garoppolo.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
Niagara Falls police arrested a man recently for setting fire to a boarding house. No one was hurt, but the roomers were flying.
Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. After growing up in Winnipeg, he has lived in Prince George for the last 44 years and is entering his 11th season as the radio colour commentator on the Prince George Cougars home games. Hartley is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).