Monday, September 23, 2013

Pool Update: Drowning

Haven’t been talking much here so far this year about the NFL football pool, the one I enter each year that involves picking each and every NFL game. We just pick winners -- no spreads -- and over the last few years playing the pool has added a lot of enjoyment to watching football as I always have a rooting interest in every single game.

There’s a fairly obvious reason why I haven’t said much about pool so far this year, namely, my less-than-stellar results picking games thus far. Picked 10 of 16 correctly each of the first two weeks, but only managed eight of 15 winners here so far in Week 3 with the Monday Night tilt still to go. That might sound okay, but I’m already a full eight games behind the leaders.

In other words, it isn’t even October I’m already in what amounts to desperation mode going forward.

As a kind of emblem of how my season has gone so far, I took my team, the Carolina Panthers, in each of their first two games, while almost everyone else in the pool picked against them those first two weeks. The Panthers lost two heartbreakers -- both games they could easily have won -- and as a I result I fell two games behind the field.

Then yesterday I gave up on Carolina and like nearly everyone else took the New York Giants. The Panthers then smoked New York 38-0, a game I couldn’t even enjoy because (1) I’d picked incorrectly, and (2) the Giants were so godawful it was hard to feel like the win signified all that much for Carolina going forward (although it’s always good to remember how to win a game, even against an outmatched opponent).

Missing the pick on yesterday’s game reminded me of how last year Carolina and the Giants also played a game during Week 3. I picked Carolina in that game, and the Giants won 36-7. I feel like I completely mangled a poker hand, was given a second opportunity to play the exact same hand in a similar spot, and messed it up once again.

Looking back I’m seeing that I actually did worse during the first three weeks last year, hitting only 27 of the first 48 games. I ended up finishing tied for 10th in the pool (out of 50-ish), five games behind the two who tied for first. However, last year no one else was doing much better during the early part of the season, and I think I was only a couple of games out of first going into Week 4. I’m remembering we were all blaming replacement refs (in place for the first three weeks) for a lot of weird results to start off last year.

I did win this sucker once. But the memory of that is about as dim as the Panthers’ lone Super Bowl appearance a decade ago.

I was joking on Twitter yesterday that I blamed my poor start in the pool this year on having begun the season picking games in Spain as I was there for EPT Barcelona as Week 1 got underway.

A more honest assessment would involve confessing that I haven’t been too studious about my picks at all during these first three weeks, and have pretty consciously made some very gambly selections. Sort of like a player who has lost half his stack might start making some loose calls and chancy bluffs to get back even more quickly.

Will have to get back to fundamentals here for Week 4, I think. Thankfully Carolina has a bye.

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