Big money is up for grabs the rest of the way in the Circa Survivor and Circa Sports Million. The COVID chaos that we’ve seen in the NFL that forced games to be moved around and the league to alter its protocols certainly had a huge impact on the handicapping for Week 15.
Bettors need to be adaptable and roll with the punches, but this week in the NFL was full of more jabs than a Manny Pacquiao fight. Eventually, everybody still invested in the contest came to some decisions, but this had to be an especially agonizing week for those that started well in the fourth quarter, are in the running for the full-season prizes or those in the hunt for the $6 million in the Survivor.
Let’s start out with the Circa Survivor, as 23 hopefuls remain in the race for the biggest prize in football contest history. We knew that there was going to be an overlay with a $6 million guarantee and there were only 4,080 entrants that signed up in the winner-take-all format. With $1,000 per entry, there was a lot of free money in the prize pool and those still standing are so close that they can taste it.
The 6 p.m. ET deadline for picks loomed large this week, as the COVID situations have been very fluid. Lines swung wildly in one direction and then back as favorites and underdogs dealt with the ever-changing landscape.
To make matters more complicated, Week 16 is actually two “weeks”, with the Thursday and Saturday games as one week and the Sunday and Monday games as another week. That meant that an obvious choice for Week 15, such as the Arizona Cardinals, wasn’t so obvious, as one of six teams playing on the Christmas “Week” with next week’s action.
The Dolphins, available to 16 of the remaining 23 entries, were a popular choice. The allure of taking the Cardinals was too much for five entries to overcome and they’ll have a tough choice to make next week.
Here are the Week 15 pick counts:
Circa Million III
There are a lot of strategies when it comes to the Circa Million and all of them get employed this deep into the season. Some will play defense and try to match up as much as possible with the top-five consensus in hopes of digging in and standing ground. Others will purposefully try to fade the top-five consensus and try to take advantage of some two-game swings.
Most, consciously or subconsciously, try to take the stale line value on the board and play the sides that have moved in the betting markets. Well, because of all the COVID cases, we’ve had some lines that have moved significantly off of what the numbers looked like on Thursday morning when the contest lines were posted. By Thursday morning, we had a decent idea of what the landscape looked like for this week, but there have still been some games that have shifted in a big way, including Raiders vs. Browns, Washington vs. Eagles and Seahawks vs. Rams.
Fortunately, the house rules for the Circa contest state that the game must be completed by 2 a.m. PT on Wednesday morning, so the games rescheduled for Tuesday still count for this week. Any game that is not played by 2 a.m. PT on Wednesday counts as a half-point regardless of the team that was picked, unless the game was a forfeit. Then traditional win-loss rules would have applied.
There were 221 entries that started off the fourth quarter at 5-0 last week, so this is obviously a huge week for those entries. Hannibal Barca-1 is in first place with 51 points and Hannibal Barca-2 is alone in second place with 50 points. There is a three-way tie for third, as Durbify-1 and Durbify-2 make up two of the three entries in that trio. The other is Mad Russian-1 with 49 points.
There is a two-way tie for sixth with 48.5 points and a five-way tie for eighth with 48 points, including JJarvis117, whose entry has been at or near the top a lot this season.
The top 50 plus ties win something for the full season. The top quarter prize is worth $171,750, with $50,000 for second and $25,000 for third. There are also Booby Prizes for the fourth quarter and the full season for the lowest point total to make every pick. For the full season, Jiggy Jack leads that race with a record of 21-49, two “points” worse than any other entry.
Courtesy of our resident database guru, Jason Latus, here are some numbers on Week 14 and the season:
With only 20 picks left for the field, every point is magnified. This week’s uncertainty came at a tough time to say the least, but the goal remains the same – pick winners.
Here are the lines, pick counts and consensus for Week 15:
1 Chiefs 236
2 Chargers* (+ 3) 157
3 Raiders 519
4 Browns* (+ 1) 621
5 Colts* 1127 (consensus #2)
6 Patriots (+ 2) 942
7 Eagles* 417
8 Washington (+ 9) 576
9 Bills* 1064 (consensus #4)
10 Panthers (+ 10.5) 278
11 Dolphins* 597
12 Jets (+ 9.5) 348
13 Cowboys 618
14 Giants* (+ 10.5) 295
15 Packers 1427 (consensus #1)
16 Ravens* (+ 5.5) 394
17 Titans 706
18 Steelers* (PK) 1029 (consensus #5)
19 Jaguars* 464
20 Texans (+ 5.5) 424
21 Cardinals 503
22 Lions* (+ 12.5) 323
23 49ers* 456
24 Falcons (+ 9.5) 561
25 Broncos* 611
26 Bengals (+ 2.5) 966
27 Rams* 732
28 Seahawks (+ 4.5) 352
29 Bucs* 419
30 Saints (+ 11) 543
31 Vikings 1075 (consensus #3)
32 Bears* (+ 3.5) 370
The top-five consensus is the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers. Those five teams have been among the least impacted by COVID this week, so it makes sense that bettors would have a higher degree of confidence in those teams.
We’ll see how it all goes in Week 15. Dave Tuley will have contest updates in his Tuley’s Takes column on Monday and also Tuesday, so keep an eye out for those.