One week in and already we see the unpredictable nature of the NFL. The top two teams picked in Week 1 -- the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots -- narrowly escaped defeat against unproven young quarterbacks.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost three-time Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey early on Sunday, and as a result, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times and the Steelers mustered only 32 yards rushing. Dumb defensive penalties shifted the outcome of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' and Cincinnati Bengals' games. But if you steered clear of those pitfalls, you move on to Week 2 with a clean slate.
To help in your Eliminator pool, Insider will use numberFire's predictive modeling to help you survive and advance. Our job is to provide you with the best information possible to empower smarter decision-making.
As a reminder of our process, first we will provide you with the win-maximizing pick of the week based on the probability of a team winning combined with the percentage of the population selecting each game. For example, the Patriots might be the top favorite one week, projected to win 80 percent of the time (see Week 2, 2012, versus Arizona), but if half your competition is picking them, selecting them will not help you win your pool. Instead, in the 1-in-5 scenario where the Patriots lose, you would survive while the Cardinals eliminate half of your pool.
To do this, we generate every possible combination of outcomes each week (65,000-plus) so you can maximize your potential gains. In addition, we look forward to future matchups to let you know which teams to keep in reserve and highlight the most likely wins each week.
Remember that we are dealing in probability, not certainty. The NFL is extremely volatile, oozing with random variation. You won't see any 100 percent predictions on the threat matrix below because upsets will happen. We will be the first to tell you that we can't be right all the time, but with our data, you'll be privy to the most likely outcomes our projections foresee.
To help you visualize, here is our Eliminator Pool threat matrix, which 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.
Green: Our win-maximizing pick of the week.
Red: The popular pick. This is the consensus pick by you, the players on ESPN's Eliminator Challenge game.
Brown: The max method. This finds the best matchup of the year and works backward to maximize total win percentage throughout the season.