So I won my office football pool. I’m as surprised by this as anyone. I mean, I don’t really follow football (or pro sports in general), though I do like a good game. Chatter around the office concerns the various players and the various teams, and I admit I feel a bit lost when it starts up. I’m aware of certain axioms, like the one that New England always sucks and Dallas is unbeatable, but even these don’t always apply. In fact, these were axiomatic back in the ‘90s, but nowadays, they’re not so.
How is it that I, who can’t name more than maybe six pro football players currently in the game, am able to generally do well at this? Good question. I’ve joined the pool four times, doing fairly well the first time and progressively better each week. I suppose it could be chalked up to dumb luck. I mean, my choices aren’t random, but it’s dumb luck that my system of picking teams works even part-way.
My choices are made based largely on four things: 1) regional prejudice, 2) political leanings, 3) weather and 4) some knowledge of pro football. In general, my regional prejudice makes me prefer teams from the Rust Belt and the Great Lakes, with Pittsburgh getting automatic preference because you’re supposed to root for the home team, when possible, and that’s mine, though I live in the New York area now. Politics prejudices me against Dallas, since that’s in Texas, Bush’s home state, and if a football team is from a state or even a region that went overwhelmingly for Bush in the last election, then that’s a black mark, too. For instance, Ohio went for Bush, but the Cleveland area did not, so Cleveland’s okay; likewise, Florida went for Gore but the Jacksonville area did not, so Jacksonville’s not okay. Weather means that if a team is playing in a climate that’s very different from that of their home city, I’ll go with the home team. For instance, if Minnesota is playing Miami at Miami, then my money’s on Miami. If Minnesota’s playing at Buffalo, it’s anybody’s guess. And yes, I do know a little bit about pro football, and have some ideas as to which teams are better than others. Granted, much of this comes from office scuttlebutt; I don’t read the sports section.
Here’s how I won the pool using my “system”:
Cleveland vs. Baltimore, at Baltimore, 8 point spread, Baltimore the favorite. I picked Cleveland here—a no-brainer. Cleveland is sort of local to me and thus has a special place in my heart. Plus Baltimore stole Cleveland’s team a couple years ago, which was just wrong. Baltimore might have some sympathy from me, since their team was stolen by Indianapolis some time ago, but this lack of empathy is unpardonable. Indianapolis gets a black mark for having stolen Baltimore’s team, in my book, but Baltimore gets two for having done unto others as others have done unto them. Cleveland has suffered, so since I like to believe that there’s some goodness in this world, Cleveland should win, so I bet on Cleveland. Cleveland won 27-17, a clear victory even without the spread.
Arizona vs. Detroit, at Arizona, 1½ point spread, Arizona the favorite. I picked Arizona. This one’s based on weather. With Arizona favored and with the game being played in the non-Detroitesque southwest, this wasn’t hard to figure, especially with such a minute spread. Arizona won 45-38.
Chicago vs. Tampa Bay, at Tampa Bay, 5 point spread, Tampa Bay the favorite. I went with Chicago. I ignored the weather, and this time figured on Chicago’s bizarre winning streak they’ve been having lately. It’s like Prometheus stole special cleats for them or something. Plus Tampa Bay voted for Bush (so they say,) so that’s a strike against them. Chicago (overwhelmingly Democratic in the past eleven elections, at least) won 24-27, not even needing the spread, and confirming that the forces of good are at work.
Green Bay vs. Atlanta, at Green Bay, 10 point spread, Green Bay the favorite. Green Bay is the greatest team in football. The fans love their team, and the team easily has the least amount of impersonal corporatism associated with it. Further figuring that Wisconsin typically votes Democratic, Georgia typically votes Republican, and that the game was played in Green Bay, Green Bay was the obvious choice. Regardless, Atlanta won 23-20, not even needing the spread. This one I got wrong.
So if anyone’s interested, I’m willing to offer my predictions for upcoming games using my scientific method that will surely revolutionize the perception of how to call sports games. I swear, I’m the next Dennis Miller.