Pick’em Pool Pick Advice for Subscribers in 2024 NFL Playoff Pools
Picks, advice, and analysis for 2023-24 NFL playoffs pools and pick'em contests, from the Wild Card Round to the Super Bowl.
Christian McCaffrey and the 49ers are the No. 1 seed.
Welcome to the PoolGenius pick strategy article for 2023-24 NFL playoffs pick’em pools (and for pools that include both the regular season and playoffs). This is a premium article available to subscribers with access to our Football Pick’em Picks product.
If you don’t already have access, you’ll see a button at the bottom of this page to subscribe.
Because of the unique complexity of NFL playoff pick’em pools, our Football Pick’em Picks product does not provide customized, pool-specific pick recommendations for playoff pools like it does for regular-season pools.
Instead, this article provides our data-driven pick advice for playoff pick’em pools, from the Wild Card Round to the Super Bowl. We update it multiple times weekly throughout the playoffs, and include news updates that are likely to impact pick’em pool strategy.
The Super Bowl is here, which means there’s only one game remaining in playoff pick’em pools. Here are the updates and plan for the Super Bowl:
- Mon, Jan. 29: Super Bowl Matchup and Spread
- Thu, Feb. 1: Super Bowl Pick Popularity Data
- Fri, Feb. 2: Game Winner Super Bowl Strategy
- Fri, Feb. 2: Spread Pool Super Bowl Strategy
- Thu, Feb. 8: Super Bowl Numbers Updates
Subscribers who still have questions after reading this article can submit them via the product’s Q&A Forum. Just make sure to do it by Friday at noon before the Super Bowl to guarantee that we have time to review it. The earlier you get your question in, the better the odds that we can respond in time.
SUPER BOWL CONTENT
2024 Super Bowl Matchup, Spread and Total
Four years after they met in the Super Bowl, Kansas City and San Francisco are back.
Kansas City continued to show their ability to get it done in the playoffs, winning again on the road at Baltimore. That makes this the first Super Bowl (out of the four in the last five seasons) where they didn’t have home field in the AFC playoffs. San Francisco, meanwhile, came back from a big 24.7 halftime deficit to beat the Detroit Lions.
San Francisco is now a 1-point favorite against Kansas City (it initially opened at 2.5 points on Sunday night briefly). San Francisco has 51% win odds, in a close matchup. The over/under for the game is 47.5 points.
2024 Super Bowl Pick Popularity Data
Here are the early pick popularity numbers in game-winner and spread pools:
- San Francisco, 54 percent win odds, 43 percent popularity
- Kansas City, 46 percent win odds, 57 percent popularity
- San Francisco, 50 percent cover odds, 38 percent popularity
- Kansas City, 50 percent cover odds, 62 percent popularity
Right now, the spread is most commonly at two points in favor of San Francisco, so it’s not surprising to see the game-winner and spread data in line with each other. In both cases, we see that the public disagrees with who the favorite should be, favoring the defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs, and taking them a little more frequently when also getting points in spread pools.
Game-Winner Pool Strategy
We are down to the final game, so you only have to make one decision: KC or SF?
Right now, the game odds are pretty even for the two teams, with the 49ers a slight favorite with 54% win odds. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are more popular, drawing around 57% of picks.
That makes for a pretty tough decision. Ordinarily you would want to take the favorite and more popular team if in the lead, but those are two different teams here. Plus, the win odds and pick popularity are both pretty close, under 60% and above 40% for all options. So in a small sample of opponents, you could see the picks go any number of directions.
Fixed Points (all entries get the same points for win)
The numbers say San Francisco is the value play. If you are part of a larger group tied for the lead, you have a better chance of finishing at a higher average value by taking San Francisco as the slightly more likely winner and slightly less popular pick. The larger the group of contenders, the more your individual pool will likely approximate those estimates. Unfortunately, because of how fairly split this matchup is, that also means if you are trailing, the likelihood of even having a chance is low the more you are trying to catch, regardless of who you pick.
If you are tied for the lead with one to two others, San Francisco is the lean, but either is justifiable. If you match the pick of your other opponent, or two opponents, you guarantee a pot split, with the size only determined by whether your pick loses and others trailing by one entering the game join you in the split. If your two opponents split their picks and each picks one side (which is the single most likely outcome), then you are going to split only if your pick wins. Again, the 49ers are the play here, but in small groups, if you have a strong preference to take Kansas City, the variance in how people will pick could be wide in individual pools, and it would be fine to follow your gut.
If you are alone in the lead, ahead of only one other entry, the move is probably to take Kansas City. It’s a close call, but if you trust the numbers, then here are the scenarios:
If you pick Kansas City:
- 57% chance your pick matches the trailing entry, so they can’t cach up
- 20% chance your pick doesn’t match, but wins (43% of time opponent picks SF x 46% win odds for KC)
- 77% total chance to win
If you pick San Francisco:
- 43% chance your pick matches the trailing entry, so they can’t cach up
- 30% chance your pick doesn’t match, but wins (57% of time opponent picks KC x 54% win odds for SF)
- 73% total chance to win
If you are leading alone, but one win ahead of a larger group, the math shifts more toward picking San Francisco. Both teams are likely to be picked by at least one of the trailing entries, so you have to get it right to win the full pot, and should prefer the team with higher win odds.
If you are in a confidence pool, you are likewise limited to one remaining spot. You should see how many can catch you (a) if you score zero but they get the remaining points and (b) how many you can pass if you get points, and others do not.
San Francisco is the logical pick when leading, as the slight favorite, but the popularity numbers cast doubt on whether you are better off picking that if your goal is to block a trailing entry. Your opponents should strategically be thinking about how to pick opposite you, and the numbers would suggest they might be more willing to take Kansas City.
Again, let the number of entries that can catch you (if you lose and they win) dictate, because if there are a lot that are in contention, some will pick each team, and you almost certainly need to hit the winner. If you are leading and only one or two entries can catch you, taking Kansas City becomes a better move, to try to block those that strategically are taking the underdog when trailing, for the same reasons outlined above in the Fixed Points section.
Spread Pools Strategy
Our current spread shows the 49ers -2, and Kansas City as the more popular spread pick at 62%. Our models are neutral on which is the better side, so you should let any line value in your specific pool play a role, and then make a decision based on whether you should be on the popular side or not.
If you are in a leading position, you should probably take the Chiefs. If you are trailing, go with the 49ers.
If your pool also uses over/unders, the public is heavier on the Over, over 60% of picks, while the line has moved to 47.5 after opening at 47.0. Our models are at 52% for the Under, but that lean is against the current line movement. If you are in a leading position, you should take the Over, especially if you are getting line value with a contest line at 47.0. If you are trailing, do the opposite, taking the unpopular side, and rejecting line value if necessary to be on the likely less popular side.
We’ll update this advice next week as we continue to monitor the lines and movement as we approach the Super Bowl, if the line has moved notably.
Super Bowl Numbers Updates
With another week of waiting, we thought we would check in on where the numbers have gone. Generally speaking, not much has changed, and our general advice across pool types is the same as it was last week.
The spread is still at -2 for San Francisco, with 54% win odds.
The pick popularity numbers have shifted ever so slightly toward an even split.
- Game winner: Chiefs are at 56% (were at 58%)
- Spread: Chiefs are at 58% (were at 62%)
So the Chiefs are maintaining as the more popular side, but it’s not at high popularity, now under 60% in both pool types. In a small sample of opponents, any pick outcome is possible.
The Over/Under is also holding steady at 47.5, so our advice on pools that include picks on the total is also the same.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK CONTENT
- Tue, Jan. 23: Conf. Champ Matchups and Spreads
- Tue, Jan. 23: Round-By-Round Advancement Odds
- Wed, Jan. 24: Champ Game Pick Popularity
- Wed, Jan. 24: Game-Winner Pick Strategy
- Thu, Jan. 25: Spread Pool Pick Strategy
- Thu, Jan. 25: Over/Under Pick Strategy
- Thu, Jan. 25: Advice for Confidence Pools
2024 Championship Game Matchups and Spreads
The AFC and NFC title games are set, and we have two matchups featuring the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds. Kansas City and San Francisco are both back in the championship games, while Baltimore makes its first appearance since winning the Super Bowl following the 2012 season, while Detroit is making its first NFC Championship Game appearance since after the 1991 season (shout out Barry Sanders and Erik Kramer).
Here are your spreads, win odds projections, and over/unders for the upcoming games.