The NFL 1-On-1 Pool: More than a pick-'em pool, not as involved as fantasy football -- it's the best of both games!

RULES & INFORMATION


NOTE -- Changes from the 2015 FAQ to 2016 posted in white.

The Way This Works -- The Quick Explanation:

You make your football picks for the week, but you're not competing against everyone else in the pool. You're only competing against one person per week. Whichever one of you picks the most NFL games correctly that week wins that 1-on-1 match. Win enough matches over the course of the season, and you could find yourself in the Super Bowl, competing for the grand prize!


The Way This Works -- The Detailed Explanation:

In most football pools, you make your picks for the week, and it is you against everyone else in the pool, highest number of correct picks takes the pot. Not so here. In this pool, your picks are made the same way, but it you against one single other player. Think of yourself as a football team. You will be trying to win as many of your 16 weekly one-on-one matches as possible in the hope of making it to the postseason. You'll have a bye week. You'll be gunning for first place in your division, or trying to squeak in as a wild card. Make it to the postseason, and you'll be one of the final 12 players competing to make it to the Super Bowl, and the big payoff!

In order for this pool to work, 32 committed players are a must. You cannot play two weeks, take a week or two off, join back in, etc. Players will need to be in this for the long haul -- 17 weeks, or if you're lucky, 21 weeks (except for your bye week, naturally). Of course, keep in mind that participating in the pool is nothing difficult. If you already participate in a standard weekly pool, then all you need to do is sent your same picks this way, and we'll handle the rest. If not, then we have an easy-to-use pick submission page set up for you to get your picks over to us.

The payment for the pool is not collected weekly. It is a one-time entry fee of $50. This gives us a pool of $1,600 -- $1,270 will be shared by the top eight players, $280 will be given out as weekly prizes, and $50 comes off the top to cover domain and hosting costs. A full breakdown of the prize distribution can be found further down the page.


A Quick Bit To Avoid Confusion:

Since we're more or less simulating an NFL season here, there can be confusion when discussing a particular game.

"Wait, when you say 'game', are you talking about an actual, real-life football game or me taking on my opponent this week?"

See what I mean? So, to avoid this, we'll lay some groundwork. The word "game" will refer to an actual, real-life NFL football game. When were talking about two players in the 1-On-1 Pool going up against each other, we use the term "1on1 match" Clear? Good.


The Way We Do This Thing:

Players will pick the winner of each NFL game that week (just the straight winner – no spread is involved), as well as the point total for the Monday Night Football game. The winner of the individual match-up will be the person correctly predicting the winner of the most NFL games for that week. In the case of a tie between the two players, the person whose score prediction comes closest to the Monday night game's final score wins.

If a 1on1 match comes down to the MNF score and both players pick the same point total, then the 1on1 match will be logged as a tie (1/2 of a win, 1/2 of a loss for both players). This will also apply if two players pick scores which are equidistant from the final MNF score (for example, Player one picks 34 and Player two picks 38 -- a final game score of 36 would cause a tie). For Week 17, players will pick the point total for the 8:30 p.m. Sunday NFL game.

We’ll be tracking each player's win-loss record over the course of the season, and the best players in each division will make it to the postseason, and a shot at a piece of that $1,600 payoff.


The Setup:

After all our players signed up in the inaugural 2004 season, they were assigned an NFL team. When all players received their team assignments, the players were assigned to their proper conference and division. This matched up with the NFL's divisional breakdown (i.e., players who drew the Giants, Cowboys, Redskins and Eagles were all in the same division). Players were then provided with a schedule listing all of their opponents for the season. Again, the way a particular NFL team plays does not affect the player. Being assigned the Cardinals does not make you worse off than the person who drew the Patriots. It is simply for determining who your opponents will be for the season.

Not to be redundant, but it bears repeating: The performance of this team has no bearing on the actual 1-On-1 Pool. There is no advantage to being assigned one particular team over another.

In the 2009 season, things were changed up a bit. We had several requests from players who wanted to be placed in a division with people they actually know, or with whom they have some connection. Family members, co-workers, friends, even if it's just a matter of sharing a message board in common, players wanted a chance for real-world rivalries within their division. Once this option was posed to the pool's membership at large, the result was an overwhelming "yes" -- just about everyone wanted a restructuring. So, that's how we do it now -- we try and place players into a division with people whom they have some connection.


A Note On Bye Weeks:

For the first five seasons of the pool, when "your" team was on a bye, then you were on a bye as well -- no need to submit picks that week. When the pool began, that worked fine and it was fair across the board. However, when the NFL changed the way bye weeks were scheduled, then the balance was upset and things were no longer completely fair to everyone. To explain:

Originally, there were eight bye weeks in which four teams had off. That meant that throughout the season, each player would be picking the same number of games no matter when they had their bye. But when the NFL revamped their scheduling for the 2007 season, things changed. Now, some weeks had two teams on a bye, some had four teams and some had six. Someone who doesn't have to put in their picks on a week with 13 games being played can potentially get two more correct picks than a player on a bye when on 15 games are being played. That creates a problem when you consider the importance of your total correct picks for the season. That number is used to determine Player of the Year, and it's also an important tiebreaker in determining a playoff spot.

Fortunately, this discrepancy never had an effect on the pool, but it was just a matter of time until it did. So, rather than try and fix things after someone gets screwed over, we leveled out the playing field. Now everyone picks the games every week. You're still technically on a bye -- you won't be playing against anyone in a 1-on-1 match, and you're not eligible for Player of the Week that week (you're not actually playing, remember) -- but your picks that week will be added to your season total for determining playoff tiebreakers and Player of the Year.

If you decide not to submit picks on your bye week, then it'll be handled just like any other non-submission -- you'll simply default to picking all the away teams that week. Also note, this is all about the regular season only -- none of this has any bearing on players with a 1st-round playoff bye.


The Playoffs:

The 32 players are broken down into groups mimicing the NFL's setup: two conferences of 16 players each ("AFC" and "NFC"). These are each broken down into four divisions of four players apiece ("North", "South", "East" and "West").

After the 17 regular season weeks, the player with the best win/loss record in each of the eight respective divisions will advance to the playoffs. Additionally, the two players with the best non-division-winning records in each conference will enter the playoffs as wild cards.

As a bonus, the eight division winners will each receive $25.

Of course, there is almost always a tie in the win/loss records to contend with. We try and keep our tiebreakers as close to the way things are done in the NFL. First, here is how we break ties within a division:

1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the teams).
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
4. Total number of correct picks.
5. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.

Next, here is how we break ties within a conference:

1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the teams).
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Total number of correct picks.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.

The six postseason participants from each conference will be seeded as follows:
1. The division champion with the best record.
2. The division champion with the second-best record.
3. The division champion with the third-best record.
4. The division champion with the fourth-best record.
5. The wild card player with the best record.
6. The wild card player with the second-best record.

The first and second seeded players in each conference will receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The number 3 seed will play the number 6 seed and the number 4 seed will play the number 5 seed to see who advances to the divisional championship match.

The second playoff round will pit the wild card weekend winners against those who earned a first-round bye. The number 1 seed will take on the lower-seeded remaining wild card player, and the number 2 seed will face the higher-seeded remaining wild card player. The winners this week would be the divisional champions and move on to the conference championship match, while the losers pick up $30.

The third playoff round will pit the previous week's four winners. The two remaining AFC teams will face off against each other, as will the two remaining NFC teams. Once you reach this point, you've won some money. The two people who make it this far, but then lose, will each receive $75. The two winners become the conference champions, and advance to the Super Bowl.

The fourth playoff round is the big day -- Super Sunday! The winner this week will be crowned 1-On-1 Pool champion, receiving $625 and the adoration of millions (ok, dozens), while the loser will receive $175.

A note on postseason tiebreakers:
Given that each week there is a much smaller number of games played, the likelihood of a tie increases. Since we can't have ties in the postseason, you will be picking scores for two games here on out. It'll break down like so:

--For the first three playoff rounds, you will pick the total score of both Sunday games. If there is a tie in picks, then the score for the later game is used. If there is still a tie, then the early Sunday game is used.

When it comes to the second tiebreaker game, the high-seeded player will submit two consecutive score totals. For instance, if they think the game will total 35, then they can submit either "34-35" or "35-36". The actual score used will depend on what score their opponent puts in for that game. Simply put, one player's second tiebreaker score will be an odd number and one will be an even number, thereby preventing any possibility of a tie.

-- When we get to the Super Bowl, we'll be down to two players, and the possibility of both people picking the same team and the same score is not entirely out of the question. To be certain we have a winner, each player will pick a Super Bowl winner, a total final score, and their guess for the total yardage gained. If game and score don't decide it, we'll use yardage to determine the winner (the official stats posted on NFL.com will used to resolve any dispute). To be absolutely certain that there is not a tie in the yardage pick as well, we will require that the NFC champion pick an odd number of yards, and the AFC champion pick an even number. This will eliminate the possibility of a tie.


Submitting Picks:

Picks are submitted via the Pick Submission Page. You will be able to select your picks from a drop-down menu and submit them automatically.

A key difference between this pool and most others relates to the Thursday game schedule. Picks are generally due in by 8:00 Saturday evening, but weeks 1 through 15 will have Thursday games. Whenever we have a Thursday game, you must submit a pick for that game by 12 noon on Thursday. However, you do not need to have your picks for the rest of the games in until Saturday.

If you're going to be away, or have any other need to put in your picks early, you can do so easily. All future picks pages are online, and can be accessed by changing the current pick page like so:

When you're at the pick submission page ("http://www.1on1pool.com/2014/submission/submission.htm"), add the number of the week you wish to access to the URL. For example, Week 5 can be found at "http://www.1on1pool.com/2014/submission/submission5.htm", Week 17 at "http://www.1on1pool.com/2014/submission/submission17.htm", etc. Once a week has passed, that URL will no longer be available.

As always, results will generally be posted on the web site shortly after games have ended.


Other Questions:

SETUP:

Q. I still don’t get it. I understand making picks, but what about all the rest of it?
A. It really helps if you think of yourself as an actual football team. You will play against one opponent each week. As the weeks go by, you will build your win/loss record. When the regular season ends, if you have a good enough win/loss record, you’ll make it to the playoffs (if not, the 1on1 Pool season is over for you).

Q. What's the deal with matching up with an NFL team?
A. That's simply to determine your division, conference, and opponent schedule. For example, if you're assigned the Giants schedule, then in Week 1 you would take on the person who was assigned to the Cowboys.

Q. Ok, I’m in. How do I join again?
A. Send me an e-mail. The participants of last year's 1-On-1 Pool will have first dibs on their slots for this year's game, but I will contact you back if anyone decides not to participate.

SUBMITTING PICKS

Q. What's the best way to get my picks in to you?
A. Our handy Pick Submission Page. This will give you a listing of all this week's games, along with an easy-to-use form which will allow you to make and submit your picks. You may also include your e-mail address and have a copy of your picks mailed to you.

Q. What happens if I miss a week?
A. Bad idea. Definitely something to avoid, if you can. However, if a week comes along that you do not submit any picks, you will have been assumed to have picked the Away team for each game, and a MNF score pick of 35. This gives you a slight chance to win the week, but I wouldn’t count on it. Since your number of correct picks for the season is used in breaking ties for playoff positioning, as well as determining Player of the Year, this can come back to haunt you down the stretch. Also, non-submitters are ineligible for that week's Player of the Week award.

Q. Well, what if both my opponent and I both miss a week?
A. The 1-On-1 match itself will be a tie (1/2 of a win, 1/2 of a loss for players). Your season tally will reflect however many Away teams win their game.

Q. If my match comes down to MNF score, and I pick a score of 36, and the final score is 35, do I lose to someone who picked 31?
A. No, you win. We're looking for "closest", not "closest without going over" (this ain't The Price Is Right).

Q. How about half-points? Can I pick a final score of 35 1/2?
A. No, it's not really needed here. People will generally pick half-points to set themselves apart in a large pool. Here, the pool is you vs. one person. So half-points aren't of much use in this case.

Q. When are picks posted, and when are final results posted?
A. That's two questions, but I'll let it slide. In general, whatever day pick are due, I have them all posted on the site that evening.

Nearly-final results will be posted on Sunday evening. The results page will be given a final update after the Monday night game.

Q. If I put my e-mail address in the submission form, are you going to turn around and sell it to a spammer?
A. Pretend I'm staring at you with a blank look on my face. Now pretend you can read my mind. Pretend you hear me thinking "Yeah, of course I will. As soon as I find a spammer that'll pay me five figures for 32 e-mail addresses".

In other words, no, I will not sell your e-mail address.

PLAYOFFS

Q. The terms "playoffs" and "postseason" refer to the same thing, right?
A. Yup. Both terms refer to the single-elimination tournament leading up to the Super Bowl.

Q. How do I make it to the playoffs?
A. Win a whole buncha matches. There is a more detailed explanation above, but basically the eight players who win their division, plus the four best non-division-winning players, all make it to the playoffs.

Q. Since there is no MNF in the postseason, which games are we using to pick the tiebreaker score?
A. Given that each week there is a much smaller number of games played, the likelihood of a tie increases. Since we can't have ties in the postseason, you will be picking scores for two games here on out. It'll break down like so:

--For the first three playoff rounds, you will pick the total score of both Sunday games. If there is a tie in picks, then the score for the later game is used. If there is still a tie, then the early Sunday game is used.
-- When we get to the Super Bowl, we'll be down to two players, and both people picking the same team and the same score is not entirely out of the question. To be certain we have a winner, each player will pick a Super Bowl winner, a total final score, and their guess for the total yardage gained. If game and score don't decide it, we'll use yardage to determine the winner (the official stats posted on NFL.com will used to resolve any dispute). Just to be absolutely positive that there still is not a tie, we will set one ground rule for making these picks: When you're picking the total yardage, the AFC Champion must pick an odd number, and the NFC Champion must pick an even number. This will eliminate the possibility of a tie.

Q. Can you explain the prize money payouts?
A. Sure -- here's how it all breaks down:

Win Super Bowl: $650
Lose Super Bowl: $175
Lose Conference Championship: $75 (Two Players)
Lose Divisional Championship: $30 (Four Players)

In addition, the following bonuses will be awarded on top of any of the above playoff awards:
Weekly prize for
Player of the Week: $10
Year-end prize for Player of the Year: $25
Win your division as the #2, 3 or 4 Seed: $25
Win your division as the #1 Seed: $50

STANDINGS

Q. What's all this we have on the Standings page?
A. The first thing we have is, of course, the Standings. This shows how each player is doing in their respective division. The position is calculated by looking at win-loss records, first straight-up, with ties being broken by which player has the better record in their division and conference. More detail on this can be found here.

Next, we have the Power Rankings. This lists how each player is doing with respect to every other player in the league. From 2004-2008, position was determined using the same method as determining Standings. Beginning in 2009, things were simplified, and are more representative of how "good" a particular player actually is. Players are ranked first by win/loss record, and then by total number of picks. This puts an emphasis on how well a player is picking each week, not just against divisional or conference opponents. The below question about the importance of Power Rankings remains the same, however.

Finally, we have the Player Of The Week. This is the player who put on the best performance for that week, meaning the player with the most correct picks for the week. Ties are broken by looking at who came closest with their Monday Night Football score pick.

Q. Are the Power Rankings important?
A. Technically, no. They don't have any direct bearing to who makes the playoffs or anything like that. They're simply a guide as to how a particular player is performing, compared to the rest of the league. They basically exist for bragging rights and as a springboard for some smack talk.

Q. Do I get anything for being the Player Of The Week?
A. Yes. You get your name on the Standings page, recognizing you as a Player Of The Week. From the perspective of your future opponents, you also get a target on your back. Also, you receive a $10 prize for winning Player Of The Week (just a little incentive to make sure you get your picks in). In addition, there will be a $25 bonus to the Player Of The Year -- this will be the person with the highest number of correct picks after Week 17. NOTE: If you don't submit your picks, you're ineligible for that week's Player of the Week award. It doesn't matter if the away teams win every game -- you'll probably get the win, but you're not going to get a cash reward for being a lucky slacker.

OTHER

Q: How do I get my payment to you?
A: Mail in a check, pay with a credit card or via Paypal. It's all broken down on our handy
subscription page.

Q. Hey! You made a mistake with my picks! I said Philly over Detroit, and you have it backwards! What're you going to do about that?
A. Fix it, of course. Try and take a look at the picks page before the games, and
let me know if you see a mistake. And if the games have already begun, it's not too late. I'll be saving all pick submission e-mails, so there'll be a record of your picks.

To be fair to everyone else, however, we'll be putting a cutoff time on asking for a result to be changed. You'll have to let me know of an error before the deadline for the following week's picks.

But, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I'm pretty anal about getting things like this correct.

Q. Man, here we are in Week 14, and I'm getting killed! I've got a 1-12 record, and no chance whatsoever to make the playoffs. Do I still have to submit my picks?
A. Well, I can't make you do anything you don't want to do, but the short answer is "yes, yes you do".

If you quit sending in your picks, you'll be handing a major advantage to the players you have on your upcoming schedule. Basically, you'll be screwing over the people who are in competition with players you were supposed to take on. As was explained to you in the setup phase, this pool is for the long haul. Make too much of a habit of not sending in your picks, and you'll likely not be invited back next year.

Q. Hey, I know someone who has been doing this exact same thing for years!
A. That's not a question.

Q. Oh, sorry. Umm, I know someone who has been doing this exact same thing for years! Are you thinking this is an original idea?
A. Yeah, actually, I am. But if you're aware of this being done before, please, let me know. I've never heard of this being done before, and thought it'd make an interesting game -- kind of an "in the middle" between straight pools and fantasy football. Of course, if it has been done before, then all credit due to whoever came up with the idea. We're still playing, though. :-)

UPDATE! -- Well, if you know someone who has been doing this exact same thing for years, TFB. The paperwork was submitted in the second year of the pool, and according to the U.S. Copyright office, this sucker is mine, all mine! NFL One-On-One Pool© 2005-2016 Paul McLaughlin. Woot! :-D


If you have any questions that are not addressed on this page, please e-mail me.

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