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10 Brave New Ways To Make NFL Bets With Your Friends This Season

Classic fantasy leagues and survivor pools are so 2008.

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The NFL Death Pool

This is the opposite of a survivor pool, in that instead of picking a different team to win a game each week, you have to pick a different team to lose each week. Of course, you can only pick each team once throughout the year. The trick in a survivor pool, usually, is finding a really bad NFL team, and just picking against them each week. Well, you can’t just pick against the Jaguars every Sunday in this one.

My Four Sons

This pool requires eight different people. Write up everyone’s names on pieces of paper, toss them in a hat, and establish a draft order 1-through-8. Then, you do a snake draft. Instead of drafting players, each of the eight participants will draft four different NFL teams which will be “their sons” over the course of the entire season. The participant whose four teams combine to win the most games over the course of the season wins the pool. This one always comes down to the final week and the difference is those third and fourth teams. Always.

Young Guns League


Did you know that 10 of the NFL’s 32 opening day starting quarterbacks are either first or second year players? Did you know that 20 of the league’s 32 NFL opening day starting quarterbacks are under the age of 30? It’s a youth movement at the quarterback position, and the baby-faced receivers and running backs around the league aren’t too shabby, either. This fantasy draft is for four owners. It’s quick and easy. Four teams, starting lineups that consist of 2 quarterbacks, 2 running backs, and 2 wide receivers. You’re allowed just 2 “replacements” throughout the year, and once you replace one of your players, another team can pick him up. The catch? You can only draft and use first and second year players. Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and DeMarco Murray become the Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Arian Foster. Lesser known guys like David Wilson and Jacquizz Rodgers become key players.


The Sack Race


With the NFL expected to involve more passing attempts than ever before this season, you can count on their being more opportunities for quarterback sacks, too. This one’s for all the “defense wins championships” fans out there. Four different participants, snake draft. Take out the list of the top ten sack leaders in 2011: Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Babin, Jason Pierre-Paul, Terrell Suggs (yes, he’s injured, anyway), Aldon Smith, Chris Long, Tamba Hali, and Connor Barwin. Now, cross those names off the list. You can’t pick them. Ineligible. The, do a four round draft of the best pass rushers left. The four-man team with the most combined sacks at the end of the year wins the prize.

Kickers Pool

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

You’re allowed to take one NFL kicker each week, but you can only take each kicker once. Extra points are worth 1 point, made field goals from 20-39 yards are worth 2 points, made field goals from 40-49 yards are worth 3 points, and a 50+ yard field goal is worth 4 points. When do you use Janikowski? Week one versus the Chargers? Or do you wait? Give it some thought. Oh, and you want to take these guys when they kick in domes. Or, when they play the Browns. Duh.

The Crystal Ball Pool

This is your standard survivor pool, except you pick all of your winners, Weeks 1-17, before the season starts. A brutal injury in Week 1 completely changes a team’s fortunes and you picked them to win a cupcake game in Week 2? Oh, well. Owner with the last team standing wins. Get those picks in before the start of the weekend!

The College Puzzle

Leon Halip / Getty Images

Write up a check list with the following seven categories: SEC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12, Other. Now, do a four-team fantasy football draft in which each participant needs to fill out a starting lineup with 2 quarterbacks, 2 running backs, 2 wide receivers, and a tight end. For those seven positions, you have to pick one current NFL player that's an alum from one of those seven "conference" categories. Is there a strategy in drafting? I’m sure there is, but I have no clue what.

The Broadcast Team Pool

CBS and FOX have six broadcast teams apiece. Every Sunday, the same combos are sent to different NFL cities to cover games all season long. CBS airs games when it’s AFC vs. AFC and AFC vs. NFC in NFC cities. Fox airs games when it’s NFC vs. NFC and AFC vs. NFC in AFC cities.

The following pairings are deployed, top to bottom:


1. Jim Nantz/Phil Simms

2. Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf

3. Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts

4. Marv Albert/Rich Gannon

5. Kevin Harlan/Solomon Wilcots

6. Bill Macatee/Steve Tasker

7. Spero Dedes/Steve Beurlein


1. Joe Buck/Troy Aikman

2. Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnston

3. Thom Brennaman/Brian Billick

4. Dick Stockton/John Lynch

5. Chris Myers/Tim Ryan

6. Sam Rosen/Heath Evans

7. Ron Pitts/Mike Martz

On every Sunday, the top four teams from both FOX and CBS are going to be covering games. The broadcast teams for the following weekend are announced late Monday/early Tuesday. By Monday at noon every week, have all pool entrants submit their picks for which games each of the top four broadcast duos will be sent. The most correct picks over the course the season wins the pool. See, you can play sports TV executive, too.

Backup Quarterback Pool

Nick Wass / AP

Four participants. Four backup quarterbacks each. Scoring is as follows: Every time a one of your backup quarterbacks enters a game, it’s worth 1 point. Every time he starts a game, it’s worth 4 points. Every time he starts a game, finishes it, and wins, it’s worth 6. Who goes first? Tim Tebow, Joe Webb, or Matt Hasselbeck? The answer is Rex Grossman.

The Fired Coach Pool


At least three coaches have been fired at the end of the past four NFL seasons. Last year, Todd Haley was fired midway through the 2011 Chiefs’ campaign. Wade Phillips and Brad Childress got the axe midway through the 2010 season. Here are the rules: eight different pool participants. Snake draft. Each person gets to pick two NFL head coaches. If coach gets fired midway through the season, it’s worth 10 points. If they get fired on the Monday after the regular season, aka “Black Monday”, it’s worth 7 points. If they get fired in between that Monday and the Super Bowl, it’s worth 4 points. Add ‘em up!

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