You’ve stepped into the exciting world of weekly NFL office pools. Congratulations!

There are many variations of football pools, including: 

This post will discuss the first item on the list: “Regular” or “Straight-up Confidence Pools.” This just means you are picking teams to win or lose in real life, as opposed to “Against the Spread” picks in which the favored team must win by a certain number of points to count as a win. You can also check out our video on straight up confidence pool picks.

Understanding NFL Confidence Pool Picks Rules

Here are the rules for Confidence Pool picks. Each week the NFL has a schedule of games. If all of the teams are playing, there are 16 games. You have two jobs: 1) to pick the winner of each of those games and 2) to assign a rank (1 to 16) for each game according to how “confident” you are for the winner you’ve picked. If you are correct and the team you’ve picked wins, you get the amount of confidence points you assigned to it.

Confidence pool or pick ’em leagues require two tasks each week. First, you select the winner of each game. Second, you assign a rank (1 to 16, or however many games are played that week) to each game, reflecting your “confidence” in the chosen winner. If your choice is correct, you earn the confidence points you allocated. For instance, consider a match between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. You’ve backed the Packers with a high confidence rank of 15. If the Packers win, you score 15 points. However, if the Bears come out on top (or if the game ends in a tie), you score zero. You repeat this process for all the games each week. At the end of the week, your total points are the sum of your earned confidence points.

Leagues often reward players with the highest weekly and seasonal point totals.

Crafting a Winning Confidence Pool Strategy

How do you pick which teams to win? And how many confidence points to assign to each game? The short answer is: you pick the team that’s most likely to win (highest win probability) and assign them 16 (or the highest point value). The team with the next highest win probability gets the second highest point value, and so on. This strategy will at least make you competitive, and you might even win a week or two. Here’s an example:

The Base Picks – Vanilla Ice Cream

We call these picks the “Base Picks” because this is where you start when making picks. I compare base picks to vanilla ice cream. When I try a new ice cream place, I like to get vanilla because that’s how you can tell if the ice cream is fundamentally good. If you can’t even do vanilla right, your ice cream isn’t going to be good.

The base picks are like a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream. You have no chance if you can’t even get that right.

Free Confidence Pool Base Picks

At, we give you the base picks each week for free. Sign up here to be notified when we post our free NFL confidence pool base picks:

The Money Picks – All the Toppings

“If you do the same thing everyone else is doing, that’s all you are — everybody else.” – College football coach Mike Leach

A good vanilla ice cream will get you in the game but it probably won’t win any ice cream contests. This is where you have to get creative with toppings and other flavors. However, there’s a fine line between being creative and winning an ice cream contest, and being too creative and grossing out the judges. We help you by telling you which toppings you should be using, and which ones are not worth it. We call these the money picks — they are the picks that will win you money. 

Money picks are teams that aren’t being picked by many people (low picked percentage), but have a better chance of winning than most people think. Each week, we identify a few solid money picks, with picked percentage less than 10% and a win probability ranging from 20% to 40%. Here’s an example:

Out of the teams with percent picked under 10%, the Indianapolis Colts have the highest win probability at 33%. Even though 33% isn’t great, it’s not zero and will happen about once every three times. And if it happens, you beat all the people who didn’t pick them (in this case, 100%-7% or 93%). 

Each week there are a few good money picks, sometimes much better than 26%. Usually they’re in the 20% to 40% win probability range. The lower the win probability, the higher the risk. How much risk you should take depends on how many people are in the league and if you’re going for the win for the week or for the season.

So back to our ice cream. If we just go with plain vanilla, we’re at least in the game and may even win. To go for the win, you have to take some risk and add some toppings. You want your toppings to be different but not weird. Ketchup and mustard are different but you’re not going to win any ice cream contests with it. Chocolate covered pretzels may be a winner. A chocolate covered pretzel and bacon is even riskier but may get you the win; if you have the right judges.

Our money picks will show you what ice cream toppings — chocolate covered pretzels and bacon (risky but could pay off) versus ketchup and mustard (risky but just not good)– may get you over the hump. You get to decide how much risk you want to take and which toppings to take it with. Here’s an example from Week 1 for 2023:

The bright green teams are high risk/high reward money picks, while the dark green ones are less risky but also less reward.

We offer money picks to our Premium Members. See a free preview of what Premium Members get here.

How to assign confidence points to money picks

To help your cause even more, you should assign a very high confidence point to the money pick. That way, if you get lucky and the money pick wins, you’ll get the most bang for your buck. In the above case, you could pick the New York Jets for 16 points. Yes, it’s risky, but in the one in four chance you do win, you’ll be ahead of most players. You’ll lose three out of four times but at least that one out of four will give you a good lead. If you don’t assign enough points to the money pick, you’ll be in danger of getting lucky and winning that game but will still not have enough points to win the week.

If you want to take even more risk, you can pick a second money pick and choose a high confidence point value for it too.

Once you’ve decided which money picks to take, slot the rest of the base picks around the money picks. For highest risk, slot the green picks higher. For less risk, slot the yellow picks and, for some even less risk, slot the blue picks higher. Each week, we’ll provide four recommendations, depending on how much risk you want to take. 

Here’s the example from Week 1 of the 2023 season:

Use these picks as a guide. You can also slot in a different bright green pick or dark green pick at the top. You can also pick a light and dark green combo. It all depends on how you want to play it!

If you’d like to see an example of how to make these picks, see the video below:

We offer low, medium and high risk picks each week to our Premium members (join Premium now). See here for Week 1 picks for 2023!

And there you have it! Best of luck this year, and join our email list for free base pick updates and our own contests for prizes!

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