NFL Playoff Pool – Pick A Team Once

survive the playoffsAre you in a great pickem, survivor, or other NFL office pool throughout the regular season but don’t have anything to keep the fun going through the playoffs?

I too have wrestled with this depressing realization as past seasons came to an end. But last year was the last time.

This year, I’m going to try a modified version of Bill Simmon’s March Madness Knockout Pool format, repurposed for the NFL playoffs. Read Bill’s entire article on the Grantland blog, linked at the bottom of this page, where he mentions that this format is “the best office pool ever”.

We call it the “Pick A Team Once” format. Here are the details:

Everyone antes a certain amount (because gambling is illegal, let’s say the buy in amount is offering to get coffee for your coworker for 3 days).

Prior to the first game on Saturday of wildcard weekend you have to pick one team you think will win out of the four teams playing that day. If your team loses you are out, but you can buy back in for the original ante amount.

If you advanced, you have to again pick a team that you think will win on Sunday of wildcard weekend. If your team loses, you’re out. You can again but back in for two times the original ante amount.

Now is where things get interesting.

The same daily pick method continues throughout the remainder of the playoffs, but the added twist of not being able to select the same team twice adds some strategy to this pool.

After wildcard weekend there are no additional buy backs allowed.

Prior to the first game on Saturday of the divisional playoff weekend you have to pick one team you think will win out of the four teams playing that day. You cannot pick any of the teams you selected previously. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Oh yeah … if your team loses you are out, no more buy backs.

Same goes for Sunday of divisional playoff weekend … Pick one more team of the four playing that day (that you haven’t already picked). If they lose you are out.

If you make it past wild card weekend and divisional weekend, which is very difficult to do, you get to pick again on the Sunday of the AFC and NFC Championship games. Then obviously again for the Super Bowl.

One critical point is you can NEVER PICK THE SAME TEAM TWICE! Let’s say you advance to the Super Bowl, but have already picked both the teams, you are still alive even though you’ll have an automatic loss that week. If there is another person also still alive for the Super Bowl, with a chance at picking the winner, then they have to choose the winner correctly otherwise the pot is split between the two of you because you both technically lost on the same day.

The winner is the last person alive.

Special thanks to Bill Simmons for thinking of this format and other awesome formats like the NFL Wins Pool.

Here is a link to his article describing how this works for March Madness.

Enjoy the PLAYOFFS!!

P.S. … I am thinking to build this format online to help manage the pool more easily. If you would be interested in managing this kind of pool online for the NFL Playoffs, March Madness, or MLB/NBA/NHL Playoffs, this please email us at to provide some inspiration/encouragement.

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