Rules

Each weekend during the playoffs, you will let us know who you select to win. The point spread printed in the weekend edition of USA Today will be used for all games. As the playoffs progress, the games are worth more and more points. If your team picks are not received by game time, you will automatically be assigned the teams that are the underdogs and forfeit any bonus points.

There are two changes this year:

First, the bonus questions for week 1 and week 2 now give points for the second (3 points) and third (2 points) place finishers. We thought picking 1 out of 8 choices was too hard compared to the other ways to win points, which are mostly coin flips.

Second, the points for each game in week 2 have been reduced to 7 points from 10. We felt that week 2 was a poor time to have the most possible points available. This makes week 2 more comparable to the other weeks.

Here's how it works:

First Weekend: wild-card games
- You receive 5 points for every winner selected.
- Bonus:
for up to 5 points select which team will score the most points. (1st place = 5pts, 2nd place = 3pts, 3rd place = 2pts)
- Bonus:
select the Superbowl winner for up to 10 points (values on home page). The higher the odds of this team winning the Superbowl, the fewer points you can win.

Second Weekend: divisional games
- You receive 7 points for every winner selected.
- Bonus: for up to 5 bonus points, select the *best quarterback for the weekend. (1st place = 5pts, 2nd place = 3pts, 3rd place = 2pts)
Did your Superbowl pick from week 1 lose already? Pick a new Super Bowl winner, but you can't win as many points as those who picked this team week 1.**

Third Weekend: conference games
- You receive 15 points for each winner selected.
- Bonus: Predict their final victory margin. If you are within 2 points of the difference, you'll receive an extra bonus of 5 points per game.
Did your Superbowl pick from week 2 lose already? Pick a new Super Bowl winner, but you can't win as many points as those who picked this team week 2.**

Fourth Weekend: Super Bowl
- Pick the winner for 20 points.
- Bonus: Predict their final victory margin. If you are within 2 points you win 10 point bonus.
- Bonus: The player or players who are closest to the final victory margin receive an extra 5 points. As a tie-breaker question, also predict the total number of points that will be scored in the Superbowl.
Did your Superbowl pick from week 3 lose already? Pick a new Super Bowl winner, but you can't win as many points as those who picked this team week 3.**
Finally, choose if you would like to add OR to subtract your week 4 winnings to your total score. Subtracting points will help if you are near the bottom trying to win Lowball.

 

Winnings
  1. 1st place = 46%
  2. 2nd place = 20%
  3. 3rd place = 15%
  4. 4th place = 10%
  5. 5th place = 5%
  6. Lowball (lowest of all scores) = 4%

* Best quarterback is based on passer rating, which takes into accont completion percentage, yards per pass, TD's, and interceptions. This number will be taken from the boxscore at NFL.com. For more information, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passer_rating.

** You lose half of the possible points rounded down. For example, if you switch to a team that would have given you 10 points, you get that team for 5 points. 5 goes down to 2, 3 goes down to 1, 1 goes down to 0. You can't pick a team for 0 points.

 

Bonus Question. Pick the winner of the Super Bowl on week 1. How we transform the odds into a point value.

Lets take the example. There is a cap at 20/1 odds because a team with astronomically poor odds would ruin the distribution, so any team with 30/1 odds or 100/1 odds will be treated as a 20/1 odds team. Therefore, we will ignore the Kansas City Chiefs at 30/1 odds. They will always get a 10.

Team Odds to win Super Bowl
Atlanta Falcons 6/1
NY Jets 20/1
New England Patriots 2/1

The most we want you to be able to win for this question this year is 10 because we don't want it to be too important on its first year. The least amount to win for a correct pick we set to 1.

Let's decide the point value for Atlanta. The worst team is 20/1 and the best team is 2/1. We also know that the max for this bonus question is 10 and the min is 1. We want to fit the 6/1 odds from the 20/1 to 2/1 scale to the 10 to 1 scale using a ratio:

(Top - Bottom ) / (Max - Min) * (this teams odds)
(10 - 1 ) / (20 - 2 ) * (6) = 3

We then add the Min (1) back to the number because it was subtracted from the numerator before.

3 + 1 = 4 and this is our number. If a team has odds which would bring this point value over 10, we set the number to 10. If a team has a decimal point value, it is rounded up at .5, so 3.5 = 4 points and 3.4 = 3 points.