How an NFL Confidence Pool Works

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When most people think of sports fandom, they think of partisans who root, root, root for the home team. They live or die with every game, kick, throw, or score. However, the great thing about sports is that you can enjoy them in many different ways. 

There is fantasy sports, where people pick players and take their “team” through a season. There is daily fantasy, betting against the spread, prop bets, picking winners, guillotine leagues, and many other fun ways to enjoy a sport. One of the best ones for NFL viewing is the confidence pool. While it’s not as popular as the others, it’s gaining ground all the time because anyone can play, and you have something to root for every week. 

How an NFL Confidence Pool Works

A confidence pool has a pretty simple starting point: every player in the league picks a winner for every game of a given week. However, there is a twist when playing this game. The twist is that for each pick, you must assign a number that corresponds with the level of confidence you have in the outcome. That number must be between 1 and the total number of games being played that week. For weeks when every team is playing, it would be up to 16, for example. If you are correct in a pick, you will get the same number of points as the level of confidence you assigned that game. 

For example, if Buffalo is playing Jacksonville at home and is heavily favored, you could pick the Bills with a confidence level of 16. If they win, you will get 16 points. If Jacksonville wins, you get nothing. It might seem like you are getting a lot of points for predicting a heavy favorite to win, but in reality, most players will make the same pick if it is that lopsided on paper. 

Keys to the Game

The games where there is a high level of confidence are not the most important when it comes to winning over a long season. Yes, if you choose underdogs too often for those games, you will most likely lose. However, since everyone will pick the favorites in those games, winning or losing won’t affect you too much. The key to winning is picking underdogs, and having a relatively high level of confidence in those picks. 

This is where it gets tricky. You might think that Jacksonville could beat Buffalo, but how confident are you in that pick? If you are only very slightly confident, then it might be better simply to go with Buffalo, since that one point will not give you big gains on the competition. The most important thing is to not just pick upsets, but to pick them with high levels of confidence. That way, when they hit, you will not just get more points, but your opponents will miss out on the points they were hoping for. 


It might not seem like it, but there is some strategy involved in playing the game. It’s not as simple as making the NFL confidence picks that you like. As mentioned, having confidence in upsets and being correct on them is how you can separate yourself from the rest of the league. So you can’t just pore over the lines and pick the favorites in every game. 

Choosing upsets is not an easy task. Some players simply look at the games that look the most closely matched, and put a 16 on one of those teams, thinking there is a 50/50 chance of being right. Your best bet, though, is to be prepared. Read up on the games. Check the injury reports for every team, and pore over the data and the trends. Even the weather can be a factor. When weighing all of the possibilities, you will find some games that seem ripe for the picking. If you hit on a few of those through the season, you will end up in the money. 

Your strategy will also depend on how things are shaking down during the season. You may not be an aggressive player when it comes to picking upsets, but if you need to make up ground, then that approach will have to change. During the last few weeks, start picking more underdogs than normal and place an aggressive confidence score to them. That way you can hopefully pick up an extra 16 points here and there to catch up to the leaders. It also helps to know how the other players in your league tend to bet. That way you can make picks that go against the grain and will gain you points when the others stay still. 

Even if your favorite team is rebuilding or terrible, you can still enjoy the NFL season and almost any NFL game. Betting and fantasy sports provide another dimension to fandom, and can turn any game into a potential nailbiter. A confidence pool is one of the best ways to keep your interest throughout the season and to have fun with friends. Follow this guide to play and win. 

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