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Circa Survivor field slashed after upset-filled weeks in NFL

Not even halfway through the 20-week Circa Survivor contest, 83 percent of the field has been eliminated in the quest for the $6 million prize.

After two upset-filled weeks in the NFL, 686 of 4,080 $1,000 entries are still alive in the competition that designates Thanksgiving and Christmas as separate contest weeks.

Contestants pick one straight-up NFL winner each week, and each team can be used once. The Jets knocked out a season-high 871 entries in Week 8 when they beat the Bengals as 11½-point underdogs. Last week, 360 entries were eliminated when the Jaguars (+16) stunned the Bills 9-6 and the Broncos (+10) crushed the Cowboys 30-16.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the four contestants who entered Week 9 with the maximum six entries allowed per person and lost them all. Two used the Bills on all six entries, and one had the Cowboys on all six.

“That’s a very common strategy,” Circa sportsbook operations manager Jeff Benson said. “A lot of people who have max entries in the contest will pick one team on all six selections, and when they get to Thanksgiving, they have options.”

Perhaps the most painful exit was by the contestant who had the Bills on three entries and the Cowboys on the other three.

Or it might have been the contestant who was eliminated a few weeks ago when they failed to submit picks on their five entries by the 3 p.m. Saturday deadline.

There have been 68 entries eliminated for not submitting a pick.

20-0 favorite

Professional sports bettor Jeff Whitelaw was one of the 35 entries (of 1,390) who went 18-0 in last season’s inaugural Circa Survivor and chopped the $2.39 million pot for $68,285.71 each.

Despite the extra two weeks in this season’s contest, Whitelaw said he would make it a big favorite that multiple entries will go 20-0. Benson said he would make the over-under for unbeaten entries around 9½.

“Because of the size of the field, and you have people that have multiple entries,” Whitelaw said. “Let’s say, for example, you have six entries. On Thanksgiving, you could use one on Detroit and one on Chicago (in the Lions-Bears game) to advance one of your entries.”

Whitelaw has one of his six entries left after losing three last week.

“When you have multiple entries, you can strategize a little bit,” he said. “With one, you go through the schedule and map it out. Thanksgiving and Christmas makes it that much more complicated. There’s only a few games each day, and they’ll be small spreads.

“You might even have to pick an underdog.”

There are three games on Thanksgiving (Bears at Lions, Bills at Saints, Raiders at Cowboys) and Christmas (49ers at Titans, Dec. 23, Browns at Packers, Colts at Cardinals).

$1M bonus

In another twist, Circa is offering a $1 million undefeated bonus prize for an entry that goes 20-0 and selects either the Chiefs or Buccaneers in the regular-season finale.

But Benson said not many contestants are saving those teams.

“I would be very surprised if that bonus prize pool is hit,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like we have a ton of people angling for the bonus prize.”

Last Man Standing

Pro sports bettor Cris Zeniuk has one of the final six entries in a field of 6,241 in Station Casinos’ NFL Last Man Standing contest, where entries pick a team ATS each week to survive and the winner gets $150,000.

Zeniuk, a former Station LMS winner who also won Wynn Las Vegas’ Single Survivor, has similar advice for the LMS and Circa Survivor contests.

“You’ve got to try to avoid being on the teams with the most entries,” said Zeniuk (@lasvegascris). “Every week, people pick the big favorites, while the sharps are out there picking off the midrange teams. Any team can lose on any given week. You can’t gain equity being on the same teams everybody else is on.

”It’s real simple. Just exclude them. You don’t want to be on the popular games.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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