NFL Survivor League Picks (Week 5): Survivor Pool Targets and Avoids

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I had a different intro written before last night's game, but I hadn't seen an ending like that in some time. This is not a gambling column, but this can not be passed up. No, not the field goal, but the final play.

The Chiefs were favorite by 6.5 and the over under was 49. The Chiefs were up by three and the Skins played the lateral game on the final play. The ball became loose, the Chiefs scooped it up and ran it in with zeros on the clock. Chiefs cover. Over under pushes, or you lose if you had 48.5. Wow. I thought losing by .24 in fantasy this past week was rough, but that is absolutely brutal if you had the Skins.

This week is also the beginning of bye weeks. The Jags, Chiefs, Saints, and Seahawks are idle.

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Observations from Last Week

Here are my observations from Week 4 with some facts.

  • Something is really wrong with the Pats defense. There are giving up a league-worst 457 yards per game, 60 more than the next worst team. But they'll fix it.
  • The Bengals own the Browns in Cleveland in recent years. They have outscored them 121-20 the past four times in Cleveland.
  • The Eagles are fun to watch. I was all over them before the year. Wentz is off to a great start. He's agile, elusive, and has some arm. And they finally have a running game.
  • Baltimore's offense is horrific, averaging 270 yards per game.
  • How has Blake Bottles not thrown a pick-six yet?
  • The Jaguars are who we thought they were.

 

Rants of the Week

I picked Seattle has the top pick last week and predicted they'd win 49-0. Well, they won 46-18. With 5:25 to go in the second quarter, Indy had just scored a touchdown and were down 10-8. And Chuck Pagano (who should be fired already) went for two. You can't chase points in Seattle. You need every single point when you play in Seattle. Never chase points until the fourth quarter.

And I'll give you one more. It is so sad what's happened to the Chargers. I remember going to several Jets-Chargers games at Qualcomm Stadium some time ago. Qualcomm was a great stadium. The crowds were noisy. The fans were devoted. Until their awful owner wouldn't pay for a new stadium so he moved. I always make the mistake of calling them San Diego, and I probably always will, just like my father still says Baltimore Colts to this day. I really hope Roger Goodell forces them back to San Diego.

 

Survivor League Strategy

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple; pick a team to win each week, if they win you move on to the next week. But you cannot use that team ever again. There is no point spread involved.

We've come to the point where 60-70% of people are knocked out, so it's time to get rid of one rule.

  1. Try to save the top teams for the end of the season. You do not want to be alive in Week 10 choosing between the Browns and the Jets. Try and pick teams you won't use later. For example, the Rams got the Luckless Colts  in Week 1.
  2. Try to avoid divisional rivalry games also. Anything can happen with a rivalry game. Some weeks it will be really hard to not pick a divisional game, because there is no better option.
  3. Never pick an underdog.
  4. Rarely, if ever, pick a Thursday night game. Anyone can beat anyone off four days rest. You're better off trying to figure out Johnny Drama's next move.

Before making any picks, look at the point spreads. Vegas has the best minds, smarter than any of us, use them to get a glimpse at how each team is projected to fare that week. There will be a game or two a week where the line makes NO SENSE, like the Bears and Steelers this past week, but that means Vegas is giving you an inside scoop and they're mostly always right.

The biggest favorites in Week 5 per sportsbook (home team in caps);

  • STEELERS -8.5 vs. Jaguars
  • EAGLES -6.5 vs. Cardinals
  • Patriots -5.5 @ BUCS
  • As of now, nothing else is in the Vegas Zone (4-5.5 points)

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines were from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

Last week I gave out the Seahawks, Pats, and Cowboys. My team to avoid was the Cardinals and they won in overtime.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 5

Besides the Steelers and Eagles games, these point spreads are all around a field goal each. These teams are so even, the parity is real.

STEELERS -8.5 vs. Jaguars

This will be the most popular survivor pick this week and for good reason. I'd expect more than 70% of pools to go with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 19-6 over the past three seasons at home and their losses have been to good teams like the Ravens, Patriots, and Cowboys. They should have no problem with Blake Pick-Six Bortles going against one of the best home field advantages in the league.

The Jags came in to New York last week hot and with all the confidence in the world, but lost to a team Colin Cowherd predicted would go 0-16 (2:13 mark). I don't understand how people think the Jags are good because they destroyed the Ravens in London. Baltimore is not good at all. They beat the Bengals (who are average), than the Browns (worst team in football), and lost to the Jags and Jets (supposed worst team in football). Jacksonville will go 3-13 and you'll ask yourself at the end of the season why you didn't go against them every week.

If Pittsburgh loses at home this week to the Jags, I'll be damned.

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

I don't have one major avoid this week, partly because there's no heavy favorite. And every other game is going to be close. But let's go through them.

  • Pats -5 at Tampa. Rule #4. And you can't trust the Pats defense. Now is the time to get them with nice odds to win the Super Bowl. Currently, they are 6-1 to win it all, behind  the Steelers (5-1).
  • Giants -3.5 vs. Chargers. This will be the third annual Manning vs. Rivers game. The obvious talking point of the week is, "What if Manning didn't get traded for Rivers."
  • Bengals -2.5 vs. Bills. Very interesting line. Wouldn't you think the Bills would be favorite? Vegas is trying to tell you something. Take Cincy.
  • Browns -1 vs. Jets. How are the winless Browns a favorite over the Jets, winners of their last two. Josh McCown returns to Cleveland. As a Jets fan I love this. Tanking in football is bad karma. If you're 1-10, then yeah go ahead and lose the last five games. This Jets team is fun to watch a young team play with nothing to lose.
  • Colts -2 vs. Niners is a complete toss-up. Best to stay away from both teams.
  • Eagles -6.5 vs. Cardinals. The Battle of the Carson's. I love the Eagles this year, but something scares me about this game. This has let down written all over it.
  • Lions -3 vs. Panthers. This is a great game all of a sudden. Although the Lions play a lot of close games. It's going to come back to haunt them eventually.
  • Radiers -2.5 vs. Ravens.  You don't want anything to do with this game now that Carr is out.
  • Rams -2.5 vs. Seahawks is the best or second best game of the week. The Rams are red hot, while the Seahawks got a huge confidence booster on Sunday.
  • Cowboys -2 vs. Packers. You can NEVER go against Aaron Rodgers. This is a game where you want to sit back as a fan and enjoy. This game and the Rams-Seahawks game doesn't deserve, but it require a two-TV set up.
  • Chiefs -1 @ Texans. What a game on Sunday Night Football with the only and only Cris Collinsworth.

 

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