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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 1) - Targets and Avoids

It’s that time of the year again. You can smell it in the air, football is back. Some are excited about fantasy football, but I'm ready for all the pools that come with it, including survivor pools.

Week 1 is always a tough week because there’s no prior games for these teams except for bogus preseason games. But there are a couple things that can give us hints. Per VSIN's Mike Lombardi, road teams are successful. Last year seven road teams won, in 2017 eight teams won, and in 2016 nine road teams won.

Another thing per Lombardi, look at conditioning. Are teams in shape to play an entire football game? Can they play it in the heat of Florida like the Bucs and Dolphins are used to.

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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 can't use that team ever again. There's no point spread involved.

  1. Try to save the top teams for the end of the season. You don't want to be alive in Week 10 choosing between the Dolphins and Cardinals. Try to pick teams you won't use later.
  2. Avoid divisional rivalries (generally), although in some weeks, it'll be pretty hard due to lack of options. Anything can happen in a divisional game.
  3. Point spreads are crucial in reading games. Vegas knows a lot more than you do, so respect their outlook.

Teams favored by seven of more in Week 1 per The Action Network (home team in caps); Eagles -9.5 vs. Redskins, Ravens -7 @ Dolphins, Cowboys -7 vs. Giants, Saints -7 v. Texans

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

With gambling now legal for some of you, I'm going to be giving out my three top plays against the spread. I will italicize the team I like. It will look like this: Patriots -7 vs. Jets.


Top Survivor Picks for Week 1

Seahawks -9.5 vs. Bengals

This will probably be the most popular survivor pick of the week. The hapless Bengals led by Andy Dalton, with a new coach, no AJ Green travel to one of the most vaunted stadiums. Seattle’s defense is reloaded with the newly-acquired Jadeveon Clowney. They should be able to pummel Dalton and the depleted Bengals offensive line. Seattle’s offense is always dangerous with Russell Wilson behind center. Chris Carson is poised for a big year as well. This is a lot of points, but for survivor, it’s a must-play.

Seahawks 20 - Bengals 10


Broncos -1 @ Raiders

The huge news is Antonio Brown is not playing. Just another distraction for the Raiders.

The fact that Denver is a road favorite in Week 1 against a divisional rivalry shows just how much Vegas thinks of them over Oakland. The Broncos season win total is seven and the Raiders is six. So one game between the two teams and Denver would be a seven-point favorite at home?

The Broncos Defense should rebounds strongly with the addition of head coach and former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He'll out-coach Jon Gruden.

Broncos 24 - Raiders 19


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Ravens -7 at Dolphins

Everyone is pegging Miami to be the worst team and rightly so. They also seem to be tanking but that doesn’t go through the players minds or new head Brian Flores. They aren’t playing to lose. Baltimore’s offense isn’t gonna blow any team out. They are a power rushing team out of the 1980s. Lamar Jackson isn’t going to throw for 300 yards on any team this year. That all leads to them letting the other team hang around and hope their defense, who lost CJ Mosley in free agency, to finish off the game. This game is also in the heat of Miami. Will Baltimore be conditioned to handle the Florida heat for four full quarters?

Ravens: 20 - Dolphins 17


Browns -5.5 vs. Dolphins

The Browns are one of the most bet teams for futures. Let them show something before I back them. If the Browns are so good, then you'll want to save them for later in the season. Also, I have barely heard anything of the Titans this off-season. I was high on them last year with Mike Vrabel, and they missed out on the playoffs by one game. But their offense was horrendous. I think they're being overlooked and need to see the Browns before I start backing them like the entire world.

Browns 24 - Titans 20


Eagles -9.5 vs. Redskins

This would normally be an automatic play at this spread with a home team but this is a divisional game. That always scares me. Washington is also getting no respect from anyone. I think the Eagles are re-loaded for another Super Bowl run, which is why I would save them.

Eagles 24 - Redskins 19


Colts +6.5 @ Chargers

Everyone is counting out this Colts teams once the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brisett isn’t that bad. He’s been a viable starter in the past and shouldn’t be counted out against a team that underwhelms and finds ways to lose in unthinkable ways. This is also in LA but they don't have a home field.

Colts 27 - Chargers 21


Cowboys -7 vs. Giants

Another divisional battle. The Giants look lost, but even with Zeke back, he hasn't practiced with the team all of training camp.

Cowboys 21 - Giants 17


The Rest

Bears -3 vs. Packers - This game opens the season Thursday night. Because of the NFL 100th season, they put these two legendary teams on instead of the defending-champion Patriots. Ridiculous. I'll take Bears in this one. Need to see something from this Packer team with a new coach.

Jets -3 vs. Bills -  I am a Jets fan and haven't been this excited for a Jets season since 2011, when the Jets were off an AFC Championship loss to the Colts. New York sports talk has killed new head coach Adam Gase. Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts won't even give the guy a chance. Gase is a very underrated head coach. With an offense led by Ryan Tannehill, Gase managed to 10-6 (playoff berth), 6-10, and 7-9 last year. Not good but not bad. His offensive background will take Sam Darnold to new heights. Just look at what he did in the preseason. The defense is coached by Gregg Williams who's a very good coordinator. They finally have an up-and-coming defense. Here's a look at how first year Jets head coaches have done:

Herman Edwards (2001) 10-6, made playoffs
Eric Mangini (2006) 10-6, made playoffs
Rex Ryan (2009) 9-7, made playoffs
Todd Bowles (2015) 10-6, lost tiebreaker for playoffs

Bet the over on the Jets and the Jets to make playoffs.

Vikings -4 vs. Falcons - I like both teams to rebound this season but the Vikings Defense is better.

Jaguars +4 vs. Chiefs - I like the Chiefs to win by three because I think the heat gets to them.

Rams -3 @ Panthers - The public isn't so keen on the Rams after their Super Bowl loss but that was in February. Carolina is tough at home, but LA is better.

Cardinals +2.5 vs. Lions - Many are out on the Cardinals after their poor showing in Week 2 of the preseason against the Raiders on national television. That was in the pre-season though. The Lions are going to be a bad team this year. Cardinals outright.

Bucs pick'em vs. 49ers - I like the Bucs to surprise with Bruce Arians as the new head coach. Arians took a terrible franchise with the Cardinals to within one game of the Super Bowl. He is a great coach. Plus, I don't like the Niners in the Florida heat.

Steelers +5.5 vs. Patriots - New England isn't the best in September. I'm extremely high on the Steelers this season. More on that below.

Texas +7 @ Saints - How can the Saints rebound off back-to-back ways heartbreaking ways to end the season. How will the Texans play with all their late flurry of trades. Too many points for a team that isn't as good in the Superdome as some think. Also, remember Week 1 last season when they lost to the Bucs.


Best Bets

  • Broncos -1
  • Jets -3
  • Bucs pick'em


Season Picks

AFC:                                     NFC:

1 - Steelers                             1 - Eagles
2 - Patriots                             2 - Rams
3 - Chiefs                                3 - Vikings
4 - Titans                                4 - Falcons
5 - Chargers                           5 - Cowboys
6 - Jets                                    6 - Seahawks

Wild Card:

Chiefs over Jets            Vikings over Seahawks

Chargers over Titans          Falcons over Cowboys


Steelers over Chargers       Eagles over Falcons

Patriots over Chiefs            Vikings over Rams

Conference Championships:

Steelers over Patriots          Eagles over Vikings

Super Bowl:

Steelers over Eagles

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