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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 2) - Targets and Avoids

Seattle squeaks by the Bengals and a third of all survivor pools breathe a sigh of relief. On to the next week where hopefully you don’t need to sweat one out again. My other survivor play was the Broncos and they barely showed up.

Most love to overreact after Week 1. Such thoughts seem to be Lamar Jackson will win MVP, the Steelers are awful, and the Bears need a quarterback. It’s only one game. Remember all this stuff a month from now in Week 5 and see how much has changed. Try not to let Week 1 play a vital role in how you pick games for Week 2.

Throughout the season, I'll be giving out survivor picks, as well as weekly bets, mixed in with some daily fantasy football tidbits.

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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 or more in Week 2 per The Action Network (home team in caps); Patriots -18.5 @ Dolphins, Ravens -13.5 vs. Cardinals, Texans -8.5 vs. Jaguars, Chiefs -8 @ Raiders

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 2

Patriots -19 @ Miami

This is one insane line. If this game were in Foxboro, around 25 points. New England usually struggles in Miami, but after the Miami Miracle last year and given how bad the Dolphins are, the Pats will roll. If you have multiple entries, I'd advise taking them in one. If you just want to advance, take them. If you want to save them, the other options are below.

Patriots 38 - Dolphins 10

Ravens -13.5 vs. Cardinals

I think this line is a massive overreaction to the Ravens in Week 1. This line should be more in the 10 range. Having said that, the Ravens should win, and they are a good option for survivor. For some reason, I get an odd feeling about them this week. But the Cardinals are a West Coast team going east for an early 1 p.m. start. Kyler Murray does scare me, but the Ravens should do enough to win.

Ravens 27 - Cardinals 20

Steelers -4 vs. Seahawks

This is going to be a risky play in survivor but you need to take chances especially when you have more than one entry. I was extremely high on Pittsburgh before the year and a blowout loss to the reigning Super Bowl champions will not play a factor into how I handicap this game. Pittsburgh is 3-1 in their last four home openers. I like the angle of a West coast team going east for an early 1 pm game, which is really like 10 am on their body clocks. But I really love the angle of a team who is embarrassed on national television bouncing back in a huge way the following week.

Also, look at how Pittsburgh played last week and you’d think this would be a standard 3-point spread. Andy Dalton ripped apart Seattle en route to 418 yards passing, 8.2 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. Big Ben will be fired up in their home opener knowing they need a win in a big way. 

Steelers 35 - Seahawks 27


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Texans -8.5 vs. Jaguars 

Major overreaction to this line. Houston’s defense collapsed against New Orleans.  Jacksonville wasn’t too good against KC, but the Chiefs have the best offense in football. Deshaun Watson was sacked six times by the Saints and the Jags will dismantle the weak offensive line of the Texans. Jacksonville didn’t sack Patrick Mahomes once, but they did hit him four times and even injured him. A bad offensive line is the great equalizer.

Texans 21 - Jaguars 17

Panthers -6.5 vs. Bucs

If not for Christian McCaffrey, who knows what would have been with the Panthers offense Sunday. He accounted for 61 percent of the offensive yards while Cam Newton only threw for 6.3 yards per attempt. Jameis Winston looked awful for the Bucs but I still believe in their team solely because of Bruce Arians. This is his seventh year as a head coach in the NFL and his worst season was 7-8-1. The Bucs will rebound. The fact that this is also a Thursday night divisional game makes me want nothing to do with it.

Bucs 24 - Panthers 23

Chiefs -8 @ Raiders 

This is not only a divisional game but also a team you want to save for later on. I know I know, the Patriots-Dolphins is also a divisional game, but that one is a complete mismatch. There's no stopping the Chiefs offense, but you can move the ball easily on their defense. Rookie Gardner Minshew was 22/25 for 275 yards, 11 YPA, two touchdowns, and one pick against the Chiefs. Before he was knocked out, Nick Foles was 5/8 for 75 yards, 9.4 YPA, and a touchdown. If Derek Carr has a similar game to the one Monday night, 22/26, 259 yards, 10 YPA, one touchdown, no picks, the Raiders will keep this game really close.

Chiefs 38 - Raiders 35


The Rest

Chargers -2.5 @ Lions - San Diego is the one team that bucks the trend of a West Coast team going east for an early 1 p.m. start. The Lions are in real trouble after their collapse against the Cardinals. The Chargers should cruise.

Colts +3 @ Titans - I think Indy is a better team than Tennessee. Baker Mayfield threw some really bad passes and the Titans Defense played really well. Colts in a low-scoring affair.

Cowboys -5 @ Redskins - So long as Dak Prescott doesn't turn it over, the Cowboys Defense should stifle the Skins in an NFC East battle.

Vikings +3 @ Packers - This is a really exciting game. Both teams are 1-0 off big wins in Week 1. Minnesota has more firepower and the Vikings Defense is an elite defense.

Bills -2 @ Giants - Buffalo will be in the Meadowlands for the second consecutive week. The Giants had such small expectations for the season and lived fully up to them in Dallas. The Bills were so bad, but pulled out the win against the Jets. Bills in a tight game.

49ers +1 @ Bengals - Many are saying Andy Dalton and new head coach Zac Taylor are a perfect fit after Dalton's great game in Seattle. Let me see it one more time.

Broncos +2.5 vs. Bears - The loser of this game will fall to 0-2 and face an uphill battle at the playoffs. Chicago will have 10 days to prepare after their 10-3 loss last Thursday night. But here's the one x-factor. Vic Fangio is the Broncos head coach. He was the Bears defensive coordinator for the last four seasons. He will have the defense ready to throttle Mitch Trubisky and the offense. This is going to be a really low-scoring game, but I think the altitude will do the Bears in.

Rams -3 vs. Saints - A rematch of the NFC Championship game. The way New Orleans played Monday night, they should in no way be only a three-point dog to the Rams. LA is a vastly superior defensive team and Jared Goff will be able to put up at least 30 on the Saints Defense.

Eagles -1.5 @ Falcons - Could this be the last game for Dan Quinn as the Falcons head coach? This is the Sunday night game and if Philly beats Atlanta handily, owner Arthur Blank may say, 'that's it.' The Eagles have the capability to crush Atlanta and I think that happens.

Jets +2.5 vs. Browns - The loser of this game falls to 0-2 and how great would it be if the Browns are that team. Cleveland also has the Rams up next on Sunday night football. This could get ugly. The Jets season could also rely on this game with a trip to Foxborough looming. If you read my column last week, you'll know I don't believe in Cleveland but do in the Jets. I'm not giving up on this Jets season just yet.


Best Bets for Week 2

  • Steelers -4
  • Vikings +3
  • Rams -3

Last week: 0-3

Season total: 0-3

More Weekly Lineup Prep