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What an exciting Week 1 - one of my favorite opening weeks in recent memory. We got to see a rare tie, a seven hour game, a shootout, and some good defensive battles. Even crazier, more than half of survivor pools are already eliminated after the Saints and Lions lost.

Week 1 also leads to massive overreaction, but it's only one game. Take a deep breath. Take a step back. Don't jump to any conclusions. I usually wait until after the first month to start making assumptions. You can't judge a team on one game. Many are still playing themselves into regular season shape. But there are several things that could have been said about the same teams or players at the end of last season. Let's take a look at those!

One note about the Titans Dolphins game last week. The Titans were my bet of the week. They were controlling that game until they went for it on 4th-and-goal from the Dolphins three and missed it. They were up 3-0 at that point and would've been up 6-0 had they kicked the field goal. The field goal is obviously not the sexy move, but it was the right one in that situation. Why? Because the Dolphins offense took that momentum went the length of the field scoring a touchdown. Then there were two rain delays making the game last seemingly forever.

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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 cannot use that team ever again. There is no point spread involved.

I will also 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. The team I like in any given game against the spread will be first.

I used to have rules for how to go about making your survivor picks each week, but rules are meant to be broken especially in a year like this. Here are my guidelines.

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 Bills.

2) Try to avoid divisional rivalry games. Anything can happen with a rivalry game. Some weeks the best option will be a divisional bout.

3) Avoid underdogs.

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 where they are begging you to bet one side. When the spread looks like an easy cover, it rarely is. Vegas is giving you an inside scoop and they're mostly always right. I will point those spreads out each week.

The biggest favorites in Week 2 per sportsbook (home team in caps):

  • RAMS -12.5 vs. Cardinals
  • SAINTS -9 vs. Browns
  • Chargers -7.5 @ BILLS

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

I will not be really digging into the advanced stats until Week 5. I need a month sample size.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 2

*In order of my favorite selections*

 

SAINTS -9 vs. Browns

I was nervous about the Saints last week because the game looked too easy. I even wrote this is the week to take them because they get the sorry Browns in their building. The Browns defense is really good, but the Saints have too many weapons. The Saints should be able to score 30, but the Browns offense can't put up nearly that many. Tyrod Taylor can't throw a deep ball. He throws short underneath routes which are fine, but not against Drew Brees. I hate to say a Week 2 game is a must-win for anyone, but it really is a must win for New Orleans. They can't afford to drop their first two games of the season.

Saints 37 - Browns 13

 

49ERS -6 vs. Lions

Detroit looked horrific on Monday night. To open the season on national television against a rookie quarterback and get smacked 48-17 is a really bad outlook for the season. The Jets offense did whatever they wanted. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford knows he has to do it all each game because they haven't had a running back rush for more than 100 yards in 69 straight games.

The Niners were outplayed in Minnesota, but they hung with them all game. Despite being down 24-6, they showed grit coming all the way back and even had the ball late down 24-16 before Jimmy Garoppolo threw a game-ending pick. Looking at the Niners schedule, there may not be a better chance to take them than this week. They have too many weapons for Detroit to handle. Matt Patricia will need to sharpen that pencil several times Sunday as he makes constant changes to his gameplan.

49ers 31 - Lions 20

 

Eagles -3.5 @ BUCS

Philly not only has 10 days to prepare for this game, but people are already knocking them after their sub-par performance in their opener against Atlanta. Everyone loves Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs after they shocked everyone beating the Saints. Philly's defense is way too good for the Bucs and they'll hold them to under 14 points.

Eagles 31 - Bucs 14

 

Cardinals +12.5 @ RAMS

The Rams can very well be a juggernaut this year and win 14 games, but here's another divisional game that looks too easy (just like the Saints last week). The Cardinals can't be any worse than they were last week where Sam Bradford threw for a putrid 4.50 yards per attempt. However, Bradford usually plays well in September. I used this table last week and updated it to include last week's game.

SAM BRADFORD'S FIRST FOUR GAMES (LAST FOUR SEASONS) 
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
Date
Tm Opp Result G# Week Day Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A
2018-09-09 ARI WAS L 6-24 1 1 Sun 20 34 58.82 153 0 1 57.6 4.50
2017-09-11 MIN NOR W 29-19 1 1 Mon 27 32 84.38 346 3 0 143.0 10.81
2016-10-03 MIN NYG W 24-10 4 4 Mon 26 36 72.22 262 1 0 101.9 7.28
2016-09-25 MIN @ CAR W 22-10 3 3 Sun 18 28 64.29 171 1 0 93.0 6.11
2016-09-18 MIN GNB W 17-14 2 2 Sun 22 31 70.97 286 2 0 121.2 9.23
2015-10-04 PHI @ WAS L 20-23 4 4 Sun 15 28 53.57 270 3 0 122.6 9.64
2015-09-27 PHI @ NYJ W 24-17 3 3 Sun 14 28 50.00 118 1 0 73.2 4.21
2015-09-20 PHI DAL L 10-20 2 2 Sun 23 37 62.16 224 1 2 65.6 6.05
2015-09-14 PHI @ ATL L 24-26 1 1 Mon 36 52 69.23 336 1 2 77.1 6.46

 
The Rams may be a team you want to save this season. That's why the Saints are the play this week.

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

BILLS +7.5 vs. Chargers

There is a trend from The Action Network that says when a team loses by 35+ points the week before, they cover at a 64% clip the following week. That trend applies to the Bills this week.

The Chargers have to travel east for this 1 p.m. game. San Diego has such a dynamic offense, but continually finds way to shoot themselves in the foot.

Chargers 24 - Bills 19

 

Colts +6 @ REDSKINS

The Redskins looked great Sunday, but they beat up on the Cardinals, one of the three worst teams in football. They are better at every position than the Colts, except for quarterback. Andrew Luck can single-handedly carry the Colts to a win against anyone if he plays to his capabilities. This also feels like the Redskins are primed for a stinker after their dominating performance in Arizona.

Redskins 21 - Colts 20

 

The Rest

BENGALS + 1 vs. Ravens (Thursday night) - The Ravens being favorite is a gross over-exaggeration to them destroying the worst team in football. The Bengals seemed more impressive against Luck holding the Colts to 23 points and 4.9 yards per play. This is going to be a classic low-scoring defensive AFC North bruising type game, especially on a short week. I like the Bengals as home dogs.

FALCONS -6 vs. Panthers - Atlanta should win comfortably in this one. They have an extra three days to prepare for Carolina. The Falcons need a win after losing to the Eagles in the opener. They should be able to score a lot, but their red zone offense can make you extremely nervous.

STEELERS -5 vs. Chiefs - Here's the line that makes no sense. The Chiefs looked like a Super Bowl contender last week beating the Chargers easily while the Steelers played awful tying the laughingstock of the league. So how can Pittsburgh be a 5-point favorite at home against this high-octane Chiefs offense? Well for one, the Steelers are 29-11 at home since 2013. Two, Vegas is telling you something about this game. They are begging you to bet the Chiefs, which means you bet the Steelers. That's why this is one of my top plays.

JETS -3 vs. Dolphins - I think the Dolphins are one of the worst teams in football. That game against Tennessee was simply weird with all those delays. The Jets will ride their momentum to a 2-0 start.

Patriots -2.5 @ JAGUARS - The Jaguars offense could barely move the ball on Sunday against the Giants. If they had any sort of quarterback, this team would be a top team in the league with Super Bowl aspirations, but Blake Bortles isn't capable of keeping up with Tom Brady. I know, I know the first thing you'll bring up is last year's AFC Championship Game, but I just think the Jags were riding a hot streak. Patriots big.

Raiders +5.5 @ BRONCOS - The only reason I'm taking the Raiders is because I believe the public will be all-in on Denver. When the public goes one way, you go the other.

GIANTS +3 @ Cowboys (Sunday night) - This game is nearly impossible to forecast. I'll go with the Giants because they have more offensive weapons.

BEARS -3.5 vs. Seahawks (Monday night)Khalil Mack will destroy the Seahawks offensive line. Russell Wilson will be in for a long night.

There is no line on the Texans Titans matchup at the time of this publishing due to Marcus Mariota's uncertain status. Same for the Packers Vikings because of Aaron Rodgers.

 

ATS Record: 1-2

This week: Saints -9, Eagles -3.5, Steelers -5

 

Good luck, and I'll be back next week previewing Week 3.

 

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