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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 4) - Targets and Avoids

As good as football has been this young season, the game is also laughable. The league wants these referees to call these ticky-tacky penalties. On the winning touchdown drive for the Chargers, they had a 4th-and-9 from the Chiefs 35 when Justin Herbert's pass was incomplete. But of course, a pass interference was called. It was good hand fighting that should have been allowed. The Packers-49ers Sunday night game had several PIs called where the ball was uncatchable. These offensive players all whine and complain about getting a flag. It's getting harder and harder to bet when you have these ridiculous penalties constantly called.

If you had the Ravens in survivor and you end up winning the whole thing, thank Justin Tucker. Even throw him a tip. 66 yards is unfathomable. When the ball hit the crossbar, time seemingly stopped. I thought it had fallen short but then the refs put their hands up and...  jubilation. The game should have been lost before that. From the Ravens converting a 4th-and-19 earlier in that drive to them even blowing a 13-nothing lead. But give the Lions credit, they used three long drives to score on their final possessions (11 plays, 75 yards, 6:55, touchdown; 12 plays, 75 yards, 7:25, touchdown; 9 plays, 62 yards, 4:21, field goal). Detroit is not the walkover we thought they would be. Nearly all the other big favorites won except the Chiefs which were an avoid because why use Kansas City that early.

All season long, I'll be bringing you weekly columns on teams to target and avoid each week. Strategy is a major part of winning this pool and this article will help you through the season. 

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Survivor League Strategy

I wrote this before Week 1. I'll leave this section up until Week 5 when strategies change:

There are several ways to play this contest.

Week-by-week: What it sounds like. Don't look ahead, take it week-by-week choosing a team that will advance you.

The Long-Game: People plot out the entire season from Week 1-18. They look at the entire schedule determining when it would be best to choose teams based on opponents and other scheduling factors. I've personally never done this because injuries to star players can throw the whole plan into disarray. If you like this strategy, I'd advise looking ahead a maximum of three weeks and plotting the season a month at a time.

Contrarian: Don't take the big popular favorite each week. For Week 1, that would be avoiding the Bucs or Niners. The reason why people like this strategy; when one of the big favorites gets knocked out, the majority of entrants are eliminated and you avoid it.

Teams to Fade: Find the team that will be the worst and constantly fade them. Last year it was the Jets. This year it'll likely be the Texans.

My strategy: A combination of the above. I obviously want a team I'm confident in weekly. I like to look ahead but not too far ahead. And I don't like to be with the majority of people. For example, the Bucs and Chiefs are expected to be so why waste them in Week 1? Plenty of better opportunities later in the year. For example, the Bucs play the Giants in Week 11.


Teams favored by 7+ in Week 4

Lines are consensus from The Action Network (home team in caps); BILLS -16.5 vs. Texans, SAINTS -8 vs. Giants, Titans -7.5 at JETS, BENGALS -7.5 vs. Jaguars, STEELERS -7 vs. Packers.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, know that 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. They'll be at the bottom. I'll also be giving my predicted score for games written about.


Top Survivor Picks for Week 4

Some very good and interesting options this week:

BILLS -16.5 vs. Texans

This is my most confident and surefire pick. Buffalo is firing on all cylinders. Their offense does not let up and will continue scoring all game. It doesn't matter if either Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills starts at quarterback, they stand no chance.

Now, is this the best tactical play? No, because they have some easy opponents later on; at Jaguars in Week 7, at Jets Week 8, vs. Falcons in Week 17, vs. Jets in Week 18.

Bills 41 - Texans 17

SAINTS -8 vs. Giants

Are the Giants one of the most unwatchable teams in the league? RedZone barely showed their game against the Falcons. Daniel Jones can't have two or more good drives in a row. Saquon Barkley is not himself. Their offensive line is not good. They lost starting linebacker Blake Martinez for the season due to a torn ACL. Their play is going to get sloppier.

The Saints are a well-rounded team. They established the run this past Sunday and Jameis Winston did everything he was asked to. Their defense is top-10 in yards per play. This will be an ugly game to watch, but the Saints will take care of business.

If you do not use New Orleans here, Week 13 at the Jets is the only other option.

Saints 26 - Giants 20

BENGALS -7.5 vs. Jaguars

I can't believe I'm writing this but Cincinnati is my play this week. There are other spots to use them; Week 6 at Detroit, Week 8 at the Jets. But those are both on the road. This is a home Thursday night game. Their defense is fifth in opponent yards per play. The offense is not dynamic, but the Jaguars' defense is giving up six yards per play, 25th in the league.

Jacksonville had a very good chance to win Sunday. They returned a missed field goal for a 109-yard touchdown as time expired. Their kicker missed two extra points. But Trevor Lawrence has looked shaky and turned the game on a horrible pick-six at the end of the third. They can't play a complete game.

Bengals 23 - Jaguars 14


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Titans -7 at JETS

Tennessee should not be fully trusted and there are other options to use them; Week 11 vs. the Texans or Week 18 at Houston. The Titans' offense is all about Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill cannot put the team on his back if the offense becomes one-dimensional. The Jets are 11th in opponent yards per play and 14th in rushing defense. But their offense is so bad. They've scored three points the last two weeks, have given up 15 sacks (most in the league), and have no weapons.

The Titans should be able to squeak one out but I'd tread cautiously.

Titans 16 - Jets 14

PACKERS -7 vs. Steelers

This is an avoid because Green Bay should be saved.

Packers 24 - Steelers 20


Best Bets

  • Vikings +1.5 vs. Browns -Minnesota looked dead after going down 17-7 to Seattle but they then rattled off 23 unanswered points to win comfortably. Kirk Cousins has played like an MVP thus far, throwing for 918 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 74 percent of his passes.
  • Dolphins -1.5 at Colts- Carson Wentz is absolutely awful. He was 19-37 Sunday for 194 yards, no touchdowns, and no picks. He's completing 60 percent of his passes through three games. Miami is a tough team that will bounce back from their heartbreaking loss to Vegas. I don't understand how this line is not three minimum.
  • Patriots +6.5 vs. Bucs - This will be one of the most unpopular plays which is why I love it. Bill Belichick as a touchdown underdog at home on Sunday night? Sign me up!


Running Totals

  • Last week: 1-2
  • 2021 season total: 5-3-1
  • 2020 season total: 24-27
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2

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