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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 5) - Targets and Avoids

Week 4 was finally a week where the underdogs came through. More than a quarter of entries in pools were knocked out thanks to the Rams, Colts,  Texans and Ravens all losing. My survivor plays were 4-2 last Sunday, as I managed to avoid the Texans and Ravens, with their opponents, the Panthers and Browns, among my best bets against the spread. After a tough 1-5 start, the last two weeks have seen my best bets go 5-1 to get back to .500 on the season.

This is a tougher week than most but three teams favored in the double-digits per The Action Network: Patriots -15.5 @ Redskins, Eagles -14 vs. Jets, and Chiefs -11 vs. Colts

The Lions and Dolphins are both on bye this week which is not good news for your survivor pools as you cannot take the easy road and pick against Miami. If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday.  Teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column.

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Top Survivor Picks for Week 5

Patriots -15.5 @ Redskins

If you haven't used New England yet, this would be a good time to. They are not losing this one to the putrid Redskins. As of the time of writing, it's unclear who Washington will start at quarterback Sunday. If it's Dwayne Haskins, well Bill Belichick owns rookie quarterbacks. Even if it is Case Keenum or Colt McCoy it likely won't make a difference.

Patriots 31 - Redskins 9


Eagles -14 vs. Jets

Philly is a great play if you've already used New England. The Jets are not the same football team without Sam Darnold and therefore all of the hate they have been getting isn't fair without their franchise quarterback on the field. Even if Darnold is back this week, which I would be shocked about, he won't be 100 percent. Additionally, if you look ahead at Philly's schedule, you won't get to pick them again anytime soon; @ Vikings, @ Cowboys, @ Bills, vs. Bears, vs. Patriots, vs. Seahawks. You can use them in Week 13 when they play at Miami, but that's too long to wait. The Eagles secondary is not very good (22nd in opponent yards per pass attempt) but Luke Falk isn't beating them over the top, so this is the week to pod up the Eagles.

Eagles 28 - Jets 13


Chiefs -11 vs. Colts

This is a monster line against a solid Colts team, but Indy does have a ton of injury questions from T.Y. Hilton, to Marlon Mack, to Darius Leonard. The only way to keep up with Kansas City is chunk plays. The Chiefs Defense allows the sixth-most plays for 20+ yards, but the Colts are also just 26th in that offensive stat. Monitor the injury report for Indy, but if Hilton and Leonard are not playing, then I don't even think they'll cover in this Sunday night spot.

The pick below assumes Hilton and Mack play.

Chiefs 38 - Colts 28


Vikings -5.5 @ Giants

Despite the horrendous play of Kirk Cousins Sunday, the Vikings are STILL a 5.5-point road favorite against a hot Giants team. That tells me all I need to know about this one, but I'll go a step further. This Vikings Defense is incredible, and will make Daniel Jones look like a rookie.

The Vikings are sixth in opponent yards per play and fifth in getting off the field on third-downs. I even think Kirk Cousins will rebound against a bad defense (don't get sucked into thinking the Giants Defense is good just off last week against Washington).

Vikings 30 - Giants 13


Bears -5 vs. Raiders (game is in London yet it starts at 1 p.m. If there's a London game, start it at 9:30 a.m!)

In addition to the Bears being an incredible defense that should stifle the Raiders offense, Jon Gruden HATES to travel. Here's what he said last year before going to London, “I hope I can make it, honestly... I’m not great. Claustrophobic. My son was a weight-lifter, he won a power-lifting championship in Belarus. I had to fly 14 hours. I had to fly home 14 hours. I had vertigo for a month. I couldn’t even lay down. The house was spinning. So I hope I don’t get vertigo."

The Raiders lost their London game last year to Seattle 27-3. And no way Gruden will feel any different this time. I don't even think he'd be able to game-plan against Chicago's defense if this game were in Oakland.

It doesn't even matter who's playing quarterback for the Bears because I think both Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel are pretty even.

Bears 23 - Raiders 7


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Chargers -6.5 vs. Broncos

There are only two 4 p.m. games (this and Cowboys-Packers). So why does that matter? Because everyone gambling will have the Chargers in some sort of teaser with another team and will be relying heavily on this game. Vegas put this game in the "perfect" teaser spot, all the Chargers need to do is win and you win that leg. It looks too easy. Only a touchdown favorite against an 0-4 team with a defense that can't hold a lead and an offense led by Joe Flacco. Something doesn't seem right at all. At least the Broncos pass-rush finally got to the quarterback Sunday with six sacks. Even so, I think this line should be closer to nine. Vegas is scaring me off.

Chargers 20 - Broncos 19


Texans -5 vs. Falcons

I don't understand how this line is five. Both of these teams are so underwhelming and disappointing, but the Falcons have better stats. Atlanta is ninth in yards per play, and 10th in opponent yards per play, while Houston is 17th and 16th. The Falcons are also fifth in third-down conversions while Houston is 19th in getting off the field on third-down. The only thing I don't like is Atlanta has only recorded five sacks all season. As you're well aware, Houston can't protect Deshaun Watson, who was sacked another six times Sunday. Still, this line should be three.

Falcons 23 - Texans 21


Saints -3.5 vs. Bucs 

I liked the Saints in this one but the line opened at 6.5 and the wiseguys pounded it down to 3.5. That scares me. Tampa can score and play defense and it seems like the Saints are playing so well without Drew Brees. But when I delve into the stats, I now understand why this line has been driven down three points. Tampa is ranked higher in yards per play and opponent yards per play. But the deciding factor will be touchdowns in the red zone. The Saints are 29th in that department while the Bucs are fifth in defending in the red zone. New Orleans is 25th. And Tampa is also better in getting off the field on third-down.

This is also a divisional game so you should avoid this one.

Bucs 17 - Saints 16


The Rest

Rams +1.5 @ Seahawks - Last year the Rams won both of the games by a total of two and five points. These teams are very even in the stats and I think the Rams should be favored in this one. Everyone is taking countless shots at Jared Goff, but I really don't think he's that bad.

Bills +3 @ Titans - Buffalo just played its heart out against New England and their defense was phenomenal. Tennessee picked up a pretty decisive win in Atlanta. These teams have a similar style of play; good defense and ugly offense. I expect a low-scoring game and when I can get three points in an ugly game, I'll take it every time.

Steelers +3.5 vs. Ravens - Another line I completely disagree with. I think the Ravens are grossly overrated and were the beneficiaries of a schedule of Miami and Arizona the first two weeks. They were handled by the Chiefs, but the scoreboard was closer because of a fourth-quarter comeback and the Browns crushed them Sunday. I was shocked to see the Ravens are tied for last in opponent yards per game. Their defense is not good at all. Can Pittsburgh exploit that? I'm not so sure, but I do know their defense looked fantastic Monday night. This game is in Pittsburgh and I think Lamar Jackson will struggle.

Jaguars +3.5 @ Panthers - I like how both of these teams continue to battle despite losing their starting quarterbacks. These teams feel dead even and the line should be three.

Bengals -3.5 vs. Cardinals - This is such an awful game between winless teams. You should not bet on this game no matter what.

Cowboys -3.5 vs. Packers - This is the second 4 p.m. game Sunday. Green Bay can't get anything going after the first quarter. They are a bad 23rd in yards per play. Dallas has a good defense and I think they win in a close one.

49ers -3.5 vs. Browns - The third time this young season we get to see Baker Mayfield and the Browns in prime-time. The battle in this one will be Cleveland's pass rush against San Fran's offensive line. The Browns are fourth in sacks, but the Niners have allowed the fewest sacks, two, and second-fewest quarterback hits. The Niners did only play in three games but that is impressive. Another crucial stat in determining this game will be touchdowns in the red zone. San Fran's defense is second while Cleveland's offense is 13th. This will be a fun Monday night game.

Best Bets for Week 5

  • Vikings -5.5
  • Bears -5
  • Steelers +3.5

Last week: 3-0

Season total: 6-6

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