It was a pretty straightforward opening weekend for those who play and love NFL Survivor Pools — unless you bought in to the Saints, of course. It seems like almost everyone went for the safe choice of the Texans, though, and that one was over almost as soon as it started.
Now that one week is in the books there is one less elite team for you to pick, so the selection this week is probably just a little bit less obvious than last week. It should still be reasonably straightforward, though there aren’t as many easy games as last week. Let’s take a look at another edition of survivor pools strategy advice and predictions:
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The heavy favorites
The easiest teams to pick are typically the ones that are favored by at least a touchdown. The games are lopsided, and lopsided games are the best friends of survivor pools players. Of course, the trick is to make sure that the lopsided games are really deservedly lopsided. Here’s a look at each of the four games:
New England (-13.5) vs. Arizona
This one is the easiest pick on the board by far — unless you picked the Patriots over the Titans last week. New England looked very effective on both sides of the ball last week, and now they are at home and up against a team that they are way better than. Arizona has uncertainty at quarterback, and issues most everywhere else. They showed heart to earn a win in their opener, but they are in a whole new league here, and it would be truly shocking for them to come out on top.
Houston (-9) at Jacksonville
If you didn’t pick Houston last week then it could be a good time to take them this week. Jacksonville was perhaps better than expected but still not great last week. Blaine Gabbert is going to have a very long day against the Houston defense, and Matt Schaub is likely to have a much better day. This one should be a pretty straightforward win.
New York Giants (-9) vs. Tampa Bay
I wouldn’t even dream of touching this game. The Giants did not look particularly strong in their opener, and they need to be much stronger going forward if they want to have any chance of defending their title. Tampa Bay won a sloppy game, but they were tough. What stood out despite their issues is that they are a much better team than they were last year, and that their focus issues and chemistry woes that killed them in the past seem to be gone. The Giants could easily win this one, but this line is far too big, and New York is not worth the risk.
Cincinnati (-7) vs. Cleveland
I’m even less enthusiastic about this game than the last one. Cleveland is a really lousy team, and the Browns will struggle in every game they play this year. Cincinnati was just plain lousy in their opener as well, though, so I don’t feel in any hurry to trust them here. They need to prove that they are better than they looked in that game before they are worth the gamble — even against a bad team.
All the rest
There are a lot of games this week that I wouldn’t touch. Green Bay didn’t look good enough in their opener to be a safe pick against a Chicago Bears team that was comfortable offensively in their debut. Neither New Orleans nor Carolina lived up to expectations in Game 1. Minnesota and Indianapolis are both really bad teams, and I don’t pick bad teams in survivor pools until I absolutely have to. I like Baltimore over the Eagles as a bet, but there are safer pool picks. I can’t believe that Buffalo is as bad as they looked, and the Chiefs were below expectations in their first game, so anything could happen when they meet. Oakland didn’t look very good in their opener, so it’s hard to trust them — even against Ryan Tannehill and a very bad Miami team. Seattle was imperfect in their opener, but they should be better at home, so they could give Dallas a test. Washington was the most unexpected and inexplicable team in the first week, so I have no idea if they can repeat the effort. I’m not touching them. The Jets were far better than expected and the Steelers were worse, so it’s hard to know which way to go there. Denver and Atlanta are reasonably well-matched, so it’s too close to call in that one.
That knocks most of the games out of consideration, but there are two games that you could consider if you need more risk than the two easiest games on offer this week:
Tennessee at San Diego
It has been a long time since I have trusted San Diego in September. I still don’t really trust the Chargers, but they played very well in their opener, and they have a manageable home game here. Tennessee exposed some real issues in their opener, and injuries are already a concern. I would feel pretty good about the Chargers if forced to pick them.
San Francisco vs. Detroit
Matthew Stafford looked unstable last week — especially early — and now he faces the best defense in the league. The Niners were very strong on both sides of the ball, and now they are at home against a team they beat last year. San Francisco is a very, very good team and they will show it here.
Editor’s Note: Our official NFL survivor pool picks will be released on Wednesday this week. Check back then on our homepage.
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