NFL Survivor Pool Picks - Week 1
by Matt Severance - 09/04/2008
I'll be writing each week of the NFL season offering expert advice on how to win your survivor pool, which has become the most popular way for office workers to cure their gambling jones until March Madness rolls back around. What makes me an expert? I have won a few of these, and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so hopefully that will suffice.
First off, an overview of the season:
1. Don't just go through week-by-week ahead of the season and circle the teams you will be picking. That is the worst possible thing you could do. Of course you know who the best 15 teams in the NFL are, but you won't know a team's injury status in Week 6, won't know what the weather will be like in Buffalo on a November weekend, won't know when a major injury can strike. Just survive and advance.
2. Stick with home teams. In an average year, home teams in the NFL will win at least 60 percent of the time. Of course there are upsets, and even the Super Bowl champion Giants were only 3-5 at home last year. But play the odds. If an underdog is going to pull the upset, it's generally going to be a home dog.
3. Stay away from rivalry games. These games often are affected by more than just the talent on the field. The sad-sack Bears swept the Packers last season, and the Redskins always play the Cowboys tough. There are examples of this in every division - the sorry Dolphins used to always give the Patriots fits in Miami, etc.
With those three simple rules, let's take a look at our best bets for Week 1:
New England at home vs. Kansas City. Do you waste the Patriots in Week 1? Well, you know they aren't going unbeaten in the regular season again. And maybe Tom Brady's foot injury is something that causes him to miss future games. Why not?
Pittsburgh at home vs. Houston. The Texans still have trouble running the ball, and Pittsburgh is one of the dominant home teams in the league. In addition, Houston's top cornerback, Dunta Robinson, will miss this game, which should give Big Ben a field day.
Philadelphia at home vs. St. Louis. Hey, any time that Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook are both healthy, the Eagles are a good home pick. That may not happen often this season. In addition, the Rams are fairly beat up after the preseason, with top lineman Orlando Pace seemingly one play from being finished for the year again.
Indianapolis at home vs. Chicago. Much like with New England and Tom Brady, can you count on Peyton Manning to play the entire season? The Colts say his knee problems are nothing and that he should play, but if there is ANY doubt on his availability, stay away from this game.
My Week 1 pick: Eagles.
Look for this column next week as I will expand this to include my top 5 picks and after that I will expand it to my top 10 picks to give readers several options.