NFL Survivor Pools Strategy Advice and Predictions: Week 1
by Trevor Whenham - 9/1/2014
I love NFL survivor pools. There is no better puzzle when it comes to pools. What makes them so great is partly that you have to be good at evaluating which teams will win and lose every week, partly that luck is a big an unavoidable part of things, but mostly that strategy plays such a huge part in being successful. Most people don't think correctly when it comes to making their picks, so they make things unnecessarily difficult for themselves - something that should make you very happy.
Here in the first week of the season is when a lot of people will make their first - and potentially fatal - mistake. They will be under the mistaken impression that what you should do is save the elite teams for later on. Instead of picking a strong, almost obvious winner they will try to get too cute and do something far too risky. You can't be the last person standing if you don't survive the first week, so this week is all about winning and moving on. There is no worse feeling than sitting on the sidelines knowing that you have several strong teams left to pick that you can't pick because you have already lost. Just keep it simple - make the best possible pick every week and move on.
The other big mistake you want to avoid now - and every week - is being drawn to the high-profile games of the week. As a general rule, the best survivor pool games are typically the ones you would be least interested in watching. This week games like the Packers at Seahawks or Colts at Broncos are what people are talking about most. Those teams are all good, though, and there is no survivor pool upside in picking good teams to lose unless you absolutely have to. In the first week you really don't have to. There are no style points in survivor pools - at least not until you collect the cash at the end. Just pick winners!
Here are the four games that stand out as the best options this week:
Steelers vs. Browns: I haven't liked a single thing I have seen out of Cleveland camp so far. I wasn't optimistic going in because it is so hard for a team to shine with a new coaching staff every week - not to mention while being crippled by a shortage of talent in key spots. Brian Hoyer is the right choice to start at quarterback, but that doesn't mean that he is a good option. I have not been a fan of the Steelers the last two years at all, but their attitude has been much-improved this year. They have a very vocal crowd on their side and a clear talent edge.
Eagles vs. Jaguars: This is one of the two games that stand out most, and it's a shame because I really like the Jaguars as a team that will be better-than-expected this year. In the first half of last season you could just pick whoever was playing against the Jaguars and feel great about it, but this is a different team. That being said, Philadelphia is in a good spot. They are playing with confidence, their system is very tough to prepare for, and they are going to be comfortable at home.
Jets vs. Raiders: I really, really don't like the Raiders and will be looking to go against them at every opportunity. What makes me uneasy here, though, is that I am not crazy about the Jets. I need to see more before I can buy into Geno Smith entirely, and the whole circus atmosphere of the Rex Ryan era scares me. The Jets are well-positioned, but I will be looking elsewhere just in case.
Bears vs. Bills: When a coach disciplines a player and that player challenges the coach to a fight, you know that everyone is not on the same page. That's just one of the ridiculous and concerning stories coming out of what was a horrible Buffalo camp. Their QB situation is a mess, and despite plenty of talent on defense I don't feel particularly optimistic. The Bears have a very strong offense, and are a good all-around team that I am high on. This is a mismatch and a comfortable pick.
Check back on our homepage Wednesday or Thursday for our official Week 1 NFL survivor pool picks. We will provide two articles per week to help you win your survivor pool contest.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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