NFL Survivor Pools Strategy Advice and Predictions: Week 2
by Trevor Whenham - 9/9/2014
The first week of the NFL season can be tough for Survivor Pool players. There are no limits on the teams you can pick, but you have no real meaningful, current information on which to base any decision. That means you are forced to make decisions based on perception, and that can backfire - as it did for some last week when both New England and Chicago came out and lost games that many assumed they would win. The former of those games cost me in one of my pools because I was high on Chicago and thought the Bills would be a mess. Oops. If you are still alive in your Survivor Pool - or you can re-enter - here's a look at the heaviest favorites in this week's games to see where the decisions are most logical:
Denver vs. Kansas City: The Broncos are by far the biggest favorites on the board - they are giving up 13 or more points in most spots. It is also a safe bet to assume that they will overwhelmingly be the most popular pick in survivor pools this week. Not a lot of people would have picked the Broncos against the Colts in their opener, so they are available to most, and in a week with a lot of tough games to call they are a clear and very public choice. The Broncos made beating the Chiefs look easy last year, and that was back when Kansas City was winning a lot of games. The Chiefs looked just terrible in their opener, and that was at home against a Tennessee team that doesn't excite anyone. Now they are taking a big step up in class and facing a team that beat a pretty good Indianapolis team in their opener. It shouldn't be that much of a challenge for the Broncos, and the public will be convinced it will be even easier than that because of their love of all things Manning.
The question for smart survivor pool players, then, is whether they should jump on board as well or if they should look elsewhere. The advantages of not playing the same team as the public will overwhelmingly play is that if the public is wrong you can gain a huge advantage over the large group if you are correct. The problem, though, is that there needs to be another game that is at least as attractive, and I'm not sure that that is the case here. We'll look at three other games with a spread of about a touchdown or more, but none are as comfortable as this one. I would still be inclined to gamble and look elsewhere, but that is not without risks, so if you prefer a safe pick don't look further than this one.
Green Bay vs. New York Jets: The second biggest spread of the week features the Packers favored by eight points here. I don't like this spot. The Packers looked terrible in their opener, and Aaron Rodgers was far from comfortable. Of course, that was against likely the best team in the league, and the Jets are not that by any means. New York does have a decent defense, though, and it sure seemed like the Seahawks were able to get inside the head of Rogers. Green Bay also has some concerning injuries up front. This should be a win for the Packers, but it isn't the virtual sure thing I would have guessed it would have been a few days ago. I'll pass on this one.
San Francisco vs. Chicago: Tough game here. The Niners far exceeded expectations with a total decimation of the Cowboys on the road. The Bears were massive disappointments losing to the Bills in their opener. If both were to regress closer to expectations then this could be a reasonably tight game between two teams looking to win 10 or more games this year. Too close for my money.
New Orleans at Cleveland: If you don't want to bet on the Broncos then this is the best and most likely spot to wind up. The Saints lost their opener and had some issues on defense, but that was against a solid Atlanta team, and this Cleveland squad is not nearly as good. New Orleans has a massive edge on offense, and their defense should be capable of a much better day than it had last time out. The opening loss for the Saints is a bit of a concern, but there were no major red flags like there were for other surprising losers early on, so it only makes sense to take the better team, and that certainly isn't hard to figure out here.
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