NFL Survivor and Confidence Pool Picks and Advice: Week 1
Yep, it's me again. For some reason, Doc's continues to request I return each year to write these Survivor pieces. It helps to have incriminating photo evidence of my editor and a farm animal … but I digress.
I'll actually be curious to see whether the popularity of both Survivor and Confidence Pools continue to grow now that it's basically legal to bet on the NFL in the United States - although only a few states have moved forward since that landmark Supreme Court decision. I'd expect at least half of them to have legalized gambling up and running by this time next year. Simply too much money involved not to, whether your state leans left or right. Offshore books still offer better benefits in many ways, though.
This year, I'm going to take a different format that combines both Survivor and Confidence Pools because so many people do compete in both. If you are a newbie to these, a Survivor Pool is where you pick one team per week to win a game straight up - the final score or whether a team covered the spread doesn't matter (although some advanced guys I know do have an ATS Survivor Pool). Once you use said team, it's not available the rest of the way.
My only recommendation there, as it has been every year, is not to save a team for a certain week because you just don't know when major injuries might hit. You may go look at the New England Patriots' schedule and say, "Hey, they are hosting the crappy Colts in Week 5 on a Thursday and that's a sure win so I'll save the Patriots until then." Don't do that! What if Tom Brady is injured come Week 5? Would you then want to risk your pick on Brian Hoyer? Life is short, just survive and advance and don't worry about the next week. There is little reason, in my opinion, to take a road team this early in the year as your top choice.
A Confidence Pool is where you pick the winner of every game, ranking them from the one you have the most confidence in to the least. So in a week with no byes, you would put the team you are most sure of winning at No. 16 on your list and the least confident at No. 1. Confidence Pools generally have weekly payouts where the person with the most points after Monday night's game wins. Then, there's also usually a season payout to the person with the most overall points. I've found that more ladies like doing Confidence Pools than Survivor for whatever reason even though it's obviously tougher handicapping every game instead of just picking, maybe, the biggest favorite every week.
So, to satisfy those in both type of pools, I will list my Survivor Picks in order of how I would also do my Confidence selections (with occasional exceptions noted). Keep in mind that we publish this story on Wednesdays so my picks could change by Sunday regarding injury, suspension, etc. You should never pick the Thursday night game in your Survivor Pool (too many intangibles) and only that game early in the week for your Confidence selection. Otherwise, wait until the usual Sunday noon ET deadline to get the most up-to-date information for both competitions.
Good luck to us all! The team listed first is my choice.
16. Baltimore vs. Buffalo: Most of your Survivor/Confidence competitors are going to pick either the Saints or Packers this week. Sometimes it's best to play defense. The Ravens are going to embarrass an overmatched Nathan Peterman.
15. Detroit vs. NY Jets (Monday): This one was tempting to be up top, but Monday games scare me from a Survivor perspective. What if, like, Matthew Stafford is in a car accident after all the Sunday games are over? Obviously not likely, but I generally prefer not to make the MNF game my top choice in either.
14. New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay: I actually think backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jameis Winston suspended for doing Jameis Winston things to the ladies) can keep the Bucs relatively close here, but not very likely he leads an upset.
13. Green Bay vs. Chicago: I am entering a season with some Bears confidence for the first time since Marc Trestman's disastrous second season. Khalil Mack, bitches!! Reportedly, the Bears and Packers were the two most aggressive suitors. Alas, I'm not sure what kind of shape Mack will be in after missing all of camp (ditto first-round pick Roquan Smith), and Chicago's not ready to win at Lambeau quite yet.
12. LA Chargers vs. Kansas City: I love, love the Chargers this season and they are my pick to win the AFC with a loaded defense. That unit should thoroughly confuse Patrick Mahomes.
11. Minnesota vs. San Francisco: Jimmy Garoppolo was fantastic late last season (and this offseason by getting up close and personal with porn star Kiara Mia), but the Vikings have one of the NFL's best defenses and will prevail in Kirk Cousins' Minnesota debut.
10. New England vs. Houston: The Texans have Super Bowl potential, but I need to see Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt healthy first. Can't see Pats losing a second straight home opener.
9. Pittsburgh at Cleveland: This game should scare the crap out of Steelers fans. I'm assuming Le'Veon Bell will report and play - if he doesn't, this moves way down the list.
8. Arizona vs. Washington: Probably the most "meh" game on the board. I like Arizona only as I think Sam Bradford can make it through the first week healthy and the Cards should have an excellent defense.
7. LA Rams at Oakland (Monday): Jon Gruden already looks like he's overmatched in his return to the NFL after a decade away from coaching. Stop signing mid-30s guys past their prime! Or trading your best player! The Raiders seem to be quitting until they move to Sin City.
6. Cincinnati at Indianapolis: What to expect from a rusty Andrew Luck? The Bengals might be sneaky-good in 2018.
5. Carolina vs. Dallas: The Cowboys are a bit banged-up on their excellent offensive line. Panthers win a close one.
4. Denver vs. Seattle: The Seahawks have the better quarterback (Russell Wilson over Case Keenum) but probably nothing else better than the Broncos now that the Legion of Boom is no more.
3. NY Giants vs. Jacksonville: Blake Bortles on the road? No thanks. Saquon Barkley could be in for a big debut against a Jags D that wasn't great vs. the run last year (was awesome vs. the pass).
2. Miami vs. Tennessee: "Meh" game of the AFC in Week 1. Only picking the Fins because they are home.
1. Atlanta at Philadelphia (Thursday): Falcons should have won in Philly back in January against Nick Foles and will do so Thursday to kick things off.
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