NFL Survivor Pool Strategy Advice and Predictions: Week 2
The opening week of the 2018 NFL season was a perfect illustration of why second chance pools exist. A whole lot of people - myself included in a few pools - saw their survivor pool hopes go down in flames in the unlikely hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick. It wasn't just New Orleans that let people down, though - although about a third of all pool players picked the Saints. Detroit was the third-most-common pick against the Jets, and they didn't even show up for their game. Fourth choice Green Bay narrowly won. And fifth the choice was Pittsburgh, and a tie is a loss in most pools. When three of the top five choices lose in a week that means that well over half of all players are gone. And we are left to pick up the pieces and do better this week - largely because we can't do much worse. So, last week never happened, and here we go:
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L.A. Chargers at Buffalo: The Chargers qualify as a pretty big disappointment in the opener. Losing Joey Bosa hurt them before the game started, and they never really seemed to be in it against a good Chiefs team. It was a rough start, but it was far from all bad - Philip RIvers threw for 424 yards. Buffalo, meanwhile, did nothing good at all, and the response of the coaching staff makes it very difficult to believe that they can do anything about that. Nathan Peterman was every bit of the joke it seemed obvious that he would be, and the game plan was in shambles from the opening moments. It was just plain ugly. The Chargers can address their issues and can come out stronger and play closer to their high potential. There is no fixing what ails Buffalo in the short-term - or maybe the mid-term, but that's another discussion. The Chargers may not have a home-field advantage or a real home, but they have more than enough to win here and are a very comfortable pick this weekend. They will be the most popular pick this weekend, and they deserve it.
L.A. Rams vs. Arizona: It must be something about the water in L.A. because if you don't want to pick one team from La-La Land then you can just pick the other. The Rams struggled a bit with Oakland for a while on Monday night, but then they shifted gears and showed us why they are among the Super Bowl favorites. It was an impressive outing from a very good team. What did Arizona show us? That they are going to show up and try hard but that they have far too many issues to be considered anything close to a real NFL team - never mind a contender. It is going to be a long process in the desert, and the next step involves getting absolutely crushed by the Rams. L.A. is at home, and the weather could be a bit of a question in Buffalo, so if you liked the Rams more than the Chargers I certainly wouldn't argue with you.
New Orleans vs. Cleveland: If you had looked at the schedule before last week then this would have jumped out as a clear and obvious play - every bit as playable as the top two. The Saints were supposed to be among the elite in the NFC, and the Browns, while better, were still a project of a team with a long road to respectability. It shouldn't have been close. And while it probably shouldn't be still, it is a lot tougher to have confidence in this spot. The Saints were annihilated by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a defense that felt totally serviceable a week ago is now a big question mark. And the Browns showed more guts in coming back against the Steelers than they have shown in at least two seasons combined. But the Saints are going to be playing very angry here, and they have the experience to deal with that positively. And the Browns have to leave home and head to a tough spot. New Orleans is still playable, but I can't come up with a single good reason to take them before the first two teams. And there is also the fact that at least a third or players have already played the Saints, got knocked out as a result, and will want nothing to do with them again. I certainly fall into that camp.
San Francisco vs. Detroit: This is obviously far from the same caliber of play as those before and shouldn't be reasonably considered. But Detroit was so bad on Monday it was laughable, and the issues were the kind that seem tough to fix quickly - laughable coaching. Predictable play calling, and so on. San Francisco disappointed in their opener - especially the supposedly immortal Jimmy G - but they are a talented team that that will be happy to be at home against a much more manageable team. You absolutely shouldn't play the Niners, but you could.
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