NFL Survivor Pools Expert Advice and Predictions for Week 1
Another NFL season means another season of survivor pools - and, hopefully, a path to both profit and glory when we emerge as the winner. The first week of survivor pools is when a lot of people make really dumb mistakes. Heck, people make dumb mistakes in these pools every week, but the first week is particularly rough because it is so avoidable. There is just one thing that matters in the first week of survivor pool action - surviving to play another week. Everything else is meaningless. You aren't going to win your pool in the first week, so taking risks, trying to be too clever, or saving teams for later, are all just really dumb things to do. Figure out which team is most likely to win. Then pick them. It really is that simple. As we look at this opening week of action, there are five games that stand out from the rest because of how interesting they are. Here's a look:
Philadelphia vs. Washington: This is one of the two games with the biggest spreads of the week, with the Eagles favored by 9.5 points. And they should be. Carson Wentz' durability remains a big question, but he is healthy now and that is a very good thing here. Washington is going to have questions and inconsistency at quarterback no matter what they do, and even without that disadvantage here they would be at a major disadvantage in terms of talent, depth, coaching, and pretty much everything else that goes into winning football games. It is as simple as this - Philadelphia is one of the top contenders in the NFC, while Washington is a really lousy team. And Philadelphia is at home where they are tough. This is a classic mismatch, and that's what we love when it comes to survivor pools. Philadelphia is very playable and would probably be my top choice.
Seattle vs. Cincinnati: The biggest reason I haven't entirely committed to playing the Eagles is the existence of this game - the other game this week with a 9.5-point spread. Cincinnati is a team I have almost no respect for this year, and I am going to be very happy to pick against them early and often in these survivor pools. Seattle isn't a team I am entirely in love with, and they will be hard-pressed to adjust to their new post-trade realities in time for this game. But they are so much the better team here even with all of those concerns that it's almost unfair. And Seattle is a very tough place for visiting teams to play. Seattle is a confident play.
Dallas vs. New York Giants: The last three games we will be looking at starting with this one all have point spreads of seven points. And all three are playable - though probably not as much as the first two. This is the one I like least of the three games, though. The Giants are a mess, and they have some questions at quarterback that will take a long time to be answered. Their coaching is lousy, they have serious talent deficits almost everywhere other than running back, and it's going to be a very long season. Dallas, which is a contender to win their division, is much the better team. But I am still hesitant to trust them because of their contract distractions and coaching that I really don't love. I would pick Dallas if I had to, but I don't have to at this point, so I won't.
New Orleans vs. Houston: Houston had a weird week, making a couple of trades and reshaping their look. The addition of Laremy Tunsil at left tackle is a good thing, but there are still some questions, and their coaching is still a long way from competent. New Orleans is complete, dangerous and hungry, and they have a massive coaching edge. This is a mismatch. The only reason I am not thrilled about this play, though - I wouldn't choose to play it - if because the Texans are the best of the five teams we are looking to pick against here. And with all of the options on the table, I'd rather pick against a worse team.
Baltimore at Miami: I don't love picking road teams if I don't have to, but if I did then I would happily pick the Ravens here. They are a nice team, and a real playoff contender. And they are in a soft spot here. The Dolphins are a laughable mess right now. They traded away their team. They made a bizarre choice of starting quarterback and aren't going to be able to protect him. And they are led by a first-year coach forced to overhaul everything while dealing with very low morale. It's not a recipe for success. If the Ravens don't win this game, they are going to have some serious problems.
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