2020 NFL Survivor Pool Tips and Winning Advice
Don’t look now, but we are less than a week away from the start of the National Football League season. While the world suffered through a global pandemic from March through the present day, the NFL has been essentially operating as business as usual with the exception of the lack of preseason games and shortened training camps. Nonetheless, the NFL is back and me and the rest of the Doc’s staff couldn’t be more excited to get the season started and to start winning football wagers again. Throughout the season, I’ll be covering a plethora of football articles and probably none as important or as exciting as our weekly Survivor Pool content.
Survivor pools, or suicide pools as they’re also known, have grown in popularity over the last handful of years, and with good reason. They offer football fans a chance to pick a single game per week and focus all of their attention on that one game. While it may sound as simple as pick a team to win a game, it’s far more complex given the fact that if they lose you are out of the pool (and lose your money) and the fact that you cannot use that team again the rest of the year.
If you are in a friendly or low stakes survivor pool, you might have little regard for the strategy that comes into play for this variation of betting on the NFL. Don’t worry though, throughout the course of this article, I’ll give you an idea of how survivor pools work (if you’re new to them) and a bunch of strategies that I employ when trying to win the pools I play in.
Survivor Pool Rules
As per the name of the pool, the goal is to survive and be the last person standing at the end of the season (or however long the pool goes). The most basic format of this pool is as follows:
You must pick one team per week to win the game straight up. If the team you pick wins, you live to pick again the following week. If that team loses, you are eliminated from the pool. This happens every week until one person is left standing. The person left standing wins the entire purse money. This pool could last one week or could last all 17 weeks depending on the number of entrants or the number of big upsets that occur.
Sounds easy enough right? Not so fast.
Survivor Pool Strategies
Plan Ahead: Survivor pools are such a unique way of betting on the NFL that you forget how hard winning a football game can be. As the saying goes, on any given Sunday, any team can win. That’s why you have to plan out your team picking strategy in advance and always have a backup plan if things like injuries occur. It’s imperative to remember that you can only pick a team one time throughout the whole season, so you better think twice about taking a team like Kansas City, who is 10-point favorites in Week 1. There will likely be better spots to play them later on in the season. We understand that name of the game is to survive the week and advance to the next round, but if you burn out all the top teams (KC, SF, NO, BALT, etc), within the first four weeks, come Week 5, you’ll be in a precarious position as you’ll have to rely on second-tier teams to get the job done.
Pick Popularity: While this may seem like it’s contradicting the first strategy, it’s important to understand how popular a certain team is going to be on any given week. Typically, when everyone on the pool is on a certain team, it’s more of a sweat than it should be as Vegas doesn’t give out free money. If your plan allows you to be flexible and avoid the most popular pick, it’s never a bad idea to do so. If that team were to lose, the majority of the pool will be eliminated while you’ll be left standings because you planned ahead and adjusted accordingly.
Fading certain teams: Every year there are teams that finish well below .500, but not since 2017 has there been a team that’s gone 0-16 (good job, Cleveland). Picking a team to pick against every week is generally a good idea since they won’t get good overnight, but remember to pick your spots wisely as even the worst teams win 1-4 games on the season. Last year, the Bengals and Redskins were the teams to fade, but even they combined to win 5 games as underdogs against teams in bad spots.
Primetime Games: One of the biggest mistakes a player can make while playing a survivor pool is taking a primetime game whether that be Thursday, Sunday, or Monday. Primetime games typically bring out the best in both teams and the matchups are generally even because the NFL wants competitive games. Thursday night games are typically sloppy and turnover-filled, resulting in some weird results, while Sunday and Monday are so heavily bet on, it’s almost impossible to find value on either team.
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