I get asked quite commonly for tips on who to pick in survivor pools. And although I try to relay to these people what my readers remind me every few days — that I’m a complete idiot and know nothing about football — the question still gets asked: “Who’s the ‘sure thing’ this week?”
Unfortunately, there’s never a sure thing in the NFL. Especially in Week 1. And it’s extra tough to find a lock in this particular opening week.
(Very quickly, for those who don’t know, a basic survivor pool works like this: You must pick one team to win each week, but can’t pick the same team twice. Once you’ve used the Colts, they’re no longer available to you for the rest of the season. The last one standing wins.)
There are two ways to strategize in a survivor pool. The first is just to pick the biggest favourite each week until you get burned. The second is to not necessarily pick great teams, but to pick against awful teams.
Under the first approach, here are your best bets:
- Giants over Panthers: New York is a 6.5-point favourite at home.
- Bears over Lions: Chicago is a 6.5-point favourite at home, and despite their own struggles, hammered the Lions in both meetings last season.
- Saints over Vikings: New Orleans is a 5-point favourite at home. But why would you use up the Saints against such a good team?
But I drastically prefer picking against bad teams. That way, you’re less likely to use up all the good ones. You can keep picking against the Bills every week, but you can only pick the Saints once. Based on my power rankings, these are the NFL’s six worst teams: Buffalo, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Carolina.
- The Buccaneers and Browns play against each other, so we can rule them out right now.
- Dolphins over Bills: No way. Buffalo always plays Miami tough at home and crushed the Dolphins last year at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
- Cardinals over Rams: St. Louis is at home and the Cards have been a disaster throughout the preseason.
- Broncos over Jaguars: This would be a massive risk considering the Jags are at home and the Broncos are ranked only four spots ahead of them in the power rankings.
- Giants over Panthers: Hmmm. The only game that shows up in both approaches. My only concern is that the Panthers hammered the Giants in New York in Week 16 last year, but the two teams have gone in opposite directions since then.
So your best bet for Week 1 is probably the Giants over the Panthers. That’s who I’m taking in The Score’s survivor pool. But I must warn you: I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.