The 2020-21 NFL season begins on schedule, with plenty of adjustments, but there are still many ways to cash in on your knowledge of the most popular professional sports league in the country.
At PlayPicks, we’re breaking down the NFL survivor pool landscape to bring you weekly options that will help you stay alive and ahead of the field in your pool.
For those new to survivor pools, the format is simple: Pick an NFL team to win each week, advance if they win, and you can’t pick the same team twice. The last member of the pool standing takes home the cash.
In this article, we will identify tiers of survivor picks, ranging from “lock” to “thrifty” to “contrarian.” Since it is so late in the season, we’re skipping the best teams since most participants have likely already used those squads.
The lock is our safest and most obvious pick for the week. The thrifty pick is a good team to consider at this point in the season schedule. And our contrarian pick goes against the grain to potentially keep your pool alive when the defecation hits the oscillation in the NFL and thousands of survivors lose a supposed lock to an upset.
You can also use advice from this article to place bets on FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook. Many of the recommended bets can be applied to those sportsbooks. Also, be aware that the point spread could be considerable with these teams favored to win by over a touchdown in some cases.
Week 1 Lock Survivor Pool Pick
Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
After losing a tight playoff game to the Texans last winter, the Bills were aggressive this offseason. They brought in one of the premiere separation receivers in the game in Stefon Diggs and added veteran CB Josh Norman to a secondary that ranked sixth in DVOA pass defense last season.
The Jets, meanwhile, simply got worse this offseason when high-priced LB C.J. Moseley decided to sit out the season and Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams was traded per his request. Their offense will likely run through Le’Veon Bell, but he’s running behind a line that ranked 31st in adjusted line yards (3.80 per carry) last season. The Bills yielded the tenth-fewest rushing yards last year and also bolstered their defensive line by adding Mario Addison and Vernon Butler.
Josh Allen is expected to take a big step forward this season and the Bills have a talented backfield behind him with rookie Zack Moss and second-year back Devin Singletary expected to make significant impacts.
The Bills went 4-1 when favored at home last season and 6-1 when favored overall. The Jets went 2-4 in division games and 1-4 when listed as road underdogs.
The Bills are at the Jets in Week 7, but otherwise have a very tough schedule during the first half of the season.
Week 1 Thrifty Survivor Pool Pick
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Colts are one of the biggest favorites in Week 1 against a Jaguars team that has the lowest expected win total (4.5) in the AFC according to oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Indy was solid on both sides of the ball last season, but receives a significant boost on offense with Philip Rivers taking over at QB. Getting T.Y. Hilton back healthy after an injury-plagued season is also a big help, and the Colts drafted a pair of difference-making rookies in WR Michael Pittman and RB Jonathan Taylor.
The Colts posted the fifth-highest rush play percentage (46.36%) last season and that number went up to 49.5% in road games. The Jaguars ranked 31st in DVOA rush defense and coughed up 5.1 YPC along with 21 rushing scores. Indy should have no issues moving the ball behind an elite offensive line.
Jacksonville went 4-8 when listed as an underdog last season and 4-6 in non-division games. The Jags should be even worse defensively this year and their offense is a big question mark with Leonard Fournette released. The Colts went 5-3 when favored last season. They also play the Jets in Week 3 and the Bengals in Week 5, but are a good team to bank on in Week 1 as Rivers makes his debut.
Week 1 Contrarian Survivor Pool Pick
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team
The Eagles might not see a ton of Week 1 Survivor picks because they host the Bengals in Week 3, but Cincy is a bit of a wildcard with Joe Burrow taking over under center. Philly will also be on the road in Week 1, yet they’re facing a dysfunctional Washington franchise that didn’t have much of a home field advantage under normal circumstances.
Washington just cut potential starting RB Adrian Peterson in a move that screams rebuild. Rookie Antonio Gibson may take over the backfield eventually, but is unlikely to have success against an Eagles team that ranked third in DVOA rush defense last season. Philly shored up its biggest defensive weakness by signing stud CB Darius Slay to a secondary that already showed significant improvement during the latter half of the 2019-2020 season.
The Eagles have won six straight over Washington going back to December of 2016. Philly went 5-1 against division foes last season and 6-4 when favored. Washington was just 1-7 at home last season and 0-6 against NFC East opponents.