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NFL Survivor Pool Advice: Week 11 (2021)

by November 17, 2021
Ryan Tannehill

Those who follow this column were likely successful with their survivor pool picks last week, as our top three safest picks (Bills, Colts, Cowboys) all won outright. However, depending on the rules of your survivor pool, some contestants were stuck picking the Steelers after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19. Hopefully, those in survivor pools that allow you to make changes until kickoff removed the Steelers for a better pick, as their tie against Detroit is as good as a loss for survivor pool purposes. That now makes five consecutive games that the Steelers have lost outright with someone other than Roethlisberger as their starting quarterback.

We accurately assessed the risky selections from last week, as the Cardinals (-480), Buccaneers (-420), and the Ravens (-350) all lost outright. We cannot say we didn’t warn you! At first glance, this week looks challenging yet again, as seven of the 15 favorites play on the road. In addition, there are just three games with double-digit point spreads, though those favorites have hardly been immune to upsets of late.

Like last week, my selections for this week will be broken down into the following categories: safest picks, riskier plays that will be popular, and contrarian plays to beat a large pool. Even though survivor pool rules say you cannot pick the same team twice, I will outline multiple scenarios if bettors wish to navigate their own path.

Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their matchups in Week 11 (odds courtesy of FanDuel).

Safest Picks

Tennessee Titans (-500), New England Patriots (-270)

After defeating the Saints at home last week, the Tennessee Titans became the second team in NFL history to win five consecutive games against playoff teams from the previous season. In fact, Tennessee is now 7-0 SU against playoff teams from a year ago. They now face a Houston Texans team that has been dreadful on the road this season. The Texans have totaled 17 points in their last four road games and enter this week on an eight-game losing streak. Pay no attention to the fact that Houston is coming off a bye, as the AFC-best Titans have proven they can consistently beat far better competition.

While many survivor pool contestants will not break code and pick a road team, especially on a short week, the New England Patriots are a far safer play than many alternatives out there. New England became the first team to win consecutive home games by 38 or more points since the Chiefs in 2002. And what makes us even more confident heading into this week is that New England has been a far better road team (4-0 SU) than home team (2-4 SU). Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is finding his groove in the Patriots offense, as the team scored six touchdowns and one field goal on their last eight possessions (excluding kneel-downs) last week against the Browns. Meanwhile, Atlanta is coming off their worst loss since 2004 and does not figure to hold up in the trenches against a physical New England squad.

Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-590), Cleveland Browns (-480), San Francisco 49ers (-235), Carolina Panthers (-174)

This marks the first time that the week’s biggest favorite makes our “risky play” section. Tampa Bay has lost back-to-back games, and Tom Brady has looked pedestrian in those two losses. Brady has turned the ball over five times during their two-game losing streak after committing just four turnovers in the seven games where the team got off to a 6-1 start. This game is a rematch of last year’s Monday Night Football matchup (played at MetLife Stadium), where the undermanned Giants had a 14-6 halftime lead, and the Buccaneers had to fight off New York’s fourth quarter rally. The Giants are off a bye this week, and the Buccaneers are not playing well enough to trust them at the moment.

The Cleveland Browns set out to make sure the Detroit Lions remain winless this week. Detroit is making strides, as evidenced by their tie on the road at Heinz Field last week. In addition, Cleveland is too difficult of a team to figure out lately, especially their defense, which allowed 40+ points for the second time in their previous six games last week. Throw in the fact that Baker Mayfield is now dealing with a knee injury suffered last week, and the Browns are not a team I would trust with my survivor pool life this week.

The San Francisco 49ers are at a bit of a scheduling disadvantage this week with one less day to prepare. In addition, they have to travel across the country to face a Jaguars team that has been much more competitive this month. The Jaguars followed up an upset of the Bills with a near-upset of the Colts, as their potential game-winning drive stalled after a fumble at midfield. While the 49ers are 3-1 on the road this year, Jacksonville has the look of a team figuring things out, and they are certainly capable of an upset.

Many believe the Carolina Panthers went from an afterthought to a team that can make the playoffs after seeing how Cam Newton breathed life into the offense last week. However, it has been a long time since Newton handled the starting duties in Carolina. In addition, we should temper expectations for the Panthers after winning in Arizona as the Cardinals played without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Washington is coming off an upset of Tampa Bay and brings plenty of momentum into this road matchup.

Contrarian Play To Beat a Large Pool

Miami Dolphins (-172)

The Miami Dolphins face a New York Jets team that has allowed 43.8 PPG over the last four games (1-3 SU in that span). The Dolphins are coming off their most complete defensive performance of the season, holding the Ravens to just ten points in their Thursday night win. Now quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has three extra days to heal a finger injury that kept him out of the starting lineup last week. Thus, if you are looking to save better teams for the stretch run of your survivor pool, Miami makes an interesting contrarian play.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

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