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NFL Survivor Pool Advice: Week 13 (2020)

by December 2, 2020

As has been the case often this season, Week 12 was a rather uneventful one as survivor pools are concerned. Eight of the top nine biggest favorites won outright, as most of the heaviest underdogs could not quite pull the upset down the stretch. Many contestants’ picks were made much easier after the news late in the week that the Denver Broncos would be playing without any of their eligible quarterbacks. Though the New Orleans Saints were already tabbed as a “safe pick”, those that had them available to select were treated to a laugher. 

Favorites went 10-5 SU last week, with the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to knock off the Baltimore Ravens as favorites today. The five favorites that lost were the Los Angeles Rams (-275), Indianapolis Colts (-198), Dallas Cowboys (-178), Las Vegas Raiders (-154), and the Arizona Cardinals (-144).

Like always, 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 in case bettors wish to navigate their own path. Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their matchups in Week 13.

*Odds courtesy of FanDuel

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Kansas City Chiefs -900
Miami Dolphins -620
Pittsburgh Steelers -480
Seattle Seahawks -460
Green Bay Packers -450
Minnesota Vikings -430
Las Vegas Raiders -360
Tennessee Titans -270
Indianapolis Colts -168
Los Angeles Rams -168
Chicago Bears -162
New Orleans Saints -154
Buffalo Bills -152
New England Patriots -112
Baltimore Ravens OFF


Safest Picks

Kansas City Chiefs (-900), Miami Dolphins (-620), Seattle Seahawks (-460)
If you still have the Kansas City Chiefs available to select in your survivor pools, congratulations on advancing to Week 14. The Broncos will surely be more competitive than last week when wide receiver Kendall Hinton played quarterback. However, this is a rematch of a Week 7 matchup that the Chiefs won in Denver 43-16. Though the Broncos outgained the Chiefs 411-286 in that game, they were undone by four turnovers and a Kansas City special teams touchdown. The Chiefs need this game to keep pace with Pittsburgh for the ever-important No. 1 seed, and they will not take their division rivals lightly.

The soft schedule for the Miami Dolphins continues as they play their fourth consecutive game against a team with a losing record. Their second-ranked scoring defense will look to make life miserable for Bengals backup quarterback Brandon Allen, who was just 17-for-29 passing for 136 yards against the Giants. No matter who plays quarterback for Miami between Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua Tagovailoa, they should be able to lead their team to victory as long as they simply take care of the football. The Dolphins held the Jets to three points and 260 total yards last week, and a similar offensive output may be in store for the Bengals.

The Seattle Seahawks land in the “safest pick” section despite facing the first-place Giants, largely because the Giants will not be full strength and because they lead the miserable NFC East after all. New York quarterback Daniel Jones is expected to miss the game with a hamstring strain, so backup Colt McCoy will start just his third game since the beginning of 2015. Do not be fooled by Seattle’s close score on Monday night against Philadelphia. They were in firm control of that game throughout, and a meaningless touchdown and two-point conversion in the final seconds made the score closer than it should have been. The Giants will face an improving Seahawks defense that is now without two of their most important offensive weapons in Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, which is not good news for a team that already struggled to score points. The Giants rank 30th in the league averaging just 19.5 PPG, and they would be lucky to score half that against Seattle with how shorthanded they are.

Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular

Pittsburgh Steelers (-480), Green Bay Packers (-450), Minnesota Vikings (-430), Tennessee Titans (-270)
Not only are the Pittsburgh Steelers at a severe scheduling disadvantage versus the Washington Football Team, but there will be a lot of uncertainty of who will be placed on or taken off the reserve/COVID-19 list in advance of this game. Washington last played on Thanksgiving while Pittsburgh only gets four days of rest for this contest. In addition, their games against the Ravens are always some of the most physical contests of the season regardless of who is active. Washington is playing much better football of late, so this is a total stay-away spot.

The Green Bay Packers took care of business on Sunday night against the undermanned Chicago Bears. They face a similarly reeling opponent in the Philadelphia Eagles this week. Though the Eagles offense looked in disarray against Seattle for the entire game, I am always cautious when picking against them as they have too much talent on the roster to be this bad. It would be a much easier pill to swallow to be knocked out of a survivor pool this late in the season when not picking against a playoff team from a year ago, so I would advise looking elsewhere other than Green Bay this week.

The Minnesota Vikings were a last-second field goal miss from Carolina away from coming into this game with a two-game losing streak. They now face a scrappy Jaguars team who have played everyone except the Steelers tough for the last five weeks. That span includes games against the Browns and Packers that came down to the final possession. Though the Vikings have said Dalvin Cook will not miss time with an ankle injury he suffered last week, it remains to be seen how much that injury will linger or if he will not see as many touches as he normally does. If you pick the Vikings this week, do not be surprised if this is a tight game late in the fourth quarter once again.

The Tennessee Titans are near touchdown favorites over the Cleveland Browns after back-to-back huge road wins over Baltimore and Indianapolis. The big spread alone will cause many desperate contestants to look Tennessee’s way, despite the fact that Cleveland is 8-3 on the season. Granted, just one of Cleveland’s eight wins have come against a team with a winning record. However, nothing travels better like an outstanding running game and solid defense. Tennessee may not lose, but there are much safer picks out there.

Contrarian Play To Beat a Large Pool

Las Vegas Raiders (-360)
Perhaps the only way to stomach picking the Las Vegas Raiders this week after their pitiful performance against the Falcons is if they were facing the winless New York Jets, and that is just who their opponent is. Despite losing 43-6 last week, the Raiders are the biggest road favorites they have been since 2002. Thus, them being favored by more than a touchdown shows you what oddsmakers think of New York’s chances. Las Vegas has a tough schedule remaining with two divisional games as well as meetings with the Colts and Dolphins, so now is the best time to use them if you have not done so already. Have faith in $10 million a year coach Jon Gruden that he will get his guys motivated enough to shake off last week’s poor performance and take care of business this week.

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