Each week, survivor pool contests are growing more and more confident in the strategy of simply picking against the Dolphins. Last week’s recommended pick, the Dallas Cowboys, not only won convincingly over the hapless Dolphins, but they even covered the hefty Vegas spread of 20+ points.
Although the six biggest moneyline favorites from a week ago all won, favorites went just 11-5 SU in Week 3. Among the losers were the Buccaneers (-280), Eagles (-220), Seahawks (-235), Chargers (-166), and Titans (-126). Many survivor pool strategists employ the simple strategy of selecting the team with the highest point spread available. Through the first three weeks of the season, favorites of 6+ points are 17-1 SU. This proves that many survivor pool strategies are useful and it’s not just simply picking the team with the highest spread each week.
Like always, my selections for this week will be broken down by 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 or have already used the teams I will suggest.
Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their matchups in Week 4 (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
|Los Angeles Chargers||-1100|
|Los Angeles Rams||-400|
|New England Patriots||-300|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-245|
|Green Bay Packers||-230|
|New York Giants||-144|
Los Angeles Chargers (-1100), Los Angeles Rams (-400)
It is music to survivor contestants’ ears when the top two favorites on the board are likely teams that they have not selected yet. Both teams are safe picks this week, though I’d give the edge to the Chargers. It is rare when I advise picking road teams, but opposing the 2019 Miami Dolphins are the exception to the rule.
Miami played Dallas close for a half (trailing 10-6) then were shutout in the second half en route to a 31-6 loss. The Chargers will be steaming after blowing a 10-point halftime lead to the Texans last week. Don’t get cute and save the Chargers for when division rivals Denver or Oakland come to LA. Division games are always tougher because of the familiarity between the teams. Philip Rivers is in line for a monster day against the porous Dolphins defense. Take the Chargers and don’t sweat it on Sunday.
While the Rams should win on Sunday as well, they aren’t as solid of a bet, as the Buccaneers have been known to pull upsets at random times (see New Orleans in Week 1 last year). However, Jared Goff always plays better at home and this is a game where the Rams’ offense should put up a ton of points. After all, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones just torched the Bucs’ defense for 336 yards passing and the team scored 32 points. The Rams still have easy home games against the Bengals and Cardinals (albeit that one is in Week 17) on their schedule. If you’re looking to survive and advance, you would do so by picking the Rams.
Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular
Baltimore Ravens (-310), Kansas City Chiefs (-245), Houston Texans (-235), Atlanta Falcons (-198), Pittsburgh Steelers (-190)
The Baltimore Ravens are a big favorite against the Cleveland Browns this week. Cleveland is off to a disappointing 1-2 start this season, as the offensive line seems to have trouble protecting Baker Mayfield. As good as Lamar Jackson and the Ravens have looked so far, this is still a divisional game and the Browns’ offense is capable of waking up at any moment. In addition, the two meetings between these two teams last year were decided by three and two points, respectively.
Kansas City heads to Detroit to take on a surprisingly unbeaten Lions team. There is absolutely no reason to pick Kansas City on the road in this spot. They have such a tremendous home-field advantage at Arrowhead Stadium and still have yet to host the Raiders and Broncos.
Though they have won their last two games, the Houston Texans have looked inconsistent. It is clear they once again have trouble protecting Deshaun Watson. They face the Carolina Panthers, who will most likely be starting Kyle Allen at quarterback for the second week in a row. However, are we sure the Panthers’ offense is not better with Allen under center than Cam Newton? There are better spots to use the Texans down the road.
Based on what we’ve seen from Atlanta so far, they look like a team that is talented enough to beat anyone or lose to anyone. Tennessee didn’t look good in their Thursday night loss to Jacksonville, but they come in rested, which is important. The Titans also possess a physical running-game which has been known to give Atlanta fits in the past. Atlanta’s home schedule is favorable (Buccaneers, Panthers, Jaguars) in the second half of the season.
Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati in a Monday night battle of 0-3 teams. Most people wouldn’t dare pick an 0-3 team in a survivor pool. However, some people will have confidence in what they saw out of Mason Rudolph this week and will try and take advantage of a weak opponent in the Bengals. However, the Bengals had chances to win both at Seattle and at Buffalo, so winning at Pittsburgh this week wouldn’t shock me at all.
Contrarian Play to Beat a Large Pool
New York Giants (-144)
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is the toast of the town for a week as he dazzled in his NFL debut. His performance makes the loss of Saquon Barkley (out with an ankle sprain for four-to-eight weeks) a little easier to swallow. I will go on record as saying the Vegas line in this game scares me a lot. Why would the Giants only be favored by three points against an 0-3 Washington team that just got beat down by the Bears on Monday night? The Giants host the Dolphins in Week 15, but that is a long way from now. If you want to survive and advance while holding onto the better teams in the league, give the Giants a look if your survivor pool still has hundreds of contestants left.