Week 4 in the NFL got dicey in a hurry for many survivor pool contestants. Five of the eight biggest favorites all lost SU, and favorites, in general, went just 7-8 on the week. Among the biggest favorites to lose were the Rams (-400), Ravens (-310), Colts (-280), Texans (-235), and Packers (-230). The safest pick of the week was once again picking the team playing the Miami Dolphins, as the Los Angeles Chargers cruised to victory. The bad news for survivor entrants is that this strategy cannot be employed this week as the Dolphins are on a bye. Making life harder is the fact that two winless teams who you would normally pick against (Cardinals and Bengals) play each other. It goes without saying that this will be a tougher week than most.
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 5 (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
|New England Patriots||-1200|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-550|
|Los Angeles Chargers||-290|
|San Francisco 49ers||-186|
|New Orleans Saints||-184|
New England Patriots (-1200), Philadelphia Eagles (-750), Kansas City Chiefs (-550), Minnesota Vikings (-230)
Here are your four most safe picks of the week, just in case you have not used any of these teams in prior weeks. The New England Patriots are coming off a hotly contested game against Buffalo. This was a game where their defense continued to be lights out, though they surrendered their first touchdown of the season. Tom Brady and the rest of the offense cannot wait to feast on the 28th ranked Washington defense after Buffalo held them under wraps most of last week.
Washington’s quarterback situation is an absolute mess. Case Keenum and Colt McCoy still may not be healthy enough to play, and head coach Jay Gruden doesn’t want to have to start Dwayne Haskins again if he doesn’t have to. Whoever the quarterback is will struggle against the NFL’s best defense. The Patriots will win comfortably.
It looks like the Philadelphia Eagles will face off against Luke Falk for the Jets instead of Sam Darnold. Darnold was cleared for contact but is not expected to play. We have seen two games of Falk so far and it has not been pretty, as he has yet to lead a touchdown drive. The Eagles are coming in rested after having last played Thursday night. The Eagles have injuries of their own, but none of that will matter much as they will dominate the Jets.
A week ago, it was not likely the Chiefs would have been listed with as much confidence to beat the Colts. However, losing to the Raiders removes a ton of confidence in the interim. Indianapolis clearly missed the services of linebacker Darius Leonard, receiver T.Y. Hilton, and safety Malik Hooker in their disappointing loss. Now the Colts have to travel to Arrowhead to take on a red-hot Kansas City team. Good luck.
The Minnesota Vikings looked atrocious on offense against the Chicago Bears. Their offense has not looked right for most of the season, save for Dalvin Cook and their third-ranked rushing attack. However, a good way to get healthy again is to face a New York Giants defense which ranks in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game. The Giants would be ranked worse in this category if not for allowing 55 yards rushing to the Redskins who were trailing for much of last week’s game. Daniel Jones has had a tremendous start to his NFL career but has not faced a defense as elite as Minnesota’s. Given that Minnesota has no easy division games to pick for the remainder of the year, this is a good spot to use them albeit being on the road.
Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular
Los Angeles Chargers (-290), Houston Texans (-230), Chicago Bears (-230), Tennessee Titans (-162)
Making the Los Angeles Chargers a risky play might be a moot point considering the number of people that used them last week. However, I am always somewhat leery of divisional games, even if their opponent is 0-4. Joe Flacco is still a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and the Broncos defense cannot possibly be as bad as they have been playing. One of these days the Broncos will get their first win.
The Houston Texans have an extreme problem of not being able to protect Deshaun Watson. The Texans surrendered another six sacks against the Panthers last week. While the Falcons are not known for their elite pass rush, they still have an offense capable of exploding any given week, especially in a dome.
The Chicago Bears are risky for two reasons this week: the game against the Raiders is in London, and Chase Daniel is their starting quarterback. As much as I advocate for avoiding road games, I suggest even more so avoiding games on different continents. It is hard to predict how much jetlag can affect a game like this. Plus, the Raiders are coming off a big win against the Colts.
Do not get cute and pick the Titans over the Bills this week simply because Matt Barkley is Buffalo’s starting quarterback. Barkley is more than capable of moving the offense (see the game at the Jets last year). Even if Barkley is having a poor game, did you see what the Bills’ defense did to the Patriots?
Contrarian Play to Beat a Large Pool
Cincinnati Bengals (-166)
For anyone to pick the Bengals this week, they must be in a pool where hundreds, if not thousands of contestants still remain. This is the definition of a “hold your nose” kind of pick, but I do like the Bengals to return home after a short week and beat the Arizona Cardinals. Outside of their disappointing showing on Monday night, Cincinnati gave Seattle and Buffalo tough games deep into the fourth quarter. The Bengals should give Joe Mixon all the carries he can handle, as Arizona has the 28th ranked rush defense.