With the growing popularity of Survivor Pools, FP911.com is here to help. Each week we will look at the key games. There will be a pick of the week, some safe bets, a few games to avoid, and a trap game.
This week, let’s start with some basic principles to follow in the first few weeks.
- Don’t put much stock in the preseason. The AFC East will not go one for their first 16. The Jets will score a touchdown. Making judgments on teams that spend the bulk of the playing time going against guys currently bagging groceries at your local Kroger is not wise.
- Don’t get cute early. The first few weeks there will undoubtedly be a few guys in your pool that take a chance and pick a team because “no one else will.” They might win, but the big deal early in the season is living to fight another day. Odds are it will take you 12 weeks to come out on top…minimum.
- Avoid division matchups where possible. It will be rare that this space recommends picking a division game. These are far too often toss ups. The state of the NFC East and NFC North underscore that. The AFC North is very similar. The NFC West is a disaster in the other direction. Picking the Patriots against the AFC East may be easy, but there are not many others as clear cut.
- The Chargers are the Devil. Every year they should be good, every year we pick them in a “easy” game. Every year they fall apart. This is not a team to pick until we figure out who they are. Without a healthy running game and with plenty of new receivers, this is even more true this season.
- A favorite is going to lose and knock a lot of teams out. The picks below are a guide. Everything will have reasoning and logic behind it. We’ll examine road, home, early game, late game, in-conference, out of conference, and plenty else that will help you make an informed decision. And a favorite will still lose and half the pool will go with them.
Pick of the Week
Eagles (@ Browns) – A lot to like here. The Philadelphia defense draws a rookie quarterback in his first start. The Browns will be without stud quarterback Joe Haden and that should open up things for the wide receivers. Michael Vick will not have to be even 75 percent to take advantage of this matchup. Add to this, NFC East matchups will be harder to call. The Eagles have three key road games that will need to be potentially avoided and the home matchups will not be easy.
Patriots (@ Titans) – Find a reason not to like the New England offense against anyone. There are concerns along the offensive line and protecting Brady, but this is a team that should be able to take advantage of the Tennessee secondary. Defensively, they should not be exposed given the Titans will dress only four wide receivers and do not have the athletic tight end. Plus, why waste the Patriots now?
Bears (vs. Colts) – Whether or not Brian Urlacher plays, the Colts and a rookie starter will have to go into Chicago and win. Tough to like those odds. The Bears have been clicking in the preseason and are too potent an attack to be stopped out of the gate here. Like the Bears this week because of the matchup and most NFC North matchups will be tougher to pick.
Lions (vs. Rams) – Everyone may love Brian Quick in deep fantasy leagues, but this St. Louis offense has a lot of work to do along the outside. The Lions can produce offensively and that will keep them a step ahead of St. Louis, taking Steven Jackson out of the game and forcing Sam Bradford to beat them through the air. In a game like that, I bet the Lions.
Texans (vs. Dolphins) – Noticing a trend? Bet against rookie quarterbacks early. And, for most of the season, bet against the Dolphins. Miami’s defense was unable to get on track and they are still juggling the adjustment in schemes under a new head coach. Houston may have one of the safer matchups for survivor leagues. Many like the Texans to head to the Super Bowl so using them early could be tough to recover from
Saints (vs. Redskins) – So all that I said in betting against rookie quarterbacks can be disregarded when we talk about a team without their head coach. I think the Saints are going to be just fine, but there is a lot going on there right now. Another hurricane, the coach gone, suspensions starting, it all makes for a riskier bet.
Seahawks (@ Cardinals) – The Seahawks win this division, make no mistake about that, but they will go on the road in their first game out. Russell Wilson gets a good matchup, but this should be a case where we see what Seattle brings to the table. They could win the division at 8-8…remember that has happened here all too recently.
Broncos vs. Steelers – Like Pittsburgh but just not here. New offensive coordinator, Mike Wallace just getting involved in the offense, and an offensive line that still needs stability have me questioning this one in a big way. As for Denver, we may all wonder what Peyton Manning brings to the table, but do you want to bet against him in his home debut?
Ravens (vs. Bengals) – Division game against a Cincinnati team that is better than many want to give them credit for. The Bengals nearly beat the Ravens on the road last season and Baltimore’s passing attack is still a major question mark. The defense gets older and is without Terrell Suggs. Avoiding the division game here in Week One where there are better games to take.
Packers vs. 49ers – You watch. A lot of guys in your pool will take the Packers forgetting that the 49ers were just a win away from the Super Bowl last year and have a strong defense. They will ignore the running game issue in Green Bay and look only at the numbers Rodgers can put up. Avoid this mistake. Green Bay may win, but why sweat out a far tougher game than you have to? Save them for later.