The 2021 NFL season gets started with the Cowboys taking on the Buccaneers on Thursday, and then it is nonstop football action each week. With an additional regular-season game, there are even more variables than usual and plenty of angles to break down. NFL survivor pools are one of the best — and most fun — ways to sweat money and teams this season. With every team available, NFL survivor picks for Week 1 can be one of the chalkier spots on the board, but going contrarian is always an option as well. Be sure to check out our new Awesemo NFL Survivor Optimizer tool when making your picks as well.
What is an NFL Survivor Pool?
There are several variations of the Survivor Pool format, but the most basic and common one is each week everyone in the pool must select one team to win a game straight up, not against the spread. If the team wins, that player survives the week; if that team loses, the player is eliminated. The twist is that teams can only be used once, making it increasingly difficult as the season goes on. The pool ends when there is one player left.
Week 1 NFL Schedule
|Cowboys at Buccaneers (-7.5)|
|Steelers at Bills (-6.5)||Jets at Panthers (-5)||Jaguars (-3) at Texans|
|Cardinals at Titans (-3)||Chargers (-1) at Washington||Eagles at Falcons (-3.5)|
|Seahawks (-2.5) at Colts||Vikings (-3) at Bengals||49ers (-7.5) at Lions|
|Browns at Chiefs (-6.5)||Dolphins at Patriots (-3)||Broncos (-3) at Giants|
|Bears at Rams (-7.5)||Packers (-4.5) vs Saints (Neutral Field)|
|Ravens (-4.5) at Raiders|
Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Picks
Since it is Week 1, every team available, making this selection easier. Planning ahead is important, as burning some of the marquee teams is dangerous in the long run. That combination of risk and reward is the name of the game. Let’s dive into a few teams that fit different risk levels and see who stands out as the optimal survivor pick this week.
San Francisco 49ers
This could end up being the chalk pick in survivor pools this week, as the 49ers draw an easy matchup with the Lions. They are north of a touchdown favorite (7.5-point spread) and coming into the season healthy . They should lean on the running backs and defense, and it would not be a surprise if this game gets out of hand. The Lions secondary also struggled last season, as they were dead last in yards passing allowed per attempt. The Lions now have Jared Goff under center, and this opening matchup does him no favors. The big question here is whether or not to save good teams like San Francisco for a tougher week. The 49ers play one of the easiest schedules in the league outside their tough division games, and that gives merit to waiting. However, with a tricky Week 1 schedule, San Francisco is a good play despite the opportunity cost.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are at home against the Bears in a game that also has a spread of 7.5. They brought in Matthew Stafford at quarterback, and even with the string of backfield injuries, they are poised to have a potent offense. Their defense is also in the upper echelon, which is sure to cause problems for Andy Dalton and the Bears. Justin Fields will get the keys to Chicago’s offense eventually, but in the meantime, they are a team to pick against in the right spots.
The goal is to survive and advance at all costs, but those in large pools also have to plan for the future. There is simply no way to navigate by picking all popular selections and staying with the crowd. This points to the Jaguars, who are expected to once again be among the worst teams in the league. The only reason they are in play here is that they draw the worst team in the NFL in the Texans. Jacksonville is a 3-point road favorite, which shows how bad things are in Houston.
There are more questions than answers in Jacksonville, with Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer bringing in a new era of Jaguars football. They have some talent, even with the loss of Travis Etienne, and in this matchup they have the advantage on both sides of the ball. Houston’s roster has been decimated, and now they turn to Tyrod Taylor to lead an offense devoid of major playmakers.
The Texans were bottom five in both yards per attempt allowed both rushing and passing, and they will again be a popular team to pick on all season. This is a good spot to roll the dice and get rid of a bad Jacksonville team. The risk, of course, is Houston finding one of its few wins right here.
Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Pick: San Francisco 49ers
Going the conservative route to start the season with the 49ers over the Lions seems like the best bet. The 7.5-point spread is tied for the largest of the week, and Detroit should struggle on both sides of the ball. The 49ers were ravaged last year by injuries, and with a healthy defense they should cause major problems for Goff. If San Francisco leans on the run game and their strong front seven, this one could get out of hand early.
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