Week 3 was a nail-biter for many of the more popular NFL survivor pool choices. The Ravens (-7.5) needed a record setting 66-yard field goal from Justin Tucker to beat the Lions, and the Cardinals (-7.5) were down 19-10 late in the third quarter before ultimately taking control of the game. When the dust cleared, the only large favorite to lose was the Chiefs (-7). Be sure to check out Awesemo’s new NFL Survivor Optimizer Tool when making picks the rest of the way. Here are some potential plays for Week 4.
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 4 NFL Schedule
|Jaguars at Bengals (-7.5)|
|Washington (-1) at Falcons||Texans at Bills (-16.5)||Lions at Bears (-3.5)|
|Colts at Dolphins (-1.5)||Browns (-1.5) at Vikings||Giants at Saints (-8)|
|Titans (-7.5) at Jets||Chiefs (-6) at Eagles||Cardinals at Rams (-6)|
|Seahawks at 49ers (-3)||Ravens at Broncos (-1.5)||Steelers at Packers (-6.5)|
|Panthers at Cowboys (-4)||Buccaneers (-6.5) at Patriots|
|Raiders at Chargers (-3.5)|
Week 3 NFL Survivor Pool Picks Recap
According to Yahoo, 40% of the field went with Denver this week. The pick made perfect sense, as Denver was a 10-point favorite against the hapless Jets. Denver also is not currently listed as a touchdown favorite until Week 14, so the opportunity cost was low. Denver handled their business easily against the Jets, so most of the field is moving along to Week 4.
The Cardinals were picked by just over 17% of Yahoo survivor players in Week 3 against the Jaguars. It was dramatic, but the Cardinals pulled through. It probably made more sense to save Arizona for later in the year anyway, specifically Week 7 against Houston. Either way, the name of the game is getting through, and it can sometimes be detrimental to look too far ahead.
The Panthers were the last team used by at least 10% of the field, checking in just under 15%. This was the most the Panthers are expected to be favored by for the rest of the season, so the pick had merit. It was surprisingly scary, as the Panthers struggled to move the ball after Christian McCaffrey left with an injury. That might work out in favor of those who used the Panthers last week, though, since they will be essentially unusable without a healthy McCaffrey.
Week 4 NFL Survivor Pool Picks
The Bills are the safe pick this week as 16.5-point favorites to the Texans. The Bills also have the highest future value, as they are double-digit favorites in Weeks 17 and 18. This leads to the question of whether or not it would be wise to save the Bills for later. Normally, holding onto the Bills is the better move. However, this year the Bills could run away with an AFC East that has struggled so far. It is rare to see NFL teams rest starters for two weeks at the end of the season, but it is also the first season with a 17-game schedule. This adds a wrinkle to the decision making, but the Bills are also the only double-digit favorite on the board in Week 9, so waiting until at least then is probably the optimal choice.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are 6.5-point road favorites against the Eagles. However, they are also coming off consecutive losses for the first time since 2019. However, the spread could shift. The short week for the Eagles benefits Kansas City, but it is still a scary pick given how volatile the Eagles have been. The Chiefs have six other games where they are currently larger favorites, so it makes sense to pass on them this week. As an aside, the Chiefs were the most popular survivor pick to lose in Week 3, but they only knocked out around 1% of the field
The Bengals are around a 7.5-point favorite, depending on the book, for their Thursday game against the Jaguars. Cincinnati is only expected to be favored in two more games, though after a 2-1 start, that could change. While it is somewhat scary picking the Bengals in a survivor pool, they make a ton of sense this week. They have looked good and are playing at home. Home teams and favorites both win at a higher rate on Thursdays than they do Sundays.
Teams Already Used: San Francisco 49ers (W), Cleveland Browns (W) Denver Broncos (W)
Note: With this column taking a hiatus for the last two weeks, the teams used in Weeks 2 and 3 reflects the week’s most popular choice.
Week 4 NFL Survivor Pool Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
While there is a case for Buffalo, the Bengals make too much sense here. Even with their solid start, there is not really another week to use them with confidence. With the extra game, it is more important than in years past to save good teams. If playing in a smaller pool (less than 100 people), Buffalo is probably the better pick. Future value does not matter much since at most a couple of other players will make it to the end. It also feels much safer banking on Josh Allen and the Bills than the upstart Bengals.
The Titans (-7.5 at the Jets) makes sense too, but they are currently the most used team according to Yahoo, and it is important to gain leverage on the field. Be sure to keep an eye on how pick distribution plays out throughout the week, though. The Titans also have two other games as at least 11-point favorites, so there is no reason to rush them.
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