Survivor Football Island Week 2: Outwit, Outpick, Outlast
Welcome back to the second installment of our weekly series focusing on Survival Football pools. Here’s hoping it goes better than Week 1, although to be fair, it can’t go much worse.
Shane will start us off this week with his pick while Drew closes it out.
Good Night, Sweet Prince:
If you’re still reading, bless your heart. Things can’t get much worse than both Drew and I picking a losing team in Week 1. I’ve only done that once before in the 15+ years that I’ve been doing Survivor pools, so it’s only fitting that it would happen the first year of the blog.
There were some major upsets avoided that would have claimed more pool victims. The Falcons needed a sack on 4th-and-goal to hold off the Bears, while the Steelers squeaked out a 3-point win over the surprisingly competitive Browns. But at the end of the day, I severely underestimated just how bad the Texans might be this year. To be fair, the Jaguars defense looks markedly improved and might keep them in more games than advertised. Still, a loss is a loss, and if you went down with me, my deepest regrets.
For the purpose of the blog, Drew and I will continue to recommend weekly picks, laying out a few selections to choose from and which team we would ultimately choose. That way, if we choose a team that you’ve already used, you can see a number of our other selections to choose from and our confidence level that goes along with them. Ready? Let’s do it.
As hard as Week 1 was, there’s a ton of potential for Week 2. Early spreads of at least 5 points: Cincinnati, New England, Baltimore, Carolina, Arizona, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Seattle. WOOF.
Let’s start whittling this list down. I’m disregarding Cincinnati, who put up a goose egg against the Ravens last week at home, and who plays on Thursday Night football. New England and Arizona are both away, and I’ll avoid them both. I won’t pick against the Saints at the SuperDome and Arizona looked mediocre even before David Johnson went down.
Personally, I’m not considering Baltimore against Cleveland, even with the Ravens shutout over Cincinnati last week. Divisional game and I think the Browns are (slightly) better this year than people give them credit for. I’m not considering Pittsburgh because Minnesota looked surprisingly decent on Monday Night and think that game could be closer than people expect.
At this point, we’re down to 5 teams I’d consider further, with confidence levels out of 10 for each:
Carolina: home against Buffalo. Hard to tell just how good the Panthers are after opening against San Francisco, though the game wasn’t really close and the defense did a nice job in ruining Kyle Shanahan’s 49er coaching debut. Not a terrible pick here, but with a plethora of options this week you can do better. Confidence level: 6/10
Kansas City: home against Philadelphia. The Chiefs looked good against the Patriots. And I mean good. Anytime you can go on the road and knock off a super bowl favorite in Week 1, you’re doing something right. It will be tough to keep things in check after just one week of football, but that’s just it: it’s one week of football. The stat everyone remembers from last year? Kansas City was 6–1 at home in 2016, as Arrowhead Stadium is arguably one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. The stat that flies under the radar? 5 of those 6 wins were by 8 points or less. On one hand, Andy Reid is excellent when given extra time to prepare (Kansas City last played on Thursday Night Football). On the other hand, this is the first meeting between Reid and Doug Pederson and I wonder how much it will benefit the Eagles to have a coach with former insight on the Chiefs. The Chiefs will either continue to play well and show that Week 1 wasn’t a fluke, or this will be a letdown game with too many variables and the Eagles surprise a few folks. Admittedly, part of me doesn’t want to pick the Chiefs to spend the day rooting against my Eagles. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think the Chiefs will most likely win. Confidence level: 7/10
Tampa Bay: home against the Bears. Tampa should be pretty good this year, even without Doug Martin for the first few weeks. Hard to tell from Week 1 if the Bears were surprisingly good or the Falcons were still hungover from last season. Probably safe to assume a bit of both. I don’t like the bit of momentum Chicago will carry from a close game last week and this is Tampa’s first game of the season. Confidence level: 4/10
Seattle: favored by 13+ against San Francisco. Seattle is tough at home, though not as invincible as a few years ago. It is a divisional tilt against the 49ers, and things can sometimes get wanky in these NFC West games. I do think the Seahawks rebound and roll here, but I’d rather save them for another week as they have a pretty favorable upcoming schedule. Confidence level: 9/10
Oakland: home against the New York Jets, favored by 13+. One of the two games this week that I expect to be picked and be picked A LOT. The Raiders could be playing in the postseason this year, and looked pretty good against a decent Tennessee team. Looking ahead, the only hesitation I have is whether to use the Raiders now or save them for later. Because it’s only Week 2 and the Raiders next two home games are the Ravens and Chargers, I’m less inclined to save them. This seems like all but a slam dunk, and while I sometimes advise against picking the widespread favorite, I won’t this week. Take the Raiders.
A Humbling Beginning:
Certainly not the ideal start to the season. After losing the Patriots on Thursday night, I joined another pool where I ended up picking the Texans — thinking surely that their good defense and overall talent level would be enough to beat a bad Jaguars team.
The problem with that logic it didn’t fully account for how bad Tom Savage was and is. I love Bill O’Brien, but as I said on Twitter, him starting Savage over rookie first round pick DeShaun Watson is absolutely unacceptable, and he should be held accountable for it.
I understand if you don’t trust me right now. You’re likely alive in your pool, and I’m not. The good news overall though is that unlike last week, I think there’s a lot of good options right now where Week 2 should see less teams eliminated and keep you alive.
Some teams that I would feel really good about include: Seahawks, Ravens, Panthers, and maybe even the Bucs.
All of these teams have their home opener and are favored in it by more than a touchdown. Their opponents combined for a lowly average of 14.5 points during Week 1.
I would feel comfortable using any of the above picks, but the one team that I absolutely love this week is the Raiders.
After a big road win over the Titans, the Raiders get the Jets in their home opener. I was afraid of the ‘Pick whoever is playing the Jets’ strategy last week against what I perceived to be a bad Bills team and obviously regret it where I won’t pass it up again.
The Jets will be on the second half of back-to-back road games and have to travel all the way out to the west coast.
For those asking about future Raiders value, these are their remaining home games:
- Sunday, 10/8: Ravens
- Sunday, 10/15: Chargers
- Thursday, 10/19: Chiefs
- Sunday, 11/19: Patriots
- Sunday, 11/26: Broncos
- Sunday, 12/3: Giants
- Sunday, 12/17: Cowboys
Not a lot of future value there outside of maybe the Chargers game.
Give me the Raiders and let’s hopefully make this one easy. It can only get better from here.