NFL training camps kick off this week, so it’s a good time to start looking at the regular season schedule and planning out your picks to win your Survivor Pool in 2016. Doing so will give you a leg up on many of your competitors, many of whom don’t think beyond the next week, often leaving themselves in tough situations with limited options, as a result. I’ve used this exercise to help me win multiple Survivor Pools over the past 5 seasons. I don’t always stick with my original picks, but it’s good to have a plan, not just to survive the first few weeks, but to at least get to a point where you can cash in via a split or by taking the whole pot.
We have managed to find a solid line up of picks for the entire season, without a single road game or an opposing team coming off a bye, and with the closest spread being 5 points. Weeks 8 and 12 appear to be the toughest at first glance, so we are picking those, then working outwards from there. We are purposely leaving out Seattle and Green Bay, so you can use them as a replacement team in any of a number of weeks. Both teams have 5 weeks as favourites of 7 or more points, with another 2 or 3 where they are by at least 5.
Note: All spreads are the initial offerings from sports books, and are subject to change.
The Survivor Pool Picks
Week 1 – Philadelphia (-7.5) vs Cleveland – While we generally avoid new coaching staffs, it’s tough not to pick against Cleveland early on as well. It’s the only game all season Philly is a heavy favourite. If you don’t use them here, you likely won’t use them.
Week 2 – Arizona (-9) vs Tampa Bay – Arizona has several pickable games on the schedule, but we like them in this Week 2 match up with Tampa heading West for their 2nd straight road game to start the season.
Week 3 – Indianapolis (-5.5) vs San Diego – Week 3 is probably the best week on the schedule for large spreads. Four teams are favoured by at least a touchdown, and another 3 are at least 5 points. I went down the board a bit for this one, in hopes that a large portion of teams get knocked out following a huge favourite.
Week 4 – Washington (-7.5) vs Cleveland – Another NFC East team with Cleveland at home being their only game worth picking.
Week 5 – Carolina (-10) vs Tampa Bay – After Week 1, Carolina is going to be a popular team in the early going. I wouldn’t be surprised if close to 75% of entries have used them by this game.
Week 6 – Buffalo (-7) vs San Francisco – This may be a good week to drop Seattle in as well, to save Buffalo for late season home games against the Browns and Fins.
Week 7 – Cincinnati (-11.5) vs Cleveland – Another division game, and Hue knows the Bengals, but there is too much talent in Cinci.
Week 8 – Denver (-7) vs San Diego – The only other decent options in Week 8 are road games. Denver is as close to a must start as there is at this point.
Week 9 – Minnesota (-6.5) vs Detroit – Detroit outdoors is generally not a good thing. Throw in some potentially poor November weather and it gets worse.
Week 10 – Baltimore (-8.5) vs Cleveland – The Browns may be playing for the #1 pick by this point.
Week 11 – Kansas City (-7) vs Tampa Bay – I am surprised how many times odds makers list KC as 7+ point favourites. Alex Smith as your QB isn’t usually conducive to a number of big wins.
Week 12 – Miami (-5) vs San Francisco – This is going to be the toughest week to pick of the season (if you had to pick now). Five points is the largest spread, and looking long term, this is probably the game I have the most confidence in right now. San Fran heading east after 5 straight weeks where they only go as far as Arizona.
Week 13 – Pittsburgh (-7.5) vs NY Giants – This could be where you use Green Bay (home to Houston) as well. Will greatly depend on how the 4 teams involved are playing at the time.
Week 14 – New England (-9) vs Baltimore – Some of the early season New England spreads will obviously change with Jimmy Garappollo under center, so you are better of to leave them for one of their later match ups.
Week 15 – Atlanta (-5) vs San Francisco or Dallas (-6) vs Tampa Bay – Late in the year, it’s good to have options. Obviously, things can and will change throughout the season, so there may be other games worth picking.
Week 16 – Dallas (-5) vs Detroit or Los Angeles (-5.5) vs San Francisco – It could be a real dog-fight between Cleveland and San Fran for the most picks against this season.
Week 17 – TBD – Most survivor pools will be long over by Week 17, but if yours gets to that point, you’ll have to take a look at what you have available as well as who still has something to play for and pick accordingly.
One thing I still want to do before the season, is to look at the full impact that Thursday games have on teams on and after the short weeks, and incorporate that into my own selections.
There you have it. Hopefully this helps some of you in planning your 2016 Survivor Pool picks.