The NFL season has finally arrived, bringing opportunities for us to make money via betting, DFS and season-long fantasy leagues — but let’s not forget about survivor pools! The standard rules are simple: You just need to pick one team a week to win outright. If they win, you’re in; if they lose, you’re out. However, once you use a team, you cannot choose that team again for the rest of the season. That all seems simple enough, but for those who have played, you quickly learn it isn’t that easy to survive. It’s all about balancing risk and reward. Let’s dive into a few teams that you should consider as your NFL survivor pool pick for Week 1.
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NFL Survivor Pool Picks for Week 1
Commanders (-7) vs. Cardinals | NFL Survivor Week 1
We have to talk about the Washington Commanders, who will play at home against the Arizona Cardinals. Seeing them as a 7-point favorite puts them firmly in play, as it is highly unlikely they will be favored by this margin again. Quarterback Sam Howell takes the lead for this squad, but nobody is backing the Commanders because of what they are doing.
This NFL survivor pool pick is all about fading the Cardinals. Most analysts have tabbed them as the worst team in the entire league. They have no answer at quarterback and seem to be planning for 2024. They’re also on the road in this spot.
This selection all comes down to game theory. Getting rid of Washington is fantastic, but that could be the most popular choice this week. I see no issues if you want to go with the masses and short Arizona, but just expect it to be a popular selection.
Ravens (-10.5) vs. Houston | NFL Survivor Week 1
If Washington isn’t the most popular spot of the week, then Baltimore probably is. The Ravens draw the easiest matchup on the board and are the only double-digit favorites in Week 1. Sitting at -520 (83.9%) on DraftKings Sportsbook to win outright, it’s clear why they should be a no-sweat Week 1 choice.
Baltimore is a much-deserved 10.5-point favorite in this spot. The Ravens are strong at home, have quarterback Lamar Jackson healthy and draw a Texans team building for the future. Houston’s rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud might be good, but it’s a stretch to think he will be able to go into Baltimore and emerge with a win.
The biggest issue here is burning a team as good as the Ravens this early in the season. They draw the Rams at home, the Colts at home and will be sizeable favorites in a few other spots this season. That gives us something to think about if we are in larger pools and need to plan to go deep into the season. If you want the safest pick on the board, choose Baltimore, but if you want to roll the dice, I’d look elsewhere.
Vikings (-6) vs. Buccaneers | NFL Survivor Week 1
Of my top 3 NFL survivor pool picks for Week 1, this might be the riskiest, but it will certainly be the least popular. Backing Minnesota as a 6-point favorite with moneyline odds of -275 (73.3%) via DraftKings is a good deal for Week 1. The Vikings blend the need to plan ahead, providing an outside chance to eliminate a huge pool of people if an upset occurs and should be fine at home against this Tampa team.
The Vikings were 8-1 at home last year, and they will remain a tough out on their own turf. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has every weapon imaginable, and on the other side, the Buccaneers are still searching for their answer after Tom Brady’s retirement. They have settled on Baker Mayfield for the short term. He will have his hands full behind that offensive line and against this Vikings defense. It’s not a hard case to make why the Vikings should be the favorite, and they should get the job done just like Washington and Baltimore.
One final point on the Vikings is that, despite being a good team, they do not have a lot of good spots to pick them in survivor pools. They draw the Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders and Chargers while having teams like the Eagles also lurking on the schedule. I want nothing to do with their divisional games, so this represents one of the better spots to use them looking at their 2023 schedule.
My NFL Week 1 Survivor Pick: Minnesota Vikings