Week 1 of the NFL season is here and it means everyone in a survivor pool is alive. The concept of a survivor pool seems easy: pick a winner without the spread and move on to the next week, but it's never so simple. Last season, many people were eliminated in Week 1 when the Colts lost to the Jaguars, which was the lone win on the season for Jacksonville.
Some people look ahead and try to map out picks since a team is allowed to be selected once, but it's risky. It's better to play week to week. Others like to be contrarian and avoid the popular team because if they lose, a good portion of the pool is eliminated. Some pools have different rules with double elimination, so strategies can vary depending on the format.
The biggest spreads as of Thursday are the Buccaneers -9, 49ers -7.5 and the Rams -7.5. They are likely to be the most popular. Betting against the worst team in the NFL will be popular each week and for most it's the Texans. They host the Jaguars and taking them as road favorites isn't ideal.
Here are my top survivor picks for the week.
- Buccaneers - Tampa Bay is loaded and return every starter from a championship team. The offense is stacked with Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Ronald Jones, and Leonard Fournette and the defense is excellent. The Cowboys are talented, but come in with question marks. This is the first game for Dak Prescott since the devastating ankle injury last season and he was limited in training camp with a right shoulder injury. Expecting Prescott to be in peak form against this team is asking a lot. The Cowboys best offensive lineman Zack Martin is out due to COVID-19 and La'el Collins is dealing with a stinger. Dallas has been one of the worst defensive teams in recent seasons and while they brought in Dan Quinn to be defensive coordinator and bolstered the defense in the draft, this is a daunting matchup. Tampa Bay's offense is going to put up point.
- 49ers - It isn't ideal taking a road team in Week 1, but the 49ers are better than the Lions. The 49ers also have one of the easiest schedules. If you employ a strategy of looking down the road for ideal spots, the 49ers have many appealing ones. The 49ers potent running game with Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon should feast on one of the worst defenses in football. The Lions ranked last in points allowed and in yards in 2020. Jared Goff is familiar with the 49ers defense having faced them twice a year with the Rams and he struggled when he had way better weapons with the Rams. The 49ers are 12-4 on the road over the last two seasons. The Lions were 1-7 at home last season.
- Rams - The Rams are home against a Bears team starting Andy Dalton behind a shaky offensive line. Good luck trying to slow down Aaron Donald and one of the top defensive lines. It's well-documented about Dalton's ineptitude in prime time games and this is the national game on Sunday night. Dalton is 6-19-1 in prime time games. The Bears defense isn't as good as recent seasons and Matthew Stafford will look to exploit the secondary in his debut.