Over the last 10 years I’ve collaborated with Mike Davis
on his weekly in-season Q&A article here at FFToday. Today,
I have the pleasure of bringing you the Survival Pool section
of that article as a stand-alone feature. If you have never played
before, let me introduce you to the concept.
Each week, you must pick ONE team to win STRAIGHT UP. That means,
regardless of the betting line, all you have to do is “JUST
WIN BABY”, Al Davis.
You’d think that is pretty easy, right? Well, you can’t
pick the same team twice. So, if you pick the Chiefs in Week #1,
they aren’t available for the remainder of the season.
Over the last 10 years, here is my record in the Q&A column.
Except for one really poor season in 2015, if you chose my #1
pick, you won almost 80% of the time.
My Picks Over the Years
So what strategy should you use to win your Survival Pool (or Last
Man Standing Pool)? Do you take the safe bets early on, knowing
that in later weeks you may need one of the really good teams to
get you through a tough week? Well, stay tuned as I help you navigate
your Survivor Pool season with not just one, but three options every
week, and an occasional upset special.
In Weeks 1 through 3, there are usually two or three picks that
knock out a large portion of entries in these pools. Hopefully,
we can avoid them together. Let’s get to it.
Upset Special: NY Jets at Carolina
The NFL schedule makers definitely have a sense of humor. Sam
Darnold will start for the Panthers against Gang Green in
his first game away from the team that drafted him. But the Jets
let Darnold go for a reason, while adding three quality players
in Corey Davis,
and rookie Michael
Carter (UNC). In spite of also drafting No.2 pick Zach
Wilson, the Jets offense seems scarier than a one-headed monster
McCaffrey and Darnold under center. Even the Denver Broncos
thought highly enough of Teddy
Bridgewater to bring him in and make him their starter. As
such, Mike Greenberg “Greeny” may actually enjoy a season opening
win as the world’s biggest Jets fan.
#3: Buffalo over Pittsburgh: (114-46 last 10 years)
The Buffalo Bills were one win away from the Super Bowl and are
very much on the upswing. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have become
the premier duo in the AFC East and should easily repeat as Division
champions. Meanwhile, there are question marks all over the offense
in Pittsburgh. Will Ben Roethlisberger survive another full season
at QB and is rookie Najee Harris capable of being a full time
running back? JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t become the No.1
threat as expected since Antonio Brown’s departure, and
Diontae Johnson will have to prove himself in his sophomore season
for the Steelers offense to have any punch. Look for the Bills
defense to be improved and the team to pick up where they left
off last season.
#2: Tampa Bay over Dallas: (113-47 last 10 years)
The reigning Super Bowl champions welcome Dak
Prescott and his Dallas Cowboys in the season opening game
on Thursday night. Is this expected to be a shootout? Heck yes.
Tampa returns all of their starters on offense from last year,
and while Chris
Godwin (quad) is expected to suit up, it is rumored that 33rd
year old veteran Antonio Brown is the healthiest he has been since
he left Pittsburgh, and is more than capable of being Tom
Brady’s main target opposite Mike
Evans. This won’t be the blow out that the oddsmakers think
and may give you pause since a Cowboys offense with Dak is more
potent than the 7-9 team they were last year. But don’t bet against
Brady in his home opener as they raise their Super Bowl banner.
#1: San Francisco over Detroit: (125-35 last 10 years)
Jimmy Garoppolo takes the reigns of this 49ers team that is only
one season removed from making the Super Bowl. Looking back, in
2019, the 49ers had an incredible defense and a “passable”
offense. Then COVID struck and a number of key players “opted
out” and the result was a disappointing 6-10 season after
a 13-3 super bowl run.
Well, it’s 2021 and the 49ers are this writer’s pick from the
NFC West to make a deep run in the playoffs. Trey
Lance seems to be the heir apparent and defenses will have
to prepare for two quarterbacks if the pre-season is any indication.
Expect their defense to be top three, with an offense that will
again be the West Coast, spread the ball game that stretches a
team. If George
Kittle and company can stay healthy, few teams will be able
to compete with them, let alone a Lions team that has few playmakers
on offense. Gone are Kenny
Jones and Matthew
Stafford. Instead, here comes Jared
Swift (already injured), Jamaal
Williams (from GB) and Tyrell
Williams who has been a journeyman No.3 WR now asked to be
a No.1. It’s going to be a long season in Detroit and the Lions
defense is average at best. As such, take the Niners as your Week
1 safe play. They have something to prove, and are your lock of