The survivor pool I was in still has 84 of the initial 871 entrants, meaning it will likely extend into the post-season, barring a wacky week of upsets. I don't know if it is a tough slate of games this week, or if it just seems that way because the Cleveland Browns are off. Last week, the Giants predictably dismantled the Browns, continuing their 15-game losing streak and giving me another win.
This week there aren't many sure things. Seattle and New England are the weeks two biggest favorites, and I really don't trust Seattle against the Panthers. The Patriots are a lock at home against the Jared Goff led Rams, so if you haven't used them that's your pick. I, however, do not have that luxury, having picked the Pats earlier this season.
My next choice for the week would have been the Denver Broncos on the road against the pathetic Jacksonville Jaguars. Denver needs this win bad and an Oakland loss in the near future to make sure they don't get left behind the pack. However, when it was announced that Trevor Siemian would be out with a foot injury and rookie Paxton Lynch would make the start, I wasn't so sure. I think that Denver's defense still provides enough for them to get the win, but I will shy away from them since it is on the road.
Which leads me to this week's pick, the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers finally looked like himself last week and this week he gets a Houston team led by Brock Osweiler, who, unfortunately for the Texans has also looked like himself. Detroit faces a tough match up in the Saints this week and with a Packer win and Lions loss the two will be tied for the division lead. Green Bay will not let this opportunity slip by.
Another year another prayer to strike it rich in the NFL survivor pool. While not all possible entries can be accounted for yet, it looks like this years pool will have at least 900 entries. Multiply that by the $22 entry fee and you have a top prize of $19,800! I've decided this year to “Diversify my bonds” as the Wu-Tang financial analysts would say, and bought two entries. Each week I will give you my two picks with a short explanation.
And of course, it will be two picks the entire season because I will not get one wrong.
Let me start off with my lock pick that I would choose if only given one option. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 9 point favorites on the road against Deshone Kizer and the Cleveland Browns. A rookie quarterback on a 1-15 team playing a Super Bowl contender in the Steelers spells an easy victory. I was honestly surprised that Cleveland would throw Kizer to the wolves week 1, I'd have let Kessler absorb some punishment early so the kid could survive a season. But maybe Cleveland wants to test him early so they can draft Darnold next year when they go 1-15 again.
The Buffalo Bills are my second pick. Not hard to figure out my early season strategy, pick the two biggest favorites of the week and relax. While I actually respect Josh McCown as a professional quarterback, I just think the rest of the team is so devoid of talent that they don't stand a chance. There is also a bonus upside in this pick allowing me to use my Bills pick early. After a few white flag looking trades in the off-season, it appeared they might be in rebuild mode and likely will finish below 500.
This might be a common theme this year picking against the Browns and Jets, until I have reason to expect otherwise.
Week 1 is in the books and 241 entries have been eliminated from the 1005 total entrants, mostly at the hands of the Patriots' and Texans' surprising losses. If you listened to me last week, you are one of the survivors. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills had rather uneventful victories in week 1, which is exactly what I am looking for in my picks. Easy games I didn't even need to watch. Cleveland scored a late touchdown to make the game seem closer than it was with a final of 21-18 against the Steelers.
I laid out my winning strategy in the first article and will continue to reinforce that plan in week 2. So I pull out my schedule and see that the Jets travel to Oakland this week. There is my top pick. The Raiders are considered serious Super Bowl contenders and the Jets will be buying tickets to the game. I wonder if the Jets and Giants combined that they could make one good team? Anyways, I expect the Raiders to get an early lead and then give the Jets a Keith Richards sized dose of Marshawn Lynch. I will be interested to see in the coming weeks if the Raiders defense remains as impressive as they were against the Titans in week 1. If they truly are that much better than the rest of the league we better look out.
My Runner up pick goes to the Baltimore Ravens coming home to face the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore impressed me in week 1, shutting out the Bengals in Cincinnati 20-0. Deshone Kizer actually put up decent numbers for a first start going 20-30, 1TD, 1INT with an added rushing TD. But judging by the yards per rush and without watching most of this game I assume Pittsburgh loaded the box and focused on stopping the run and making Kizer beat them with his arm. Baltimore's stout defense will do the same this week. Can they shut out the state of Ohio? If the Ravens figure out how to score some points they can be a dangerous team down the stretch.
I expect Seattle to get a lot of picks this week as well as being 13.5 point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers. While the 49ers were handled easily 23-3 last week at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, Seattle was very lackluster in my opinion of a game a watched basically start to finish. Their defense did well against the Packers but their inability to score TDs in the red-zone is a concern for me. This is a trap game to me and I would take the 9ers with the points all day.
As you can see by the 241 dropping out after the first week, there is no need to get cute at the beginning of the season. I went with the 1st and 3rd highest point favorites this week. Book a win, and make the easy pick. Much like a poker tournament, you can't win the whole thing on the first hand.
Could be a tough week for the confidence pool, but fortunately, this looks like an easy week for the survivor pool. That's the thought I'm left with while making this week's picks. Last week we got both of our picks through when the Ravens and the Raiders both booked easy wins at home.
Wk1 Pit Buf Wk2 Bal Oak
The New England Patriots opened as 13.5 point favorites as hosts to the Houston Texans. This is a no-brainer pick. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are just too smart to give this game away to the Texans defense. No way that rookie Deshaun Watson has what it takes to outscore the Pats and until he proves otherwise I will assume they need their defense to win games for them a la the 2001 Ravens.
My second pick was a little harder to decide on, so many good options. Broncos, Packers, Steelers, Dolphins, even the Ravens in London. But after much soul surfing*, my lack of faith in the Chicago Bears was just too strong. I think this could be the game that Le'Veon Bell gets right fantasy wise, after his last two weeks of training camp. It is just a matter of weeks before Bears fans will get to see the much-anticipated Mitch Trubisky. Hopefully, it's not an omen that spell check suggests Trubisky gets corrected to Rubbishy.
The Packers were just behind the Steelers for me this week facing what will ultimately be a better opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals. I haven't been impressed yet by Green Bay this season. I expect them to win this game at home but maybe this new offensive coordinator gets the Bengals scoring some points and makes this game competitive.
Also, would like to mention I have seen the Broncos at -2.5 at the Bills. I'll take that all day after watching what they did to the Cowboys last week.
Good Luck this week! Drink five
*Note: I mistyped soul searching as soul surfing and kinda liked it. #soulsurfing
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