This year, I will be also running a weekly article pertaining to Survival Football. The rules are simple: each week, you must select a team you think will win the game (heads up, not against the spread). If that team wins, you survive, if they don’t you’re out. Once you have used a team, you may not use them for the rest of the year. These leagues are very simple and don’t take much time to organize, and can be a lot of fun as well as financially rewarding if you are strategic, smart, and a little bit lucky. Here are some general tips I have along with my pick for week one…
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Survivor Pool Strategy and Tips
There are several different approaches to take when playing Survival Football. Some just look to survive each week, picking the team they think is most likely to win without worrying too much about the future. There are also those that are just the opposite: they will take some risks early in the hopes of having some of the top teams left near the end of the season. My strategy lies somewhere in between. I will never be too risky or cute at the beginning with the hopes of making life easier down the road, because one wrong move and you can have all the best teams left and it won’t matter, since you won’t be alive in your pool. This is especially true early on in the season, since the NFL is so unpredictable, it is hard to know which teams are going to surge, which will flail, and which major injuries will cause a shift in the power structure of the league halfway through the year. Still, if I can get away with picking a team that I am not going to miss not having over someone I know I can rely on for an easy win later on, I won’t overlook that. When things get later in the season, I will start to look at who those left alive in my league have left to pick from, but all of that isn’t really a concern until about the halfway point.
When choosing between two or three of my best options, I also make the following considerations: I will almost always choose a home team before I choose an away team unless there is overwhelming evidence to suggest I take the latter. Even a weak home team is capable of beating a visiting side in front of a stadium full of their supporters. I also try and steer clear of divisional rivalries, as teams often step it up a notch when they are facing off against an in-division foe. You also need to consider teams playing on short weeks, teams coming off byes, prime time games, and an assortment of other nuances that make this game so much fun.
Week 1 Survivor Pick
With all that said, here are my thoughts this week. With a full slate of teams to choose from, I’m definitely looking for a team who are a big point spread favorite. This week, it seems the teams that fit that criteria best are Houston, San Diego, Cleveland, Kansas City and New England. I am crossing off the Patriots right off the bat. No, I don’t particularly think the Dolphins will come out and beat New England, but I definitely think that the Pats will have better matchups than an away, divisional game. Also, cross of Kansas City. The Bills are capable of making any game exciting as we saw last year, and Matt Cassel is likely to be less than 100% after an injury in the Chiefs’ last preseason game. While Cleveland would be a nice pick since I likely would never want to use them again anyway, I can’t quite give them my full vote of confidence based on their inconsistencies last year. I think its close between the Texans and the Chargers, so I am going to look at two things: one, which opposing QB do I think is more capable of pulling off an upset, and two, which team would I rather have down the road. Well, I’m more afraid of Donovan McNabb pulling off some magic than Kerry Collins, and I’d much rather have San Diego going forward than Houston, so my pick for week one is Houston. The Colts without Peyton Manning are actually a pretty bad team, and I expect Arian Foster to pick apart their run defense. Another sneaky good pick is the Cardinals over the Panthers, but my issue with Arizona is similar to the Browns: I don’t want to get burned early by a team that I don’t trust. I will keep track of the teams I have used and list them at the end of this column, as well as give you my second and third choices in case you’ve already used my first pick.
Pick: Houston (2nd: San Diego, 3rd: Arizona)