Week 1 is one of the toughest weeks I can remember as a Survivor Pool player. And I have been handicapping my NFL Survivor Pool picks for Week 1 for a couple months now and still haven’t locked down a sure-fire winner. Therefore, I am looking at every possible angle in order to make a successful pick in a week that should see tons of competitors get knocked out early.
And you know who I trust the most when it comes to picking NFL winners? That would be professional sports bettors, or wise guys. Sports betting is a livelihood for these guys, so they don’t make dumb decisions. And the bookies respect these bettors so much (often more than they respect their own oddsmaking) that they will move the NFL point spread when these wise guys make their position on a game known via their wagers.
So this week I want to look at all the significant line moves that have taken place since the original numbers were posted soon after the NFL schedules were released. Bookies won’t reveal who made bets and for how much, but I guarantee that 90+ percent of the bets that have been made up to now have come from professional bettors as casual bettors normally place wagers in the week leading up to a game. By these line moves we can get an idea of the teams wise guys might think are primed for an upset and also favorites that the wise guys think will not only win but cover the spread.
Here are the most notable line moves from for Week 1 in hopes of helping us pick a Survivor Pool winner.
Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Line Moves
Pittsburgh at New England (-3.5): Original Line Patriots -6.5
UPDATE: Hours after this article was published Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was nullified. Some sportsbooks have now posted the Patriots as -6.5 favorites, and one book even has them as 7-point favorites. New England is now an attractive Survivor Pool pick, and they will likely be a very popular pick.
This line move is less about professional wise guys than the whole Tom Brady “Deflategate” fiasco. This line has moved up and down like a yo-yo, and at one time New England went all the way down to “pick’em” (meaning there was no spread on the game as the teams were considered equal even with New England at home). But I think it’s very telling that this line is up to 3.5 in favor of the home team. That must mean that the pros are on the Pats here. They would have to be for this line to move back above the key number of three, which is the holy grail in NFL betting as the most common margin of victory in NFL games. The wise guys seem to like New England here, but I am staying away from this one!
Green Bay (-6.5) at Chicago: Original Line Packers -4
The Packers seem to be popular with sharp bettors in Week 1. This line has steadily climbed and at one point reached the second-biggest NFL key number of seven but dropped back down a half-point after word of WR Jordy Nelson’s season-ending injury emerged. All signs point to a Packers blowout win as they have dominated the Bears in recent years. But this one has me shaking in my boots. Sometimes a handicapper has to rely on gut instinct, and my gut tells me the Bears will make a game of this, even though Green Bay will undoubtedly be the most popular Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool pick (just look at our poll on the left sidebar of the Web site, and be sure to vote!).
Cleveland at New York (-3): Original Line Jets -2
Looks like the wise guys have a slight lean towards the Jets. This one has moved to the key number of three. It’s significant that the line didn’t drop under three after QB Geno Smith was lost for the first month+ of the season and Ryan Fitzpatrick was named the starter. Maybe the sharps like the replacement QB better. Or maybe the line move is because of the horrible QB situation in Cleveland. Or the books might just have moved it in anticipation of action on the Jets from the general public. I might consider a play on the Jets as I use multiple cards but probably won’t do it. I don’t think this line movement is too significant to make me lean towards the Jets for my Week 1 pick.
Miami -3.5 at Washington: Original Line Miami -2
This move is very significant. When a line moves through the key NFL number of three, you have to take notice. That means there were some heavy bets on Miami. The offseason in Washington has been another tumultuous one, and now Kirk Cousins is in and Robert Griffin III is out (his career looks to be over in Washington). It looks like the wise guys have made their opinion known in this matchup, and Miami is a strong favorite here. I may look into this matchup next week for a possible pick, although I rarely use road teams this early in the season.
Carolina (-3) at Jacksonville: Original Line Carolina -4
I think this line move is one to take note of. Jacksonville has been one of the worst NFL teams the last few years. We know the casual bettors are not taking them, so the fact that this line has shrunk indicates the professional bettors have taken a clear position on the Jaguars. I was planning on staying away from Carolina in this game as I think Jacksonville will be better and not an automatic fade like in previous seasons. This line move gives me even less faith in Carolina as a solid Week 1 NFL Survivor Pool pick.
Detroit at San Diego (-3): Original Line Chargers -1.5
Looks like the pros like San Diego here, and the Chargers look like they could be a decent pick in Week 1. However, this team has had a habit of slow starts and inconsistent play for stretches of the season. Both of these teams are big question marks in my opinion this season, and both could win anywhere from 7 to 11 games. I will probably avoid this game in my pool, but I could not fault anyone for taking San Diego in such a tough week.
Baltimore at Denver (-5): Original Line Broncos -4
Not too significant of a line move here, but since the Broncos are probably my favorite pick thus far (I am still in the process of making my picks; sign up for our newsletter on the left sidebar of this site for official picks from myself and two other former Survivor Pool winners each week of the NFL season), the line move helps reinforce my position that the Broncos are in a good position to win this game.
New York Giants at Dallas (-5): Original Line Cowboys -5.5
Another insignificant line move of just a half-point. However, the Cowboys are a team I would avoid for Week 1, and the wise guys have reinforced that view with their bets on the underdog in this game. Dallas was only 4-4 at home last season, and this team has been one of the worst bets in the NFL when laying points the last few years. Dallas will be a team I will avoid picking until late in the season assuming I last that long in my pool.
Minnesota (-2.5) at San Francisco: Original Line Niners -4.5
Wow. This is a huge line move. San Francisco has had one of the worst offseasons in NFL history, and sharp bettors understandably took advantage of a weak opening line. I am hoping some really uniformed Survivor Pool players that haven’t been watching offseason news will take the Niners here. It will probably happen, but I for one will not be touching this game even though I already have a bet on the road team here plus the points as I also took advantage of that weak early line.
Hopefully this article helped you in your pursuit of a winning Week 1 pick. Almost all of the opening lines have moved to some degree, but I commented only on the ones I considered noteworthy. I will be back next week with some more picks, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday, and you should sign up for our newsletter on the left side of this Web site for official SurvivorPoolPicks.com weekly selections from myself and two other former Survivor Pool winners.