We are finally here! Week 1 of the 2015-16 NFL season starts Thursday night as the defending champion New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL opener. While many of you are probably seeing this blog for the first time, we actually went live right around the time the Super Bowl was being played. We have worked hard all summer building the site and are excited to finally be reaching an audience. And, of course, our goal is to help you win your pool.
In this weekly article I will give three top picks and three games to stay away from along with honorable mentions for each section. We will publish an exclusive newsletter each week on Thursday or Friday, and you can get our official picks from three former Survivor Pool winners delivered straight to your inbox. You can find the sign up link on the bottom of our weekly poll on the left side of this blog. And don’t forget to vote in the pool as this is a great tool for Survivor Pool players to find out who will be the most popular picks each week.
2015 NFL Survivor Pool Picks Week 1
Three to Follow
New England vs. Pittsburgh: Brady is back! And for my money that makes the Patriots the strongest pick on the board for Week 1. I think the whole “Deflategate” mess will have Brady and his teammates motivated big time. Actually, I am not too hyped on the Patriots this season as a whole and think that they will have a Super Bowl hangover like so many former champs before them. But this game is Brady’s chance to give a big “F You” to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I normally avoid playing Thursday games in my Survivor Pool because of the lack of preparation teams get and the uncertainty that can cause. I think the Steelers are a bit overrated and expect Brady to carve up this weak defense. I was really struggling to find a good pick for Week 1 until the Brady suspension was overturned, and now they are the clear top choice in my eyes. Don’t get too fancy and try to take a risk in Week 1. I think New England gives us the best chance to advance this week!
Denver vs. Baltimore: The Broncos were going to be my main pick before the Patriots QB situation was solidified. I still think they will win this game. QB Peyton Manning should be as healthy as he will be all season. They are at home against a non-division opponent. The Ravens are a good team, but I think the Broncos are a step above. And they are normally very good at home. I play multiple cards and am in multiple Survivor Pools. I may still use the Broncos on some secondary tickets, but I no longer think they are the best pick on the board. But I still think Denver takes care of business here.
Tampa Bay vs. Tennessee: This one is a battle of rookie QBs. Not too excited about putting your entire Survivor Pool season on the back of a rookie QB? Neither are we. But with so few solid options for Week 1 we have to consider the Buccaneers here. Besides the QBs I think Tampa Bay has a much better overall team than the Titans do. They are at home in a non-divisional game, so they check off several of the boxes that I look for when making my Survivor Pool picks. This one is a bit of a gamble, but if you take them and Tampa Bay wins you will have a leg up on your competition right out of the gate because there may not be another good spot to take this team at any point in the season and you will have saved some better teams like Denver and New England for later in the season. But as we always say, “never save teams because they will do you no good if you are out of the pool!”
Honorable Mention: New York Jets vs. Cleveland
Three to Avoid
Green Bay at Chicago: Look, for an NFL rivalry this one has been about as lopsided as it can get with Green Bay dominating for the last 5-6 years, normally in blowout fashion. But this game starts off with some warning signs: mainly because the Pack are on the road and playing their biggest rival. This will probably be another rebuilding year in Chicago, and a win here would be the highlight of the season. The Bears are going to give everything they have in this game in front of the home fans. Will it be enough? Probably not. But I just have had a bad feeling about this game and have decided I will not use the Packers at all. I know in the last section I just said never save a team for later in the season. But the Packers will have much better spots in the coming weeks at home. And it is easy for me to save them in this situation because I was not all too excited about taking them in the first place!
Cincinnati at Oakland: Notice a trend here with these Week 1 Survivor Pool picks? The teams I like are at home, while the teams I want to avoid are on the road. In my weekly betting column I advised a pick on Oakland getting +3.5 points. I just think this will be a very close game and think the Raiders can definitely pull the upset. Cincinnati is normally not the same team on the road, and this squad just looks like one that might take a step back this season while I think the Raiders will be much better in 2015. Cincinnati is a very shaky Survivor Pool pick for Week 1, and I would recommend to stay far, far away.
Dallas vs. New York Giants: Finally a home team on the avoid list. Dallas was only 4-4 at home last season while going 8-0 on the road. With the loss of their great running back I think this team regresses this season. Plus, this one is a division rivalry. I think the Giants will make a game of this and have already bet them at +6.0. I think they will cover the line, and an upset is not out of the realm of possibility. Dallas always seems to underachieve in the face of high expectations (last year when the public gave up on them they finally played to their potential). I think that will be the case this season as well.
Honorable Mention: San Diego vs. Detroit