We had another “Black Sunday” for Survivor Pool players during Week 3 of the 2018-19 NFL season. The Vikings lost to the Bills on Sunday, and this was one of the most popular and picked Survivor Pool teams of all time. The upset marked the biggest betting favorite to lose outright in 23 years. More than 75 percent of respondents in our weekly poll picked the Vikings for Week 3, and that ratio was reflected in the results of my live pools as well. For those that avoided the Vikings, there were even more pitfalls. The Redskins upset the Packers as a home underdog. The Titans shocked the Jags in Jacksonville. The Texans fell to 0-3 after losing to the NY Giants at home. And the Lions blew out the Patriots at home in the Sunday Night Football matchup.
When all was said and done, only a handful of players remained in most Survivor Pools across the nation. Those that are still alive can see the finish line in the close distance. For the rest of us, we will be looking to join second-chance pools in the next couple of weeks.
I took the Vikings on all my cards in multiple pools. I did a study a couple years ago that found that 10-point or higher NFL favorites won at a rate higher than 80 percent. But we have already seen two of those big favorites in the first three weeks of the season, and both of those teams lost outright. The Vikings loss was shocking, to say the least. I wasn’t able to watch much of the game, but to me it looks like they got punched in the mouth early and then just gave up. A performance like this tells me this team might not be a legit Super Bowl contender. But I am pretty sure they will give a much better effort in Week 4, and I have already bet on them getting what I think is too many points at the Rams on Thursday Night Football.
Even though many players are out of their pools, I will continue to provide my Opening Line Report looking at the initial released lines each week. At the bottom of each article I will give my Top 3 teams I like heading into the week. Here I normally look at favorites of 3.5 points or more, and I will give analysis for each matchup.
NFL Survivor Pool Picks Week 4 Opening Line Report:
LA Rams -6.5 vs. Minnesota: The Rams still look like the best team in the NFC and maybe all of football. These Thursday night games normally favor the home team with the short preparation time. But after that pathetic performance by the Vikings on Sunday, we feel they will give their best effort in this matchup. It’s possible – and very likely – that Minnesota was looking ahead to this game (and that Bills game was sandwiched between this matchup and the grudge match with Green Bay). I think this will be a close game. Those alive in their pools have probably used the Rams already, anyways, but second-chancers will likely consider this game. I would pass on this one.
New England -7 vs. Miami: We are getting used to slow starts from the Patriots, but something doesn’t look right this year. Could we be seeing the end of a dynasty? Miami is now 3-0 after beating the Raiders at home on Sunday. This looks like a very public line, and I will be betting the underdog in this one. I think that this will be a close game, and there’s no way I would pick the Patriots in this matchup right now. I need to see some consistent good play from this team before I back them in my Survivor Pool.
Atlanta -5.5 vs. Cincinnati: The Bengals played pretty well in their Sunday loss at a desperate Panthers squad. This team seems to be performing above expectations to start the season, while the Falcons are a disappointing 1-2 after an OT loss to the Saints. I don’t see the Falcons falling to 1-3, and they have to be very focused on getting the win here Sunday. They are the better team in this matchup and at home. I would feel comfortable picking Atlanta this week, although I feel there are better matchups out there for Week 4.
Green Bay -10 vs. Buffalo: I recently said that I would not blindly fade the Bills this season as I thought they could win two or three games. Well, Sunday was a perfect example of that. Sometimes even a dominant opponent will fail to show up for a game like the Vikings did on Sunday. And, as the Jets are a perfect example of last season, the projected worst team in the league is sometimes better than everyone thinks. I still think this Bills team is trash, but they will come into this game with a lot of confidence. Win this one, and they are in the playoff hunt in the AFC. Seriously. Green Bay has looked inconsistent thus far, but they have received no help from the refs with some horrible calls the last couple of weeks. I am lukewarm on the Packers for Week 4. However, with a lack of very good Survivor Pool options, they are my third-favorite pick for the week.
Jacksonville -7.5 vs. NY Jets: The Jags lost a 9-6 stinker at home to a Titans team that just has their number recently for whatever reason. I don’t think this Jags squad is going to lose many games this season. So, they are in a prime spot for a bounce back here. However, RB Leonard Fournette didn’t play on Sunday and is questionable here. I think he is the most important player on this offense, and I will be watching his progress throughout the week. Word is that he was close to coming back on Sunday, so hopefully he will be good for Week 4. If that was the case I would feel very comfortable picking the Jags this week.
Philadelphia -4 at Tennessee: The Titans have been finding ways to win. The Eagles have looked somewhat shaky to start the season. They are 2-1 but could just as easily be 0-3. This is a team I don’t trust against a plucky opponent and as a road favorite. I will be passing on this matchup for Week 4.
LA Chargers -10.5 vs. San Francisco: The Niners worst fears were realized on Monday when it was confirmed that QB Jimmy Garoppolo is out for the season with a torn ACL. While every NFL team has talent, there are some, like the Colts as an example with Andrew Luck, where losing a star QB can be the difference between a playoff contender or a three- or four-win team. That is likely the case for San Francisco, which was a no-hoper until Jimmy G came to town. The Chargers have had a super tough schedule to start the season, but they have one of the easiest schedules in the league from Week 4 on. We will see if this team is a playoff contender in the next few weeks. I expect them to pass this test with flying colors.
Kansas City -4.5 at Denver: The Chiefs have historically had lots of trouble in Denver. Kansas City is the best team in the AFC through three weeks, and I read on ESPN that they have a 75 percent chance to win the division now. But this is a road game and a rivalry matchup, and I have no doubt they will get Denver’s best effort. There will be better spots to pick the Chiefs in the coming weeks where they play at home more often after a road-heavy start to the season.
Top 3 NFL Survivor Pool picks Week 4:
No. 1 LA Chargers over SF
No. 2 Jacksonville over NY Jets (only if Fournette plays)
No. 3 Green Bay over Buffalo