After “Black Sunday” in Week 3, Week 4 in the NFL went pretty much as planned. Many second-chance pools opened up across the country, giving Survivor Pool players new life. There were only three upsets during Week 4, and most of those matchups were ones smart Survivor players stayed away from. So far, every other week we have seen things go crazy only for the next week to be straightforward. If the pattern holds, this week should see many more upsets. Looking at the NFL Week 5 opening lines, this does look like a semi-tough week for pool competitors.
This week there is one big double-digit favorite on Thursday Night Football and then four other matchups with lines around seven points. Every week in this space I will look at the NFL opening lines, normally on Monday or Tuesday, and try to eliminate teams that I’m not interested in using for the week. At that point I will have compiled a pool of possibilities to use for the week and then will do further research in order to come up with picks. Since I was knocked out in Week 3, like most of America was, by the Bills win over Minnesota, I am in a second-chance pool. So, I have a pretty fresh set of teams, although I ended up going with Jacksonville last week so they are now out for me. At the end of this article I will list my Top 3 teams in order that I am considering using for Week 5.
Every week in my Opening Line Report I will look at mostly favorites of 3.5 or higher and give my analysis on whether I think they are a viable Survivor Pool pick or not.
Week 5 NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Opening Line Report
New England -10 vs. Indianapolis: This will likely be the most popular pick in most pools. The Patriots have had somewhat of a rocky start to the season (we are getting used to that). But they looked to be back in a major way in a home blowout of the previously-unbeaten Dolphins. That game was never in question. New England welcomes back WR Julian Edelman this week as his suspension is over and he is healthy, but Rob Gronkowski missed practice yesterday and his status is questionable for Sunday. Although I am probably breaking one of my Survivor Pool early-season rules this week by picking a road team, an even bigger rule is to stay away from Thursday games. I don’t trust teams that have not had a full week to prepare. And with the Patriots’ inconsistent play thus far, they are even harder to trust. I am throwing this game out from consideration.
Tennessee -3.5 vs. Buffalo: Let’s get one thing out of the way quick: I think the Titans are way overrated coming into this game, and I don’t think this club is anywhere near a playoff team this year. They have been winning close games, but they also won some against teams (Houston and Philly) that are off to slow starts this season. They did win at Jacksonville, and that is very impressive, but the Jags scored only six points, and you aren’t going to win many games scoring nine points on offense. I don’t trust this team on the road against any team, not even the Bills. Buffalo was everyone’s favorite fade team until they shocked the Vikings in Minnesota. I was never one that would fade them blindly anyways, but that Vikings result sure scared me off from thinking of this team as the same type of fade the Browns have been the last couple years.
Carolina -7 vs. New York Giants: This looks like a solid Survivor Pool pick for Week 5. This line is smaller than the New England line, but I like this matchup a lot more. It goes to show you that you shouldn’t always take the point spread at face value. Bookies set their numbers so that they get equal action on both sides of a matchup (in theory) so that they can make money off the vig with no risk. The Panthers are coming off their early bye in Week 4. They have quietly played well to start the season at 2-1. They have a very tough and road-heavy schedule the next few weeks, so they need to win this game. The Giants do have some talent, but this roster is uneven and they are being held back by the declining skills of QB Eli Manning. This line opened at 5.5 and sharp bettors jumped on the Panthers at that number, so that is a good sign if you are backing Carolina this week.
Cincinnati -6.5 vs. Miami: I think that this line is a bit of an overreaction to the Week 4 Miami/New England result just like the double-digit line in the Patriots game on Thursday. I do like Cincinnati this season and think they can compete for a division crown with Pittsburgh seemingly down. But I am not ready to give up on Miami, and I think they are a decent team as well. They got behind early against the Pats and then things kind of snowballed. Like the Vikings came back and played well after that game against Buffalo, I think Miami will be very competitive here. I don’t know if I could go as far to say that I think they will pull the upset, but I do think a close game could go down to the wire.
LA Chargers -5.5 vs. Oakland: This line seems fishy to me. The Chargers haven’t had the hot start they expected, but they have played well overall against a tough schedule. They have played so much better than the Raiders, however, and Oakland should really be 0-4 right now. I thought this line should be around 7.5 or higher, and in my mind Los Angeles is the superior team. Maybe it’s because of all the Raiders fans that will be at the game, or maybe oddsmakers think that the Raiders will build off last week’s win. I don’t see it happening. This Chargers team will definitely be in my pool of considered teams this week.
San Francisco -4.5 vs Arizona: I am sure there are those out there that like to fade the Cardinals every week. At 0-4 that has been a very successful strategy thus far. I think the Niners are a much better team overall, but not enough to risk my Survivor Pool life on them at this point of the season. If this is Week 16 or 17 and you are very limited on options, then maybe this is a solid pick. But at this point of the season there are much better options available.
LA Rams -7 at Seattle: This is my favorite play here for Week 5. I am pretty sure I am going with the Rams on all my Survivor Pool cards this week. I had already used the Rams on all my cards of the pool I was knocked out of, but they are unused in my second-chance pool. This team is going to lose three games max this season, barring major injuries, and this team is solid almost any week of the Survivor Pool season. They seem to be on a mission to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They are not going to have any problem kicking their rival when they are on a down season. This pick goes against some of my early-season rules of avoiding road teams and divisional matchups, but I think this line should be closer to double digits and I just flat out think that this is the safest pick for Week 5.
New Orleans -6.5 vs. Washington: This is my third-favorite pick of the week behind the Rams and Panthers. The Redskins, in my opinion, are better than those two teams’ opponents. But the Saints players should be hyped as heck for this one since Drew Brees has a chance to break the NFL passing record here. I think the team will rally behind him for a big win, and I will probably be laying down money on the home team against the spread in this one also.
NFL Week 5 Survivor Pool Picks Top 3 Teams: