≡ Menu

NFL Survivor Pool Thoughts, Week 2(2016)

Last week, I decided to pick Houston at home against Chicago, which worked out (as would have the other teams I was considering: Kansas City and Seattle). As long as you didn’t pick the Cardinals or Colts, you probably advanced last week, so let’s move on to week 2:

Date & TimeFavoriteSpreadUnderdog
9/15 8:25 ETNY Jets-1.5At Buffalo
9/18 1:00 ETAt Detroit-6Tennessee
9/18 1:00 ETAt Houston-2.5Kansas City
9/18 1:00 ETAt New England-6.5Miami
9/18 1:00 ETBaltimore-6.5At Cleveland
9/18 1:00 ETAt Pittsburgh-3.5Cincinnati
9/18 1:00 ETAt Washington-3Dallas
9/18 1:00 ETAt NY Giants-4.5New Orleans
9/18 1:00 ETAt Carolina-13.5San Francisco
9/18 4:05 ETAt Arizona-6.5Tampa Bay
9/18 4:05 ETSeattle-6.5At Los Angeles
9/18 4:25 ETAt Denver-6Indianapolis
9/18 4:25 ETAt Oakland-5Atlanta
9/18 4:25 ETAt San Diego-3Jacksonville
9/18 8:30 ETGreen Bay-2At Minnesota
9/19 8:35 ETAt Chicago-3Philadelphia

There are five teams that are 6.5-point favorites or greater, but I’m way too scared of Seattle against Los Angeles or of Baltimore on the road to take either of those teams. Miami is at New England, but I see no reason to take the Patriots now when Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are not around. Save the Patriots for later.

The obvious pick is Carolina against San Francisco, especially in smaller pools. I have no hot Blaine Gabbert related takes to offer, but I am hesitant to pick such a large favorite given the size of my pool. On the very small chance that there is an upset, I would be sitting pretty, and that’s one of the ways to approach big pools. Would remaining schedule override that? Carolina hosts Tampa Bay in week 5 and the Saitns in week 1, along with the Chargers in week 14. Those games could be good times to have one of the best teams in the NFL in your back pocket. This is one of the largest spreads all year, and certainly a safe pick, but I’m going to lean away.

That leaves Arizona/Tampa Bay, along with Detroit (hosting Tennessee) and Denver (hosting Indianapolis) as large favorites. I am not desirous of putting my dollars behind Trevor Siemian (or Oakland, at -5 against Atlanta) just yet, so that leaves Arizona and Detroit.

The Cardinals bet seemed like a great one a week ago, but then Arizona lost and San Francisco won. There have been 33 games in week 2 in NFL history where the home team was 0-1, facing a 1-0 team, and still favored by 5+ points. The home teams are 25-8 (76%) in these games. Is that comforting? Maybe, maybe not. Last year, it happened 3 times, and two of those were losses!

Philadelphia lost in the opener to Atlanta, then faced a 1-0 Dallas team without Dez Bryant and was a 5-point home favorite. The Eagles lost, 20-10.

The Steelers lost to the Patriots in week 1 last year, and faced the 49ers, who surprised the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Pittsburgh blew out San Francisco, 43-18, as 6.5-point favorites.

Indianapolis lost in week 1 to the Bills, while the Jets beat the Browns. That didn’t move the needle much: at home, on MNF, the Colts were 7-point favorites, but lost, 20-7.

The previous 3 years, tho, the 1-0 host team went 4-0 (2014 Packers, 2013 Falcons, 2012 Packers, 2012 Giants for those curious). Yeah, the Cardinals looked just okay in week 1, and yeah, Jameis Winston and the Bucs looked good, but that’s not enough to scare me off of Arizona. Even if we limit things to just week 2 home favorites that were 0-1 against 1-0 teams by between 5 and 7.5 points, the 1-0 team still won 69% (18-8) of those games. That perfectly matches the win percentage (69%) of home teams in general that are 6, 6.5, or 7 point favorites going back to 1978.

You are going to want to use Arizona at some point, of course, so I could see the argument for saving them. There are still home games on the schedule against the Rams, 49ers, and Saints. So I’m starting to talk myself — despite the above — into going with the Lions. I don’t know if there will be a better week to use them. Picking against Tennessee seems pretty safe: the Titans are 3-24 in their last 27 games. And the loss at home to Minnesota was not inspiring. So I’m on the fence here: again, this may be the case where in bigger pools, it makes more sense to go with Detroit, to both save the Lions and since my hunch is more people will be on Arizona.

What do you think?

10:30 EST Sunday update:

I’m going with Detroit:


The Panthers are obviously enormous favorites — the line is up to -13 — but the future value of Carolina + the heavy ownership makes them less attractive. I am never going to pick Baltimore on the road, and as between Arizona and Detroit, the future value makes the Lions a clear pick.

  • For reference: my pool had 2,934 entries before week 1, and 521 were eliminated in week 1 (18%).

    9% of people took Arizona, 4% took Indy, and 1% each on the Falcons, Rams, Panthers, and Saints.

    37% of people took Seattle and 17% took KC, so things almost looked really, really good for those people like me who took Houston (15%). But with over 2,000 entries left, I think I need to differentiate things and go with Detroit. My bet is at least 30% — and maybe even up to 40% — of people take Carolina.

    • Richie

      3,000 entries? And I thought my 300 entry pool was big. Is this a pool among friends and acquaintances, or more of an online-type pool with strangers?

  • Roger Kirk

    I wouldn’t take Seattle vs. St. Louis either but I sure as heck would take them vs. Los Angeles even if Case Keenum is yanked for Sean Mannion or Jared Goff.

    • Richie

      haha, the St Louis/Los Angeles thing is going to be fun.

      Of course, I was listening to Bill Simmons podcast last week and his dad talked about the Patriots being the best team in the AFL. Yes, that same AFL that hasn’t existed for 46 years. LOL

    • Roger Kirk

      Bang, I’m dead …. and stupid

  • Tom

    I like Detroit against Tennessee; my fancy-shmancy spreadsheets say they should beat the Titans by 10 points.

  • In my league, the breakdown was:

    43% (!) – Carolina
    12% – Arizona
    11% – Detroit
    11% – Baltimore
    5% – Oakland

  • Well, this weekly feature did not last very long!

    • Tom

      Man, was I off on that Detroit pick as well…