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A NFL survivor pool is a wonderful thing. Much like sports betting, it gives casual fans something to cheer for when they don’t have the time for fantasy sports. As simple as it sounds to pick one winner each week, there is a lot more that you must consider.

I will discuss point spreads, ownership rate, injuries and weather on my way to helping you decide which team you should choose for your pool. I’m going to give a multi-faceted approach that will give you several options for each week, based on your level of risk tolerance. This is My NFL Survivor Pool Guide – Week 1 Edition.

As a side note. The League Winners are also running a Writer’s Only Survivor Pool as a control group. You can find the group here to follow along. I will make reference to the pool in this series and will provide updates to show how we are personally playing each week. After all, you can’t trust our advice, if we don’t follow it ourselves.

NFL Survivor Pool – The Heavy Favorites

Baltimore Ravens, 36.23 ownership (-10.0) vs. Houston Texans, 0.21% ownership: The Baltimore Ravens are the definition of a sure thing. A perennial contender vs. a bottom-feeding team that will be starting a rookie quarterback and many youthful skill position players. If you want safe, pick Baltimore. The downside here is that Baltimore will surely be the most heavily owned team in Week 1, as Houston will be an often-targeted opponent. Risk= 0

Washington Commanders, 22.28% ownership (-7.0) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 0.22% ownership: For the Washington Commanders to be 7-point favourites in Week 1, it should be an indication of how bad the Arizona Cardinals are going to be. This is one of my preferred teams this week, as the Commanders’ name is likely to scare off some of the action. The Cardinals are terrible. Pick against them often, including this week against a Washington team you may not be able to use anywhere else this season. Risk = 1

Kansas City Chiefs, 9.68% (-6.5) vs. Detroit Lions, 0.31%: The fact the Kansas City Chiefs are less than a touchdown favourite at home against the Detroit Lions should tell you how overhyped the Lions are currently. Sure, they may be the Cinderella of the 2023 season, but let’s not get carried away. The Chiefs should win this one easily. They should be heavily owned this week, but the Lions hype train may scare off some players, making them a sneaky value. Risk = 3

Minnesota Vikings, 9.83% ownership (-6.0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 0.18% ownership: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gone from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield. While the Minnesota Vikings may not be as good as their 2022 record would indicate, they are good enough to handle Tampa Bay at home with little effort. Risk = 4

NFL Survivor Pool – The Sneaky Value Picks

Seattle Seahawks, 2.36% ownership (-4.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams, 0.16% ownership: The Seattle Seahawks are only laying 4.5 points to a far inferior Los Angeles Rams team because of the memory of two years ago team. These are two teams on entirely different trajectories. The Seahawks are my pick of the week and will make quick work of the lowly Rams, who are likely to be without Cooper Kupp. The Seahawks are not likely to be among the highest-owned teams this week due to a divisional matchup. They are, however, a sneaky, safe pick. Risk = 2

Philadelphia Eagles, 2.72% ownership (-4.5) vs. New England Patriots, 0.07% ownership: The defending NFC Champions are only favoured by 4.5 points over the New England Patriots. This is insane considering how far apart these teams are in talent. Whether it be fears of a Super Bowl hangover or simply respect for Bill Belichick, this one is not a close one. Take the Philadelphia Eagles and watch them roll. The downside is that the Eagles figure to have high ownership, despite the relatively close spread. Risk = 3

Jacksonville Jaguars,6.1% ownership (-4.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts, 0.14% ownership: Another playoff team that kicks off their season against a rookie quarterback. The Jacksonville Jaguars have an impressive, high-flying offence, and the Indianapolis Colts are without their best weapon. It’s a divisional matchup so that scares some players away, but have no fear. The Jags are the far better team. The only risk here is that Anthony Richardson proves to be vintage Cam Newton in his first NFL game. Highly unlikely. Risk = 4

Denver Broncos, 0.57% ownership (-4.0) vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 0.4% ownership: On paper, the Denver Broncos should win this one easily. Unfortunately, after 2022, nothing is safe. The Broncos are already dealing with a long list of injuries and tend to play down to their competition. Denver should dispatch the Las Vegas Raiders with little effort, but who knows which Broncos team will show up? Risk = 5

The Upset Special

Pittsburgh Steelers, 0.3% ownership (+2.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers, 0.86% ownership: An up-and-coming Pittsburgh Steelers team at home against a stacked roster does not seem to be favourable for Pittsburgh, but it will all depend on how improved they are. This one is risky and is not an easy ask for the Steelers, but it’s certainly possible. The main reason for suggesting this is the real possibility of Brock Purdy laying an egg as he struggles through injury. The possibility of the San Francisco 49ers starting Sam Darnold also makes this possible, but risky. Risk = 8

Green Bay Packers, 0.23% ownership (+2.0) at Chicago Bears, 0.79% ownership: The Green Bay Packers are 2-point underdogs despite this game being more like a pick’em. The only reason the home Packers are getting points is the uncertainty surrounding Jordan Love and the young receiving corps. The Chicago Bears may have Justin Fields and DJ Moore, but what they don’t have is a usable offensive line or any other weapons. Take the underdog Packers at home and hope Justin Fields doesn’t rush for 200 yards. Risk = 5

New York Giants, 0.15% ownership (+3.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys, 0.6% ownership: This should be a close game and could go either way. Personally, I just like the New York Giants better all around, despite their poor record against Dak Prescott. Prescott seems to get worse every year and I’m not sold on Tony Pollard. If you wanna start out with a risky pick, give this divisional battle a chance. Risk = 7

Carolina Panthers, 0.25% ownership (+3.5) at Atlanta Falcons, 1.41% ownership: Both these teams were terrible last year and both will start unproven quarterbacks. There is much hype around the Falcons’ trio of young offensive weapons but the Panthers’ defense is highly underrated. I like the Carolina Panthers to win this one straight up, even with a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut. Risk = 5

The Must Avoids

New York Jets, 0.28% ownership (+2.5) vs. Buffalo Bills, 0.9% ownership: If it were for the buzz around Aaron Rodgers, this spread would likely be much wider. I don’t think there is any realistic chance for the New York Jets to stay competitive against Buffalo, let alone win outright. I back the Buffalo Bills and will be avoiding the Jets’ hype train at all costs. Risk = 9

Los Angeles Chargers, 0.29% ownership (-3.0) vs. Miami Dolphins, 0.2% ownership: The Los Angeles Chargers have been a perennial favorite that never seems to get over the hump. At this point the talent difference between these two teams is negligible. This one could go either way in what figures to be a high-scoring shootout. Regardless of which team you prefer, I’d like to avoid this coin flip. Risk = 10

Cincinnati Bengals, 1.4% ownership (-2.0) at Cleveland Browns, 0.17% ownership: The Cincinnati Bengals are the better team, but what the Cleveland Browns are is still uncertain. They have more than enough talent to pull off an upset and the spread would indicate that the Bengals are anything but a lock. The Bengals will be a useful team throughout the season, take them in a more opportune spot. Risk = 5

New Orleans Saints, 0.53% ownership (-3.5) vs. Tennessee Titans, 0.17% ownership: The New Orleans Saints are favoured in this one despite being, by all accounts, a total dumpster fire. The Tennessee Titans are on the edge of a rebuild, but in Week 1 they will still be in win-now mode. No Drew Brees, no Sean Payton. Add in Derek Carr and then factor in the absence of Alvin Kamara and the questions surrounding Michael Thomas and this one is likely to go to the Titans. Risk = 7 

Aaron’s Picks

The Safe Play: Baltimore Ravens (-10.0)

The Sneaky Play: Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)

The Longshot: New York Giants (+3.5)