Welcome to the start of the NFL season and what hopefully becomes the beginning of bragging rights against all your friends in your survivor pool. If you need a strategy primer, check out my article from last week on how I analyze the options each week.
Now let’s take a look at the survivor pool grid for this week. To those who are uninitiated, the Bet Labs simulations look at the winning chances for all 256 games throughout the NFL season and display those percentages here.
Note: This table is best viewed on a computer, not your phone.
While there are theoretically 32 options this week, we can trim that number down quite a bit. There are currently seven teams getting more than 1% of picks this week.
Here’s the key data to know about them:
The ESPN and Yahoo columns show the pick percentages from those two sources, giving us a good idea of how all pools will end up. The Games Left column shows how many games each team has left with a projected win percentage of 70% or more.
The Saints are the biggest favorite on the board and are the most picked team for Week 1. This will be common each and every week, and we will try to avoid taking this team, if possible.
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The Ravens are the second-most popular choice and with good reason.
They are going against a Bills team starting a quarterback best known for throwing five interceptions in one half of football. With Hard Knocks pulling some bettors onto the Browns’ bandwagon, the Bills will be a popular fade all season.
The Packers are more than touchdown favorites at home, but the grid above shows some easier games on the schedule that I would rather wait for.
You can say the same thing about the Steelers, although I imagine a lot of those picking Pittsburgh haven’t been paying attention to line movement as the Steelers are only four-point favorites.
Fewer than 10% are taking the Lions at home even though Detroit is going against a rookie quarterback in his very first start. Then again, the Sam Darnold hype is strong so you can understand why some people are scared off of Detroit.
Roughly 3% of pool picks are taking the Vikings and Rams this week. Both are good contrarian options, but as two of the top five teams in the league, they will have much better spots later in the season. It’s a pass for me on both.
You could also go extremely contrarian with teams such as the Patriots or Titans, but don’t think it’s worth it to burn either team this early, especially New England, which has a league-high nine games remaining with at least a 70% projected win percentage.
The Pick: Detroit Lions
Detroit has the same win percentage as Green Bay and is just a few percentage points behind New Orleans for highest of the week. This is projected to be the easiest game of the year for the Lions, so there is no incentive to hold on to them for later.
Fade the Darnold hype on Monday night and root for some big upsets on Sunday to knock out a big chunk of your fellow competitors.