The 2016 football season is upon us, and that means all sorts of options for exercising our skill as football prognosticators. People will take part in fantasy football and pick ‘em contests, but Survivor pools are growing in popularity. For those new to the contest, a Survivor pool involves picking one team each week that you think will win. If your team wins in Week 1, you can make a pick in Week 2. If your team wins in Week 2, you can make a pick in Week 3, and so on. The catch is that you cannot pick a team twice. You could use a heavy favorite in Week 1, but that precludes you from using them later in the season.
There is plenty of strategy in determining which team you will take each week, and SB Nation is here to help. We have experts providing rankings for each week, and then some thoughts on weekly strategy. First up, we have a consensus ranking of all 32 teams, and which is most likely to win this week. That is followed by each writer making a pick, some reasoning for the pick, and then some alternatives to consider.
Editor's update (post-TNF): If you went with the Cincinnati Bengals, congratulations! If you did not, Washington remains your best bet against an awful Browns team. Cleveland hung with Miami last week, but look for Washington to be better prepared for the Browns.
If you are looking for something potentially a little safer than relying on Washington, Arizona at home strikes us as a solid play. They lost an embarrassing one to the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, but look for a strong return home. Yes, they lost to the New England Patriots at home, but the Los Angeles Rams are most definitely not the Patriots.
|7||New England||vs. BUF||8||6||9||7|
|9||San Diego||vs. NO||15||10||4||9|
|19||NY Jets||vs. SEA||20||19||25||16|
|20||San Francisco||vs. DAL||22||22||20||19|
|21||Kansas City||@ PIT||19||17||22||27|
|22||New Orleans||@ SD||16||21||27||22|
|25||NY Giants||@ MIN||26||24||21||25|
|27||Tampa Bay||vs. DEN||27||26||29||20|
|28||Los Angeles||@ ARI||28||28||24||30|
Cincinnati Bengals over Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins nearly knocked me out of the game last week as they struggled to contain the juggernaut known as the Cleveland Browns. This week, I’ll be picking against the Dolphins and choosing the Cincinnati Bengals as my survivor team. The Dolphins aren’t a good squad and they are traveling on a short week to face a pretty good defense. Crazier things have happened, but I think Jeremy Hill runs all over the Fins en route to victory!
Washington over Cleveland Browns: Basically any team playing the Browns right now seems like a good option for anyone in a survivor pool this season. So for Week 4, that team would be Washington.
It is a matchup between the NFL’s second-best passing offense in Washington and a Cleveland pass defense that ranks toward the bottom of the league so far this year. This also may be the safest time to use Washington for this season as their remaining 2016 opponents just seem too risky to bet against.
The Bengals (vs. Dolphins) and Cardinals (vs. Rams) both seem like two more logical choices for this week. But saving these two teams for later in the season may be a better idea than using up a win on them early in the year.
Cincinnati Bengals over Miami Dolphins: Week 4 presents us with our first week with no clear favorite, which is great if you want to see your pool thinned considerably -- as long as you're on the right side of the thinning. Making this week even more challenging is that arguably the safest play -- if there is such a thing -- plays on Thursday night, which is almost always a trap day in survivor contests. Last week's survivor darling, Miami, looked atrocious in squeaking past Cleveland, and now they draw a competent Bengals team that ought to be able to hold serve at home. This might be a good spot to use the Bengals, as the majority might look to avoid the Thursday trap, even if the matchup is promising. As for the weekend, the masses seem to be targeting Washington against the Browns. This feels a bit like Russian Roulette. At some point, Cleveland is going to win a game. Do you want to be the one who picked against them when they do?
Arizona Cardinals over Los Angeles Rams: It's desperate times for Arizona, as they enter this matchup behind Los Angeles in the standings. Arizona will be playing at home and is heavily favored to win. They have one common opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Arizona blew out Tampa Bay, while Los Angeles barely held on for a close win. I believe the Arizona defense will dominate the Rams offense. Arizona will fix some things on offense and score enough to put the game away safely. I also like Cincinnati on a short week against Miami and Washington at home against the winless Cleveland Browns.