We are through the first quarter of the season for 30 of 32 NFL teams, which means we are starting to get a handle on the good and bad teams in the NFL. We get a chance to see two potential good ones on Thursday Night Football as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the New England Patriots. The week closes with the Chicago Bears hosting the Minnesota Vikings.
The open of Week 5 means it is time to look at some of the best options for NFL survivor pools. Last week saw several notable upsets, which is likely thinning the ranks of many pools. For those new to this kind of 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 very well use a heavy favorite in Week 1, but you won’t have access to them later in the year if you’re alive in the closing weeks.
There is plenty of strategy in determining which team you will take each week, and SB Nation is here to help. We have three 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 are most likely to win this week. That is followed by each writer making a pick, some reasoning for the pick, and some alternatives to consider.
Best picks: Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles
With Week 5 of the Survivor season upon us, the key word is “Pennsylvania.” The state of this week’s slate is anything but enticing, with bye weeks starting to complicate matters. So the key to surviving this week is to focus on the Keystone State. The Steelers have always shown themselves to be a better team at home than on the road, and while the Jaguars are clearly an improved team, I’m not sure they’re ready to take down the Steelers in Pittsburgh. On the east side of the state, Arizona comes off a brutal overtime game against the 49ers and travels cross country to face the Eagles. I don’t know how much future value there is with Philadelphia, so this is as good a spot as any to play the Eagles, especially with the rest of the slate looking so unappealing.
Best picks: Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings
It’s almost like the point of this game is that it gets more difficult each week. Having four good teams on bye doesn’t make it any easier. This week, I’m going with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is the second consecutive road game for the Jaguars and Pittsburgh’s defense is good enough to give Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette problems.
I was tempted to pick select the Minnesota Vikings to beat the Chicago Bears, but the Vikings are on the road and Sam Bradford isn’t a lock to play. I could see Chicago making the game a low scoring slog and earning the win at home.
Best picks: Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots
The Steelers haven’t lost to Jacksonville since 2008. They rebounded nicely from their first loss by beating Baltimore in Week 4. Meanwhile, Jacksonville lost to the Jets. I believe that the Steelers defense is going to shut down the Jaguars offense completely. Pittsburgh has allowed the third fewest points in the league. It’s going to be a long day for Blake Bortles and company. My secondary picks are Philadelphia and New England. The Eagles haven’t been dominating their opponents but they keep winning. Nothing has come easy for Arizona. I can’t see the Cardinals putting up enough points to win. New England faces a test on the road in Tampa but should easily win. The Patriots rarely lose two in a row and they’re coming off a loss. Tampa just hasn’t looked as good as expected. This game would’ve been more competitive in November or December.