September 8, 2012
NFL survival pools have become more and more popular over the last few years, but nothing is worse than being the one guy in the group who crashes and burns in week one. After all, who wants to wait another 52 weeks to make their next pick?
With that being said here are five favorites to avoid in week one. Though not all of these teams will lose, each has enough question marks around them or their match up to steer you towards a more solid bet for survival.
1) Kansas City Chiefs vs. Atlanta Falcons (+3)
The problem with picking in a survival league for the first few weeks of a season is that you have no idea exactly how good a team is going to be. By around week four or five most teams have set their stall out for the season, they are what they are if you will. Week one however is a different story and the Chiefs are one of those blinking red danger teams that should steer you away from the Falcons this week.
IF Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki are healthy, IF Dwayne Bowe has caught up after missing most of camp, and IF Peyton Hillis refinds his form from two years ago in Cleveland, Kansas City has more than enough firepower to take down Atlanta. Add in the fact this game is at the always uncompromising Arrowhead and it would be wise to stay off the Falcons this weekend.
2) New York Jets (+2.5) vs. Buffalo Bills
The Jets/Bills class is this week’s game which makes you wonder why exactly the favorites are the favorites. The Jets struggles throughout the preseason have been well documented and though the fake football season is essentially meaningless no team looked worse. It is hard to imagine New York simply being able to flip the switch and go out on Sunday with any combination of Sanchez and Tebow resulting in victory. For that reason alone stay away from the J-E-T-S.
3) Denver Broncos (+1.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
To be honest the AFC West is just about the most difficult division to forecast in the NFL for 2012. You can make an argument for every team winning the division, and you can make just as strong an argument for each team to finish bottom of the pile. The issue with picking the Broncos in this game stems from not knowing how well Peyton Manning will hold up against a Steelers defensive front which is going to pressure him all day. Add in the fact that the Denver offensive line still has some issues and the school of thought that says Willis McGahee’s big year was due to the Tebow factor and you have another game to stay away from.
4)Baltimore Ravens (+6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This is one of those hunch games more than anything else, but something about Baltimore just doesn’t feel right entering the season. I don’t know if it concerns about the age of key the Ravens key defensive personnel or a blind faith in what the Bengals are building, but I think this game has the chance to be the statement upset of the weekend in the NFL. In Joe Flacco’s four years as a Raven he is 5-3 against the Bengals, while both contests last year went to the Ravens by less than a touchdown (and two point conversion). The addition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis from the Patriots is a little under the radar, but he is a proven back with very little wear and he will keep the Baltimore defense honest enough to Andy Dalton to prove year one was no fluke.
5) Minnesota Vikings (+4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
This game is interesting because in many ways these two teams come into the season as mirror images. Both will have their All Pro running backs see little action as Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout and Adrian Peterson’s torn ACL have them behind the curve. Both teams will be starting second year first round pick quarterbacks with high expectations and thus far limited returns. Both are in a division races that they will not win this year. This game will come down to which makeshift backfield can run the ball better, over the course of 60 minutes Rashad Jennings and MJD will do enough to carry the Jags home.