For the most part, people made it through week 1, with the top choices of Pittsburgh and Buffalo easing into the second week.
That doesn’t mean everyone came through unscathed. New England and Houston also were choices and failed to live up to the Survivor Pool expectations. Week 2’s slate of games feature far more friendly spreads, with multiple games displaying more than a touchdown spread.
But be careful. This is still professional football, so while it may not look like some teams will be competitive this season, only four teams since 1944 have ended a season winless. Bad teams win games in the NFL, so nothing’s a sure bet.
Here’s my week 2 Survivor Pool picks.
Teams Used: Pittsburgh
I’ve tried to back away from this pick since I watched Sunday’s games. It seems too easy. The Jets opening the season with back-to-back road games, with one of those contests as a cross-country trip to California. And it just so happens that same New York team is tanking in 2017 and couldn’t move the ball in week 1 against Buffalo.
And the Raiders showed in week 1 why they would be a competitor once again in the AFC West, winning on the road against a super-hyped Tennessee team. Oakland not only competed well on offense, but the defense looked to be improved.
Oddsmakers are pegging this contest to to be in the two-touchdown range, putting the spread at minus-14 in favor of Oakland.
Despite the major fanfare, I still have some reservations. The Raiders won a big road game in week 1 in 2016 and came home in week 2 and laid an egg. At the time it was surprising, since the loss to Atlanta looked like a bad loss. Little did we know how good Atlanta would become.
And while the Jets are really bad, I’m still concerned with Oakland’s defense. One game isn’t going to sway my thoughts on the liabilities we were concerned about entering this season.
Even with my hesitation, I’m still backing the Raiders. Derek Carr is good enough to make sure Oakland doesn’t come down to its opponents. I like the Jets to cover the two-touchdown spread, but I’m willing to risk my Survivor Pool life on the Raiders.
Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks
I don’t love the slate of games as much as Vegas does. My other two choices for this week fall on the shoulders of the Ravens and Seahawks.
Baltimore lines up with the anti-Cleveland strategy employed last year. Cleveland is better, but DeShone Kizer in his first road start against the best defense in the NFL spells disaster. Baltimore’s offense isn’t very good, so there’s some risk involved in this pick. But I don’t see the Browns going on the road and doing much of anything offensively against that pressure. It’s relentless and Baltimore is going to win plenty of games because of it.
The Seahawks actually make me a little more nervous, despite the 14-point spread. Despite the drubbing in week 1, I anticipate the 49ers will be better than people believe. It may take a few weeks, but look for some improvement during the first few weeks. I also believe San Francisco can the run the ball, so that may hinder Seattle’s ability to get off the field. Even with my concerns, though, it’s a pretty safe pick. Seattle is really good at home and the defense is good enough that Seattle should get a “W” in the win column.
Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots
All of these games have at least a six-point spread. And all of them make me nervous.
The Bengals are going to lose Thursday night, so that would be a mistake. Cincinnati’s offense isn’t good and the Texans will rebound from a disastrous week 1 to show why they will compete once again for an AFC South title. They were shell-shocked in week 1 and Jacksonville was able to capitalize on some miscues to score. You can’t depend on that week-to-week, so don’t be surprised if the Texans make this a far more competitive game and come out the outright winner.
Carolina is facing its former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. The Bills aren’t as good as Carolina, but the former coach is coming back to town with a team feeling disrespected. That’s a recipe for disaster, so I’m not touching that game with a 10-foot pole.
The Cardinals looked old in week 1 and can’t win away from home in a different time zone. The last time Arizona won in a different time zone was Dec. 20, 2015. Indianapolis is terrible, but Arizona looked old and outgunned in week 1 against a Detroit team that I don’t expect to be a playoff-caliber team. That doesn’t instill confidence in the Cardinals.
And finally, the Patriots could be a semi-popular pick based on New England not wanting to start 0-2. The Patriots have little competition in the AFC East and they’re coming off another Super Bowl win. They’re human and to think they’re not exactly ready to go for the regular season in the first few weeks isn’t out of the question. New England has lost before in the early going and still been one of the best teams in the NFL. That could be the same case this year, especially with going on the road in a tough environment against an offense that can exploit a defense with holes.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. To see more, check out Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH