There are millions of people out there who play in NFL survivor pools. These are very popular at work and at sports bars from around the country. The object is to pick one winner a week and to be the last person standing. Different pools have different rules. Some will only allow you to pick a team once, while others let you pick a team multiple times. Also, some are single-loss elimination, while others allow you to have multiple losses before you can be eliminated.
I am going to go through every week and list six teams that are worth a look in your survivor pool. I will separate them by Tier 1 (two best options), Tier 2 (3rd & 4th best options), and Tier 3 (5th & 6th best options). This way, for those of you who can only pick a team once throughout the season, you will have several different teams to choose from.
I have now gone 52-8 on my top four survivor pool choices the past 15 weeks. I went 3-1 on my top four last week with my top two choices winning on the Patriots and Packers, along with a winner on my 4th choice on the Cowboys. Unfortunately, I lost my 3rd choice on the Seahawks and my 5th and 6th choices on the Chargers and Titans, respectively.
Surprisingly, Week 17 only has only one double-digit favorite to choose from. Make sure you know all of the playoff scenarios before making your picks this week. Motivation and which teams are resting starters are very important to keep up on. With that in mind, here are my survivor pool picks for Week 17 with my reasoning.
1) New England Patriots – The Patriots need to win to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they lose, then the Raiders could take over the top seed with a win. They’ll be motivated. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have clinched a playoff spot and have no need to try in Week 17. As a result, they’ll be resting starters, especially on their banged-up defense. The line reflects both of these factors as the Patriots are 10-point road favorites and should roll.
2) Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks blew a golden opportunity last week to earn a first-round bye with their loss to the Cardinals. However, I fully expect them to bounce back in this game as 9.5-point road favorites over the lowly 49ers. The 49ers are 2-0 against the Rams this season, but 0-13 against everyone else. They could still get the top pick in the draft if they lose this game and the Browns beat the Steelers. I look for the Seahawks to right the ship here and beat the 49ers going away.
3) Washington Redskins – The Redskins just need to win and they’re in the playoffs. They picked up a huge blowout victory at Chicago last week to stay alive, and now they got a gift because the New York Giants don’t care about this game. The Giants are already locked in to the No. 5 seed in the NFC and have nothing to play for. They will be resting their starters and getting ready for the wild-card round. That is also reflected in this line as the Redskins are 8-point favorites. I expect them to take care of business here and punch their tickets to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
4) Atlanta Falcons – What a gift the Falcons got last week when the Seahawks lost to the Cardinals. Now, the Falcons only need to beat the Saints to get the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. That should re-energize a team that is playing as well as anyone, beating their last three opponents by an average of 24 points per game. The Falcons beat the Saints 45-32 earlier this season in New Orleans and should hang another big number on this poor Saints defense. It’s worth noting that Atlanta has allowed 19 or fewer points in four of its last five games as well, playing as well as it has all season defensively. The Falcons are 6.5-point home favorites here.
5) Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs still have a shot at the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. They need to beat the San Diego Chargers here and then get the Raiders to lose to the Broncos on the road, which is very possible. I expect the Chiefs to take care of their end by beating the Chargers as 5.5-point favorites. This is a San Diego team that has clearly quit after losing to the Browns on the road last week. No team has been hit harder by injuries than San Diego. They are just a mash unit right now and don’t stand much of a chance of being competitive in this contest.
6) Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals showed a ton of fight last week in beating the Seahawks on the road. There has been little fight shown by the Rams all season. They have lost six straight with four of those defeats coming by 16 points or more. They had a chance to win last week, but blew a 14-point lead in the 4th quarter to fall to 0-2 against the 49ers this season. Arizona is a 6-point road favorite here. Home field has meant little in this series as the road team has won four straight. I think that streak extends to five in Week 17.
Note: If you’ve used all six of these teams already and need more, my extra picks would be as follows: 7th – Bucs, 8th – Steelers, 9th – Eagles, 10th – Vikings.