Here we are at the start of another NFL season, and it’s time for me again to provide suicide (aka survivor) pool picks for you – free of charge!
In my first year doing this, I went 50-16 (76%) on my suicide pool picks and 163-93 (64%) on the whole NFL schedule. Last year I slipped a little – to 48-19 (72%) and 160-96 (63%).
Like the Eagles, I’ll blame the shortened training camp.
This year, in the early going, the key is to not be too risky. There are always a few teams which surprise you with how poorly they are playing or how well they are playing. You want to survive those first few weeks, even if you have to burn a few good teams from the list of 17 you’ll need to run the gauntlet.
Another way of putting it is that picking a team you expect to go 8-8 over a team you expect to go 5-11 isn’t a very sound strategy, because a role reversal is highly possible.
With that all in mind, here we go:
1. Saints over Redskins
I know the Saints are a risk with several coaches and players serving Bountygate suspensions. But I really think that will affect their defense – which wasn’t all that good to begin with – much more than their offense. The Saints should cruise at home – where they are dominant – against an inept Washington offense.
2. Texans over Dolphins
Houston is my pick to win it all this year. I know Mario Williams went to Buffalo and Demeco Ryans came to the Eagles, but the Texans are still a top-5 defense in the NFL and should give Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill fits. Houston also protects leads well with Arian Foster’s running game, and they should have an improved aerial attack as well, after injuries at QB and WR took their toll last season.
3. Eagles over Browns
I don’t generally like picking road teams as recommended picks in a suicide pool, and the Eagles don’t have a very good track record against the AFC. The Saints or Texans should be plenty to get you through week 1, though I think picking against the Browns, who may well be the NFL’s worst team, is something a lot of people will do this season.
4. After telling you that two picks were plenty and even throwing in the Eagles for a third pick, I’m loathe to keep going. I don’t think the Bears are as good as people think, and it doesn’t help that Brian Urlacher is complaining about his knee (though he may very well be sandbagging us). Even though the line says Chicago is the second biggest favorite on the board, I would rather see how top pick Andrew Luck does before I start picking playoff bubble teams to consistently beat the Colts. I’m also believing that the Rams under Jeff Fisher will be a better team than last year’s Rams under a much more recent Eagles assistant (Steve Spagnuolo), so I’m not too sold on the Lions as a recommended pick, even though I think they’ll win.
So for my 4th pick, while I generally don’t like picking divisional games, I do like how the Baltimore Ravens play at home, and I think they’ll handle the Bengals, who many think overachieved last season.
(4. Ravens over Bengals)
Rest of week 1:
NYG over DAL
CHI over IND
DET over STL
NE over TEN
ATL over KC
JAX over MIN
BUF over NYJ
GB over SF
AZ over SEA
CAR over TB
PIT over DEN
SD over OAK