Week 5 came very close to being the “chaos week” that knocked out the majority of survivor pool contestants, but it was not to be as many of the biggest favorites pulled out nail-biting comeback wins. As it was, favorites went 12-4 SU, but only one of the top eight favorites lost outright, as the Raiders (-215) lost at home to the Bears. Between our four safest picks, three risky plays, and one contrarian play last week, those teams went 8-0, which means survivor pool contestants almost assuredly advanced to compete in Week 6 if they had entries still alive last week.
Is chaos coming this week? This is the first week with bye weeks, as a 14-game slate instead of a typical 16-game slate means fewer teams to choose from. In addition, the road team is favored in eight of the 14 games, which will likely force survivor pool contestants to use teams on the road when they otherwise typically avoid that strategy.
Like last week, my selections for this week will be broken down into the following categories: safest picks, riskier plays that will be popular, and contrarian plays to beat a large pool. Even though survivor pool rules say you cannot pick the same team twice, I will outline multiple scenarios if bettors wish to navigate their own path.
Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their matchups in Week 6 (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
Indianapolis Colts (-550), Los Angeles Rams (-550)
In our six weeks of this column this season, we have never offered less than three “safe picks.” However, this week there is no reason to look past either the Colts or Rams. The good news is that given their tough schedules this year, most survivor pool contestants likely have both teams available.
The Colts are coming off a short week playing after having played on Monday night against the Ravens, and they are just 1-4 to start the season. While the Texans showed fight in almost upsetting the Patriots at home last week, they have been a much different team on the road this season. Houston has been outscored 71-21 in two road games this year, and Davis Mills still does not look capable of beating a good team on the road at this stage of his career, despite becoming the first rookie quarterback to throw three or more touchdowns against New England since 2012. Indianapolis is playing their first home game since Week 2 and will be hungry to get their first home win after losing their first two games to two of the NFC West’s best teams.
Though they have identical odds to the Colts, one could argue that the Los Angeles Rams are the safer play this week. The New York Giants were decimated by injuries in their loss to the Cowboys, as Daniel Jones (concussion), Saquon Barkley (ankle), and Kenny Golladay (knee) all could not finish the game. Even if Jones and the others are cleared to play this week, the Rams are a bonafide Super Bowl contender with three extra days to prepare for this game, having last played on Thursday night. Furthermore, three of Los Angeles’s four wins have come by more than one possession, and even a fully healthy Giants roster would likely not have been able to pull an upset in this game.
Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-310), Kansas City Chiefs (-260), Green Bay Packers (-230), Miami Dolphins (-162)
While Tom Brady is the most accomplished quarterback of all-time, many will still be surprised to learn that last week’s win over the Dolphins was his first career game with 400 or more passing yards and five or more passing touchdowns. Tampa Bay makes our risky play section because this is a road game on a short week against an Eagles team that is riding high after a comeback win on the road. While the Buccaneers have won their last two home games by an average of 25.5 PPG, they are just 1-1 on the road and could be 0-2 if not for New England missing a potential game-winning field goal two weeks ago.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the second of last year’s Super Bowl participants to make the risky pick section. While there is no shame in losing to the Ravens, Chargers, or Bills, the Chiefs are still an under .500 football team that is impossible to trust at the moment. Patrick Mahomes is likely licking his chops at the opportunity to face a Washington defense that has allowed 29 or more points in four consecutive games. However, until Kansas City’s defense proves it can stop somebody, we want no part of risking our survivor pool lives on them against a Washington team capable of an upset.
The quarterback mismatch is significant in the Week 6 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 11 touchdowns to just one interception during the Packers’ four-game losing streak, while the Bears have rushed for more yards than they have thrown for in each of their last four games. However, the Bears are 3-1 in those games and have won three in a row. This game is in Soldier Field, and while it will take the best game of Justin Fields’ young career to pull the upset, he is certainly capable.
The Miami Dolphins face a Jacksonville Jaguars that became the second team in NFL history to lose 20 consecutive games, joining the 1976-77 Buccaneers. However, the Dolphins have lost four straight games and could be 0-5 if the Patriots did not fumble late on their potential game-winning drive in Week 1. There are rumors that Tua Tagovailoa could return from a rib injury this week, which would be a welcomed sight as Jacoby Brissett has not played well in his absence. However, we prefer to wait and see how Tua responds to the rib injury and how limited he is, even if he does return.
Contrarian Play To Beat a Large Pool
Pittsburgh Steelers (-200)
For the second consecutive week, the Pittsburgh Steelers make our contrarian play section. The Steelers catch a huge break this week facing the Seattle Seahawks without Russell Wilson, who will miss 4-8 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated finger. Backup quarterback Geno Smith has plenty of weapons at his disposal with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. However, Pittsburgh’s defense stepped up to the challenge last week in holding Denver to 19 points. The Seahawks rank 31st in stopping the run, allowing 145.2 yards per game on the ground. The Steelers ran for 100+ yards for the first time last week, and they are 18-0 in their previous 18 games when running for 100 or more yards as a team. If their running game is productive once again on Sunday night, recent history says they will be tough to beat.
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