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NFL betting: Week 3 survivor pool picks

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Week 2 wasn't as crazy as Week 1, but just like a Minnesota Vikings boat party, it certainly had its moments. Both of the teams we highlighted as teams to avoid ended up losing, as the Saints were pummeled in Carolina and the Seahawks squandered a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Titans in overtime.

There's only one double-digit favorite this week, but there are five other teams favored by at least a touchdown on BetMGM. Before we discuss this week's picks, let's go over our record and drop another tip to consider when making your own picks.

Week 2 picks

Best Bets: 3-0 (YTD: 4-1)

Leans: 1-0 (YTD: 2-1)

Traps to avoid: 2 eliminations avoided (YTD: 4)

Quick tip: Analyze what needs to happen for your pick to lose

The easiest thing to do when making your survivor pick is to look at that week's NFL schedule, find the biggest underdog or worst team and automatically lock in their opponent as your pick.

First of all, there's rarely a season where the biggest underdog loses every week. Secondly, you should always consider future value when making your picks. 

Most importantly, though, you should never hit the submit button without thinking, "What needs to happen for this team I'm picking against to win the game and knock my entry out of the pool?" 

This can often be answered by asking another question: "What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the team I'm picking and of the team I'm picking against?" Sometimes your team's strength will neutralize the other team's. But sometimes its weakness is the one area where the other team is strong. That's a good time to lay off that game. 

On to the Week 3 picks!

BEST BETS

Carolina Panthers (-8) at Houston Texans

If Houston QB Tyrod Taylor were playing, I'd probably be out on this one. Unfortunately for the Texans, they had to place Taylor on injured reserve after he suffered a hamstring injury in a valiant performance against the Browns. Fortunately for us, third-round rookie Davis Mills will take his place. I'm sure Mills is a fine person, but he's not a very good quarterback, as he showed when he came into Sunday's game in relief of Taylor. The Panthers defense that smothered Alvin Kamara and Jameis Winston should have no issue with Mark Ingram and Mills.

On offense, the Panthers are simply too much for the Texans to handle. Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady seems to have resurrected Sam Darnold, who has the 6th-highest QBR through Week 2. Instead of seeing ghosts, Darnold is now seeing D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Christian McCaffrey. 

Some may be worried about a letdown game in this spot, but I don't think that will happen with the Panthers playing in prime time. This is an opportunity for Carolina to show everyone just how legit it is.

Most of the Panthers' future value lies in a Week 14 home game against the Falcons, which makes this one of the best strategic plays this week. Just over 13% of survivor entries are on them.

Denver Broncos (-10.5) vs. New York Jets

After opening the season with a couple of dominating wins on the road, the Broncos return home to take on the reeling Jets. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was sacked four times and threw an equal amount of interceptions against the Patriots in Week 2. This week, he'll face a Denver team that held Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence to 118 yards passing and picked him off twice. Wilson may put it all together eventually, but I doubt it will be against this defense and it probably won't be behind a porous offensive line that's sorely missing left tackle Mekhi Becton.

If the Jets want to have any chance in this game, they'll have to tackle much better than they did last week. They missed seven tackles on a single run when Patriots running back Damien Harris danced around and rampaged through more than half of the Jets defense on his way to a 26-yard score. Broncos rookie running back Javonte Williams has the second-most forced missed tackles per carry through two weeks of NFL play, which is no big surprise after he led the NCAA last year in PFF rushing grade and missed tackles forced.

Throw in how well Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater has been playing (2nd in QBR) and this is an all-around terrible matchup for the Jets. 

Similar to the Panthers, the majority of the Broncos' future value is found in Week 14 when they take on the Lions in Denver. Forty-one percent of entries have taken the Broncos this week, far and away the most popular pick. Anyone who lays off would be in excellent shape were Denver to lose.

Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos will face the 0-2 New York Jets in their home opener on Sunday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos will face the 0-2 New York Jets in their home opener on Sunday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

LEANS

Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Do we really need to break this game down? The Cardinals offense has been a juggernaut and the Jaguars have been whatever the opposite of that is (juggernot?). 

Okay, we'll apply the "what needs to happen" question here for Jacksonville to try and analyze its best path to victory. The Cardinals' weakness is their secondary (even though it hasn't performed as badly as we originally thought it would) and the Jags have a YOLO quarterback who has been disappointing so far but was the clear first pick in the draft based on his talent. If Lawrence catches a heater, then Jacksonville could have a chance in this game. 

I don't think the Jags will win, but there are better plays on the board and the Cardinals have too much future value in a Week 7 matchup at home against the Texans and a Week 15 road game at Detroit. Seventeen percent of entries are on Arizona.

TRAPS TO AVOID

Buffalo Bills (-8) vs. Washington Football Team

Washington is coming off a long week with three extra days of rest, QB Taylor Heinicke has been playing well, and their defense has some exceptional talent even if it hasn't shown up thus far.

The Bills' 35-0 drubbing of the Dolphins had a lot to do with how often Miami kept shooting itself in the fin. Buffalo QB Josh Allen (23rd in QBR, one spot below Heinicke) still doesn't look like his 2020 self. Maybe he regains that form this game, but maybe he doesn't and the Washington defense finally plays up to the level expected of it.

With a Week 4 home matchup versus the Texans and later games against the Jaguars, Falcons, and Jets (twice), Buffalo's future value is far too rich to play them this week. Nearly eight percent of entries disagree and have locked in the Bills as their pick.

Las Vegas Raiders (-4) vs. Miami Dolphins

I want you to picture something with me. It's 8 p.m. this Sunday. Your wife asks you, "Why are you crying, honey?" You take a deep, sobbing breath and have to respond, "I took the Raiders in survivor today."

Las Vegas pulled out a magical win against the Ravens in Week 1, then beat a Steelers team that has some significant offensive problems. Derek Carr is a good quarterback, but Miami has one of the best secondaries in the league and it's just a matter of time until the Raiders offensive line, which has been shuffling around since the offseason due to free agency and injuries, implodes and costs them a game. When that happens, I won't be on them. The 5.3% of Raiders entries this week might be, though.

Tennessee Titans (-5.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts

Colts QB Carson Wentz has two sprained ankles, which is the maximum amount of sprained ankles a human quarterback can have. Even if he were to miss this game and Jacob Eason suits up (*shudder*), the Colts have a solid defense and run game to lean on and could pull this one out. 

Nearly 2% of the field has taken the Titans, whose future value include a matchup next week at the Jets and two home games against the Texans (Week 11) and Jaguars (Week 14). 

Stats provided by PFF and Pro Football Reference.