NFL Week 1 survivor pool picks: Safest bets, games to avoid and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Welcome to Week 1 of the NFL season, where hope springs eternal.
Every team (aside from the Los Angeles Rams) is undefeated, and everyone participating in a survivor pool has aspirations of being the last person standing. The slate is clean -- but things can get messy quickly.
What makes knockout pools so difficult -- and so entertaining -- is that they necessitate risk-taking. Sure, you could pick Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, and you'll probably advance to Week 2. But since you can't pick the Chiefs again, your options will be more limited going forward.
So, which team should you pick in Week 1? The ideal scenario is finding a club that you feel is good enough to handle its business this weekend but not good enough to be a favorite to win on a weekly basis. At end of the day, however, the goal is to "survive," so if there's a team you're very confident in, there's something to be said for just making the pick regardless of that team's 2022 outlook.
Below are our knockout pool picks for Week 1, featuring three safe bets, two under-the-radar picks and two games to avoid (All lines from PointsBet Sportsbook).
Sure, the Jets had a good 2022 draft. Yes, there's a possibility of a Joe Flacco Revenge Game as he takes on his former squad. But let's be honest: The Jets aren't winning this game.
Expect Odafe Oweh and the Ravens' front seven to wreak havoc on New York's offensive line while Baltimore controls the pace via the run game on offense. You should feel very good about taking the Ravens here.
Outside rookie running back Dameon Pierce, there's not much to get excited about in Houston. On the other side of the ball, 2021 NFL rushing yards leader Jonathan Taylor should have a field day against a Texans defense that ranked 31st against the run last season.
Oh, and if you're worried about this being a divisional trap game: The Colts are 7-1 against the Texans in their last eight meetings.
Fun fact: The Giants haven't won a road game in regulation since Dec. 6, 2020. They should win more than four games this season, but there are still questions about their run defense, especially if edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (doubtful with a knee injury) can't suit up.
Expect a steady diet of Derrick Henry as the Titans roll to a Week 1 win.
There's plenty of buzz surrounding Josh McDaniels and the offense in Las Vegas, but the Raiders will only win games if they can get stops. Those stops might be hard to come by Sunday in Los Angeles against Justin Herbert and a loaded Chargers offense.
The Chargers are also out for revenge after Las Vegas shut them out of last year's playoffs in Week 18. We'll take the home team in this one.
Are the Eagles being overhyped? Possibly. But they're still good enough to beat the Lions, who despite all of Dan Campbell's bluster have one of the NFL's least talented rosters.
Even if Detroit's offense manages to score some points, its secondary will be exposed by Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia's pass-catching 1-2 punch of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. If you're not buying the Eagles as a legitimate NFC contender, they should be your Week 1 pick.
It's A Trap!
The Seahawks probably won't win many games this year with Geno Smith at quarterback. But you'd best believe Pete Carroll's team will treat Week 1 like the Super Bowl and do everything in its power to spoil Russell Wilson's Seattle homecoming.
Dating back to 2006, the Seahawks are 10-2 at home on Monday nights. Save your Denver pick for later in the season.
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) vs. New England Patriots
It's tempting to take the Dolphins here. The Patriots' offensive issues might take several weeks to iron out, and they've beaten Miami just once in their last five trips to South Florida.
But just consider that Bill Belichick went 6-0 against first-year head coaches last season and gets the fresh-faced Mike McDaniel in his NFL head coaching debut this Sunday. We'll pass on the fish for this week, thanks.