2024 NFL Survivor Pools

With all 18 weeks of the season announced, it’s never too early to start thinking about those NFL Survivor pools. Obviously everything is fluid based on injuries and we certainly saw a lot of quarterbacks go down during the 2023 season. But, it is still an interesting exercise to try to complete well in advance of training camp to get a frame of reference and start contemplating when to use a team and when to hold them back.

For those who don’t know, the premise behind a Survivor pool is easy. The execution is the hard part. You have to pick one team to win straight up each week and cannot repeat any teams. Once you take a team, they are no longer available. What that means is that you’ll need to pick 18 of the 32 teams (or more, depending on the rules of the Survivor pool you’re in – for example, the Circa Survivor requires 20 teams due to the Thanksgiving and Christmas “weeks”).


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My partner Marc Goldberg (Spooky Express) and I got down to the final 13 in the Circa Survivor contest last season. It was a learning experience of epic proportions and there are some things that we will absolutely take into this season. Some things I will share in this overall view of the upcoming 2024 season.

NFL Survivor Teams to Pick On

I think it is important to understand which teams you want to actively go against as the season begins. That is a great way to start to establish a blueprint of when you want to take a team and how to set up the season.

There will be a lot of moving parts throughout the remainder of the offseason and right on into the preseason, but here are the teams that look the weakest.

New England Patriots: First-year head coach Jerod Mayo inherits a 4-13 team and a rookie QB in Drake Maye that a lot of evaluators have had differing opinions about over the last few months. The Patriots are co-favorites for the fewest wins at +450.

Tennessee Titans: Brian Callahan’s first head coaching gig is a tricky one because he’ll have to figure out what he has in Will Levis and Malik Willis. The rest of the roster is actually pretty decent, though. I do think the Titans can be an overachiever, but they’re still clearly a team in transition. They are +650 for the fewest wins.

Denver Broncos: Sean Payton seems perfectly content with a developmental year after drafting QB Bo Nix. The only other QBs on the roster are Zach Wilson and Jarrett Stidham. Seems like a team we’d like to go against quite a bit. The Broncos are +650 for the fewest wins.

New York Giants: I actually think the Commanders (+1100 for fewest wins) will do pretty well this season. The Giants? I’m not so sure. This is still Daniel Jones’s team, despite the heroics of Tommy “Cutlets” DeVito last season. The Giants were 6-11 last year, but 4.5-12.5 by Pythagorean Win-Loss and only won one of the six games started by Jones. They are +650 for the fewest wins.

Carolina Panthers: This is just pretty obvious, right? The Panthers went 2-15 last season and didn’t pick until 32nd in the 2024 NFL Draft, where they took WR Xavier Legette. With a new head coach in Dave Canales and a QB in Bryce Young that didn’t show a whole lot of improvement as last season went along, they’re a clear fade candidate. The Panthers are +450 to have the fewest wins at DraftKings.

NFL Survivor Weekly Picks

Week 1

Bengals (-8.5) over Patriots

The biggest favorite on the board has question marks with the health of Joe Burrow, but nothing like the question marks that the Patriots come into the season with thanks to all of their changes. This is the biggest favorite role of the season for Cincinnati based on the DraftKings odds and a good place to use them.

Considerations: Seahawks (-4) over Broncos; Saints (-4.5) over Panthers

Used: Bengals

Week 2

Ravens (-7) over Raiders

Is this the optimal time to use Baltimore? Time will tell, but they don’t have a bye until Week 14 and it is a long trip and an early kick for the Raiders. Baltimore (-7) is also the biggest favorite of the week on the early lines and they have a pretty tough schedule. Perhaps Week 9 against Denver is a better spot, but I’ll take the “win now” play over the “maybe win later” play.

Considerations: Commanders (-3) over Giants; Lions (-6) over Buccaneers

By the way, while the Lions may be an optimal play here, if your contest has Thanksgiving, that is you’d have to save for the game against the Bears. The Cowboys also have to be saved facing the Giants.

If your contest has Christmas separately, the six teams are Chiefs, Steelers, Ravens, Texans, Seahawks, Bears. That’s rough any way you slice it. I would save Baltimore if you do have Christmas, though they’re hardly an attractive pick at Houston. You just want as many options available as possible.

Used: Bengals, Ravens

Week 3

Jets (-7.5) over Patriots

This is a perfect storm sort of situation. You have (presumably) a rookie QB in Maye and a rookie head coach in Mayo traveling to the Meadowlands on a short week for Thursday Night Football. There are some mental hurdles involved with taking a Thursday game for sure, but I’m not sure there’s a better spot to take the Jets.

Considerations: Browns (-6.5) over Giants; Buccaneers (-3.5) over Broncos

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets

Week 4

49ers (-11.5) over Patriots

Nothing in the NFL is truly a layup, but this is a clean look at the rim, to borrow a basketball analogy. There are a lot of other options here and it can be really tough if you start crossing off all the good teams too early. But, this one would be really hard to pass on. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this line is bigger by game week.

Considerations: Dolphins (-6.5) over Titans (MNF); Lions (-6) over Seahawks (MNF); Jets (-6) over Broncos

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers

Week 5

Because I’m thinking with a Circa Survivor mindset, since I’ll be in that contest again, this is my “official” Week 5 pick.

Seahawks (-3.5) over Giants

If Christmas is a consideration, then you have to save the Bears in this spot because their Dec. 26 matchup against the Seahawks may very well be the most attractive game by that time. It would be a short week with long travel to chilly Chicago for Seattle, so I think that’s the best option.

The Seahawks look good here, though, as the Giants would be playing a third road game in four weeks and their first game outside the Eastern Time Zone. Seattle does play San Francisco on a short week, but this is a game with expectations, so focus shouldn’t deviate.

If you don’t have to worry about Christmas…

Bears (-5.5) over Panthers

Remember, you’re going to need 18+ teams to win this thing and sometimes that means taking something that feels a little scary. Even if Caleb Williams is struggling to settle in, this is the type of game where the Bears defense has the chance to eat.

Considerations: 49ers (-9.5) over Cardinals

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks

Week 6

Packers (-5.5) over Cardinals

The Packers might be a really good team, and they are a team in action on Thanksgiving, so that has to be a consideration if your contest has that wrinkle, but this should be their biggest favorite role of the season. They have a tough schedule. Maybe they’re a bigger favorite over the Vikings in Week 3, but I feel more comfortable shying away from division games if I don’t have to use them.

Considerations: Eagles (-3) over Browns; Ravens (-8) over Commanders

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers

Week 7

Jaguars (-6.5) over Patriots

This will be one of the most popular Survivor picks of the season based on percentage of entries. It will be Jacksonville’s second consecutive week in London and a long trek for the Patriots, who may or may not be a certain degree of dumpster fire by this point. Who knows if Maye will have the job or be progressing in a positive way.

Considerations: Bills (-7) over Titans; Rams (-4) over Raiders; Saints (-3.5, TNF) over Broncos

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars

Week 8

Steelers (-4) over Giants

This is an example of trying to sneak a team through. The Steelers aren’t likely to be favored again after this game. They’re on a bye and the rest of the schedule is @ WSH, BAL, @ CLE, @ CIN, CLE, @ PHI, @ BAL, KC, CIN. It has been well-documented how brutal their post-bye schedule is. Barring a very significant injury or cluster injuries to an opponent, they’re mostly unusable. Gotta use ‘em here.

Considerations: Lions (-7) over Titans; Dolphins (-6) over Cardinals; Rams (-3.5, TNF) over Vikings

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers

Week 9

Chiefs (-7) over Buccaneers

This is Monday Night Football, so we should get Kansas City’s top-tier effort. Honestly, this is a tough week because you have the Ravens as a double-digit favorite (called for them in Week 2) and the Bengals at home against the Raiders (Week 1). This is the tough part about Survivor if you don’t have a plan. Good teams that will be favored a lot start to evaporate.

I’d give a lot of thought to the Eagles here, who are facing a Jaguars team that didn’t schedule the bye after London (Week 14 instead), so that’s a rough road for them with the Packers at home in Week 8. Also, if Christmas is a thing, the Chiefs are road favorites at the Steelers.

Considerations: Ravens (-10.5) over Broncos; Bengals (-7) over Raiders; Eagles (-3.5) over Jaguars

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs

Week 10

Chargers (-4) over Titans

By this point, I’d like to think any early-season hiccups for Jim Harbaugh’s crew have been addressed. It is a subpar spot for Tennessee with a third road game in four weeks. More than that, I think it’s the best time to use the Chargers, who will be a bigger favorite over the Broncos down the line, but this would be the best opportunity to date to use them.

Considerations: Bears (-5.5) over Patriots; Chiefs (-9) over Broncos

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers

Week 11

Eagles (-6.5) over Commanders

This is Thursday Night Football and while we don’t have a rookie head coach in Dan Quinn, we do have a first-year one and a rookie QB. As I said, I try to avoid division games when possible, but the TNF factor is a really big one here, as the Eagles have been together for a long time and the shorter prep window seems less detrimental to them than to Washington.

Considerations: Dolphins (-6) over Raiders; 49ers (-9) over Seahawks; Jets (-4) over Colts

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles

Week 12

Dolphins (-7) over Patriots

By taking the Eagles in Week 11, it keeps the Dolphins safe to take against the Patriots. Yes, it is a division game, but Miami projects to have a lot more firepower and it is easily their biggest favorite role the rest of the year and probably for the season as well. It can still be hot in November as well and one of Miami’s big advantages is letting the road team bake in the sun on the sidelines. I also avoided Miami against the Raiders the week prior because Las Vegas was coming off of a bye. It isn’t a kiss of death for a play, but it is a factor.

Considerations: Chiefs (-7) over Panthers (first away team I’ve suggested); Texans (-6) over Titans

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins

Week 13

Cowboys (-8) over Giants

Because I’m thinking with a Circa Survivor mindset, since I’ll be in that contest again, these are my Week 13 picks.

This is Thanksgiving Week. The Lions are -4 on the lookahead against the Bears and the Packers are -3 against the Dolphins. It is essential to keep Dallas until this week if you have a Thanksgiving wrinkle. Yes, I realize the Lions lost last year in a sizable favorite role, so it can and will happen, but Dallas is easily your best hope of the six teams.

Thanksgiving may also include Black Friday, where the Chiefs (-7) are an option against the Raiders.

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys

Commanders (-1.5) over Titans

If you are in a contest where there is Thanksgiving and then Week 13, this is the worst week of the season to date. The Bengals are -5 against the Steelers and the Jets are -4.5 against the Seahawks. Otherwise, the games feature short favorites, including some short road favorites. This isn’t even a byproduct of running low on teams, though you could theoretically save the Jets. I would still find Cincinnati dicey no matter what. But, this is the kind of week where the Colts are -2 at New England and the Falcons are -2.5 against the Chargers. It’s just tricky and you’ll have those.

Navigating rapids like this is how you stay alive and give yourself a chance. In this case, gimme the Commanders, who I think are going to be in a better spot than the Titans by this point. Also, Washington has the bye the next week, so they can go all out, whereas the Titans have a Week 5 bye and they’re likely to have racked up a lot of losses during a difficult season.

If Thanksgiving isn’t a thing, Dallas is the easy play.

Considerations: Bengals (-5) over Steelers; Jets (-4.5) over Seahawks

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders

Week 14

Buccaneers (-1.5) over Raiders

We’re really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel and there’s a long way to go. After playing back-to-back division games, the Raiders play an early kick in Tampa for their third road game in four weeks. Remember, we’re planning this well in advance, but you have to ask yourself – will the Raiders be playing for a little bit of draft position by this point? Players don’t tank. Teams do. So, that’s a mild consideration, but this is also Tampa’s only home game in a stretch of five games, playing the Giants, Panthers, Chargers, and Cowboys all away from the Sunshine State.

And also remember, there is no way of knowing if these odds will look like this by December, so take them all with a whole shaker of salt.

Considerations: Eagles (-7.5) over Panthers; 49ers (-5.5) over Bears; Chiefs (-6.5) over Chargers

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders, Buccaneers

Week 15

Cardinals (-3.5) over Patriots

The mind games that you have to play deciding between burning a majority of good teams early to stay alive or trying to keep them in the event that you are still surviving was one of the hardest things to deal with during our run last season. It leaves you taking teams like the Cardinals in Week 15 when the money is getting closer to becoming a reality. But, let’s be honest, this is as good of a spot as you’ll find to take Arizona during the season and I’d be okay with it if push came to shove.

Considerations: Cowboys (-6.5) over Panthers (away); Ravens (-6.5) over Giants (away)

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders, Buccaneers, Cardinals

Week 16

Bills (-8.5) over Patriots

Here’s an example of saving an above average team for a good situation late in the year. I do question how good the Bills will be, but you would still expect them to be in the playoff hunt. That means that this game should mean something and Buffalo certainly likes beating New England whenever possible after 20 years of getting kicked around during the Tom Brady era.

Considerations: Chargers (-4) over Broncos; Packers (-5, MNF) over Saints

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Bills

Week 17

Because I’m using a Circa Survivor mindset since I’ll be in the contest with those rules, these are my Week 17 picks, including the Christmas “week”.

Bears (-3.5) over Seahawks

This is the Christmas Week. None of the three Christmas options are great if you’re in Circa Survivor or a contest that follows Circa’s rules. This one honestly seems the most palatable. I wouldn’t be excited about the Chiefs on the road in Pittsburgh or the Ravens on the road in Houston. I think we’d have to take our chances with Caleb Williams in what would likely be a bad-weather game against the Seahawks. Chicago’s defense was really good after adding Montez Sweat last season and I’d find that to be the difference maker here.

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Bills, Bears

Rams (-6) over Cardinals

If Christmas isn’t a concern, you have the full menu. Well, at least with whatever you have left. In this case, the Rams are still an option for me in this hypothetical exercise. As I’ve said, division games don’t excite me in this format, but avoiding them is impossible, especially in the latter portion of the season when the schedule makers have added more of those to the mix. I presume the Rams are very much in the hunt for something here and the Cardinals are planning for next season again.

Considerations: Jaguars (-4) over Titans; Buccaneers (-5) over Panthers

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Rams

Week 18

Falcons (-6.5) over Panthers

I can’t imagine what it’s like to make it to Week 18. We came a few weeks short last year, but maybe we can rectify that this season. Having the Falcons available here would be awesome and that is the case with my hypothetical entry for this exercise. We’re all assuming Atlanta will have something to play for late in the year based on the NFC South odds. Maybe they won’t this week, but the Panthers are likely playing for draft positioning. I’d be very content to be in this spot.

I didn’t even use the Lions at any point, so they could be an option this week as well.

Considerations: Eagles (-5) over Giants; Lions (-5.5) over Vikings; Cowboys (-5.5) over Commanders

Used: Bengals, Ravens, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Jaguars, Steelers, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cowboys, Commanders, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Rams, Falcons