NFL Survivor picks for Week 8
After a very light week in terms of NFL Survivor choices, those that have a lot of teams to choose from have a good number of options in Week 8. Most contestants still alive in their pools sided with the Seahawks last week and they came through with a win over the Cardinals. This week, there are several favorites of six or more points, but how many of those teams are available to you?
As I’ve talked about before, the art and the challenge of a Survivor pool is knowing that you have to take at least 18 of the league’s 32 teams and there are only so many really good teams to go around. Your list of remaining teams, much like mine for the article, may feature more risks than you are willing to take, but it is what it is now and it’s about doing all the deep diving and the research to see which team you’re going into battle with on a given week.
The “entry” for this article is still alive after taking the aforementioned Seahawks last week. The other picks have been the Commanders (Week 1), Bills (Week 2), Chiefs (Week 3), 49ers (Week 4), Dolphins (Week 5), and Rams (Week 6). I’ll play it out the right way until I lose and then shuffle all the teams back into the deck for the purposes of the article.
NFL Survivor Picks to Consider
The Patriots pulled the upset last week over the Bills to knock out a decent chunk of contestants, but lightning may not strike twice. Bad weather didn’t help Buffalo and New England found a way to exploit a Bills defense missing Matt Milano, Tre’Davious White, and others.
The Dolphins have more weapons to attack vertically, which is which Buffalo was unable to do. Miami also has a lot more offensive balance, as head coach Mike McDaniel has gotten good production from the backs and the receivers. Miami is the biggest favorite on the board and therefore worthy of consideration, especially coming off of a loss to the Eagles.
Truth be told, all of the league’s top teams seem to be in consideration every week. It feels like they’ve all played fairly light schedules to this point. Kansas City has another one here against Denver, as the Chiefs lay over a touchdown in the Mile High City. Denver has given up twice as many points as the Chiefs have on the season, which will happen when you give up 70 in one game, but the Broncos are a mess and Sean Payton doesn’t have the tools necessary to fix it.
Opponents have scored on 50.7% of their possessions against the Broncos. They’ve scored on 25% of their possessions against the Chiefs. Just by that efficiency metric alone on defense, it is really hard to see Denver able to keep pace and even hang in there with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and the rest of Andy Reid’s offense. Kansas City is also second in Pressure% and we’ve seen enough of Russell Wilson in the face of pressure to know that he can’t really handle it anymore.
I am very, very tempted to give this one a shot this week. Both teams are coming off of the bye and CJ Stroud is way more advanced than Bryce Young at this point. While the Texans are all rowing in the same direction, the Panthers are spinning circles in the lake. Head coach Frank Reich has not had a good poker face in press conferences when asked about the QB position and about taking Young. It will be asked a lot this week.
The Texans have had issues running the ball, but rank sixth in Dropback EPA and 13th in EPA/play. The Panthers are 27th in EPA/play and Dropback EPA. To make matters worse, Carolina is 30th in EPA/play on defense and has the worst run defense in the league by Rush EPA. The pass defense has played better, but Texans OC Bobby Slowik has had two weeks to dig into this one and I like Houston’s chances a lot as a field goal favorite on the road. Houston has scored on 42.4% of their possessions, while Carolina has scored on just 29.2% of them.
Houston does host the Cardinals (Week 11) and Broncos (Week 13) later this season, so they may be a better option later.
This is where it gets really hard. If you have to keep Thanksgiving in mind because of the rules in your contest (like the Circa Survivor), then it may be tough to take Detroit. But, it is really hard not to like the Lions here. The Raiders may be going with Brian Hoyer or Aidan O’Connell again. Even if they go with a compromised Jimmy Garoppolo, this is a Lions team that is coming off of an embarrassing loss against the Ravens and ready to bounce back.
Detroit is ninth in EPA/play and Las Vegas is 23rd. Defensively, the Lions took a big hit last week with what the Ravens did to them, but they’re still a league average defense in EPA/play and yards per play. The Raiders have done well on a yards per play basis, but rank 27th in EPA/play and have the second-worst run defense in the league by Rush EPA. The Lions just seem to have too many weapons for the Raiders to keep up and we just saw Vegas get rolled by the Bears with Tyson Bagent at QB.
To think about the equity of your current position, take the remaining number of entries and divide by the size of the prize pool. That’s how much each entry is worth now and you can compare that to what you started with. For example, if you are alive in Circa Survivor, your $1000 entry is now worth just shy of $7500.
In that context, the idea of putting $7500 on the Chargers moneyline in any game coached by Brandon Staley is rather terrifying, no? But, the Chargers are home on Sunday Night Football against Tyson Bagent and the Bears. Justin Herbert is better than Brian Hoyer and the Chargers are better than the Raiders if we want to compare to last week. This is still a top-10 offense by EPA/play. Of course, the Chargers defense has some ugly numbers, but they’ve played the Dolphins, Titans, Vikings, Raiders, Cowboys, and Chiefs, so there are some good offenses in there.
What may be the deciding factor this week is when you can use a team again. The best chance to use the Chargers is here, but they do still have a home game left against the Broncos in Week 14. I wouldn’t say there is another ideal spot to use them.
NFL Survivor Pick for Week 8
The Ravens are favored by over a touchdown on the road, implying that they would be a double-digit favorite at home against the Cardinals. I don’t see much of a home-field advantage for a bumbling Cardinals bunch that is now 1-6 on the season. I guess the potential return of Kyler Murray could be a motivating factor for the Redbirds, but it seems unlikely that he will play and even less likely that he’ll come back and look like the player he can be.
The only teams in the top 10 in EPA/play on offense and defense are the 49ers, Chiefs, and Ravens, so they’re in some pretty elite company. Arizona is down to 24th on offense and 29th on defense. Surely you can worry about a letdown with the Ravens after destroying the Lions, but they’re clearly the better team and John Harbaugh is an excellent coach.
As great as Baltimore is and could be, the remaining schedule does not lend itself to obvious spots to take them. Beginning with Week 9, the Ravens host Seattle, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, go to LA to play the Chargers, have the bye, host the Rams, visit the Jaguars and 49ers, and then host the Dolphins and Steelers to finish out the season.
All of those teams are clearly better than the Cardinals and many are dramatically better. To me, this is the best week remaining to take Baltimore. I cannot say that as definitively about the Lions and I’d rather not trust Staley unless I absolutely had to.