Week 1 NFL 2021: 3 Survivor Pool Picks

By Justin Hilbert

In our next episode of Tales of the oblong spheroid, we’ll discuss what could be one of the newest worst teams in the league going up against one of the more improved teams and the Week 1 matchups for last year’s Super Bowl attendees.

The Jacksonville Jaguars @ The Houston Texans

The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a tremendous offseason. They are doing everything they can to compete in this ever-toughening league. On the flip-side, the Houston Texans seem to be completely mismanaging their team and doing anything but improve. Which is why it strikes me as funny that when I looked up the NFL Season Odds, searching for early points spreads for each week of football, the Texans are only 3-point home dogs to the Jags.

Ok. So, the 3-point spread isn’t surprising, I should restate that. After looking up the odds, it’s the simulations that are surprising. Some top models show the Texans-Jags game to end 25-26, with the Houston Texans just barely losing.

These teams are rivals, so I believe it could be close. That said, the Houston Texans are a mess right now and I am taking the Jacksonville Jaguars to start strong with a road win in Texas.

Take the Jags for your survivor pool.

The Dallas Cowboys @ The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Another Texas vs. Florida matchup for Week 1 NFL Football. So, what’s going on with Texas? The Dallas Cowboys are also a ghost of their past selves. Of course, they should be a lot better than the Houston Texans, but I do not believe they will get nine regular-season wins like many predict.

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They start their season by traveling over to Tampa Bay to face Tom Bady, Gronk, and essentially the same Super-Bowl-winning squad from 2020-2021. If anything, I believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have more cohesion and be even better this time around.

So, it’s no surprise that the Tampa Bay Bucs opened as 6.5-point favorites in their home opener against a team that is in flux. Models show the Dallas Cowboys putting up 24 points on the Bucs but still losing by 10. I am not sure if they can put up more than 20 against this TB Bucs defense unless an extra TD comes in garbage-time play. That said, 34 points from Tom Brady’s side against a mediocre Dallas Cowboys defense sounds about right.

Take the Bucs for your survivor pool.

The Cleveland Browns @ The Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs may have it the toughest out of the ‘favorites’ in Week 1. The Cleveland Browns are my sleeper team to make a deep run into the playoffs this year. I like what they have done this offseason, and I believe that the AFC North is going to battle. The Chiefs are -6 favorites at Arrowhead Stadium in this one, but I actually think the Browns get the backdoor cover.

Why?

Cleveland has done a great job addressing their needs this offseason, which was filling the glaring holes in the defense. This team is talented on both sides of the ball and will be a tough match for any team on any given Sunday. Yes, I do think the Kansas City Chiefs will get the home win. So, you can add them to your survivor pool picks if you choose to start with the Chiefs. That said, KC went on a long run of barely beating teams. They hold a new record for win-streak by the lowest margin of victory. So, as a betting man, I really like the Browns to cover the number (+6). With Troy Hill—perhaps the best slot corner in the league—in Cleveland, John Johnson the 3rd, a top safety, and Jadeveon Clowney to point the edge opposite of Myles Garrett, Cleveland will make it tough on KC.

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Remember, with survivor pools; you can only pick a team to win, once in the season, so choose wisely!

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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