Judging by the size of most NFL Survivor pools, we should be talking about the halfway point of the season or maybe even further along than that. It is only Week 4 and there are a lot of entrants on the sidelines already. This week brings the largest favorite we’ve seen, but it is tough to feel entirely confident in any team with the way things have gone.
While there is a handful of games that have big spreads, most of the lines are hovering right around the key number of -3. Contestants have slim pickings this week, unless they want to gamble and hope that one of the obvious teams goes down. Given how the season has played out, it could very well happen.
GAMES TO CONSIDER
Green Bay Packers (-10.5) over New England Patriots
It will be the Axel Edward Brian Hoyer show for the Patriots against the Packers, as Mac Jones will be sidelined indefinitely with a gnarly high ankle sprain. Hoyer started six games in 2017, but has only played in 15 games since -- with two starts to his name in that span. He has 102 pass attempts over the last four seasons with a 5-5 TD:INT ratio.
Jones wasn’t playing that well with five interceptions in three games, but this is a noticeable downgrade, as the line move indicates. The Packers were supposed to be about a 6.5-point favorite, but have moved out to double digits -- and this line could very well go higher by kickoff.
The Packers are 2-1, but they’ve had their issues. Aaron Rodgers has had a hard time developing a rapport with some new faces and the defense hasn’t been very successful at stopping the run. Green Bay has only scored 48 points in three games (and scored on only 25% of offensive possessions), but has also only allowed 45. This game looks like a major defensive struggle, but the Packers easily have the better quarterback and team.
This may also be the last time to take Green Bay. The Packers face the Giants in London next week and opted not to take their bye week this early. They’ll take on the Jets at home in Week 6, which may seem like a great spot to take them, but they will be coming off the overseas trip.
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have played two pretty flawless games back to back, with wins over the Colts and Chargers. They’ll take on maybe the most impressive team in the NFL to date in the Eagles – and have to do it in Philadelphia. Doug Pederson’s return to Philly will be a huge story here, but another story will be how well these two teams have played.
Despite that, the Eagles are favored by almost a touchdown. Philadelphia’s three outstanding performances to this point have altered the perception of this team in a big way. Survivor players that keep moving on will have better chances to take the Eagles. They’ll be a big favorite in Week 6 against Dallas and a big favorite off the bye against the Steelers at home in Week 8. They play the Texans in Week 9 and then face the Commanders on extra rest in Week 10 on Monday Night Football. Given that Philly was about a touchdown favorite against Washington on the road last week, we’ll likely see them a double-digit favorite in that home tilt. There are safer spots to play Philadelphia, but as one of the biggest favorites of the week, they get a mention.
Detroit Lions (-5.5) over Seattle Seahawks
One of the things to keep in mind about Survivor contests is that you need to pick at least 18 different teams to win. There are only so many really good teams to go around, which means saddling up with some middle-of-the-road squads. The Lions are 1-2, but they’ve lost to a really good Eagles team and a Vikings team that looks to be better than last year’s version.
Detroit could very well have beaten Minnesota last week. The Lions had two missed field goals and a turnover on downs on a fourth-and-1 with 3:35 left and a three-point lead. This week, the draw is a Seattle team that I find to be the worst in the NFL. They’ve been outgained by 0.9 yards per play and just allowed over 7 YPP to the Falcons. Seattle has allowed 303 more yards on defense than it has gained on offense. Opponents are scoring on almost 52% of their possessions, while the Seahawks have only scored on 32% of their own.
Seattle’s offense is actually overachieving in two areas. The first is that Geno Smith has completed 77.5% of his passes … and that won’t continue. The second is that this subpar offense is third in the NFL in third-down conversion rate at 48.6%. In other words, the Seahawks should be even worse than they’ve been.
The Lions face Hoyer and the Patriots next week, but on the road. Detroit’s next big favorite role won’t be until Week 17 hosting the Bears. It’s almost now or never for the Lions, and I choose now, with the hope that Bill Belichick pulls a rabbit out of his hat and eliminates a good chunk of the field with an improbable Patriots win over the Packers.