Week 2 of the NFL season went much more smoothly for survivor pool participants after the Week 1 bloodbath. The Browns were the only team in the top-five most popular selections for the Circa Sports Survivor Pool to lose as the Jets had an unfathomable come-from-behind win. 13.3% of the Circa pool had the Browns last week, and 358 people were eliminated.
There are plenty of choices this week, but there are potential pitfalls all over the board to be wary of. At least a few of the big underdogs will cover and there will likely be at least one major upset – it’s the NFL. Let’s see if we can pick a winner.
Week 3 Survivor Pool Most Used Teams
Using Survivor Grid’s data, the following are the most-used teams in Week 2:
Los Angeles Chargers (-7): The Chargers are slated as the most popular team this week, and I do expect them to win at home against the Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence has quietly been much improved, but facing the Chargers’ defense will be a monumental challenge. However, there is still a chance Justin Herbert is unable to play this week. Combine that with the heavy usage and the future value for a team that I believe is one of the best in the NFL, and this isn’t the week I’m using the Chargers.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5): Like the Chargers, the Chiefs have the benefit of the extra rest following their Thursday Night Football game. However, they play a Colts team in full desperation mode that is also making its home opener. This game was previously set at Chiefs -3, and I’m buying back on the Colts +7. While Kansas City is obviously the better team, they could get caught looking ahead to a Week 4 game against the Buccaneers, and the Colts could pull off the upset at home.
Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5): The Bengals obviously are in desperate need of a win here, but I have no confidence in this team right now. The offense is broken as they have been completely incapable of moving the ball against Cover 2 defenses. Meanwhile, Joe Burrow has held onto the ball far too long and the offensive line hasn’t held up. The Jets will be in a letdown spot after their wild comeback win over the Browns, but I’m wary of this Bengals team right now.
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5): I hate using divisional games in survivor pools, and I believe the Vikings could be primed for an upset loss here. The Lions have played inspired football through two weeks, and they are clearly rallying around Dan Campbell. The offense has been humming with D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, while Aidan Hutchinson hit the ground running with three sacks last week. I’m not betting against this Detroit team right now.
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5): The Eagles will likely be a very popular selection after their impressive win over the Vikings on Monday night football, but I’m not excited about this spot. A short week road divisional game against a solid Commanders team isn’t ideal for a survivor pool selection. Could Carson Wentz get some revenge this week? It’s unlikely, but the Eagles are surging and there will be better opportunities to use them later in the season, particularly with the division they play in.
Buffalo Bills (-6): The Bills are heavy favorites over the Dolphins despite Miami’s impressive come-from-behind win over the Ravens win which Tua Tagovailoa broke out with six passing touchdowns. However, Buffalo could be in danger here in a road divisional spot on a short week. The Bills look like the best team in the NFL, and they are a team you’ll want to keep in your back pocket for survivor pool entries. This isn’t the spot to use them.
— Circa Sports (@CircaSports) September 18, 2022
My Week 3 NFL Survivor Picks
I can easily make a case against all of the highly-selected teams this week as you saw above, and sometimes in a survivor pool, you have to go against the grain to get ahead of the curve. This week, I’m doing just that, and I’m taking the Atlanta Falcons.
Yes, you heard that right. The 0-2 Atlanta Falcons. Despite their record, I like what I’ve seen out of this team so far. Atlanta has averaged 5.3 yards per play, which ranks around league average. That’s even more impressive when you consider their opponents – the Saints and Rams – were top-six in yards per play allowed last season.
The Falcons also have an offensive success rate of 47.8%, the seventh-highest mark in the NFL and higher than teams like the Rams, Vikings, Cardinals, Broncos, and Ravens. Meanwhile, the Seattle defense has allowed a success rate of 46.5%, which ranks 25th in the league, despite facing the struggling Broncos and the 49ers who underwent a mid-game quarterback change after Trey Lance’s injury.
The Falcons quietly have built up some strong talent on their roster. Drake London has 13 catches for 160 yards to start his career while Kyle Pitts is a massive mismatch and a breakout waiting to happen. On defense, the Falcons boast a cornerback tandem of A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward Jr., which is one of the best in the league.
Geno Smith has completed 81% of his passes thus far, but his aDOT of 5.2 yards is the lowest of any quarterback with at least 20 dropbacks. Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota has an aDOT of 8.6, tied for the ninth-highest. While Mariota hasn’t been as efficient, he has an EPA of 10.0 compared to 8.0 for Smith thanks to his willingness to push the ball downfield.
Sharp money has poured in on the Falcons already as their line has moved from +3.5 to +2, and I’ll be including their Moneyline in my NFL Best Bets article. Per our friends at Action Network, 56% of the bets have been on the Falcons while 91% of the money has been on that side at the time of this writing, indicating a strong surge of sharp money.
Atlanta has lost its first two games by a total of five points, and it’s set up for a win here. If you want to go with a safer option in the Chargers or Bengals, I don’t blame you. I’m flying by the seat of my pants with this pick, but I have a strong belief in the Falcons this week, and I love having the opportunity to knock out a bottom-half team early on.