The Rules of Survival: Week 6

Well, I definitely couldn’t have predicted all of those close games last week (although I did accurately predict most of the eventual winners), and I was on pins and needles hoping the team I picked in Survival would pull it out. They did, and I skated by to this week, but it doesn’t get any easier from here. Luckily for me, the Falcons could very well implode but they didn’t last week, and now I don’t have to worry about them the rest of the year.

For those who are new to my blog, this is the weekly entry about Survival Football, a contest that is either single or double elimination. You can pick any one team each week, but that team has to win to keep you in the game. It doesn’t matter if they win in overtime, if they win by 1 point or 30 — a win is a win. In single elimination you’re out if the team you picked that week doesn’t win, and in double elimination you’re out when a second team you picked doesn’t win.

The trick is that you can’t pick a team more than once during the season, which is where the strategy comes in. Here’s how I’ve fared so far this season:

Week 1: NEW ENGLAND def. Pittsburgh 28-21
Week 2: CINCINNATI def. San Diego 24-19
Week 3: GREEN BAY def. Kansas City 38-28
Week 4: SEATTLE def. Detroit 13-10
Week 5: ATLANTA def. Washington 25-19

As you can see, some contests have been a lot closer than they seemed on paper. That’s why they play the games. But the good news is that I’m perfect so far. The bad news is that the further I go in the season the less teams I’ll have to pick from. For now, though, I’m sticking to my metrics, and the team with the highest probability of winning in a given week. Now it’s time for Week 6. First I list all the home teams with their opponents. Never pick a road team if you can help it.

NEW ORLEANS vs. Atlanta
CLEVELAND vs. Denver
DETROIT vs. Chicago
JACKSONVILLE vs. Houston
BUFFALO vs. Cincinnati
NY JETS vs. Washington
MINNESOTA vs. Kansas City
PITTSBURGH vs. Arizona
TENNESSEE vs. Miami
SEATTLE vs. Carolina
SAN FRANCISCO vs. Baltimore
GREEN BAY vs. San Diego
INDIANAPOLIS vs. New England
PHILADELPHIA vs. NY Giants

Then I cross out all the home teams I’ve already used, just to tidy up. Next, I get rid of the divisional matchups because they are ripe for upsets, no matter how good one team is for the season. Rivalries bring out the best (and the worst) in teams more often than not. Finally, I eliminate home teams playing against a team that is undefeated. There is something to be said for teams having positive mojo, and I don’t want to ever mess with an undefeated.

That leaves me with a manageable 5 teams that I could go with this week in Survival Football, and narrowing down the field is incredibly important when you’re looking at so many contests per week. Now I look at the individual matchups to find the game I want to make my final pick. San Francisco won its home opener, and they looked like a possible winner last week until the Giants pulled out a stunner. Baltimore has looked miserable all season. But I don’t trust either one of these teams to come out ahead in this one.

The Kansas City-Minnesota game seems like a trap to me. The Chiefs just lost Jamaal Charles for the season, and they just gave up a huge lead at home to the Bears, but something tells me they fight through that adversity. I’m just not sold on the Vikings yet, and my season won’t hang on this game. Arizona might not be undefeated, but that Pittsburgh defense is giving up yards and points by the handful. I don’t trust them, so the Steelers are out.

That leaves me with the Jets, in a battle with the inconsistent Redskins, and the Titans vs. what has been to this point an abysmal Miami defense. So who has the highest probability of winning? The easy measure to look at is wins and losses. The Titans are 1-3, and the Jets come in at 3-1. Both are well rested, so my money is on the team that plays in New Jersey to definitely win this week. Let’s hope they don’t have to take it to the wire to accomplish the feat like my last two teams did.

Happy Surviving.

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