Survival Mode: Week 1

jay-cutlerI hate the Bears. Okay, I don’t hate the Bears, but I have absolutely no love for them. That’s because they went and lost a game they had no business losing, and in doing so they doomed me to mediocrity in Survival Football two seasons ago. Then last year they went and won a game they had no business winning and hurt me from the other side. I just can’t win with the Bears, so I should probably stop picking games they’re involved in. Of course I can’t do that, which is I guess a good thing because it means I still have every team to pick from this season in Survival.

What is Survival Football anyway, you ask? Well, to win at Survival Football the objective is to pick one (1) winner a week. Easy, right? The trick is that you can only pick each team once, so once you’ve used them you can’t again for the rest of the season. It takes a strong gut to pick from week to week sometimes, but it can be incredibly rewarding if the season’s winding down and you’re still perfect on selections.

There are two different kinds of Survival Football.

  1. Single elimination
  2. Double elimination

Single elimination means what it says. The second you pick a team that doesn’t win you’re out, and you get to say “better luck next year,” that old refrain of the Brooklyn Dodgers of long ago. In double elimination you have better odds because you get to make one wrong choice and keep playing. You’re done only when you’ve selected a second team that also loses. In double elimination you can still only pick a team once each year, even if they lose on the week you pick them. So tread lightly.

Here is some advice to remember before you select each week:

  • Pick the team that has the biggest possibility of victory.
  • Avoid the timeless tactic of “saving teams” (not picking a team because you want to choose them later in the season). You might not get to that point if you try and save them now.
  • Do your best to pick home teams.
  • Beware “trap games” (when a matchup looks too good to be true. It often is).
  • Never wait until the last minute to make your selection.

The main point is to pick the team that has the biggest possibility of victory each week, but make sure that it’s a home team. Home teams have a higher probability of victory, no matter who the home team is, and no team is so bad this year that they couldn’t win a home game on any given Sunday. So stick to a team at home, and pick the team that has a better than even chance to win.

For week 1 I like to choose a team that went to the playoffs last year, playing against a team that didn’t, playing at home. That narrows the selections down to:

KANSAS CITY (hosting San Diego)
HOUSTON (hosting Chicago — there are those pesky Bears again)
SEATTLE (hosting Miami)

Then I eliminate division games because those teams know each other too well, and rivalry is very real. Whatever advantage one team might have over another one usually gets wiped out in the battle that becomes a divisional contest. That leaves me with Houston and Seattle. If I follow my own advice earlier and avoid the Bears (this week anyway) my pick will be Seattle against the Dolphins.

Next, I think about the other factors surrounding the game. A new head coach in Miami, playing in the Pacific Northwest where the 12th Man reigns, playing against arguably one of the top two defenses in all of football.. it’s a no-brainer. Seattle should win this one handily. They’re my pick for Survival, Week 1 because they have the biggest probability for winning.

It’s that simple.

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