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Survivor Pools - Week 1

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Welcome to the 2009 NFL Season! It is a fresh start not only for all 32 NFL teams vying for the right to play in Super Bowl XLIV, but for you in your survivor pools! Week 1 is one of the toughest weeks of the season since many teams have not formed an identity yet. Look at the 2008 Falcons and Dolphins, who both exceeded expectations and made the playoffs last season. You will see many people “saving” the top teams in the league for future weeks. While it is important to look ahead at the upcoming schedule, you must advance the current week first. Survive and advance …

 

For those of you that have read my column over the past few years know that there are some guidelines I try to follow in my selection process each week:

 

1) Stay away from road teams.

2) Stay away from divisional matchups.

 

Sometimes you have to break the rules and take a road team or a team in a divisional matchup. For example, the Patriots at home or the Lions on the road are instances where this does not always apply.

 

However, unless I have no other options, I will never take a road team in a divisional matchup. For example, taking the Chargers in Oakland in Week 1 is tempting, but I’m staying away. I understand the Raiders hosted the second game of the MNF doubleheader in 2006 (lost 27-0 to SD) and in 2008 (lost 41-14 to DEN), but it’s a divisional battle on Monday Night Football and there is a greater chance for an upset.

 

With that said, let’s preview the Week 1 games:

 

Week 1

 

Thursday Night Football

 

Titans @ Steelers – They began the Thursday Night Kickoff in 2002 when the Giants hosted the 49ers. The 49ers are the only road team to win the Thursday night opener. While there have been six straight home wins, I will not be taking the Steelers as a lock to beat the Titans. These teams are too similar and the game could go either way. I like Pittsburgh to win, but would not risk this game in a survivor pool.

 

Sunday Games

 

Jaguars @ Colts – Divisional game. I’m not as high on the Colts this year as in previous years so I will not be taking them until I see them play a few games.

 

Lions @ Saints – Sounds like a no-brainer as the Lions go into the Superdome after an 0-16 campaign a season ago. New Orleans was 6-2 at home last year and they’ll be facing a rookie QB. Vegas will have them close to a two-touchdown favorite and I expect them to be the most popular Week 1 selection.

 

Eagles @ Panthers – This should be a good game as the road team is actually favored mainly due to the injuries the Panthers are dealing with. Avoid in survivor pools.

 

Cowboys @ Buccaneers – The Bucs have a lot of questions, but I’m not risking a pick on a road team in Week 1. Avoid.

 

Jets @ Texans – A couple of weeks ago, I liked the Texans a lot in Week 1. I know it is only preseason, but then I saw Mark Sanchez and the Jets defense look all right. I still love Houston this year and think they will win this game, but I would not be shocked if the Jets pulled it out, especially considering their upcoming schedule. The Jets face the Patriots and Titans in Weeks 2 and 3.

 

Chiefs @ Ravens – The Ravens should be able to handle the Chiefs in a low scoring affair. This could be a boring, slow game, 20-7 type game where the Ravens never seem to pull away, but the Chiefs never had a chance. If KC is without Matt Cassel, that adds more incentive to take Baltimore.

 

Broncos @ Bengals – If Carson Palmer is back and healthy, Cincinnati should put up big numbers Week 1. Denver is a mess at QB and WR, but I don’t have enough faith in the Bengals to begin my survivor season.

 

Vikings @ Browns – I am staying away and wouldn’t be shocked if the Browns pulled the home upset with all the focus on Brett Favre. The only thing holding me back from declaring the upset is my lack of confidence in Eric Mangini.

 

Dolphins @ Falcons – A game of opposites as the high-powered Falcon offense takes on an improved Dolphin D. The Falcons should handle Miami at home, but they are not worth the survivor pick.

 

Redskins @ Giants – You should never touch an NFC East battle. These games are always h ard-fought.

 

49ers @ Cardinals – The Cards open up at home after a great run in last year’s postseason. Will the Super Bowl loser suffer a hangover? I want to watch Arizona a few weeks before taking them.

 

Rams @ Seahawks – The second of the two NFC West battles. I know the Cardinals are the defending NFC Champions, but I do not trust any matchup with the combination of these four teams from the West.

 

Bears @ Packers – A great Sunday Night opener in Lambeau field that you will avoid.

 

Monday Night Doubleheader

 

Bills @ Patriots – The team I have the most confidence in is the New England Patriots in Week 1. I know this is a divisional matchup and Tom Brady is making his first start since last September’s injury, but I trust Bill Belichick at home. I am not worried about “saving” the Pats either since I just want to get past the first week.

Chargers @ Raiders – See the introduction. The Raiders hosted the second game of the MNF doubleheader in 2006 (lost 27-0 to SD) and in 2008 (lost 41-14 to DEN). Nevertheless, it is an AFC West game and I refuse to trust a road team in Week 1.

 

Breaking Down the Selections …

Three home teams - the Patriots, Ravens and Saints (in that order) – are my Top 3 selections for Week 1.

 

Since I will play along and make my one main pick each week, I’ll take the New England Patriots in Week 1 on Monday Night Football.

 

It’s a great time of the year as the NFL season is back!

 

Comments or questions? Email me at pags2122@yahoo.com.