There's nothing worse when it comes to survivor pools than being knocked out in Week 3 because you thought Jacksonville should beat Tennessee in a tight contest, and wanted to save Kansas City for later.
Picking road winners, testing divisional games, and saving the top teams for future use are surefire ways to see your entry go up in flames. You'd be better off finding a nice charity to donate your money to.
With that being said, here's a breakdown of the Week 1 slate:
Week 1. Monday Night Football. The Big Easy.
The Saints have been chomping at the bit since a scandalous missed pass interference call cost them a Super Bowl berth last season, and they're about to issue a statement of intent on national television.
Drew Brees and his dynamic offense should feast on a Houston Texans secondary that finished 28th against the pass last season and could be even worse this year. The Saints were 7-1 in 2018-19 against bottom-10 pass defenses. We all remember what Brees did last year in New Orleans on Monday night against a Washington Redskins defense that was top-15 against the pass, right? He piled up 363 yards and three touchdowns.
This game could get ugly for Houston if its one-dimensional offense can't keep up. The Texans are 1-13 on the road in the last three seasons against teams that finish with winning records - a category the Saints have lived in since Sean Payton and Brees arrived in 2006. Meanwhile, the Texans have won just two prime-time road games - both at Cincinnati - since Bill O'Brien went to Houston in 2014, and they are 2-5 overall on MNF. Payton and Brees are 17-3 at home in prime time since 2009.
Don't overthink it. Take the Saints on Monday night and live to fight another week.
This pick violates a major rule clearly outlined in the opening: never take a road team. But, as is typical for teams in the NFC North, the Lions have a very difficult schedule this season. There are going to be few opportunities to pick them, and that's why there's a case to be made for going the Motown route Week 1 (now we're breaking two major rules!).
Enter, the Arizona Cardinals. Kliff Kingsbury has brought his Air Raid offense to Glendale, and while it should make for some entertaining football, there will be growing pains. There's also the argument that it's a gimmick and has no place in the NFL, but we can let time tell that tale. What we do know is offense generally takes a lot longer to fine-tune than defense does, and this is one of the more difficult systems to learn. First overall pick Kyler Murray is a remarkable athlete, but this unit is going to struggle early in the season. The Cardinals' varsity offensive line faces a terrifying matchup against Detroit's strong defensive front, who will force Zona to be one-dimensional and have Murray running for his life.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals made no real improvements to the NFL's worst run defense from last season, and their middle-of-the-road pass defense will be without the suspended Patrick Peterson for six weeks. The Lions, on the other hand, were much better during an injury-plagued 2018 season than their record suggested and should be able to march into Glendale and exit with a double-digit win.
How frisky are you feeling?
The Seahawks have been notorious for getting off to slow starts in the Pete Carroll-Russell Wilson era. They started 0-2 last season, 1-2 in 2017 after barely beating a Brian Hoyer-lead San Francisco 49ers side, and were awfully lucky to beat the Miami Dolphins in 2016 to avoid an 0-2 start, like the one they experienced in 2015.
This roster has gotten progressively worse every season, too. Frank Clark, Justin Coleman, and Doug Baldwin are gone, leaving Wilson with only Tyler Lockett to throw to, in front of a bad offensive line.
Also, don't so quickly forget that the Cincinnati Bengals started last season with a 4-1 record - which included a Week 1 win over Andrew Luck and the Colts in Indianapolis - before injuries derailed their season. The Marvin Lewis era is over after 16 years, which should result in a renewed sense of optimism under new head coach Zac Taylor. Sit back and root for a Bengals win that would surely see a large chunk of your pool ousted in Week 1.
|New Orleans||Houston||NO (9)|
|Dallas||NY Giants||DAL (5)|
|LA Chargers||Indianapolis||LAC (5)|
|LA Rams||Carolina||LAR (4)|
|New England||Pittsburgh||NE (4)|
|Chicago||Green Bay||CHI (3)|
|Jacksonville||Kansas City||KC (3)|
|NY Jets||Buffalo||NYJ (1)|
|Tampa Bay||San Francisco||SF (1)|
Safety rankings are out of 10, based on author's picks
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.