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Week 3 survivor picks: When you come to a fork in the road, take it

Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Another week, another pair of teams - Eagles and Cowboys - advanced along our parallel paths. It wasn't that easy for some in the world's largest survivor contest - a constant reminder not to take anything for granted going forward.

Every week until we get knocked out, we're mapping two paths to make it to the end of the season undefeated. As long as our entries still stand, we'll use the moneylines for our picks to show the odds of making it the distance traveled along the path. Once we're out, though, we're out.

We could provide a series of theoretical rules to follow - like never take a road team - but the moneyline reflects a club's likelihood of winning each game. We can easily translate that into an implied win probability, listed in descending order in the chart below.

Week 3 moneylines

Chiefs -800 88.9%
Cowboys -700 87.5%
49ers -550 84.6%
Jaguars -425 81.0%
Ravens -380 79.2%
Dolphins -290 74.4%
Bills -280 73.7%
Seahawks -250 71.4%
Eagles -225 69.2%
Lions -165 62.3%
Browns -155 60.8%
Patriots -150 60.0%
Raiders -130 56.5%
Packers -125 55.6%
Bengals -125 55.6%
Chargers -110 52.4%
Vikings -110 52.4%
Rams +105 48.8%
Saints +105 48.8%
Steelers +110 47.6%
Jets +130 43.5%
Falcons +130 43.5%
Titans +135 42.6%
Buccaneers +190 34.5%
Panthers +210 32.3%
Commanders +230 30.3%
Broncos +240 29.4%
Colts +300 25.0%
Texans +340 22.7%
Giants +400 20.0%
Cardinals +500 16.7%
Bears +550 15.4%

Survivor Path A

1 Commanders 76.2%
2 Eagles 71.8%

It feels like it should be relatively easy to get to Week 3 by picking one team straight up. But based on moneyline math for each of our paths, it's only slightly better than a 50-50 shot. It shouldn't be surprising that - without any major upsets this season - 35-40% of survivor contest entries have been knocked out.

This might be the type of week that's less about risking survival and better resembles a piece of advice from Yogi Berra, "When there's a fork in the road, take it." Since there are plenty of good options, contestants can take a step in a direction that'll affect who they'll have access to later in the season.

You don't have to go far to find a better time to take the 49ers, as they face the Cardinals next week. We talked last week about slotting the Chiefs into Week 16. We're also saving the Cowboys for later in the season. Going down the list of most likely winners, the price for using the Eagles last week is pressure to hold the Jaguars for Week 17 against the Panthers.

That leaves the Ravens, who 42.4% of entrants have already used in the Circa contest. If you're worried about saving Baltimore, know that the team's home schedule gets considerably tougher with the Rams projected as its easiest opponent. I prefer to face a rookie quarterback in his third game (or Gardner Minshew) than a lively Matthew Stafford. Baltimore would be favored over a touchdown at Arizona in Week 8, but there's a handful of other good options that week. Let others burn one of the Chiefs, 49ers, Cowboys, and Jaguars and take the Ravens.

Pick: Ravens

Survivor Path B

1 Falcons 64.9%
2 Cowboys 80.0%

This path will provide a generally more conservative route - better for your neighborhood/office pool with fewer entrants. Conservative means that we'll be more likely to push liability down the road, meaning we're less likely to save a team for Week 16 (when we'll still have the Eagles available). The primary argument for burning the Chiefs this week is that their matchup against the Bears will likely be the most they're favored by all season - with a point spread projection of around -10 versus the Raiders on Christmas Day.

Pick: Chiefs

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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