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Week 4 survivor picks: Mining for easy gold

Cooper Neill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

If you had the Jaguars or Cowboys in your survivor pool last week, you never had a chance. Both teams got down big early and rarely threatened to win. Making that terrible pick is the best way to go out from a do-or-die-style contest: quick(-ish) and (mostly) painless.

We can say this as a collective that got forked with the Ravens.

Here's everything that had to happen for Baltimore to lose to the Colts in overtime:

  • An NFL record four 50-plus-yard field goals from Matt Gay, on his third team, in soggy conditions.
  • The supposed greatest kicker of all time, Justin Tucker, coming up 1 yard short on a game-winning attempt.
  • My personal favorite: Gardner Minshew accidentally saving the Colts 40 seconds by stepping out of the back of the end zone for a safety before the two-minute warning, allowing enough time for a game-tying drive.
  • The Ravens failing to get a first down five straight times in the fourth quarter/overtime to seal the game or put Tucker comfortably in range for a game-winning field goal.
    • Isaiah Likely dropping a third-down pass that hit him in the chest.
    • A blatant defensive holding penalty going uncalled on fourth down.

So our "Path A" hits an infuriating dead end.

Every week until we get knocked out, we've mapped two paths to make it to the end of the season undefeated. As long as one of our entries still stands, 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 4 moneylines

49ers -1000 90.9%
Chiefs -425 81.0%
Eagles -380 79.2%
Cowboys -310 75.6%
Chargers -240 70.6%
Vikings -190 65.5%
Broncos -170 63.0%
Saints -165 62.3%
Jaguars -160 61.5%
Steelers -155 60.8%
Browns -145 59.2%
Bills -140 58.3%
Bengals -130 56.5%
Lions -120 54.5%
Giants -120 54.5%
Colts -115 53.5%
Rams -105 51.2%
Seahawks +100 50.0%
Packers +100 50.0%
Titans +110 47.6%
Dolphins +120 45.5%
Ravens +125 44.4%
Falcons +135 42.6%
Texans +135 42.6%
Buccaneers +140 41.7%
Bears +145 41.7%
Panthers +160 38.5%
Raiders +200 33.3%
Patriots +250 28.6%
Commanders +300 25.0%
Jets +340 22.7%
Cardinals +650 13.3%

Survivor Path A

Knocked out in Week 3. Thanks, Ravens.

Survivor Path B

1 Falcons 64.9%
2 Cowboys 80.0%
3 Chiefs 88.9%

The conservative route got us a rocking-chair winner amid the chaos elsewhere. Our survival probability barely changed by adding the Chiefs last week. That's how much of a safe play that was. We'll see if that burns us later this season.

With a decidedly different landscape in Week 4's matchups - just two teams are favored by more than a touchdown - we were going to double up with the 49ers had the Ravens won. San Francisco will be favored in most of its games, but its October schedule gets pretty difficult after this week's matchup with the Cardinals.

With the Bears and Panthers looking worse and worse, the Jets' quarterback situation getting no better by the day, and the Cardinals and Texans still rebuilding despite their upsets this past Sunday, there'll be other matchups worth attacking on weeks when San Francisco might be attractive. Our best alternative for Week 5 is the Chargers over the Raiders in what will hardly feel like a home game for the Bolts.

Pick: 49ers

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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