The 2021 NFL season finally is upon us, and for many football enthusiasts, that means a chance to finish a perfect 17-0 in their respective survivor leagues.
Week 1, of course, is a bit more of a crapshoot than, say, Weeks 4, 8 or 12. The reality is while we like to think we know who the good teams and bad teams are, every team is stepping onto the field for the first time, and it makes some matchups more of a toss-up than others.
With that, it’s important to pick yourself a winner in Week 1 and get off to a good start … even if that Week 1 selection means said team won’t be available later.
Anyway, here are three teams to pick and three others to avoid in your NFL survivor league. (All betting lines included via DraftKings Sportsbook.)
Three teams to pick:
Los Angeles Rams (-7.5, -410 money line bet)
Opponent: vs. Chicago Bears
As is the case with any pick ’em league, the larger the spread, the more attractive for survivor bettors — who are essentially taking, in this case, the 7.5-point favorite in a money-line bet. The money line depicts the probability, and you would have to bet $410 on the Rams to win $100 in this scenario. The Rams were a big story this offseason with the addition of Matthew Stafford, but while Stafford and Co. might need some time to jell, the LA defense comes in with the league’s best defensive player in Aaron Donald. Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey should give veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton plenty of issues.
San Francisco 49ers (-7.5, -365)
Opponent: at Detroit Lions
Another heavy favorite. The 49ers were decimated by injuries during the 2020 campaign, but with a clean bill of health Week 1 and veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo behind center, San Francisco should instill some confidence for those choosing the Niners in survivor leagues. Detroit, on the other hand, is entering it first regular-season game with head coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff after having lost its two best receivers in free agency.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5, -380)
Opponent: vs. Dallas Cowboys
Tom Brady and the defending champion Buccaneers will take the field for opening night Thursday as owners of the week’s biggest spread. And while the Bucs should instill confidence against the Cowboys, who probably will be without All-Pro guard Zack Martin (COVID-19 list), it’s also fair to mention Tampa Bay will have easier opponents than Dak Prescott and Dallas.
Three teams to avoid:
Buffalo Bills (-6.5, -310)
Opponent: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Could Buffalo come out and flat-out dominate the visiting Steelers? Yes. But with two good teams going head-to-head in Week 1, it’s probably not a bad game to stay away from. After all, with Buffalo playing the Jets twice this season, there will be other times to use the Bills.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6, -305)
Opponent: vs. Cleveland Browns
The Chiefs likely will be a force to be reckoned with yet again this season, but Week 1 might not be the best use of what should be viewed as a team that gets you a surefire survivor win. The Browns have plenty of pieces, and it wouldn’t be shocking to have this game come down to the wire.
Los Angeles Chargers (-1, -115)
Opponent: at Washington Football Team
The game, as depicted by the betting stats, is way too close a call for Week 1. Both the Chargers and the Football Team could have playoff aspirations when it’s all said and done, but with so much unknown — Justin Herbert, Washington’s defense, etc. — it’s probably best to stay away.
The pick? San Francisco 49ers