NFL Survivor League: Three Teams To Pick (And Avoid) Entering Week 5

The Bucs and Patriots are enticing, but the Cowboys benefit both confidence and strategy


October 7, 2021

We got clipped.

The New Orleans Saints fumbled away an 11-point lead with nine minutes left only to watch the New York Giants mount a crunch-time comeback en route to an overtime victory. It served as a brutal blow to head coach Sean Payton, Saints fans who were celebrating their first home game in 21 months, as well as the countless NFL survivor league players who took the eight-point home favorite.

Then again, those who took the Saints probably can find some solace in the fact the New York Jets — yes, the Jets! — defeated the injury-depleted Tennessee Titans.

Our other two recommended teams — Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals — earned wins. All three teams we believed should be avoided — Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers — had no problem covering their respective spreads.

Still, even after a loss, the show goes on for this specific exercise. So here are three teams to pick and three others to avoid entering Week 5 of your NFL survivor league. All betting lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Three teams to pick
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10, -490 moneyline)
Opponent: vs. Miami Dolphins
The Buccaneers secondary is dealing with a laundry list of injuries, but will it really matter with Jacoby Brissett behind center for Miami? If you, like us, are just trying to get back in the win column, you may have to pull the trigger on the Bucs earlier than you would have liked. Then again, Tampa Bay has enticing matchups against the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons (twice) and Jets if you’re in position to push them down the road.

New England Patriots (-8.5, -410 moneyline)
Opponent: at. Houston Texans
The Patriots by no means should invoke a lot of confidence — their offensive line, among other things, has not been good — but the reality is there’s probably two games you choose them in a survivor league this season. It comes down to this week against the 1-3 Texans or Week 7 at home against the Jets. If you’re still unbeaten on the season, this may be a spot you reach a bit in order to save a playoff contender for down the road.

Dallas Cowboys (-7, -310)
Opponent: vs. New York Giants
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have looked good on both sides of the ball. Prescott’s arsenal of offensive weapons looks to be multiple enough to combat anything an opposing defense throws its way. The Cowboys have a few games down the road you should feel comfortable with using them — Week 10 against the Falcons sticks out — but this may be one of their most valuable spots in a NFL survivor league. And for whatever reason, it makes it more enticing knowing the Giants already earned one of their two or three wins during Week 4, even if division games tend to be a crapshoot.

Honorable mention: (-9) Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Three teams to avoid:
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, 140)
Opponent: vs. Buffalo Bills
The Kansas City defense is the second-worst in the NFL in both points and yards allowed, including the fifth-worst passing defense, and it feels like a matchup with Josh Allen isn’t one where there’s a lot of value. We’re going to stay away from this AFC Championship Game rematch as both the Chiefs and Bills have much better matchups in the future.

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5, -165)
Opponent: vs. New York Jets (neutral site)
Two bad teams playing after flights to London? Yeah, we’re going to stay away from this, even if it really is tempting knowing there’s absolutely no shot the Jets win two games in a row. Admittedly, though, if you’re tied to using the Falcons this season (we’re not) this spot is one of the best on the campaign, but Atlanta does still have Jacksonville and Detroit on its schedule.

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5, -145)
Opponent: at Seattle Seahawks
The NFC West always seems to be territory where you have to tread lightly. The Rams are one of five road favorites on the Week 5 slate, but LA was dealt a gentle reminder it still has a long way to go after a beatdown by the last of the unbeatens, the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams have the Giants, Lions and Texans in three consecutive weeks following this game — all three matchups that are worth waiting for.

Honorable mention: (-1) Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

The Week 5 pick? Dallas Cowboys
Record: 3-1

Teams used: San Francisco 49ers (Week 1), Cleveland Browns (Week 2), Denver Broncos (Week 3), New Orleans Saints (Week 4)

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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