Dak Prescott's Cowboys could be a team to pick in your Survivor Pool Strategy

How To Win Your NFL Survivor Pool: A Guide To Winning A Survivor Pool

There are so many ways to get locked in on an NFL season. You can cheer for your favorite team, draft a fantasy team or make some money at NFL betting sites.

One increasingly popular way to make your Sundays more interesting is by joining an NFL survivor pool. If you don’t know what that is, or want to improve your NFL survivor pool game, we’ll break down some basic survivor pool strategy and tips below to help you be victorious in 2023.

If you’re new to betting on football, you can also check out our How To Bet NFL page.

What Is An NFL Survivor Pool?

Each week of an NFL survivor pool, you need to pick a winning team. If your team wins (straight up, not by the point spread), you move on – or survive – to the next week. If your pick loses, you’re out. The winner is the last person in the pool left "surviving."

The tricky part, though, is that after you use a team, you're not allowed to use them again for the rest of the season. This wrinkle requires you to be calculated and strategic when picking your teams. For instance, if you use the six best teams in the NFL for Weeks 1-6, you may have increased your chances of survival, but you also are leaving yourself fewer options down the road.

NFL Survivor Pool Rules

While each NFL survivor pool has unique regulations, here are some nearly universal rules to know:

  • No changing picks after selections lock
  • Cannot pick the same team more than once
  • Must make a pick every week
  • The winner is the last person standing

When Are NFL Survivor Pool Picks Due?

It’s key to know when your selections are due for an NFL survivor pool because it can impact your research and strategy.

While some pools have picks due before the first game of a slate, usually the primetime Thursday Night Football game, most allow you to make your pick before the main slate on Sunday. However, if you wait until Sunday to make your pick, you won’t be able to choose the two teams from the TNF game.

Waiting to make your pick until the last minute allows you to have the latest roster moves and injury updates before locking in a survivor selection.

Rules To Be Aware Of

There are some other somewhat common rule variations for NFL survivor pools that you should know. One is playing multiple entries, which means you have joined a survivor league with more than one entry. Some leagues allow you to play multiple different selections each week – or the same pick when you have more conviction – to insulate yourself from an unexpected upset.

Having multiple picks can allow you to use a variety of different strategies.

Another rule to know is if your survivor pool has a buyback clause, allowing you to pay a fee to rejoin the league if you lose in the first few weeks. The buyback is often limited to one per person in many pools.

Lastly, it's important to know if ties advance or not. Last season there were two ties during the season and you don't want to be scrambling to look up your pool's rules during the overtime coin toss. Some leagues allow you to advance if your team ties, while others consider a tie the end of the road for that entry.

NFL Survivor Pool Strategy

If NFL survivor pools were easy, winning wouldn’t be an accomplishment. While it may seem simple enough to pick a winner every week, it takes some real strategy to map everything out. Winners need to ensure they have enough trustworthy options throughout the season so you don't go into Week 16 relying on a 6-point underdog in your pool. 

Here are some simple NFL survivor pool strategies you can utilize this year:

Just win baby

As mentioned, it's recommended to be as strategic as possible in survivor pools. However, many people have found success flying by the seat of their pants and employing a week-to-week strategy early on. Simply pick the largest favorites (theoretically most likely to win) without worrying about the future. 

For obvious reasons, this strategy isn't sustainable for the entire season, but using this approach for the first few weeks of the season can increase your chances of survival while you're dancing on the graves of those who tried to get too cute early in the season. You may recall, last season saw several Week 1 upsets so with the NFL as unpredictable as ever, this could be considered a safer strategy.

Tail the consensus

One way to go about your NFL survivor strategy is to let the rest of the football world tell you who the best pick is.

You can check out the NFL consensus picks, and see which team has the most backers on any given week. If you look at the NFL betting odds on the moneyline, and which team has the most bettors, that should give you a good idea of who the public likes.

Now, the public doesn’t always get their picks right, but it’s not a bad place to start. Theoretically, it also gives you a sense of what teams other people in your pool are picking.

Zig When They Zag

Another way to tackle your NFL survivor pool picks is by fading the public, or going against the consensus picks.

While at first this may seem like a wild strategy, it actually has some logic to it. The way to win an NFL survivor pool is to be the last person standing, so if you always tail the consensus, you’re never going to outlast a majority of the people. If you take some risks early on, though, and fade the public, you could find yourself in good shape to win later on if one of the popular picks loses.

Pick on a loser

While you can't use the same team multiple times, you can fade the same team repeatedly. A useful strategy is selecting whoever is playing a really bad team, even if the team you're selecting isn't a powerhouse.

According to Super Bowl odds, The Arizona Cardinals (+15000), Houston Texans (+10000), Indianapolis Colts (+10000), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10000) are all worth considering for this role. 

Utilize multiple entries

For pools that allow multiple entries, it allows you opportunities to be extra strategic. For instance, perhaps later in the season when things are getting dicey, you could pit two entries against each other and guarantee one of your selections advances (of course the downside is you also guarantee an entry loses).

With multiple entries, you could also use one to take a more conservative approach and use another to be more risky and take a team a lot of other people aren't utilizing. With only one entry, you may feel less comfortable making risky moves.

Hedge with a point spread pick

If it's late in the season and your team winning is likely to put money in your pocket, you could consider taking one team in your survivor pool and then betting against that team with a separate ticket.

If you pick a favorite in your survivor pool, then you could bet on their opponent with the points and hope for a "middle" where your survivor ticket advances and your hedge hits as well.

Other NFL Survivor Pool And Betting Resources 

If you’re looking for more resources to help inform your NFL survivor pool picks, check out our Week 1 NFL lines below. We're also providing you with latest Super Bowl odds so you can get a sense of who the perceived best teams in the NFL are for 2023.

NFL Survivor Pool FAQs

What are NFL Survivor Pools?

The main concept of NFL survivor pools is to pick a winning NFL team every week. If you pick a winning team, you move on, or survive, to the next week. If your pick loses, you’re out.

What is the best NFL Survivor Pool Strategy?

There is no best NFL survivor pool strategy, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The best picks balance short and long term and balance risk and safety.

Can I have more than one NFL Survivor Pool entry?

Some NFL survivor pools allow you to have multiple entries to try out different strategies throughout the season. Some pools also allow you to buy back in if you've been eliminated early.

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