NFL Survivor Pools Hit Hard by Week 1 Upsets: Broncos, Colts, Titans, 49ers, Bengals Fall Short is an independent sports news and information service. has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

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A missed 64-year field goal by Brandon McManus added to the carnage of NFL Week 1 survivor pools (AP Photo/Ben VanHouten)

Week 1 of the NFL season demolished 2022 NFL survivor pools, eliminating large portions of entrants at sportsbooks and sports websites.

Look no further than the Circa Sports Survivor contest that over half of its field following the first Sunday of the season. Just 44% of the 6,133 entrants remained in contention following Monday night, as 3,427 contestants picked teams that either lost or tied in Week 1 (27 did not submit a pick). It cost $1,000 to enter the Circa contest.

The Broncos’ 17-16 loss to the Seahawks in Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle knocked 569 more entrants out of contention at Circa.

The carnage was not limited to Circa’s contest, either. Over 61% of Yahoo’s survivor game contestants are out, and about 59% of participants in ESPN’s Eliminator Challenge have been ousted after the first week of the season, according to tallies of percentages listed on the respective websites.

In addition to Denver, the Titans, Colts, Broncos, Bengals, and 49ers were the primary culprits. These five teams accounted for five of the six most-picked teams in Week 1 on Yahoo! Sports.


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Better Luck Next Year: NFL Survivor Pools Ravaged After Week 1

Week 1 of the NFL season is fun for a variety of reasons. Among them, the surprising — sometimes shocking — opening results.

Watching your survivor pool crash and burn before the first slate of afternoon games kicks off isn’t so different from a March Madness bracket crumbling on the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament. And thanks to a number of Week 1 upsets, there are piles of discarded survivor pools that couldn’t even make it out of the starting blocks.

While the Colts tied the Texans, the Titans, 49ers, Broncos, and Bengals all fell to Week 1 underdogs.

The 49ers closed as massive -520 favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook, odds that imply an 84% chance of winning. The Colts (at Houston) and Titans (vs. New York Giants), meanwhile, closed -333 (BetMGM Sportsbook) and -330 (FanDuel Sportsbook), respectively.

An “easy” NFL victory is only something that exists for those on the outside looking in. That’s a lesson about half survivor pool entrants learned first-hand across Sunday’s slate of matchups.

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Are Ties Considered Losses in Survivor Pools?

Survivor pool players with the Colts have been asking that question after Indianapolis walked away from Houston with a 20-20 tie. The answer depends on who is hosting the contest.

At Circa and ESPN, ties mean elimination.

Colts backers at DraftKings caught a break, however, according to a Tweet from a professional sports bettor known as Fats.

What Can We Learn for Future Survivor Pools?

Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s natural to say, ‘oh, I should’ve just selected Team XYZ’. But given as “easy” as some of these early week flops were supposed to be, what can we take away for future seasons?

New Blood

The Giants, Bears, and Texans each kicked off 2022 with new coaching staffs. That’s certainly no guarantee of early success, but it is not uncommon for a new coach to fix what ailed the team previously — whether it was cultural or schematic.

The Giants and Bears, in particular, were considered to be in much better hands in spite of lingering big-picture concerns. There are plenty of new coaches who lose their Week 1 opener, but survivor pool players should get in the habit of asking, ‘is this as much of a lock as I think it is?’

Giants coach Brian Daboll’s decision to go for 2 instead of kicking the extra points sealed the fate of Week 1 survivor pool sheets with the Titans.

Hostile Territory

Winning on the road in the NFL is no joke, especially in the division. There’s a reason why the home side gets love from oddsmakers when lines are being set. Those who latched onto the 49ers and Colts can make a note to themselves — exercise caution when picking road teams in your Week 1 survivor pool.

Forces of Nature

Sometimes things happen during a football game that simply cannot be accounted for — injuries, lucky bounces, tough breaks. Other times, though, risk can be averted. Chicago weather leading up to kickoff was the type of nasty day that levels the playing field and shrinks the margin of error for the favorite. Totals for this game ticked downward by 1.5 to 2 points from open until Sunday morning. And the totals ticked downward another 1.5 to 3 points from Sunday morning to kickoff. While it is easy to overthink things, perhaps it’s worth avoiding games featuring inclement weather, especially when there is a full menu of teams to choose from.

Survivor pools are fun, not because they’re a walk in the park, but because they require a mixture of skill, fortune, and timing. Good luck corralling the latter two, but by learning from our mistakes, we can sharpen our decision-making process and improve our performance in subsequent seasons.

What Is An NFL Survivor Pool?

Survivor pools are simple to grasp. Generally speaking, each member of the pool selects one team to win each week. The players that select a winning team remain in the pool. Those who pick a losing team are eliminated. The last one (or ones) standing claims victory. Easy enough, right?

It’s not quite that simple though. The frequency with which a team can be selected is limited. In traditional survivor pools, a team may be selected only once during the season.

If you picked the Baltimore Ravens in a cushy Week 1 matchup versus the New York Jets, you can kiss them goodbye for the remainder of 2022. You will be able to choose from the remaining 31 teams in Week 2. In Week 3, your choices are down to 30 teams. And so on. It’s as much about managing the schedule and your choices throughout the season as it is about selecting a winner in a given week.

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About the Author
Craig Williams

Craig Williams

Craig Williams is a Charlotte-based writer for Gaming Today, who has worked professionally in the gaming, fantasy sports, and sports business industries. He’s an avid fantasy football player, managing over 100 leagues across multiple formats. When he’s not pouring over Vegas odds and statistics, he’s indulging in soccer and enjoys anything from LigaMX to Champions League.

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