Bears QB Jay Cutler (left) and tailback Matt Forte are prohibitive favorites to beat the Colts at home in Week 1.
Ever heard of an NFL survivor pool?
It's a simple game of chance, where contestants are asked to select one lead-pipe cinch for wins in Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., with the caveat of only using a particular club once per season (in victory, at least).
For example, I have Chicago defeating Andrew Luck and Indianapolis at home in Week 1. By virtue of that, I cannot designate the Bears to win for Weeks 2-17. The same holds true for the Giants (over the Buccaneers) in Week 2; after that game, I can no longer pick the champs to prevail the rest of the way.
Any incorrect picks automatically knock a contestant out of the pool. And if anyone should be left standing by Week 17—an impossible task for me last year—they're entitled to all or some of the winnings (which can be quite lucrative in some leagues).
Here are my full-season picks for 2012. Adding to the degree of difficulty, I will only choose teams to lose no more than twice.
(Picks subject to change between now and Labor Day)
Week 1: Chicago over Indianapolis
Week 2: N.Y. Giants over Tampa Bay
Week 3: Tennessee over Detroit
Week 4: Baltimore over Cleveland
Week 5: Cincinnati over Miami
Week 6: San Diego over Denver
Week 7: Oakland over Jacksonville
Week 8: Green Bay over Jacksonville
Week 9: Houston over Buffalo
Week 10: San Francisco over St. Louis
Week 11: Dallas over Cleveland
Week 12: Tampa Bay over Atlanta
Week 13: Detroit over Indianapolis
Week 14: Buffalo over St. Louis
Week 15: St. Louis over Minnesota
Week 16: Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Week 17: Atlanta over Tampa Bay
Survivor Rules To Live By
1. Above all, target a home team to win that week.
2. When in doubt, exploit bottom-feeder clubs on the road (Colts, Vikings, Jaguars, etc.).
3. It's best to avoid prime-time games between teams of similar stature.
4. Don't use the Packers, Patriots, 49ers or Ravens in Week 17—after they've clinched playoff spots.
5. Avoid picking against the Raiders, Chiefs and Eagles right now (at least until we collect more info during the preseason).
6. Only pick home upsets from games involving intra-divisonal opponents.
7. Don't be afraid to pick against the world champion Giants in the latter half of the season, even if certain fantasy gurus are (big run of daunting opponents).
8. When considering intra-divisional foes, don't be afraid to guarantee Team A's victory the first time around...and Team B's triumph on the flip side.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.