Saints QB Drew Brees (5,476 yards passing, 46 TD last year) draws a Sunday night home game against the Chargers—his old team of five seasons (2001-05)—on Oct. 7.
Ever heard of an NFL survivor pool?
It's a simple game of chance, where contestants are asked to select one lead-pipe lock 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 for Week 1. By virtue of that, I cannot designate the Bears for any wins in Weeks 2-17.
The same holds true for the Patriots (over the Cardinals) in Week 2; after that game, I can no longer pick the AFC 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 are entitled to all or some of the winnings (which can be quite lucrative in some leagues).
Here are my final survivor picks for 2012. Adding to the degree of difficulty, I will choose teams to lose no more than twice.
Week 1: Chicago over Indianapolis
Week 2: New England over Arizona
Week 3: Dallas over Tampa Bay
Week 4: Baltimore over Cleveland
Week 5: New Orleans over San Diego
Week 6: Arizona over Buffalo
Week 7: San Francisco over Seattle
Week 8: Green Bay over Jacksonville
Week 9: Seattle over Minnesota
Week 10: Pittsburgh over Kansas City
Week 11: Houston over Jacksonville
Week 12: Philadelphia over Carolina
Week 13: Detroit over Indianapolis
Week 14: Buffalo over St. Louis
Week 15: Cleveland over Washington
Week 16: Tampa Bay over St. Louis
Week 17: San Diego over Oakland
Survivor Rules to Live By
1. Above all, target a home team to win that particular 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 Cowboys, Lions, Broncos and Titans.
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 (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.