How to Win an NFL Survivor Contest

August 28, 2021
NFL Survivor Tips

NFL survivor pools have become extremely popular over the years and 2021 will be no exception. Winning one of these contests is easier said than done. Understanding the rules up front is a key. All members of the pool pick one team to win each week. Picks are all straight up. No point spread is involved. If a member’s pick is correct, they survive and continue playing. An incorrect pick removes a player from the contest. Players may pick an NFL team to win just once the entire season.

With all that in mind, how exactly can one win an NFL survivor contest? Here are a few tips and things to avoid doing in an effort to be the last person standing in your survivor pool.

Avoid the “Win Now” Strategy

Yes, if you don’t win, you are eliminated. But, choosing a winner just to advance one more week will get you beat at some point in the contest. Just because a team like Baltimore, for example, is favored at -222 to beat a team like Cincinnati doesn’t mean you automatically take the Ravens. 

With Baltimore projected to win say 10 or 11 games, you may wish to save them for later in the season. The longer you can hold on to the more elite teams in the league – Kansas City, Green Bay, Buffalo, etc. – the better. 

Win Probability

There are typically three main things to look at when determining which team to pick each week. The first of those is win probability. Players can find win probabilities online. They are calculated by using public betting lines and present the probability, as a percentage, of a team winning their game that week.

Simply using win probability is a common mistake of survivor pool newbies. Again, a player may assure a win and advance to the following week, but remember players should avoid the “win now” mentality. There may be a better way to advance to the following week and save an elite team for later in the season.

Future Value

Another factor to consider is future value of a team. Players can only pick a team to win once. Sometimes, it makes sense to save the team with the highest win percentage for the current week until a future week where an advantage can be exploited. 

Looking ahead in a schedule, you might find that Baltimore (from the example) has a win percentage of 75 percent this week. Miami’s win percentage is the same. Next week, Baltimore has a 76.4 percent chance of winning. It would make sense to pass on the Ravens this week and use them the following week.

Pick Percentage

The other thing to consider is pick percentage. This is often the one factor that most players don’t even consider. Think about it. If the same players choose the same team and that team wins, every player advances. The idea, of course, is to be the last person standing. 

Simply choosing the team that maximizes your chance to win in a certain week does not ensure that you will win. If all players do the same, no one gets eliminated. It makes sense then to opt for games with a lower pick percentage from time to time. 

The Upset Special

It might not make much sense, but there are times in a survivor pool where you simply take a chance on the upset. Imagine a pool with five players left and only one game to pick from – Baltimore vs. Cincinnati. The Ravens are a huge favorite, but the Bengals are improving. 

Four of the players left in the pool pick Baltimore. The remaining player goes against the grain and takes Cincy. Choosing the Ravens gives you the best chance to survive another week, but picking the Bengals gives you the best chance to win it all. Sometimes, that type of thought process is necessary to win a survivor pool.

Multiple Entries

If permitted, one way to increase your chances of winning a survivor pool is to simply play more than one entry. You can also play in different survival contests and split your picks accordingly. There are times when the same pick would be made, but be sure to maximize the chance of winning the pool not just advancing from one week to the next.

NFL survivor pools are popular because they add a touch of excitement to the season. Using some of the strategies presented here can help you win more than just the average survivor game player.