NFL Week 12 survivor picks: Without a clear option it's time to take a risk

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) celebrates with offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker (75) and tight end Jonnu Smith (81) after a Patriots touchdown during the second half against the New York Jets.
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Dylan Ruhl

NFL· 4 days ago

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I lived in Italy for three years in college and learned the art of sports betting while I was there. Now I’m back in the States, and I want to share all the knowledge I acquired in one of the sports betting capitals of the world. Bills Mafia!!

We’ve come to by far the most difficult week of the season for your survivor pool. With 3 games played on Thanksgiving, we’re left with just 12 options to pick from for the weekend slate. And no team is favored by more than a touchdown, meaning that if you’ve already made it this far and played 11 of your best cards throughout the season, you’ll have to take a massive risk in order to stay alive.

Who to pick in a Week 12 NFL survivor pool

In past years we have given a few different recommendations for games to pick and ones to avoid each week. But survivor pools come in different sizes and the strategy for outlasting your coworkers in an 8-person office pool is vastly different from that of a national pool that hundreds of thousands of Americans can enter before the season starts.

In a smaller pool, particularly early in the season, it’s important to last week-to-week and see if any of your competitors drop before making any risky moves. In a larger pool it’s much more important to try to separate yourself from the pack to gain an edge, as it does you no good to pick the same team as everyone else whether that team wins or loses. So you’ll definitely need to take some more chances early on in order to make a move and better position yourself for the end.

GENERAL PICK: New England Patriots (-300 ML) over Tennessee Titans (+225)

While the Titans are still one of the top teams in the AFC, the Patriots come in favored more than any other team this week. New England is expected to win by a touchdown, and after the performance Tennessee put together last week against a tanking Houston team, it’s hard to see them coming back – still without Derrick Henry – and winning in Foxborough against a Patriots team that’s won 5 in a row and will be playing for sole possession of first place no matter what the Bills do on Thursday night.

Mac Jones isn’t Tom Brady yet, but he’s certainly on his way to becoming the team’s quarterback of the future, throwing just 4 incomplete passes in each of his past 2 games. But the Patriots have been winning thanks to their defense – they’ve given up just 13 points in their last 3 games combined (no, you didn’t misread that!). And with Tennessee missing their greatest offensive weapon, it’s likely that the Patriots’ defense will have another field day. Take New England if you still can.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Tennessee Titans vs New England Patriots

RISKY PICK: Jacksonville Jaguars (+110 ML) over Atlanta Falcons (-130)

Now, it’s entirely possible you’ve already played your Patriots card. The easier games on their schedule are mostly done, and with what looked to be a tough game against the Titans followed by 2 against the Bills, they appeared to be a first-half survivor team for many. But no other teams are favored by more than 4 this week, making it truly a pick’em. If you need to pick another team, we’re recommending something we’ve never done before – going with an underdog.

Yes, the Falcons are slightly favored to beat the Jaguars, but are they really deserving of that after how they’ve played their last 2 games? Atlanta have lost the last 2 weeks by a combined score of 68-3, and when the point differential is that lopsided, that means the club has more than just a single problem it needs to fix. Trevor Lawrence is still transitioning to the NFL, and he’s by no means a star in this league yet, but he’ll get there. Don’t be surprised if this is one of his first breakout games. Consider Jacksonville if you’re looking for a sleeper team.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Atlanta Falcons vs Jacksonville Jaguars

GAME TO AVOID: New York Jets (+120 ML) vs Houston Texans (-140)

The Jets and Texans were the 2 teams we made an effort to pick against throughout the first 2 months of the year. If you stuck with that strategy, it’s unlikely your pool is still perfect, after both teams managed to beat the Titans, with the Jets also scoring a win against Cincinnati. But if you didn’t base your strategy around picking against arguably the 2 worst teams in the AFC, the week they face off is certainly not the time to start.

Houston shocked the world by winning 22-13 in Tennessee last week, and while Tyrod Taylor threw for just 107 yards in that game, the 4 interceptions his defense came up with gave the Texans a completely unexpected win. Zach Wilson makes his return to the Jets after missing the last month, and while there’s no way of knowing how he’ll come back, the Jets have no other choice as both Joe Flacco and Mike White have hit the Covid-19 list. With too much unpredictability surrounding both of these below-average teams, stay away from this one.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for New York Jets vs Houston Texans

How Does An NFL Survivor Pool Work?

For those of you who have never played survivor or are unfamiliar with how it works, the concept is simple: last as long as you can without incorrectly picking the outcome of a game. You just need to select one game per week, and if you pick the winner correctly you move on to the next week. The ultimate goal is to be the last player standing in your pool.

There’s just one catch: you can only pick each team once per season. This is where strategy comes in; it would be easy enough to pick the Chiefs every week, but you’re only allowed to go with them once and need to find 17 other winners throughout the season to finish a perfect 18-0.

Pickswise is the home of free NFL picks and NFL Odds. Check out the latest prop bets and parlays as well as expert underdog predictions and computer picks.

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