NFL survivor pools are becoming more and more popular every season. If you aren’t familiar with survivor pools, they also go by the names of suicide pools, eliminators, or knockout pools.

They basically work like this: Each week you pick one team that you think will win their game outright. The catch is that you are only able to use each team one time.

As easy as this might sound, it’s a lot harder than you think. The parity in the NFL makes it tough to consistently pick outright winners. Especially once you’ve used up some of the best teams in the league.  The last man (or woman) standing wins the pool and the pot.

Each week I’m going to post the teams that I feel are your best bets for the week, those that are on the bubble, and those that I think you should avoid (that you might be tempted to take) if at all possible.

The strongest tool I use is the NFL lines.  The bigger the favorite the more likely they are to win the game.  But, I also use the same logic as I do when handicapping the point spreads.

Week 17 NFL Last Man Standing Pool Picks

Best Survivor Teams This Week

  1. New England Patriots (@ Miami Dolphins) – The Patriots are a double-digit road favorite over the Dolphins and I see no way they lose here. New England has to win this game to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC. For Miami, the game really doesn’t mean anything, as they are going to be a Wild Card. Even if the game mattered for the Dolphins, I don’t think they sniff a win here.
  2. Atlanta Falcons (vs New Orleans Saints)  – This is a massive game for Atlanta. A win and they secure the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in the NFC. That should be more than enough motivation to take care of the Saints at home. Keep in mind that New Orleans had no answer for Ryan and the Falcons offense in the first meeting. Atlanta put up 45 points and 442 yards in a 45-32 win on the road.
  3. Washington Redskins (vs New York Giants) – Washington is definitely a team I would consider if the top two choices are off the board. Thanks to the Cowboys win over the Lions in Week 16, the Redskins simply need to win to get into the playoffs. Hard to not like their chances at home against a Giants team that has nothing to play for. New York will be playing their starters, at least that’s the word as of now. Still, there’s just no way for them to match the intensity of Washington in this spot.

Bubble Teams This Week

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (@ San Diego Chargers) – The Chiefs are going to be all business in Week 17, as they have a shot here to move up to the No. 2 seed in the AFC. All they have to do is win and have the Raiders lose at Denver. A very likely scenario given that Oakland just lost starting QB Derek Carr. Kansas City looked great against the Broncos last week and are now 21-4 over their last 25. San Diego will play hard, but a laundry list of injuries will make it tough for them to keep this one close. 
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (vs Baltimore Ravens) -This more than a fade of the Ravens than anything. It wouldn’t have mattered who the opponent was. It just so happens its a Bengals team that has continued to play hard down the stretch. With this being Cincinnati’s final home game, I expect another strong effort. As for Baltimore, to them the season ended last week. The Ravens heartbreaking 27-31 loss at Pittsburgh knocked them out of the playoffs.
  3. Green Bay Packers (@ Detroit Lions) – This is arguably the biggest game of Week 17. The Packers visit the Lions with 1st place in the NFC North on the line. If Washington beats the Giants, the loser of this game will be out of the playoffs. I’ll take my chances with a red-hot Aaron Rodgers against a banged up Matthew Stafford. Especially with the injuries that Detroit is dealing with in their secondary.

Suicide Teams to Avoid This Week

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (vs Cleveland Browns) – The Steelers are a 6-point home favorite over the Browns. I just wouldn’t feel great about backing them in this spot. This game means absolutely nothing to Pittsburgh, who is locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC. Cleveland will be playing with a lot of confidence after getting their first win of the season last week. I think they try and build on that with another win here.
  2. Tennessee Titans (vs Houston Texans) – While Houston is locked into the No. 4 seed, they are playing their starters. Not a big surprise, given the recent quarterback switch they made. The Texans are still trying to figure some things out and the Titans are in an awful spot here. Tennessee’s loss at Jacksonville last week knocked them out of the playoffs. They also lost starting quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Titans will turn to Matt Cassel and that’s a recipe for disaster.