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NFL picks, Week 5: Straight up, and considering Survivor pool strategy

We’re back with more NFL picks, including a look at the 49ers, Week 5 straight up picks, a Survivor pool, and a look at Thursday Night Football against the spread.

Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We are officially through the first quarter of the 2017 NFL season. The San Francisco 49ers sit at 0-4, coming oh so close each of the last three weeks to that elusive first victory. They travel to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, with Jacoby Brissett remaining in the saddle for at least one more week. I again think the 49ers can win this week, but we’ll see if they can figure out what it takes to get that knockout blow they’ve lacked the past three weeks.

While we wait for Sunday, it’s time to ponder options in my NFL Survivor pool. I return for my fifth week of picking the one team I really think is going to win. In a Survivor pool, you pick a different team each week. You can only pick a team once. If your team wins you stay alive. I have set it up so you get two strikes. If you lose once, you get another chance. If you lose twice, you’re out. Once you pick a team, you can no longer pick them this season.

I opened picking against the New York Jets in Weeks 1 and 2, taking the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders. I got off the Jets anti-bandwagon just in time, as they have since won two straight games. I moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles over the New York Giants in Week 3, and then went with the Seattle Seahawks over the Colts last week.

This week, things start to get a little more complicated. Part of the strategy of a Survivor pool is figuring out when to use a team and when to save them for later. The three highest spreads this week are the Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.5) at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at home against the Arizona Cardinals, and the New England Patriots (-5.5) on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight on Thursday Night Football.

I can’t use the Eagles, and the Patriots are not particularly trustworthy right now. If I use the Steelers, a fairly safe pick at home, I would not have the chance to use them at home against the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 7), on the road against the Colts (Week 10), or at home against the Cleveland Browns (Week 17). Of course, I actually need to make it that far to use them in those games.

The New York Giants are a 3.5-point home favorite against a bad Los Angeles Chargers squad. That would be a ballsy pick to say the least. I might have considered the Tennessee Titans in Miami, but with Marcus Mariota sidelined, I’m not touching them. It’s a tough week for picks, but I’m leaning Steelers.

Tonight, things get going with the Patriots and Bucs. The Patriots are a 5.5-point favorite, and the public is pretty heavy on them, according to Odds Shark. New England entered the season as a heavy favorite to win the Super Bowl, but they have stumbled out of the gate. They were stunned at home by the Kansas City Chiefs to open the season, and lost at home again to Carolina last week. They went into New Orleans and handled the Saints with relative ease, but then needed a last-second comeback against the Houston Texans to get the win.

The Bucs welcome back Doug Martin from suspension, which gives that backfield some serious depth. The Patriots defense is a mess, and I think we see DeSean Jackson put together a big day. I don’t know if it will be enough to get the W, but I think the Bucs can keep this close and cover the spread.

Who are you taking?

Patriots @ Buccaneers: Buccaneers
Bills @ Bengals: Bengals
Jets @ Browns: Browns
Panthers @ Lions: Lions
49ers @ Colts: 49ers
Titans @ Dolphins: Dolphins
Chargers @ Giants: Giants
Cardinals @ Eagles: Eagles
Jaguars @ Steelers: Steelers
Ravens @ Raiders: Ravens
Seahawks @ Rams: Seahawks
Packers @ Cowboys: Cowboys
Chiefs @ Texans: Texans
Vikings @ Bears: Vikings