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What attendance policies might mean for NFL Survivor pools

It’s time to start considering NFL Survivor pool strategy. We consider what no fans or limited fans in attendance might mean.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates with fans after defeating the Houston Texans in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL season gets underway on Thursday, and that means Survivor pools are back! If you’ve never taken part in a Survivor pool, we’ve got you covered. A Survivor pool involves picking one team each week that you think will win. If your team wins in Week 1, you can make a pick in Week 2. If your team wins in Week 2, you can make a pick in Week 3, and so on. The catch is that you cannot pick the same team twice. You could use a heavy favorite in Week 1, but you would not be able to pick them later in the season.

DraftKings is offering their own version of this contest, with a free pool that will pay the winner $1 million. Additionally, DraftKings is offering a “$100 million Golden Ticket Giveaway.” The pool will still have the $1 million prize for the season-long winner, but it will also include up to $100 million in giveaways when you sign up. Here’s a full rundown of sweepstakes terms and conditions.

We’ll offer weekly strategy advice, but heading into the season there’s one big issue that will impact some of if not all weeks of Survivor picks: attendance policies.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a patchwork of 32 stadium policies across the league. The NFL did not create a uniform policy, but instead is allowing each team to create their own policy working in conjunction with state and local health officials. That has resulted in some teams planning on no fans the entire season, some having no fans the first week or two and adjusting from there, and some allowed a percentage of their capacity right away.

Here are the biggest favorites heading into Week 1, along with attendance policy for the home team’s stadium.

Chiefs (-9) vs. Texans: KC will have up to 22 percent of capacity
Ravens (-8) vs. Browns: BAL will have no fans in attendance
Colts (-8) @ Jaguars: JAX will have up to 25 percent of capacity
49ers (-7) vs. Cardinals: SF will have no fans in attendance
Patriots (-6.5) vs. Dolphins: NE will have no fans in attendance
Bills (-6.5) vs. Jets: BUF will have no fans in attendance

Colts-Jaguars is a game that normally I might stay away from because I’m not a fan of using a Survivor pick on a road team in a divisional match. I’m still not super-jazzed about it, but 14 capacity makes it a little easier to consider that pick.

It’s hard to tell exactly how teams will perform in fan-less or limited fan environments, but it will have some kind of impact. The Seahawks not having their vaunted 12th Man or the Saints playing without fans in the Superdome is significant. It doesn’t change the impact of actually having to travel to road games, but the game day environment will be different.

Check out the current attendance policy for each of the 32 NFL teams.