Welcome to 2019 Eliminator Challenge. The rules are simple: Just pick a winner each week, and don't use the same team twice. If you win all 17 weeks (or outlast your group members), you win. You can find all the rules here.
This article will look at the top Eliminator options each week, using betting lines, ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI), trends, future schedules and anything else that will help determine the best picks. (For more on how FPI is calculated, click here and here.)
In Week 1, the chalk mostly held, as the four highest-selected teams all earned wins in Week 1, and over 81% of Eliminator entrants advanced. The biggest upset was the Tennessee Titans upsetting the Cleveland Browns, knocking out 5.7% of the field. It's a big change from last season, when the only double-digit favorite, the New Orleans Saints, lost outright at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This week is simple. The New England Patriots are the biggest favorites we have seen in the NFL in over a decade. You can take them as your free square, move on to next week, and likely be safe. You could also save them for later -- remember, they will face the Miami Dolphins again later this season, and a Week 6 home matchup against the New York Giants is very appealing, too. Or you can take the Baltimore Ravens at home against the Arizona Cardinals, who were the worst team in the NFL last year and don't appear to be much better this year.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Arizona Cardinals
According to FPI, the Ravens have the same chance to win as the Patriots, except they will likely be selected by about half as many people as the Patriots will be. This line may be inflated a little based on just how bad the Dolphins were last week, but FPI views the Cardinals as the second-worst team in the NFL, so the level of competition doesn't increase a lot.