Vikings and Seahawks Turn Into Dreamcrushers
Duel Upsets by Bucs and Rams Eliminate Nearly 20 Percent of Field on NFL Opening Sunday
The biggest news from Circa Survivor contest in NFL Week #1 was the implosion of the Seattle Seahawks.
Minnesota Vikings: Hold my beer.
Installed as 6-point favorites by Circa and hosting the supposedly rebuilding Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota stunned bettors and backers by losing outright — 20-17. Survivor contestants didn’t care about the pointspread, which isn’t factored into the results. What mattered was the Vikings losing a game most projected they’d win, which ended up burning lots of contest entries. In fact, there were a whopping 1,044 tickets punched with the Vikings as the pick of the week. The opening week massacre meant that 11.3 percent of all contestants were eliminated just from that game alone.
The Bucs’ win wasn’t a fluke. They flat out deserved to win. Tampa Bay took an early 3-0 lead and never fell behind by more than a score. By the fourth quarter, Vikings’ backers were sweating, and with a few minutes remaining, they were looking for a defensive stop and a miracle. But neither happened. In his first start since taking over as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback, much-maligned Baker Mayfield earned his first victory with his new team. This shocker was but one of multiple upsets and surprisingly close games.
The other dreamcrusher game was Seattle hosting the LA Rams. Seattle was installed as -4 to -5 point favorites (depending on when and where it was bet). The Rams were coming off a miserable season and weren’t expected to have much of a chance playing in Seattle, typically a tough spot for the visitor. There were 600 entries (6.5 percent of the field) which picked the Seahawks. Incredibly, the Rams looked like Super Bowl champs from a few years ago by outscoring the favorites 23-0 in the second half, en route to a stunning 30-13 upset victory. Poof! There went all the Seahawks’ tickets.
Sidebar Comment: Two entrants picked the Rams as their survivor team (two entrants also picked the Bucs). The Rams? The Bucs? What the hell do I know? Now, they look like geniuses. Go figure.
This year’s season-long 2023 Circa Survivor contest attracted a record 9,267 entrants. Each entrant paid $1,000. It was a bit of a surprise to see 68 picks eliminated on the season’s first game, played last Thursday night. Some contestants apparently thought Kansas City was the best play of the week, but then the Chiefs ended up losing 21-20 to the Detroit Lions. Nevertheless, the real trim down took place on Sunday.
So, while Minnesota and Seattle turned into contest toast, the burn could have been even worse. Circa Survivor almost ended up with a massive triple disaster. The most popular Week #1 pick was the Washington Commanders. The capital gang were -7 point favorites hosting Arizona, a team many have forecasted to be the NFL’s worst team. However, the Cardinals hung in there and played tough all day. They even held a 16-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. A surprisingly high number of tickets – 3,549 in all — sweated it out until the final whistle as Washington scored 10 unanswered points late and escaped what would have been a disastrous upset.
The Washington pick represented 38.3 percent of all entrants in Circa Survivor. A loss by the Commanders would have brought back nightmare memories of last season’s debut week, when San Francisco lost their opening game (to Chicago), burning about 30 percent of all entries. A Commanders’ loss would have meant more than half the field eliminated in the first week.
Here are some other oddities and abnormalities worth mentioning while looking back at Week #1:
- I suppose we shouldn’t get carried away or make any judgments because in life emergencies do happen. However, 31 entrants had “no pick” in Week #1 and thus were eliminated. Circa strictly enforces its deadline rule, which is understandable. Those entries (costing $1,000 each) went down in flames without a single pick being made. Presumably, some of these people suffered a misfortune, or didn’t know how to enter their picks, or simply forgot about the contest. That’s $31,000 in free money added to the prize pool.
- Baltimore was the second most popular contest pick after Washington. The Ravens played a sloppy first half, but ended up pulling away with an easy 25-9 win. Baltimore looked very ordinary during much of the game. given they were the biggest favorite this week of all 16 games played They were laying -10, hosting Houston.
- It was interesting to see two teams that were not picked by anyone on any of the 9,267 entries. Oddly enough, both were playoff teams last season. Miami and the NY Giants went unchosen by the survivor contestants. Both were +3 to +3.5 point underdogs in Week #1. Still, we have to wonder which contestants picked Houston (3 tickets), or Indianapolis (2 tickets), or Carolina (2 tickets), but then passed on so many better options. A misclick? A mistake? Who knows?
Later this week, I’ll have more to say about the Circa Survivor contest, including my strategy and reasoning behind making the final selection.
Coming Next: My Week #2 Circa Survivor contest pick.