Nov 9, 2023 | Featured, Nolan Dalla, Strategy, Weekly Analysis

By Nolan Dalla



Last week produced relatively tranquil results in the topsy-turvy 2023 Circa Survivor contest.  This marked the second straight week of sparse activity and few eliminations.  The primary reason was because upsets were in short supply.  The slate of 14 games resulted in only 45 bust-outs, leaving 1,154 survivors to continue on into Week 10.




Just as predicted, the vast majority of contestants picked either the Browns or the Saints.  Cleveland and New Orleans combined for 93 percent of the contest picks.  This was a perfect storm to employ an obvious optimal strategy.  Neither the Browns nor the Saints would typically garner such massive support.  However, both teams faced badly outclassed opposition, their problems worsened by severe quarterbacking deficiencies.  Cleveland won in a romp, leaving 647 contestants happy.  New Orleans struggled a bit and put a scare into 458 backers, but also ended up with a victory.


The week’s only shocker was Atlanta at home losing to Minnesota, which started a new quarterback who had been recently a surprising midweek acquisition.  Few bettors or contestants expected the Vikings to go on the road and play one of their best games of the season, and end up winning.  The outlier strategy of picking Atlanta, while passing on either Cleveland or New Orleans was based on the hope of a massive upset in either one of those two mismatches (or preferably, two monster upsets).  That bold decision backfired and the Falcons’ upset ended up costing 38 contestants a chance to become a multi-millionaire. 


The Patriots-Commanders game produced the only other significant upset impacting the contest.  Four picks tagged New England, which lost at home to Washington.  A sprinkle of other picks nicked the field down a bit further.  By earlier standards, this was the calmest week we’ve seen, so far.





Fourteen NFL games are scheduled this week (Thursday through Monday).


The most obvious pick is a slam dunk.  The Cowboys host the Giants.  Dallas is a -16.5-point favorite, according to the Circa Sportsbook, making them the highest pointspread chalk of the season.  Dallas enters the game off a heartbreaking loss at Philadelphia.  They have a habit of taking frustrations out on weaker teams.  No team looks weaker at the moment than the Giants.  Dallas crushed New York in the season opener 40-0.  Even though this is a division rivalry (games which are usually tougher to predict) any bettors and contestants expect a repeat ass-kicking, which is even more likely given the Giants will start a struggling rookie quarterback.  Look for Dallas to get picked on at least half the CircaSurvivor tickets this week.  Maybe even more.  Perhaps even 70 to 75 percent.


For those who have already used the Cowboys (recall contest rules stating each team can be selected only one time during the season), look for the Bengals to be tagged on a sizable number of remaining entries.  Cincinnati hosts Houston, which could be a dangerous foe.  Nonetheless, the Bengals are streaking right now, and are laying -7 at Circa, making them one of only three sizable favorites this week.  Note:  We should also point out that some contestants may want to conserve Dallas for later in the season, likely two weeks from now.  The Cowboys play in one of only four games in that segment of the contest and face Washington.  Dallas should be a sizable favorite for those looking ahead (and all contestants should be looking ahead).


The Bills could also generate a few picks, though it’s likely many contestants have already used Buffalo.  The Bills are reeling off of losses, but have a great opportunity to rebound on Monday Night Football hosting the sporadic Broncos.  Buffalo is favored by -7.5 at Circa, so they’ll certainly be on a few entries, along with the Cowboys and Bengals.   


Though it’s very early, a preliminary look toward Week 11 appears flooded with possible mismatches.  Perhaps as many as seven games could be between teams with a spread at a touchdown or higher.  Hence, next week looks to be pretty easy for most survivor contestants.  Accordingly, look for Dallas to be the most popular pick in the contest this week.




Even if you can’t afford the $1,000 entry fee this or next season, I advise NFL bettors who want to improve their handicapping skills and learn more about contest strategy to make picks and play, even if it’s just for fun.


Earlier this year, I created a “planning guide” with my expected picks.  Unfortunately, my last entry went bust in Week 5.  Since then, I’ve advanced — hypothetically speaking.  Let’s see how this plays out.  Will the Washington loss end up costing me first place and $9.4 million?


Week 4 — SFO vs. ARZ …. winner

Week 5 — DET vs. CAR or WASH vs. CHI (Note: I picked Washington, and was eliminated)

Week 6 — MIA vs. CAR …. winner

Week 7 — SEA vs. ARZ …. winner

Week 8 — LAC vs. CHI …. winner

Week 9 — NOR vs. CHI or CLE vs. ARZ …. winner and winner

Week 10 — CIN vs. HOU

Week 11 — DET vs. CHI or JAX vs. TEN

Week 12A — DAL vs. WASH or MIA (road team) at NYJ

Week 12B —  MIN vs. CHI

Week 13 — PIT vs. ARZ

Week 14 — NOR vs. CAR

Week 15 — CLE vs. CHI

Week 16A — 3 toss up games….going to be problematic

Week 16B — GB (road team) at CAR

Week 17 — PHI vs. ARZ

Week 18 — NWE vs. NYJ (but could be someone unusual because of “meaningless” final games)





The 2023 Circa Survivor contest cost $1,000 per entry.  There were 9,267 initial entries.  After just 9 weeks, there are only 1,154 live entries remaining.  Circa Survivor offers a winner-take-all prize of $9,267,000.  The implied value per entry is now up to $8,030.


For the latest updates, be sure to follow @SurvivorSweat on Twitter / X.


Also, be advised that active Circa Survivor entries may be for sale on this site at the marketplace.


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