Sep 22, 2023 | Circa Survivor Information, Nolan Dalla, Strategy, Weekly Analysis

By Nolan Dalla


And then there were…..5,924.


Entering NFL Week #3, more than one-third of the starting Circa Survivor field has been eliminated. Only 5,924 entries of the initial 9,267 CircaSurvivor entries remain.


I currently hold two of them.


Before I analyze this week’s options and share my final decision, I’d like to post some thoughts on contest strategy as it pertains to the number of entries in our portfolios. 


Here’s a question….




One of the many takeaways from listening to Mike Buchmiller and Russ Rosenblum, and their excellent weekly podcast posted exclusively here at, is how different our methods are when making our team choices.


The divide in strategy is based almost entirely on a disparity as to the number of live tickets we hold going forward. Call this a “rich man vs. poor man” debate.


I don’t know how many entries (and live tickets) are in the Buchmiller-Rosenblum portfolio. If they’ve announced the final number, then I missed it. However, let’s presume they have some percentage of (and control of) many entries. I know they bought the max number of entries, for sure. In other words, they can diversify their investment, outlast expected fluctuations, and even survive a few beats along the way and still be very much alive going forward. 


Naturally, the greater the number of tickets, the more chances one can afford to take. They can even make some outlier picks based on the hope that some future NFL week is filled with catastrophic upsets that would likely eliminate a sizable percentage of contest opponents. Then, Buchmiller-Rosenblum & Co. can surface after the mass carnage and be holding a few live tickets matched against a much smaller field. Call it – dancing on the ashes. Moreover, they’re also likely to be holding stronger teams in reserve. That’s optimal strategy.


Make sense?


Trouble is, most of us do not have the luxury of a large investment portfolio and holding lots of tickets. I haven’t seen any official word on this, but my guess is that most contestants hold just one entry (costing $1,000), or perhaps only a few tickets, at most. For the record, I started the contest with three entries. Two remain alive. 


When you’re down to your final bullet, you have to make it count. Nothing else matters, aside from surviving. If you have just one live ticket it would be crazy to pick outlier teams, especially in a winner-take-all context.  Maybe deals will get made later, and there could even be multiple contest winners, but before we hear that sweet music, first we’ve got to get to the dance.


So, while I enjoy and learn things from the podcast, I’m less certain that some of those concepts apply to contestants with fewer entries. This isn’t criticism, of course. I just want to make it clear that decisions about which team(s) to pick largely depend on how many tickets remain in your portfolio.




Let’s compile a list of the possible survivor picks in Week #3 based solely on the pointspreads. Note that higher pointspreads aren’t always the best method of picking a survivor team, but it’s a reliable starting point. 


These are listed in order of highest spreads to lower spreads currently at the Circa Sportsbook (roughly a touchdown or greater):


Kansas City (-12.5) vs. Chicago

Dallas (-12) vs. Arizona

San Francisco (-10) vs. NY Giants

Jacksonville (-9) vs. Houston

Baltimore (-8) vs. Indianapolis

Miami (-6.5) vs. Denver

Seattle (-6) vs. Carolina


Six of the seven big favorites are home teams.  Dallas is the lone road team.


First, I’m tossing out Miami. The Dolphins play the NY Jets twice later, and those games look to be more optimal. Second, I’m saving Seattle for later since they play Arizona twice. Dallas is off the table because I’m saving them for holiday short weeks (I discussed this strategy in a previous article). Same goes for San Francisco. That leaves Baltimore, Kansas City, and Jacksonville as possibilities.


Jacksonville merits its own discussion. The Jaguars are a big favorite this week hosting Houston. However, the offense struggled badly last week and I’m still unconvinced that this team should be giving -9 to anyone and necessarily belongs in the same elite class with the other (nearly) double-digit favorites. Perhaps they are, but I’ll wait and see; perhaps then with more confidence, I shall play them versus some other soft teams later — including Indianapolis and Carolina. There’s no urgency here. But Kansas City and Baltimoe may be a different story.


Hence, mostly through the process of elimination, this leaves me with this week’s picks.




With two live entries, I shall play two different teams this week, for multiple reasons.


TICKET 1:  I need to check off the Baltimore Ravens. This team is like freshly baked bread. It’s perfect to buy and eat now. But in a few weeks time, this team could be stale and moldy.


  • Looking at the Raven’s schedule, they have few other “gimme” games, and certainly no more easy games at home (we presume the strength of teams will stay the same, which of course, it will not). Hosting Indianapolis this week looks like an excellent spot for Baltimore to move to an unbeaten 3-0 record. 


  • The Colts’ chances are reduced by having Gardner Minshew, the backup quarterback likely to start. Indy is also playing its second straight road game and coming off a win, which is typically a solid fade situation. Indeed, this looks like a great spot for streaking 2-0 Ravens. 


  • For some reason, Baltimore also tends to play better early in the season under head coach John Harbaugh. 


  • One other point: I’m also worried about the Ravens losing QB Lamar Jackson to injury (he’s been injury prone throughout his career). So, I want to jump on the Ravens when he’s healthy. I already used Baltimore on one ticket, so I’ll place them on the other.


TICKET 2:  The Kansas CIty Chiefs will be favored in most, if not all of their games this season. However, I don’t see any definitive wins (if there is such a thing), except perhaps this week hosting Chicago. 


  • While the Chiefs play at NY Jets and at New England on their schedule, both of which look to be soft opponents, I have two concerns. First, I try to avoid taking road favorites. Eventually, I’ll have to do this. But not right now. 


  • Second, Kansas City has an ugly habit of bombing in some of these road games they should when, especially when they’re not pressed in the standings. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Kansas City should win the AFC West division in a cakewalk, especially now that both rivals Denver and the LA Chargers started off 0-2. So, I think we need to pull out the Chiefs and play Kansas City this week on one ticket.


This will check off Baltimore for the season on both tickets.  It also leaves us with Kansas City open on one ticket. 


I think this is my optimal strategy, which also diversifies the risk slightly with two heavy favorites both of which are expected to generate lots of Circa Survivor support.


Hence, Baltimore and Kansas City are my final selections in Circa Survivor Week #3.




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