The Circa Survivor series, in which customers of the Vegas casino giant pick an NFL team each week to win their game, has seen its pool shrink to just over 2,000 contestants from an original 6,125. Just two weeks into the series, the pool is now standing at a little over one-third of original entrants, as a season of surprises continued to throw up unexpected results in Week 2.
Many of the contestants bowing out at this stage had chosen the Cleveland Browns for their expected winner, which seemed sensible considering that the highly-rated Browns were playing host to perennial strugglers the New York Jets. In a shocking finale to the expected blowout, the Browns missed a crucial extra point before conceding two touchdowns after the two-minute warning, allowing the visiting Jets to triumph 31-30.
Bad news was also awaiting fans of the hometown Las Vegas Raiders, who hosted Arizona Cardinals in a home opener in Sin City. The Raiders were one team among many who held a final-quarter lead in Week Two only to blow it. Coming into the game’s final stanza, the home side led 23-13, only for Kyler Murray to pull out an exceptional performance to lead a 16-point comeback and secure the win for the Cards.
If that sounds heartbreaking for those who picked the Raiders, imagine how people who chose the Baltimore Ravens felt. Behind a 300-yard passing performance from Lamar Jackson, who added his own 79-yard touchdown run, the Ravens led the Miami Dolphins by 21 points entering the final quarter. They would eventually lose the game 42-38 thanks to four touchdown passes in 13 minutes from Fins QB Tua Tagovailoa. In the last 12 years, 712 teams have entered Q4 of an NFL game trailing by 21 points or more. 711 would go on to lose, which was great news for Ravens backers. But Miami were the 712th team to face that mountain, and the first to climb it successfully.
Other teams who accounted for a chunk of the losing entrants in Week 2 were the Cincinnati Bengals, who were losing Super Bowl contenders in February. Picking the Bengals meant that contenders would forego the chance to win a $1million bonus that could go to players who survived the season without picking the Bengals or Super Bowl winners the LA Rams until the final weeks. That calculated gamble failed to come off, as Cincinnati followed a shock Week One loss with a shock Week Two reverse at crisis-stricken Dallas. Now the Bengals are 0-2, and it’s fair to say that people will be reluctant to make the same gamble in future weeks
One team that didn’t make the final game last season, and which will be attracting a lot of attention in weeks to come, is the Buffalo Bills. They overturned the Rams in Week One, and followed that up with a Monday Night Football obliteration of the Tennessee Titans, winning 41-7 and setting them up for an intriguing clash at the top of the AFC East. The Bills will visit Miami, who are also 2-0 and will be high on confidence after Sunday’s drama.