Each season I do these Survivor Pool picks for Doc’s, I try to come up with a different “theme.” Some hit and probably more miss. Last year was pretty simple: games worth considering, too even to bother, or too close to call.
I had been planning to write a Survivor preview for the 2012 NFL season all along for this day but had been struggling with a new theme. Yet an idea hit me Thursday night like a lightning bolt after watching an old Spaghetti Western movie a couple of weeks ago and then seeing the craziest speech in Republican National Convention history on Thursday night.
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Of course, the common bond I am talking about is Clint Eastwood. The movie I am speaking of is the 1966 classic “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” I hadn’t seen it until recently but caught it on one of the movie channels. It was excellent and I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it. But anyone under age 30 or so might now think of Clint from his speech before Republican nominee Mitt Romney closed the RNC in Tampa on Thursday night.
Let me say this right off the bat: I have zero political lean, so I don’t want to get any hate mail. But Eastwood’s speech, where he spoke to an chair that purportedly was filled by an invisible President Obama, was a rambling, incoherent mess at times but also truly awesome and one of the most memorable convention moments ever. Frankly, it upstaged Romney’s speech and nearly broke Twitter.
Just like last year, I will give you comments on every NFL game each week. This season, I will break them down into three categories: the good, where I recommend certain teams strongly and always with a top overall choice; the bad, where I tell you to stay away from favorites that might get caught in a trap game – perhaps playing on a short week or having to travel across the country or being caught in a “sandwich” game – or where a game is so even that you shouldn’t risk a pick; and the ugly, which will be one of those games between equally lousy teams that you shouldn’t care about: think Vikings-Browns or Colts-Rams, etc.
You will see my Survivor story by Thursday each week with the NFL Network now having a nearly full season of Thursday night games, starting in Week 2 with the Bears visiting the Packers. I will say that I won’t be including in my Week 1 story the 2012 opener, which is next Wednesday when the Cowboys visit the Super Bowl champion Giants – it would fall in the “bad” category because it’s really too close to risk a pick. That game was supposed to be on a Thursday night, as has annually been the case, but was moved back a day because President Obama is speaking Thursday night at the close of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. See, sports and politics do mix!
I am going to presume everyone knows what a Survivor Pool is by now, but just in case here is quick reminder. You pick one team a week that you are most sure will win – the spread isn’t a factor, just straight up. Once you pick said team, you are not allowed to choose it again for the 2012 season. If your team loses, you are out of the competition. However, some Survivor Pool competitions allow players to buy back in, usually at a sizable penalty, if a competitors’ team is knocked out very early. If all remaining competitors are knocked out in a certain week, the pool is usually shared. Or players could simply vote to continue. Some pools, if not decided by Week 17, will extend into the playoffs.
I generally will stick to a few Survivor Pool rules when giving advice:
--Almost always pick home teams. It’s a statistical fact that home teams win well more than a majority of the time each season. How much can vary each season, but you can generally count on at last an average winning percentage of 57 for NFL clubs at home.
--Don’t pick major rivalry games. This means Cowboys vs. really any NFC East team. Ravens-Steelers. Bears-Packers, etc.. Emotions are usually higher in these games and upsets are more likely to happen.
--Don’t save teams for later in the year. A major injury can happen at any time – Tom Brady suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1 of 2008 – and, thus, a potentially Super Bowl-caliber team can become ordinary.
--Wait until the last possible second to choose a team each week. Injuries are more relevant in the NFL than any major sport. Last year in Week 5, I picked the Giants as my top choice at home vs. Seattle. But, again, I write these stories on Wednesday or early Thursday. By the time Sunday rolled around in Week 5 a year ago, it was clear that the Giants were going to be without star defensive end Justin Tuck and running back Brandon Jacobs. That wasn’t known when I wrote my column – I switched off the Giants in my pools when I saw that news and they ended up losing. So when I give you a recommendation, it’s based on the injury news I have at hand. I also will rarely pick a Thursday night game because the quick turnarounds for both clubs make it so risky. I also rarely will pick Monday night games because then you are locked in and an injury/suspension could pop up that changes everything.
So that’s about it. If I happen to have a top choice knocked out early, I will continue this column through the regular season and at least into the first round of the playoffs. I did make it all the way through each of the past two even-numbered seasons (Week 13 last year), so that could be good karma for 2012. Feel free to drop Doc’s an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or comments and I will do my best to respond.
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