Last week in survivor pool action all you could really hope for is that you hadn’t picked the Falcons yet. Atlanta seemed like a very easy pick against Oakland. While they made things much, much harder than they should have, they ultimately won. If you couldn’t pick Atlanta, though, then things likely didn’t go very well for you. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Arizona, Minnesota, Cincinnati, New England — all reasonably popular picks that found ways to lose.
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If you are still alive in your survivor pool then you should start by giving yourself a big pat on the back. This has been an absolutely brutal season for survivor pools, and a lot of good picks have gone wrong along the way. If you are alive then you are likely very close to the end — and the big payday. That means that the stakes have never been higher. Unfortunately, this isn’t the easiest week we have seen so far — and none of them have been particularly easy.
The heavy favorites
Most weeks this is where to look for the logical picks. This week, though, the heavy favorites likely won’t be much help. There are only two teams right now favored by a touchdown or more — the 49ers and Patriots. Chances are pretty good that both teams have already been used by most people this year.
San Francisco (-7.5) vs. Seattle
On paper the Niners should win this one. They are coming off an incomprehensibly bad performance last week, though, while Seattle is coming off a stunning upset of the Patriots thanks to a huge comeback in the rain. There are better games out there, so I wouldn’t pick the Niners unless I really had to. They should bounce back strong, but then they never should have played so poorly last week in the first place.
New England (-10.5) vs. New York Jets
The Patriots should beat the Jets. Of course, the Patriots shouldn’t have lost last week, and the Jets shouldn’t have cruised as easily as they did. I don’t really trust the Patriots right now, but I trust the Jets even less. Therefore, I would feel good about picking the Patriots if I had to — and I still could.
The best of the rest
New York Giants vs. Washington
The Redskins are better than they should be based on the talent they have, and they shouldn’t be easily dismissed. The Giants just traveled all the way across the country, though, to massacre a very good team. Not only are they playing well but they are very confident. That gives them a solid edge in this one, and makes them a worthwhile pick.
Houston vs. Baltimore
If you haven’t picked the Texans yet then this could be a good spot to do so. They were beaten up last week, but they are home again and should be tough enough to bounce back after the setback. The Ravens, meanwhile, have suffered two brutal losses. Top corner Lardarius Webb is out for the year with a torn ACL. That’s rough, but it’s nothing compared to the psychological impact of the bicep injury that ended Ray Lewis’ year, and quite possibly his career. Baltimore’s defense had been a disappointment already, but with these twin blows they could really struggle — at least until they can adapt to their new reality. Against any offense that would be a concern, but facing one as strong as Houston’s is a real concern. This would be a solid pick.
Minnesota vs. Arizona
Both teams had rough losses last week. Of the two, though, Arizona’s was more concerning. The Cardinals were at home, and their quarterback play was really exposed as a big weakness. They have now lost two in a row, and you can almost feel their mojo bleeding out of them. Minnesota is the stronger team, and the Vikings are well poised to exploit Arizona’s weakness under center. The Vikings are as good a pick as any on the board, and since it is unlikely that they have been used so far they could be very useful here.
Don’t fall for...
Chicago vs. Detroit
The Bears are coming off a bye, and they seem like the kind of team that could be sluggish after their break. The Lions, meanwhile, looked better in the fourth quarter of their stunning comeback last week than they have at any point this year — by a wide margin. They are more talented than they have looked, and that performance could have been just the wakeup call that gets them rolling. They aren’t out of the picture in the NFC North, but a loss here would really hurt and they know it. Taking the Bears would be too risky.
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