NFL Survivor Pool Picks - Week 12
by Matt Severance - 11/20/2008
Pardon my French, but ties suck!
Unless you are in a very forgiving Survivor Pool, last week's Eagles upset tie at Cincinnati (the NFL's first tie in six years) knocked you out if you had picked Philly. After all, you are picking winners in these pools, not which teams won't lose. Maybe you didn't know that … much like Donovan McNabb doesn't know basic NFL rules. Maybe if the QB had stayed in a Holiday Inn Express the night before (I may have used that line already!) … Anyways, I guarantee there were quarrels about this all over the Survivor Nation last week.
If you read my column last week, I did note that Philly HAD to get Brian Westbrook the ball 20 times to win - that was the magic number. His total touches? 17. Once again, Philly manages to be the worst team in the NFL in close games.
But that's last week, let's look at Week 12:
If you want to get an early victory in your pool, take the Steelers tonight against the Bengals. Pittsburgh pounded Cincy, 38-10, in Week 7, and that was on the road. The Steelers had seven sacks in that game, and there's no reason to think Thursday night will be any different. Plus the Bengals may be too busy trying to line up Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward for a kill shot after his block in the teams' last game broke Cincy LB Keith Rivers' jaw. I'd tell you the trends of teams coming off a tie, but there just aren't any!
You are also safe taking the Cowboys at home against the 49ers. I actually think the Niners will continue to play hard for Mike "I drop my drawers to make a point and can kill you with my stare" Singletary and make this a game for maybe three quarters. But with Tony Romo back, Dallas won't cough up this type of game at home. Plus, how can you pick against Romo, who is now taking homeless people to movies (shouldn't they have seen Hancock?). Is this guy for real or what?
Love the Broncos on Sunday at home against Oakland. Denver looked very good in Atlanta last week and seems to have righted the ship, although I'll give you my Elvis stamp collection if you can tell me the Broncos' running back depth chart right now. Still, Jay Cutler should be enough against a team that Denver has won 21 of the past 27 against. In addition, Broncos star CB Champ Bailey may be back, not that Oakland can pass.
In my mind, those three games above are the only locks of the week. However, you likely have used Pittsburgh and Dallas and probably Denver too. So let me give you my reasons for not taking a few potential trap games, and the rest is up to you.
Tampa Bay at Detroit. No one knows the Bucs like the Lions. Rod Marinelli is a former Bucs assistant, and he has surrounded himself with former Tampa Bay players and coaches. The Bucs are traditionally not a good bet as a road favorite and, frankly, often lose outright. And the Lions always play them close, having covered the spread in the past six meetings despite only winning twice. Remember, too, that Tampa Bay won't have Earnest Graham. I love this upset.
Washington at Seattle. The Redskins are trending downward, and Clinton Portis is not 100 percent healthy, although he is expected to play again Sunday. Still, Washington has managed just one TD in the past two games, both losses. The Skins also have lost three in a row on the road. The Seahawks' offense should take a decent step forward with Matt Hasselbeck having another week to practice and prepare. Also love this upset.
Chicago at St. Louis. The Bears also appear headed the wrong way and are coming off their worst loss in more than five years. Another week of rest should help Kyle Orton, but it's the defense that has been alarmingly bad in stopping the pass this year (and was alarmingly bad against the run last week in Green Bay). The Rams have been outscored by a combined 116-32 in the last three games and won't have Steven Jackson or Orlando Pace. So why don't I feel that comfortable recommending Chicago?
That's about it, folks, for games that have a spread of more than five points. Every other game should be quite competitive. I would say of the remaining games on the schedule, I like Cleveland at home against Houston better than any, if you are still needing a choice.