NFL Survivor Pool Picks - Week 15
by Matt Severance - 12/10/2008
Hello, loyal readers. I stopped writing the Survivor Pool column assuming that had you made it this far that: 1) you no longer needed my advice because, hey, you were still going and I was KO'd from mine; or 2) most of the Survivor Pools had finished one way or the other.
Apparently you either missed me or I was wrong, so here we are again, and thanks for those emails. Let's not waste time, money is on the line, and papa needs a new pair of shoes - or an Xbox game.
I'm not even going to guess what teams you have or have not used, not this deep into the season. So I'll try to point out what games to stay away from, and hopefully that will make your pick a little clearer. The good thing is that pretty much every team above .500 in the league still has something to play for, which may not be the case next week with some playoff berths and seeding positions locked in.
New Orleans at Chicago (Thursday). I actually like the Bears here, and they have dominated Drew Brees and the Saints in the cold at Soldier Field, winning in each of the past two years (2006-07 NFC Championship, 2007 season finale) and not losing to the Saints at Soldier Field since 2000. But that Chicago pass defense concerns me against Brees, and while it will be cold it's not expected to snow, so Brees could still do damage. Stay away.
Washington at Cincinnati. No way the Redskins, who are fighting for their playoff lives, can lose to the Bengals, right? Cincy is pretty bad, but it appears things are unraveling with the Redskins, with coach Jim Zorn and star tailback Clinton Portis (who clearly isn't 100 percent healthy) in a catfight through the press, although that apparently has been resolved. There are even rumors that Zorn has lost the team and that Dan Snyder might try to bring in Bill Cowher next year. No thanks on this one.
Detroit at Indianapolis. Is this the week for Lions fans?! Doubtful, although I will say that Lions coach Rod Marinelli knows the Indy defense like the back of his hand being as he was a long-time assistant under Colts coach Tony Dungy at Tampa Bay. But I would stay away from games involving Detroit because if the Lions do pull out a win, it busts the rest of your league and not you.
San Diego at Kansas City. I count the Chargers among the teams playing out the string. They are mathematically alive to win the AFC West behind Denver, but it will take a miracle. And a warm-weather West Coast team heading a few time zones east has been bad news all season.
Tennessee at Houston. OK, Houston is 2-11 all-time vs. the Titans and has lost seven straight in the series. But the Texans have won three straight, and the Titans have all but clinched AFC home-field advantage. In addition, Steve Slaton gained 116 yards in the first meeting this season, even though it was a Titans, 31-12, win. Jeff Fisher always has his club ready to play, and I'll admit I've been a Tennessee doubter much of the year, but I smell upset here with Houston rolling.
Those are my reasons to be wary of five - well, four, as the Saints-Bears isn't one - of the apparent biggest mismatches of the weekend. Most of the other games this week appear close, so who would I take in my Survivor Pool? I certainly like the Pats at Oakland; the Panthers (despite the short week) against the Broncos; the Jets against the fading Bills; and the resurgent Eagles as the No. 1 choice against the Cleveland Dorseys, err, Browns.
I hope that helps, and good luck!