NFL Survivor Pool Picks - Week 17
by Matt Severance - 12/24/2008
Well, readers, the final week of the NFL's regular season is upon us. Hopefully you have pocketed that Survivor Pool cash by now, but if not, here is my final column for the season. I thank those of you who emailed in with questions, etc.
I hope you heeded my advice last week, where I saw five trap games: Saints at Lions, Texans at Raiders, Jets at Seahawks, Dolphins at Chiefs and Chargers at Bucs. Indeed, three of those favorites fell in Houston, New York and Tampa Bay, with Miami pushed to the limit. I made the mistake of forecasting a Lions victory for the second time this season, and I can assure you that will be the last time until Obama runs for a second term.
Week 17 is a difficult one for Survivor Pools because there are several games that don't mean a thing. For example, stay far, far away from that Titans-Colts matchup, because only Jeff Fisher and Tony Dungy know how long they will play their starters, if at all. Tennessee is locked in at No. 1 in the AFC and Indy at No. 5. The Titans may have more of an incentive to play the regulars longer because of having a week off following this game, while Indy almost assuredly won't play its regulars much because of a tough road playoff game upcoming the following weekend. Don't touch this one.
A few other meaningless games to stay away from:
Cleveland at Pittsburgh. Yes, the Steelers have owned the Browns. Yes, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin claims he won't just treat this like an exhibition. Yes, the Steelers have a bye the following week and won't want to enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak after falling to the Titans last week. Yes, Bruce Gradkowski starts for the Browns, who apparently are kicking each others asses in the weight room. Still, Romeo Crennel MUST win this game to have any hope of saving his job, and that's probably unlikely. I think Tomlin certainly won't risk Ben Roethlisberger much if at all here, and it just smells bad to me. There are better options out there, and you've probably used Pittsburgh by now anyways.
Washington at San Francisco. Why bother? This could go either way.
Kansas City at Cincinnati. Come on, are you going to put your faith and money in one of these teams?
Detroit at Green Bay. OK, OK, I'm not going to predict a Lions victory here. But they will play incredibly hard, right? And the Packers are coming off a short week. I'm just saying …
Seattle at Arizona. The Cards are pretty decent at home, but Seattle seemed motivated in Mike Holmgren's final home game and might be again in his final game on the sidelines. Arizona really has nothing to play for here, and the Cardinals have been pretty bad of late.
That leaves 10 games with something on the line playoff-wise. Here are the ones I do like. Remember, some of the late games could be affected by the early games in terms of playoff relevance:
The No. 1 choice has to be the Falcons over the Rams, and I don't think I have recommended Atlanta much if at all this year. I guess I believe now. Yes, Atlanta is already in the playoffs, but the Falcons can still win the NFC South with a Panthers loss. The beauty is that Carolina plays New Orleans the same time Atlanta plays St. Louis, so the Falcons will need to give full effort.
My No. 2 choice would be Tampa Bay to beat Oakland. No surprise here, but the Bucs have been falling off a cliff while the Raiders have shown a pulse. Did you see Jeff Garcia's face last week after that huge hit? He looked like Carrie! Anyways, I think this will be closer than the spread but that Tampa Bay won't choke it away.
No. 3 is San Diego over Denver. The Broncos choked away their playoff hopes last week, in my opinion, and lost two more running backs in the process. Does Tatum Bell scare you? Me neither, and he won't the Chargers, who have found themselves.
I'd say I like the Ravens over the Jaguars as well, but Baltimore could have its playoff spot clinched by the time it takes the field and thus have little to play for. Unfortunately your Survivor Pool won't wait until 4 p.m. Sunday, so steer clear of this one and all the other playoff-involved matchups, as they could go either way.
That does it for me, folks. Good luck in Week 17, and look for the Survivor Pool column again next fall. Although, if many of you out there have Playoff Survivor Pools or something similar, let Doc's know and perhaps I can write something leading into next weekend.