NFL Survivor Pool Picks - Week 4
by Matt Severance - 09/25/2008
Welcome back to the weekly NFL Survivor Pool column, which should find you still alive in your competition if you have followed my advice. Weeks 1 and 2 were no sweat for my picks, with the Eagles and Bucs, respectively, but Week 3 was a close one, with the Giants needing overtime to beat the pitiful Bengals. I did warn you last week that there were no sure things and that it would have been hard for Carson Palmer to have a third consecutive bad week, and he didn't. But the G-Men survived.
I'm also guessing that the Pats' loss to the Dolphins may have cost some of you, while the Bills nearly did the same before a huge fourth-quarter rally against Oakland. But, the past is the past and hopefully we're all still kicking, so let's look to Week 4.
No drama this week, I'm going to give you my choice right away: Jacksonville over Houston. The Jags looked like themselves last week in a road upset against Indianapolis, rediscovering their running game with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. That rushing dominance (236 yards) allowed QB David Garrard to do what he does best: Just manage the game. He did throw another interception, but Garrard also completed more than 70 percent of his passes. The Texans, meanwhile, are 0-2 and haven't been competitive against two other smash-mouth teams this year, the Steelers and Titans. In addition, that Houston offense is sputtering behind inconsistent QB Matt Schaub, who is probably one more bad game from being replaced by Sage Rosenfels. Yes, I know this is a division game, which I try to stay away from, but as long as the Jags make sure they know where Andre Johnson is all day, they shouldn't have any problems on Sunday now that their season is back on track.
Here are the five other games with the current biggest spreads but ones that I recommend not touching this week:
Denver at Kansas City - The Broncos, you would expect, would romp here, and they are big favorites. But this is a road division game, and the Chiefs aren't going 0-16. In addition, they have dropped 12 games in a row overall and there's something about the No. 13 that I don't like. I think starting Damon Huard this week at QB gives K.C. a chance to stay close, especially against a Denver defense that's not all that great. I'm probably just searching for reasons here to fill out space, but I think the Chiefs pull one or two of these home surprises somewhere this year, and it could be Sunday against a team due for a letdown after a few dramatic victories.
Buffalo at St. Louis - I think this is the ultimate trap game. The Rams have a bye week following this game and very well could make a coaching change that week without a victory against Buffalo. They also have turned to Trent Green at QB, so maybe the veteran sparks the team. The Bills, meanwhile, were fortunate to win last week against Oakland and don't play in a dome that often - they haven't won in a fully domed stadium since 2002. In addition, the Bills will be without kick return star Roscoe Parrish this week (and for 3-5 more weeks). Stay far away from this one. In fact, I'd take the Rams and the points, but that's a whole different column.
San Diego at Oakland - The Raiders looked pretty good last week and also are playing for their coach's job. And it's a road division game for San Diego, so why would you mess with this one? In addition, the Bolts come off a short week, having beaten the Jets on Monday night. Yes, I know that San Diego has beaten Oakland nine straight times, but I'm not going here.
Washington at Dallas - The Redskins nearly always give the Cowboys trouble, and they barely lost at Texas Stadium last year. In addition, Washington QB Jason Campbell has come of age in the past two weeks. Losing Jason Taylor won't help the Redskins' cause, but I would argue that you don't want to pick any NFC East intradivision games at all this year with all four teams being playoff-caliber.
Philadelphia at Chicago - The Bears' defense has been great this season - except for late in the fourth quarter. Chicago should be 3-0 but faded late against Carolina and Tampa Bay. But my main concern in this game is the status of Eagles stars Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. Both say they expect to play Sunday night, but one tweak, etc., to either one, and I think the Bears win this game straight up. McNabb and Westbrook are likely to be game-time decisions at best, and you can't wait that long to make your survivor pick.
Good luck in Week 4.