NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Week 16
by Matt Severance - 12/23/2009
Well, last week's Survivor Pool results were one of those glass half-full, glass half-empty deals. I recommended the Denver Broncos in Week 15, while admitting I wasn't really very confident in Denver against the Raiders (more so not that confident in the Broncos than any opponent). And sure enough, Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell, in place of an injured Charlie Frye, led Oakland on a game-winning touchdown drive for the upset.
"JaMarcus Russell led Oakland on a game-winning touchdown drive for the upset."
Those words have never been printed before and may never be again.
But I don't feel too much regret over choosing Denver, because it was clearly the best choice I had left on the board. And the good news is that the two other competitors in my pool also were knocked out last week. We voted to share the winnings as opposed to try and find a sole winner in the season's final two weeks or playoffs - so it has been a productive season financially. I hope it has been the same for you.
(For a recap, here are the teams I used as top choices this season: Broncos, Titans, Bengals, Cowboys, Cardinals, Vikings, Patriots, Chargers, Colts, Steelers, Eagles, Texans, Redskins, Ravens and Saints.)
However, if you are still kicking in your Survivor Pool, I would be remiss not to give some advice for the final two weeks. Obviously you should steer clear of any teams that are locked into their playoff positions because the motivation just isn't there.
FIVE TO SWEAR BY IN WEEK 16
Arizona Cardinals (vs. Rams). The Cards still have plenty to play for. Catching the Vikings, especially with the problems Minnesota is having lately, for the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC isn't out of the question. More likely is getting the No. 3 spot over the NFC East champion. Plus Arizona has won six in a row over St. Louis.
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Chiefs). Here's another team still jockeying for playoff position. As of now, the Bengals would be the lowest-seeded division winner, but you know they would like to jump ahead of New England if possible and avoid the Colts as long as they can - especially with how Cincy nearly won in San Diego last week in what could be a divisional round matchup. Think Cedric Benson might have a big day against a K.C. run defense that made James Harrison look like Jim Brown?
Green Bay Packers (vs. Seattle). Green Bay hasn't even clinched a playoff spot yet thanks to that Ben Roethlisberger miracle last week. As one would expect in late December, it will be cold and a bit snowy at Lambeau for this game, which won't sit too well with the traveling Seahawks who have little reason to care at this point. That was evident in that home egg they laid against the Bucs last week.
San Francisco 49ers (vs. Detroit). The Niners, I believe, are on the cusp of being a good team next year because they have shown signs of being dominant at home this year - they just have to learn to win on the road. The Lions, of course, haven't won a road game since 2007 and Matthew Stafford is unlikely to play again.
Atlanta Falcons (vs. Buffalo). Michael Turner seems unlikely to play after leaving following one carry last week against the Jets. But the Falcons are a young team with the motivation of giving this franchise back-to-back winning seasons for the first time. Plus the Bills start QB Brian Brohm, who has never taken an NFL snap.
FIVE TO BE SCARED BY IN WEEK 16
Indianapolis Colts (vs. New York Jets). No. No. No. Peyton Manning wants the starters to keep "fighting" but there's no way the coach Jim Caldwell lets his guys play more than a half, maybe three quarters. The Jets still are mathematically alive for a playoff spot. Watch Indy's injury report this week - I bet it's massive. That gives Caldwell the out of sitting those "injured" players.
New Orleans Saints (vs. Tampa Bay). This is a total consensus pick this week, one that nearly everyone in your pool will choose if they have the option. For that reason alone, don't take the bait here despite the fact that New Orleans plans to play all of its starters the full game.
San Diego Chargers (at Tennessee). No one wants to play the Titans, who are this close to an eight-game winning streak. Note that this game is Friday night, so it will be plenty chilly for the warm-weather Chargers. Shoot, Tennessee is a favorite, so that's all you need to know.
Minnesota Vikings (at Chicago). It's the home finale for Chicago, and perhaps Bears players will be motivated to save Lovie Smith's job with a big win. And Chicago has been decent at home this year. Plus that Brett Favre-Brad Childress mess could be the undoing of Minnesota.
Dallas Cowboys (at Washington). The Cowboys looked terrific last Saturday in New Orleans, but I consider them a warm-weather/dome team. It will be cold Sunday night in D.C., and the Skins need to redeem themselves after that horrific performance on Monday night. They'd like nothing better than to scuttle Dallas' playoff plans. Let's just hope Jim Zorn keeps the trick plays to himself this week.
Good luck in Week 16, and we'll be back for a wrap-up next week.
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