NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Week 17
by Matt Severance - 12/29/2009
It’s hard to believe it’s already the final week of the NFL season and thus my last Survivor Pool story of 2009. I hope my advice was helpful and that you get to begin the New Year with some extra cash in your pocket. Going out in Week 15 certainly beats losing in Week 6 like in 2008. Maybe that gives me a semblance of credibility that I know what I’m doing. Or it was just luck, who knows?
Last week I strongly urged you to steer clear of the Colts, Saints and Vikings, three teams that entered Week 16 with a total of four losses. Of course all three lost, with the Colts simply giving up on a chance to make history by benching their starters against the Jets. In my opinion, Survivor Pools should end after Week 15 or Week 16 at the latest – just like most fantasy football leagues. The season’s final week or two is just two unpredictable as to which teams will rest their players. The Colts did that in both 2005 and 2007 with home-field advantage locked up and then proceeded to lose their first playoff game.
Anyways, on to our final Survivor Picks – although if enough of you request a playoff primer version I’m sure we can accommodate you.
I am going to steer clear of the five to “swear by” and five to “be scared by” this week because honestly I can’t find five games that I believe are near locks. I mean, look at the schedule this week and it’s all about what team is motivated.
Certainly you don’t want any part of the Colts. If they rested their key guys halfway through a game in the comforts of their 70 degree dome, how much do you think they will play out in the winter elements of Buffalo?
I would want nothing to do with New Orleans this week, either. While I have no doubt the Saints, who clinched the NFC’s top seed thanks to the Vikings’ loss, do want to win this week to avoid entering the playoffs on a three-game slide, the Panthers have been playing their best football of late. Plus a dome team playing outdoors this late in the year is never a good thing (although it won’t be too bad in Charlotte).
What about San Diego? I’m guessing the Chargers are off your board anyways, and the Bolts really have nothing to play for other than to keep that winning streak going. The Redskins might try to actually play hard for once being as it should be Jim Zorn’s final day on the job.
Also take a very close look at when teams play this week. There is no Thursday or Monday night game, but a team like the Broncos, who play at 4:15 at home against the Chiefs, will know if they can reach the playoffs with a win. If they are officially eliminated by kickoff, that’s a hard thing to get over right away. That’s why picking a team that simply needs to win to get in is probably the wise way to go: so Baltimore over Oakland or the New York Jets over Cincinnati in the final game at Giants Stadium. The Ravens and Jets have the “win and get in” possibility in Week 17 – the other 10 playoff spots all have been accounted for. However, the Bengals also might have something to play for. If the Patriots lose at Houston early on Sunday, Cincinnati can move up to the No. 3 spot in the AFC with a win Sunday night against the Jets.
Only four games this week involve two teams that are officially out of the playoffs: Bears at Lions, 49ers at Rams, Falcons at Buccaneers and Titans at Seahawks. All four road teams should be favored, yet each of the underdogs is a rebuilding team looking to finish 2009 on a positive note with a home win. They are all likely to play as hard as possible. And really, how motivated do you think the road teams will be to be away from home for a game that means nothing.
It’s the toughest week of the season to pick a game, in my opinion. Hopefully you’ve already won and don’t have to worry about it, but I would recommend Baltimore over anyone else. If the Ravens aren’t an option … well, good luck.
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