NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Week 5
by Matt Severance - 10/7/2009
Last week my top pick for your Survivor Pools was the Houston Texans, which is the first time I have recommended a below-.500 team so far in the two years I have been doing this column. But of course the Texans had no trouble with an Oakland offense that is the worst in the NFL in terms of yards per game.
Actually, there weren't really any big upsets in Week 4, so I'm guessing no one got knocked out of your Survivor Pool. The five teams I told you to swear by, including the Texans, all won last week. Of the five teams I told you to be scared by, only the Dallas Cowboys lost.
It might be time, with as bad as both the Raiders and St. Louis Rams have looked, to start thinking of a Detroit Lions 2008 approach - i.e. taking a team that plays either Oakland or St. Louis each week. You can bet that several participants in your league will be taking whoever plays the Rams each week if possible. Thus I wouldn't go there, because when they win, and they will, you benefit.
So far we have used Houston, Baltimore, Washington and New Orleans as top picks.
FIVE TO SWEAR BY IN WEEK 5
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Tampa Bay). The Eagles get both Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook back this week, and the Iggles had the bye week to gameplan for a Tampa Bay offense that is terrible. The Bucs rank 28th in average points per game with 13.5 and 25th in average points allowed with 26.8. Plus the team seems in total disarray, having just cut its starting kicker after already changing QBs (and offensive coordinators before the season).
New York Giants (vs. Oakland). This would be my top choice if it weren't for the uncertainty over Eli Manning's foot injury. I could see the G-men holding Eli out this week since it's hard to imagine them losing to Oakland even with David Carr at QB, although most reports are that Manning will make his 83rd straight start. I don't know, I just don't 100 percent love New York here, maybe because I think it might overlook the Raiders and toward next week's big game with the Saints.
Pittsburgh Steelers (at Detroit). The Lions may not have Matthew Stafford, while the Steelers could get Troy Polamalu back. Still, Detroit is playing much better than last season and might be able to keep it somewhat close.
Carolina Panthers (vs. Washington). The 0-3 Panthers will be desperate, plus they had last week off to heal up and prepare for the vanilla Washington offense. Sunday's game is their season and probably Jake Delhomme's career as a starter.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cincinnati). Like I mentioned above, I have already used the Ravens, but perhaps you ignored me that week. I think Baltimore takes out its frustrations with the refs' role in last week's close loss at New England. In fact, I think we learned more from Baltimore losing that game than we have its three victories - this team is a Super Bowl contender.
FIVE TO BE SCARED BY
Minnesota Vikings (at St. Louis). Yes, I know the Rams currently own the NFL's longest losing streak at 14 games. I also know the Vikes are one of only five unbeatens. But it's a short week for the Vikings and there simply WILL be a letdown, especially for Brett Favre, in the wake of the much-hyped affair with the Packers. Plus Rams starting QB Marc Bulger could be back (if that's a good thing). This might be the last time I include the Vikings in my "scared by" category, as they have proven me wrong each time.
New England Patriots (at Denver). I still don't buy the Broncos, but that defense did look pretty good against a Dallas offense that isn't too far off from New England's. Plus you know the Pats are banged up this week after having to face the physical Ravens last Sunday. In addition, Denver coach Josh McDaniels is the former Patriot offensive coordinator, so he'll know what to expect.
Buffalo Bills (vs. Cleveland). The Browns are the Rams of the AFC, but I actually think they get addition by subtraction by dealing away Braylon Edwards. He has never returned to what he was in 2007 and has been an off-the-field distraction as well. If Buffalo WR Terrell Owens doesn't have a catch by halftime, he could go ballistic - which could cost his team.
Indianapolis Colts (at Tennessee). Can Peyton Manning keep carrying the Colts like he has been? You would think the team's lack of established receivers other than Reggie Wayne would catch up to it at some point. Unfortunately the Titan secondary is one of the worst in the NFL. Still, I think the Titans give it their all for one more game before possibly looking ahead to next season.
New York Jets (at Miami). Absolutely love the Jets getting Braylon Edwards, who needed a change. And New York gets back top LB Calvin Pace from suspension this week. But Jets QB Mark Sanchez looked like a rookie last time out, and the Fins lead the NFL in third-down conversions. Miami wins a close, low-scoring game.
So to recap: Take the Eagles this week, meaning I can no longer chose them, the Texans, Redskins, Ravens or Saints.
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