NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Week 8
by Matt Severance - 10/28/2009
Last week was a definite chalk week in the NFL, with only two possible upsets likely to have affected anyone in your Suicide Pool: the Cardinals winning at the New York Giants and the Bills winning at Carolina.
I recommended the Colts as the top choice last week, and they weren't challenged at all by the Rams. We hit on three of our five to "swear by," with the Patriots and Chargers also winning easily. I must admit we did have both the Giants and the Panthers in that "swear by" category, too, but if you have simply listened to my top choice each week, you are still rolling.
That said, I have gotten an occasional email asking if I could recommend teams on a certain points or five-star, four-star, etc., basis. I do rank the teams in the "swear by" in descending order of most likely to win. In the "scared by" category, I generally list the teams at the top that are more likely not necessarily to lose but be a popular choice that week and which could thus be a trap - goods teams like the Saints or Vikings or Patriots.
Make sense? On to Week 8.
FIVE TO SWEAR BY IN WEEK 8
San Diego Chargers (vs. Oakland). The Bolts are a slightly worrisome 1-2 at home, but they saved their season and played their best game of the year last week at Kansas City, winning 37-7. Oakland's offense, which will be missing Darren McFadden again, is putrid: The Raiders rank 32nd and last in the league in total offense, passing offense, first downs, punt returns and kickoff returns, and they are 31st in points scored. Oakland hasn't scored more than 13 in a game since losing the opener 24-20 to San Diego. Did I mention that the Chargers have won 12 in a row in this series?
Chicago Bears (vs. Cleveland). I wavered on whether to make Chicago my top pick this week, but last week's blowout loss at Cincinnati makes me think something just isn't right in the Windy City yet. Wait, I know what that is: Matt Forte. The second-year back is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and has found the end zone just one time this year. Jay Cutler can't do it all himself. Still, the Browns are nearly as bad on offense as Oakland is. Now way Chicago drops a third game in a row, although this could be a low-scoring dud.
Dallas Cowboys (vs. Seattle). The Cowboys looked excellent off the bye last week in a 37-21 win over the Falcons. And that Dallas backfield is full strength now. Matt Hasselbeck is supposed to start at QB for the Seahawks, who are coming off a bye. But the Seattle offensive line is a mess.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. Denver). Sorry, I still don't believe in Denver, and for sure not on the road against a Super Bowl contender. Baltimore needs this one much, much more and will play like it.
Indianapolis Colts (vs. San Francisco). Of course we used Indy last week. I have small concerns here for the Colts here, as Frank Gore is back to 100 percent now and perhaps the 49ers will be a different team with Alex Smith.
FIVE TO BE SCARED BY IN WEEK 8
New Orleans Saints (vs. Atlanta). I know, I know, I predicted a Saints loss last week in Miami. But the Fins had a 21-point lead and should have put that game away. Obviously the Saints are a totally different team in the dome, but the Falcons also are a dome team, and I do believe that counts for something. It took a late fourth-quarter TD for New Orleans to beat Atlanta at the Superdome in 2008. Also, the Falcons this year have played two good games, then a bad one, two good ones, then a bad one. So if that trend holds …
Arizona Cardinals (vs. Carolina). The Cardinals could be a semi-popular choice in your league this week as good as they looked last time out against the Giants. And I really have no statistical reasons to tell you Carolina could win. But Jake Delhomme gets the start, possibly for the final time, and I think he puts up big numbers against the team that started his massive slump to begin with.
Minnesota Vikings (at Green Bay). Supposedly some Favre guy is returning to Wisconsin. Think the Packers will be fired up for this? Plus they can tie the Vikes for first in the NFC North.
Detroit Lions or St. Louis Rams. I honestly felt the need to include this Toilet Bowl game, one of the potential worst matchups in NFL history. It could truly end 0-0. I know you wouldn't pick either team, but I just couldn't help myself.
To recap, I recommend the San Diego Chargers as your top choice this week. That means off the board for me are the Chargers, Colts, Steelers, Eagles, Texans, Redskins, Ravens and Saints.
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