NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 14
by Matt Severance - 12/7/2011
I often get emails from those of you reading this column. Some certainly are “you are an idiot” type but many say thanks for my role in providing advice. And often the reader will say he or she more used my “stay far, far away” recommendations as a barometer of what not to choose instead of always going with my top choice for your survivor pool selection that week.
I am hoping last week was one of those times. Unfortunately, with not much left to pick from, I took the Bears at home against Kansas City. Why I put my faith in Caleb Hanie is beyond me (and I’m a Bears fan), but I figured a heavy dose of Matt Forte and the good Chicago defense would be enough against Tyler Palko and Co. Then Forte left the game for good in the first quarter with an MCL strain and the Bears gave up a Hail Mary TD at the end of the first half. Chiefs win, 10-3.
That was one of a few surprises in Week 13, including Seahawks over Eagles (although not that surprising as Philly has given up), Panthers over Bucs and Cardinals over Cowboys. I warned you to steer clear of Dallas last week, so hopefully you at least did that. I also warned against Denver at Minnesota, but Tim Tebow was up to his tricks again.
So even though I am out of my competition, I will continue to provide you with NFL survivor pool picks. This late in the season, it’s probably irrelevant which teams I already had chosen, so I will skip that part for the stretch run.
On to Week 14:
Steelers vs. Browns (Thursday): Pittsburgh easily swept Cleveland last year and has won 14 of the past 15 in the series. Cleveland’s offense is probably the worst in the NFL outside of Jacksonville, and Colt McCoy is going backward. No chance Steelers lose at home barring a Big Ben injury.
Lions vs. Vikings: I love Detroit if Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is out again, and there’s even a small chance that Vikes rookie QB Christian Ponder is out due to a hip pointer, but he played through that last Sunday. Detroit hasn’t looked good of late but should handle this one at home in what’s really a must-win in the playoff chase.
Jets vs. Chiefs: Love the Jets at home against Tyler Palko, although it’s still not clear if Chiefs backup QB Kyle Orton can play after getting hurt on his first play as a Chief in last week’s win over Chicago. If he can play, and I don’t doubt he would replace Palko at some point in the game, that gives K.C. a better chance at the upset, but I highly doubt it.
Ravens vs. Colts: This looks totally like a trap game for Baltimore, but the Ravens know they have to keep pace with Pittsburgh in the AFC North (presuming Pittsburgh wins Thursday) as well as the Pats and Texans for the top seed in the conference. So I couldn’t put this in the ‘stay far, far away’ category. I do think this game will actually be closer than many expect – the Ravens play to their competition often – but Baltimore still wins.
Chargers vs. Bills: San Diego saved its season on Monday night and did what it should have: thumped a lesser-talented Jacksonville team. Is that Norv Turner late-season surge coming? I think it might be. Buffalo is sinking fast.
Seahawks vs. Rams (Monday): I used all the teams except Detroit listed above worth considering, so if I was still alive in my pool I would go Seahawks here if Sam Bradford is out for the Rams again. Seattle is playing better of late and is still mathematically alive for a wild-card spot.
Too Even To Bother
Bengals vs. Texans: This could be a playoff preview. I wouldn’t bank on a rookie QB this late in the year on either side and that’s what you get here with Houston’s T.J. Yates and Cincy’s Andy Dalton.
Saints at Titans: Always take the Saints at home, but that spectacular Drew Brees-led offense is usually a bit off outside of the dome and especially in the cold (although it won’t be too bad in Nashville). Chris Johnson is starting to look like himself, so I could see a Titans win here.
Dolphins vs. Eagles: A little more than a month ago, could you have imagined that the “Dream Team” Eagles would be dogs at Miami? Michael Vick (no dog pun intended) may be back this week, but Philly has quit. Doesn’t mean I believe the Fins will win, either.
Falcons at Panthers: Don’t look now, but Cam Newton and Co. have won two straight, and those were on the road. Carolina played well earlier this year in a 31-17 loss at Atlanta, taking a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Falcons have looked ‘iffy’ in outdoor road games this year. A Panthers upset wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Jaguars vs. Buccaneers: It has really been a lousy football season in the Sunshine State, both NFL and college. No clue who wins here, nor do I care.
Cowboys vs. Giants: Hey Jason Garrett, you aren’t supposed to ice your own kicker. Garrett’s coaching in the final seconds of regulation in last week’s loss at Arizona was nothing short of a fireable offense. This one is a toss up in my mind.
Stay Far, Far Away
Patriots at Redskins: Nothing more than a hunch here that the Skins will play their last, best game of the season – despite being dominated at home by the Jets last week – and that New England is due for a bit of a stinker after winning four straight.
Broncos vs. Bears: I pray the Bears win just so we can stop hearing about Tebow. You are no doubt tempted to go Denver considering the Bears won’t have either Jay Cutler or Matt Forte. But Tebow has looked very ‘iffy’ in his two home games as a starter. Not sure why that is. And Chicago is the best defensive team Tebow will have faced so far. Bears could win a very low-scoring game, especially if Broncos rookie star pass-rusher Von Miller is out again.
49ers at Cardinals: The Niners have already wrapped up the NFC West and aren’t going to catch Green Bay for the No. 1 seed in the conference. Plus San Francisco leads New Orleans essentially by two games for the No. 2 spot in the NFC, so how motivated will the Niners be here? Also looming is a statement game next week vs. Pittsburgh. I smell an Arizona upset here as the Cards are playing much better.
Packers vs. Raiders: I have no doubt you have used Green Bay already, but this one looks like a huge letdown game after that last-second win against the Giants last week. If Darren McFadden can get back this week, which doesn’t look probable, Oakland does have a shot here. Not a great one, but a shot.
And The Pick Is ….
The Ravens are most likely to win but are probably not an option this late in year. Neither are Steelers. You might still have Seattle and Detroit available, as I would have. I would definitely wait to see the status of Bradford against the Seahawks and Peterson against the Lions before choosing. All things equal, I like Seattle in another “Monday Night Football” yawnfest.
Allen Eastman is on a roll for his NFL picks. His incredible 411 System, the top NFL betting system in the nation, is on a 6-2-1 run the last few weeks and it is 82-48-4 the last four years overall. He will have a 6-Unit Game of the Month on his weekend card this week and a one-week package is only $99. Also, check his Insider’s Page HERE for free sports picks daily.
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