NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 15
by Matt Severance - 12/13/2011
You know the regular season NFL schedule is winding down when we get a Saturday game, and that’s the case this week when the Cowboys visit the Buccaneers on the NFL Network. Most survivor pools have been resolved by this point, but I will continue to provide NFL survivor pool picks through Week 17.
Last week was very chalk in the NFL, but the Arizona Cardinals may have shaken up your competition for the second time this year. The Cards punked me last month in Philadelphia and won against San Francisco on Sunday in a game the Niners will heavily regret if they give up the No. 2 seed in the NFC to New Orleans. That was really the only surprise of Week 14.
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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 15:
Falcons vs. Jaguars (Thursday): Thanks to a Bears loss last week to the Denver Tebows, the Atlanta Falcons now hold the top NFC wild-card spot and control their playoff destiny. The Falcons are excellent in the Georgia Dome, having lost only to superpowers Green Bay and New Orleans there this year. It’s the first quick turnaround game for Jags rookie QB Blaine Gabbert, so look for him to struggle. Falcons will win.
Bengals at Rams: I’m really only putting this game in this category so I at least have more than a couple in here – I personally wouldn’t risk it this year on a rookie quarterback (Andy Dalton) playing on the road. But the Rams do look pretty wretched, are ravaged by injury and on a short week. If Sam Bradford doesn’t play, not that he’s been good when he has, then I’d feel better about Cincy here.
Saints at Vikings: This could be a trap game for New Orleans with a big one against Atlanta on next Monday. Plus, the Vikings are expecting Adrian Peterson back. If this was an outdoor road game I would be leery of New Orleans, but Drew Brees loves it in any dome.
Giants vs. Redskins: The Giants essentially summed up their dual personalities last week in Dallas, scoring 15 points in the final three-plus minutes to pull out a win they didn’t deserve. I hate putting my faith in New York, but now that it has control of its destiny in the NFC East I can’t imagine a loss here.
Texans vs. Panthers: The Texans, who are on a seven-game winning streak, have no excuse not to win out and possibly be the AFC’s top seed at 13-3. But Cam Newton certainly could steal this one over T.J. Yates. It will be close, but Houston still pulls it out.
Cardinals vs. Browns: Look at Arizona! It has won three in a row and five of six to keep its faint wild-card hopes alive. I’d feel a little better about picking the Cards here if Kevin Kolb plays. Kolb took a hard hit prior to attempting a throw on the team's first offensive series of Sunday’s upset over San Francisco. He was taken out of the game and replaced by John Skelton. Cleveland’s offense is awful so Arizona should win a low-scoring game.
Too Even To Bother
Bills vs. Dolphins: I have no faith in Buffalo, but I also don’t have any in Miami, which plays its first game without head coach Tony Sparano, who was fired on Monday. Thus the Fins could mail it in. Or they could be glad to be rid of Sparano. Too much uncertainty to pick this game.
Raiders vs. Lions: It’s really a must-win for both, with Oakland now a game behind Denver in the AFC West and the Lions trying to hold off several teams for the final NFC wild-card spot. Do you realize that Oakland has fallen behind 34-0 in the past two games? Oakland is the first team to fall that far behind in successive weeks since the 1984 Buffalo Bills. Still, I don’t trust the Lions outside of Ford Field yet. They do get Ndamukong Suh back, however.
Patriots at Broncos: The old Golden Boy against the new one. I have run out of things to say about Tim Tebow other than I swear luck shines upon him and this team more than any I have seen. I expect a Patriots win, but I am sure Tebow levitates into the end zone with a few seconds left for the upset.
Eagles vs. Jets: Philly hasn’t been officially eliminated from the playoff hunt yet. Even at 5-8, the defending NFC East champions have a chance to repeat. They must win their last three games, and the Giants and Cowboys each have to finish no better than 1-2. The Jets would be a wild-card if the season ended today. Four of the five Jets’ losses have come on the road so I would lean toward Philly here, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles dropped to 1-6 at home.
Chargers vs. Ravens: The Bolts have to win out to have any shot at the playoffs, while the Ravens are still hoping for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. San Diego has won two straight by a combined 51 points and appears to be on its usual late-season surge, plus this will be the final home game of the season. But the Ravens are too good to bet against, so I would just walk away from this game.
Steelers at 49ers (Monday): Have the 49ers been exposed a bit in losing two of three? The Niners offense has struggled in defeats to Baltimore and Arizona and the Steelers are an even better defense. Plus, San Francisco star RB Frank Gore clearly isn’t 100 percent healthy, which even Coach Jim Harbaugh admits.
Stay Far, Far Away
Cowboys at Bucs (Saturday): Tampa Bay has one of the big disappointments this season and is on a seven-game losing streak. Last week the Bucs allowed 28 points to the Jaguars in less than an eight-minute stretch in the second quarter; Jacksonville hadn’t even scored 20 points in a game all season. Still, this is the home finale for Tampa Bay and it might have to finish well for Coach Raheem Morris to keep his job. I think the Bucs do that Saturday. Plus, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett could well blow another game for his team, and Dallas lost stud rookie RB DeMarco Murray.
Bears vs. Seahawks: It’s a must-win for Chicago, which has dropped three in a row with Caleb Hanie at quarterback. The Bears offense has one TD in the past 128 minutes. The defense played incredibly well last week in Denver before changing its scheme late in the game and allowing Tebow to shred them. And Marion Barber might be the stupidest player alive. It’s a short week for Seattle, but the Seahawks are playing much, much better and Marshawn Lynch is a beast. This one could go either way.
Titans at Colts: I’m calling it – this is the week the Colts get their first and likely only win of 2011. Yes, Indy looks pathetic and Tennessee is fighting for its playoff life. But this is realistically Indianapolis’ best chance to win, with only a home game vs. Houston and roadie at Jacksonville remaining. But I can almost guarantee you the score of this game as this has been the final score in the Titans’ past four games: 23-17 (L), 23-17 (W), 23-17 (W), 22-17 (L).
Packers at Chiefs: Green Bay looks set to finish the regular season at 16-0 with two home games after this one. How much will the loss of Greg Jennings affect the Pack? Plus how will the Chiefs react to the firing of head coach Todd Haley? This one is just too dangerous to put all your marbles down on Green Bay.
And The Pick Is ….
Of all the favorites in the games listed under worth considering, I used them all except for the Bengals and Cardinals. Thus I would probably go Arizona but if you haven’t used one of the other clubs in that category, I would go in that direction instead of putting your faith in Skelton.
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