NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 4
by Matt Severance - 9/26/2012
That is the sound emanating from survivor pools all around the country with many already having been emptied through just three weeks of the NFL season. There have been mammoth upsets each week so far, and Week 3 was no different. I recommended Dallas over Tampa Bay (Cowboys were somewhat lucky to win) and Chicago over St. Louis, both correct, but my top choice was New Orleans at home over Kansas City.
Somehow, the freaking Saints blew a 24-6 late third-quarter lead as Kansas City scored the game’s final 21 points to win by three in overtime. And I can’t even blame the replacement officials like Packers fans can. How unlikely was that Kansas City comeback? The Chiefs had lost 31 straight games when trailing by at least 10 points entering the fourth quarter. The Saints had won an NFL-high 19 straight games when leading at halftime. Sean Payton might win NFL Coach of the Year in 2012 despite not being on the sideline once.
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On the bright side for Week 3 and so far this season, I did somewhat project several of the upsets last week. I recommended you stay away from 49ers at Minnesota (trap game!), the Lions at Tennessee (another trap), Steelers at Raiders (trap game No. 3, tough cross-country trip) and Packers at Seahawks (Seattle’s just pretty good). So from here on out, perhaps it just behooves you to only read the type under “The Bad” heading.
On to Week 4, with the Colts and Steelers on a bye: (favorites listed first).
Baltimore vs. Cleveland (Thursday): As I have stated before, quick turnaround games are extremely dangerous but generally favor the home team. That definitely wasn’t the case last week as Carolina was ripped at home by the Giants. But Joe Flacco has never lost to Cleveland, and I see no reason why that changes this week.
Houston vs. Tennessee: This would seem like a potential trap for Houston if it were on the road and the fact that the Texans are riding sky-high at 3-0 after beating nemesis Peyton Manning last week. But at home, Houston should be safe here. Yes, they lost at home to Tennessee in Week 17 a year ago, but the Texans had nothing to play for then.
Denver vs. Oakland: The Raiders put up 34 points on Pittsburgh last week, but that Steelers defense was missing two of its best players. I can’t see Manning dropping three games in a row, and he better not because after this week the Broncos are at New England and at San Diego.
Green Bay vs. New Orleans: The Saints are probably about to mail it in, while the Packers are going to be playing with fury after getting hosed on Monday night. Think Roger Goodell would dare attend this game? (i.e. Saints’ Bountygate and Pack’s MNF outrage)
Atlanta vs. Carolina: I almost put the Falcons in the “good” category, but this smells fishy to me after Atlanta opened with three wins over AFC West clubs. The Panthers also had extra time to prepare after that Thursday night stinker. You will have a better week to pick Atlanta.
New England at Buffalo: No way the Pats lose three straight, right? Probably not, and their two losses are by a combined three points. But the Bills have looked vastly better since laying an egg in Week 1. There’s even talk that Fred Jackson and/or C.J. Spiller could return early from injury and play this week. It’s too early in the season to take a road team.
Detroit vs. Minnesota: The big question here is whether Lions QB Matthew Stafford plays. He left last week’s epic comeback vs. Tennessee with a hamstring injury and hasn’t practiced yet this week. He has started 19 consecutive games after missing 19 of the first 32 in his career because of injuries. The Vikes, meanwhile, are one of the league’s surprise teams. Did you realize that Christian Ponder was the NFL’s fifth-rated QB? Steer clear here.
Kansas City vs. San Diego: I thought I knew what both of these clubs were until the Chiefs went crazy late in the game vs. the Saints and the Bolts were totally outclassed at home by Atlanta. Now I have no idea, so move on.
Seattle at St. Louis: TRAP, TRAP, TRAP! Short week for the Seahawks after the most emotional regular-season win in franchise history. Seattle QB Russell Wilson didn’t look very good vs. Green Bay, and he will be the worst QB the Rams have seen so far this season.
San Francisco at NY Jets: Is this the week Tim Tebow gets some snaps at QB? Mark Sanchez is completing well under 50 percent of his passes the past two weeks. And this will be the best defense he has seen. But West Coast teams traveling across country for what is a 10 a.m. Pacific time start screams danger.
Cincinnati at Jacksonville: Andy Dalton and that Bengals offense has been humming the past two weeks after being shut down in Week 1 vs. Baltimore. But the Bengals can’t stop the run, meaning Maurice Jones-Drew could have another huge week and win the game single-handedly.
Arizona vs. Miami: I want to call this a major trap for the 3-0 Cardinals, but not at home. Right? Arizona’s defense is startlingly good and should shut down Ryan Tannehill and Co., but I can’t recommend the Cardinals quite yet. Plus, I could see a letdown after Arizona just beat three playoff-caliber teams in a row. By the way, when did the NFC West become the hub of defense in the NFL?
Tampa Bay vs. Washington: Robert Griffin III is learning the NFL isn’t quite as easy as he may have thought after Week 1. This could be an aerial shootout as these are the two worst clubs in the NFL against the pass. I have no idea which wins.
Philadelphia vs. NY Giants: Too close to call. But I am calling that this is the game in which Michael Vick gets hurt and misses at least a few games. I’m not sure that would bother Andy Reid right now considering Vick has nine turnovers, more than any other TEAM.
Dallas vs. Chicago (Monday): The two most popular yet most criticized/despised quarterbacks in the league: Tony Romo vs. Jay Cutler. If the Bears are without both Matt Forte and Michael Bush, the Cowboys should win. But that Dallas offensive line has looked pretty overmatched at times this season and the Bears could batter Romo like Tampa Bay did a week ago.
I reserve this space for a game you shouldn’t care about and I don’t see one in Week 4 (thought about Redskins-Bucs, but RGIII is reason enough to watch). That’s what happens when you have so many 1-2 and 2-1 teams. In fact, there are 27 teams with a 2-1 or 1-2 record, the most such clubs since realignment in 2002.
I have used Houston already, one of the few I got right, but the Texans would be the pick. If I were still going, the Ravens would be the second choice.
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