NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 13
by Matt Severance - 11/27/2013
Well, that's a first. My two top recommendations in Week 12 both lost -- so hopefully it was one of those weeks you didn't listen to me. Frankly, on the emails I do get, it does seem many don't usually follow my top recommendation but do listen when I think something is a trap game.
I guess I got what I deserved banking on the bone-headed Lions. They could have taken control of the NFC North with a win over visiting Tampa Bay, but the Motor City Kitties had five turnovers, including one Matthew Stafford pick returned for a score, and a punt blocked. So typical of Detroit, which simply doesn't know how to handle success. I mentioned that I would have no problem if you decided to go with Kansas City at home last week against San Diego, but Philip Rivers was brilliant in the Chargers' 41-38 win that pretty much exposed the Chiefs as frauds if you ask me (to be fair, their two best pass-rushers left the game early). My next pick up was Baltimore against the Jets, and the Ravens defense dominated. I would have made Baltimore No. 1 last week, but I already used it.
I was KO'd from one of my pools, but a handful of us were all eliminated in another last week, so we are all still going rather than split it six ways. As usual, I will keep going through the first week of the playoffs on these stories. So far my top picks this year have been New England, Baltimore, Seattle, New Orleans, Atlanta, Denver, Green Bay, San Francisco, Dallas, the NY Giants, Cincinnati and Detroit. There are no byes this week. These go in descending order of confidence.
Dallas vs. Oakland (Thursday): The Cowboys are a lot like the Lions to me. Offensively they look dynamic at times but tend to make stupid mistakes that keep them from being seriously considered as a contender. Dallas is a different team at home, averaging an NFC-high 34.6 points at home this year. The Oakland McGloins can't possibly score that much.
Carolina vs. Tampa Bay: Trap game? The Cats were fortunate to win in Miami on a short week last Sunday. The Bucs are feeling it now, having won three straight. Mike Glennon is making all those teams that passed on him in the first two-plus rounds of the 2013 draft look bad. He deserves some Offensive ROY consideration in a weak group. I could see the Bucs being the Panthers of 2014. Carolina has looked terrific at home and should win a closer-than-expected game.
San Francisco vs. St. Louis: Speaking of the 2014 draft, the Rams have to be giddy at the Redskins' nose dive as they get that pick from the RGIII trade. Last year that looked like a great trade for Washington. Not anymore. I think the Rams can keep this close with their good defense and maybe another long TD from Tavon Austin, but the Niners will ultimately prevail.
New England at Houston: Yes, I think the Patriots suffer a big letdown after last week's emotional overtime victory over Denver in Brady-Manning XIV. I also think the Texans want the season to end. This year could be the best thing to happen to that team. Land a franchise QB in the 2014 draft and contend again next year under a new coach and with a still very talented group. Frankly, it's what the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls should do (minus the new coach): tank in a lost season.
Indianapolis vs. Tennessee: The Colts have been getting pummeled in the first half of their past four games, winning two of them only because Andrew Luck is terrific. Holes are starting to show in this team, and Luck badly misses Reggie Wayne. Tennessee actually would be the AFC wild-card if the season ended today. I expect the Colts to figure things out and beat the Titans for the second time in three weeks.
Seattle vs. New Orleans (Monday): This is one of the best MNF games in years with the NFC's top seed almost surely on the line, and neither club loses at home. As terrific as Drew Brees is, he's not the same in the elements, and it will be very "elemental" on Monday. Thus, the Seahawks should win somewhat comfortably to all but lock down home-field advantage.
Denver at Kansas City: The Chiefs didn't touch Peyton Manning two weeks ago in Denver and may not have their terrific linebacking duo of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston this week. Peyton Manning is going to be very motivated here after having his worst game of the season last week and losing to Brady once again. Win this and Denver should take home the AFC's No. 1 seed.
Cleveland vs. Jacksonville: Brandon Weeden vs. Chad Henne. Don't you love late-season games like this? I wish it was Weeden vs. Blaine Gabbert in a matchup of first-round busts who will be cut loose after the season. I have no interest in this game, and I'm guessing it won't exactly set TV ratings records in northeast Ohio or Florida.
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday): All I know is this game will be low-scoring and probably end on a 42-yard field goal at the gun as the last two in the series have gone that way -- both in Pittsburgh's favor. The Ravens have been good at home this year and won't be swept by their rivals for the first time in five years.
Detroit vs. Green Bay (Thursday): Matt Flynn should send the Lions a thank-you card as he made tens of millions of dollars off Detroit thanks to his last game against the team at the end of the regular season. Flynn actually looks like an NFL player in a Packer uniform and more like a backup JV quarterback in any other colors. That said, I think the Lions follow a home stinker with an inspired effort and end a nine-game Turkey Day skid. They better, or the heat really will be on Coach Jim Schwartz.
Minnesota vs. Chicago: Guys named Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham totaled 196 yards against the porous Bears defense last week, which allowed 258 on the ground overall. What do you think Adrian Peterson will do? He owns the Bears in his career as it is.
Miami at NY Jets: Sadly, the Jets won't alternate wins and losses all season, and they have been blown out the past two weeks. Geno Smith's leash will be short as he has completed only 25 passes over the past three games and leads the NFL with 23 turnovers. That Miami defense, which is playing much better, should hold the Jets to 17 points or fewer. That should be enough for Ryan Tannehill to win a close game.
Philadelphia vs. Arizona: This could be a first-round playoff preview, although both are on the outside looking in at the moment. The Cardinals are playing their best football since Kurt Warner retired, winning four straight. Unfortunately, they reside in the NFL's best division, so getting a wild card will be tough. The Eagles were able to rest up last week and prepare for this one. I do believe Nick Foles throws his first pick of the year, probably to Patrick Peterson.
Buffalo vs. Atlanta: This game is in Toronto, and the Bills are 1-4 in regular-season games there. Last week's Grey Cup probably will be more interesting than this matchup. The Falcons are in the same boat as Houston. Lose out and get a great 2014 pick to a talented nucleus. They can take Jadeveon Clowney for a defense that badly needs help.
San Diego vs. Cincinnati: The Chargers are the Cowboys/Lions of the AFC. Just when you give up on them, they surprise you as San Diego did last week. Then as soon as you get on the bandwagon, they lay an egg. A few breaks here or there and the Bolts might be 9-2. I believe last week's great comeback carries over even though the Bengals will be rested off their bye.
NY Giants at Washington: At least we can forget about either of these teams winning the lousy NFC East after both were beaten in Week 12. When is it time to sit RGIII down the rest of the way and play Kirk Cousins? Not necessarily because he's better, but to build up his trade value. I'll be surprised if either Tom Coughlin or Mike Shanahan return. The G-Men at least respect their coach. Not sure the Skins do -- or their QB. I don't foresee another Washington win in 2013.
The last word: That I haven't used Carolina or Indianapolis yet, one of them will be the choice. I trust the Panthers more.
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