NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 17
by Matt Severance - 12/26/2013
Another NFL regular season is about to go in the books, and if you are still going in your Survivor Pool, I'm impressed. Not if you took my advice, of course, but that most competitions usually end long before Week 17. Because some leagues include the playoffs as potential tiebreakers if there are still multiple participants after Week 17, I will go at least one week deep into the postseason. I'm always on the lookout for different "themes" for these columns each season, so if you believe there's a better way to write this, don't hesitate to drop Doc's a line (unless of course your suggestion is to get rid of me).
For those wondering, I made it to Week 12 in my main competition, stupidly choosing the schizo-Detroit Lions that week against Tampa Bay; if you went against my recommendation that week, I haven't missed one since. Of course, the Bucs won at Ford Field. My only solace is that the hated Lions continued down the toilet drain and will miss the playoffs yet again. My concern as a Bears fan is they might actually hire a competent coach this offseason who can get the best out of what is one of the Top-8 most talented rosters in the NFL. But I digress.
Obviously, if you are still going in Week 17, pinpoint which teams will have something to play for. Amazingly, 13 of the 16 games have playoff relevance on Sunday. No NFC division has been clinched, which is a first this late since the league realigned. For the most part, the teams that are competing for the same goals will play at the same time this week -- the league does this to ensure teams give a s**t.
San Diego was my top pick a week ago and cruised by Oakland. 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, Detroit (oops!), Carolina, Arizona, Kansas City and San Diego. These go in descending order of confidence.
Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville: It worked out rather well that I still had a division winner left to pick from and one that has something to play for. It's not going to happen, but the Colts are the AFC's No. 2 if they win and both the Patriots and Bengals lose. Still, Indy has to try. I think.
Seattle vs. St. Louis: What do you think the chances are of the Seahawks losing twice in a row at home? I'm sure they are angry they even have to play this game full out, which they wouldn't have before last week's upset by Arizona. The NFC West is going to be a monster next season.
Minnesota vs. Detroit: If you want to see a team that has totally quit, watch this game. Calvin Johnson probably won't play, and Jim Schwartz has lost the team. After getting their hearts ripped out last week by the Giants, the Lions will lie down. Plus, the Vikings want to close the Metrodome in style.
Miami vs. NY Jets: The Fins are in with a victory and a Ravens loss or a victory and a Chargers win. Miami made Geno Smith look terrible in the first meeting against the Jets, and that was at MetLife Stadium. I expect more of the same in what should be Rex Ryan's finale.
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay: The Bucs have a habit of going to New Orleans late in the season and winning (2009 & 10). Still, it's a must-win for the Saints or they actually could be watching the playoffs. They won't lose at home, and the Bucs boot Greg Schiano back to college football (Penn State?).
New England vs. Buffalo: About the only way I can see the Patriots losing here is if they are too busy scoreboard watching Denver in hopes the Pats can get a No. 1 seed. Obviously, a loss would end any chance at that, and the games are simultaneous. New England wants that first-round bye and won't overlook Buffalo, which really isn't that far from being good finally.
Denver at Oakland: Get Peyton Manning in there for a half or so, get that TD record to somewhere like 54 and pass Drew Brees for the single-season yardage record before yanking No. 18 with a 31-point lead and get him as much rest as possible before the postseason.
Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland: How the Steelers are still mathematically alive for the playoffs is amazing, yet the Cardinals could go 11-5 and miss out. Just think if Antonio Brown hadn't barely stepped out of bounds on that crazy lateral play at the end of the Miami loss a few weeks ago. Big Ben never loses to the Browns.
Carolina at Atlanta: I do think this is somewhat of a trap game. The Falcons are playing a lot better and gave the Niners all they had on Monday. The Panthers offense has been pretty shaky on the road, but there's too much to play for here to be upset.
Cincinnati vs. Baltimore: I expect the highly-professional Ravens to play one of their best games of the year after last week's stinker. But the Bengals look unbeatable at home.
Tennessee vs. Houston: Two AFC South teams that will have new coaches and starting quarterbacks next season -- Jay Cutler and Teddy Bridgewater, perhaps? The Texans need to lose to ensure the No. 1 overall pick. Then I could easily see them pull off a 2-14 turnaround next year much like Kansas City did this.
NY Giants vs. Washington: I just want to see if Eli Manning can get to 30 interceptions. I don't expect either of these coaches back next year, either.
Green Bay at Chicago: Aaron Rodgers will return. I trust even a very rusty Rodgers more than Jay Cutler. Think the Bears may target that collarbone?
Arizona vs. San Francisco: Bruce Arians has done a tremendous job in the desert, and the Cardinals know they have to win this game to get in. Problem is, they need the Saints to lose at home to Tampa Bay, which is unlikely. Short week for the Niners off a very emotional win, and they know they are in the playoffs regardless.
Philadelphia at Dallas: If you had this as a matchup between Nick Foles and Kyle Orton when the season started, I'd like to know your powerball numbers this week. I'll take Foles, although I think this game goes down to the wire because Orton isn't a slouch.
San Diego vs. Kansas City: This game could be utterly meaningless. The Chiefs are locked into the No. 5, and we thus could see the likes of Chase Daniel and Knile Davis instead of Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles. It's meaningless for San Diego if either Baltimore or Miami wins in a 1 p.m. start.
The last word: Colts it is, with the Vikings a close second. But I could still have built-up resentment over the Lions on that one.
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