NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 6
by Matt Severance - 10/9/2013
What is the old saying?: Be careful what you wish for? Alas, in last week's Survivor Pool column I "wished" there had been a big upset this season that would shake up all those Survivor Pools. Probably the biggest had been Indianapolis winning as a double-digit dog at San Francisco, but that doesn't look like much of an upset any longer with how good the Colts are.
Unfortunately in Week 5 my top recommendation was the Atlanta Falcons, and they managed to lose at home on Monday night 30-28 to the New York Jets. How does Geno Freaking Smith look better than Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome, where Ryan used to never lose? How does Atlanta not score a touchdown on three tries from the one-yard line at the end of the first half!?!? Yeah, not taking the three points proved rather important.
The Falcons have to be the NFL's biggest disappointment at 1-4, and maybe it's time for Coach Mike Smith to go even as successful as he's been. They also lost Julio Jones likely for the season and Roddy White for perhaps a few weeks. Atlanta is dead to me the rest of this season -- the Falcons should do future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez a favor and trade him to a contender so he has one last shot to play in a Super Bowl.
I did say I never like picking Monday night games, so hopefully you looked to my second recommendation last week in Green Bay, which is money in the bank at home against the Lions. Here are my Week 6 recommendations in descending order of confidence, with the first team listed the pick. So far my top picks this year have been New England, Baltimore, Seattle, New Orleans and Atlanta. This week on the bye are those Falcons and the Dolphins.
Denver vs. Jacksonville: The is the No. 1 no-brainer pick in Survivor Pool history as the Broncos have set the NFL record as the largest favorites in league history. The previous mark was a Dec. 5, 1976, game when the dynastic Pittsburgh Steelers were facing the expansion, wretched Tampa Bay Bucs and covered a 26-point number. If you are wondering, I read somewhere that the Broncos would be around 42-point favorites against Alabama. As bad as the Jags are, they'd still stomp the Tide. Probably.
San Francisco vs. Arizona: The 49ers seem to have righted the ship after that two-game losing streak, although Colin Kaepernick continues to be very inaccurate. Arizona is a deceiving 3-2, having beaten two bad teams in Tampa Bay and Carolina.
Kansas City vs. Oakland: This is my trap game of the week and a few smart guys (or girls) may outthink themselves and pass on the Broncos and go with this game. How about the Chiefs trading for Gonzalez? How cool would that be? I think Kansas City might be feeling rather comfortable right now as it starts a three-game homestand. The Raiders looked pretty solid Sunday against the Chargers, and Terrelle Pryor looks legit.
Houston vs. St. Louis: I have nothing against Matt Schaub, but please, please, throw another interception returned for a touchdown. His first mistake and the fans will be all over him and may come visit his house again. Not only is Schaub's job in jeopardy, but so is Coach Gary Kubiak's. The Texans, who won't have tight end Owen Daniels, better beat the Rams.
Seattle vs. Tennessee: It's now clear that Seattle needs home-field advantage to win the NFC. The Seahawks look invincible at CenturyLink Field but have looked very shaky on the road, barely beating Carolina and Houston (a game they should have lost) and then falling at Indianapolis last week. That doesn't bode well for a potential trip to New Orleans in an NFC title game matchup.
Cincinnati at Buffalo: Tell me why again Josh Freeman didn't sign with Buffalo? He'd be starting this week if he did, but instead the Bills are going with former Duke QB Thad Lewis from the practice squad. The Bengals' very good defense shut down Tom Brady last week. Thad Lewis is no Tom Brady.
Minnesota vs. Carolina: Speaking of Freeman, might he see action with Minnesota on Sunday? Either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel will start as of this writing, but Ponder missed the team's last game with a fractured rib. So if he's out and Cassel struggles ... As for Carolina, I am vastly disappointed. I thought the Panthers were an NFC sleeper, but it's now clear Cam Newton isn't a superstar. His two best games came in the first two of his NFL career. He is what he is at this point.
Chicago vs. NY Giants (Thursday): Let's see, Giants can't hold on to the ball (league-leading 20 turnovers) and can't protect the quarterback (Eli sacked 15 times) while allowing the most points in the league and on a short week on the road. The Bears aren't great but should win this one.
Dallas vs. Washington: The Redskins swept Dallas last year and enter off a bye, but the Cowboys really look good offensively at home. This will show if Dallas is well-coached and if Jason Garrett is back next year. If the Cowboys play well after last week's devastating 51-48 loss to Denver, that bodes well for Garrett's future. If they lose, he's probably a goner even though 7-9 could win the NFC East.
Detroit at Cleveland: This is one of those if deals: I like Detroit if Calvin Johnson plays as that Lions offense looked lost last week in Green Bay without him. If he's out again, I suppose Brandon Weeden -- Brian Hoyer done for year -- can do enough to scrape out a win for the co-AFC North-leading Browns.
Pittsburgh at NY Jets: I know how bad the Steelers have looked, but they were on a bye last week, have found somewhat of a running game with Le'Veon Bell, and the Jets are on a short week after an emotional win. It's a very prideful Steeler organization, and I expect a big effort. I would be shocked if these two teams combine for even 30 points.
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay: Instead of Michael Vick vs. Josh Freeman, we get Nick Foles vs. Mike Glennon in this one. The Bucs were off last week but may still be in a bit in chaos with the whole Freeman situation. Foles looked pretty good last week in relief of Vick and is less apt to turn the ball over. Foles also had a big game last December in Tampa, throwing the game-winning TD pass as time expired.
New England vs. New Orleans: The Saints look like the class of the NFC after going into Chicago and dominating the Bears -- Drew Brees had never won there. I'd still like to see this team win in the wintry weather, which it would have to likely do at the Super Bowl. This might be the last time we ever see Brady vs. Brees unless they meet in a Super Bowl. I don't expect Brady to have a second straight bad game, and the return of Rob Gronkowski can't be overstated.
Baltimore vs. Green Bay: Flip a coin here between two of the past three Super Bowl winners. I lean the Ravens because the Packers won't have Clay Matthews and Baltimore is looking likely to get WR Jacoby Jones back.
San Diego vs. Indianapolis (Monday): The Chargers laid a major egg last week but have looked a lot better at home. So typical Bolts, basically. This is the definition of a sandwich game for Indy: Beat Seattle last week, the Peyton Manning reunion game next.
The last word: Only one word needed: Denver. It will make for the least interesting Survivor Pool week perhaps ever but it's the biggest lock you will see.
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