NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 8
by Matt Severance - 10/23/2013
I'm glad my No. 1 choice last week, the Green Bay Packers, were able to beat Cleveland, because three of my next four most confident picks lost: New England in overtime to the Jets (a major letdown road game off the Pats' big win over the Saints, which I should have seen coming), Miami at home to Buffalo (it's really not a good year to be a pro football fan in the Sunshine State) and Denver at Indianapolis (Peyton Manning was clearly a bit drained for all the emotion). Hopefully those mini-upsets helped shake out a few competitors in your survivor pool. I also thought Jacksonville had a legit shot to beat San Diego, but the Jags are making the 2008 Detroit Lions look like a powerhouse. The Jags now have scored 11 points in three home games.
It's a bit of a challenging Week 8 because so many teams are off, and at least a few of them are worthy of selection most weeks: Chicago, Tennessee, San Diego, Indianapolis, Baltimore and Houston. Here are my Week 8 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, Atlanta, Denver and Green Bay. This is one of those weeks where there seem to be a handful of locks.
San Francisco vs. Jacksonville (London): It's a Jaguars home game, meaning they probably won't score a touchdown again. Those poor Brits. They were subjected to the terrible Vikings earlier this season, and now this. How's this for an “over/under” this week: Manchester United goals vs. Jaguars touchdowns. You never know if all this travel will even the playing field a bit, but the Niners seem too well-coached to blow this one and with a bye coming up. The 49ers have looked dominant in winning four in a row. If it matters -- and it doesn't -- the Jags are going with Chad Henne again at QB. I attempted to make a joke here saying the Jags would be better off going with a Chad (blank) celebrity instead, but have you noticed there is no super-famous person named Chad? I clearly have too much time on my hands.
New England vs. Miami: The Dolphins will be a bit desperate having lost three straight, and all of a sudden maybe Ryan Tannehill doesn't look like the franchise quarterback. Tannehill struggled in a big way against New England last year as Miami managed 16 total points in being swept. The Patriots won't lose two straight, even as flawed as they may be.
Kansas City vs. Cleveland: The Browns have now officially given up on Brandon Weeden -- trade him to Minnesota for Christian Ponder? -- as Jason Campbell will start against the NFL's best defense. Campbell is in his ninth year, and Weeden is in his second, yet Campbell is only a year older. Campbell was not good filling in for an injured Jay Cutler in Chicago last year. Do I think the Chiefs might slightly overlook the Browns and play sloppy at the end of a three-game homestand? I do, but they will win.
New Orleans vs. Buffalo: Thad Lewis is proving he can be a very capable long-term backup quarterback in this league, but the Bills should get rolled in New Orleans with the Saints coming off a bye and still peeved about the end of the Patriots game.
Cincinnati vs. NY Jets: Don't give Geno Smith a chance to win in the fourth quarter as he has led four fourth-quarter comeback wins already, the most of any player through his first seven NFL games. The Bengals impressed me with their win in Detroit last week, and they have a terrific defense. Smith has struggled against other Top-10 defenses like Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Denver vs. Washington: Clearly the Broncos aren't going to lose back-to-back games, but suddenly they do appear to have a few flaws. The Colts got pressure on Peyton Manning last week, and it unnerved him at times. This might be the only time we see Robert Griffin III and Manning on the same field. Should be fun to watch.
Green Bay at Minnesota: I am fairly certain I could complete 20-of-53 attempts if the Vikings put me in as Josh Freeman did in Monday's loss. Minnesota needs to trade Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen for draft picks before the Oct. 29 deadline and start the overhaul. Aaron Rodgers looks to be without Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb and James Jones this week, but Rodgers simply makes new stars out of unknowns.
Seattle at St. Louis (Monday): The Seahawks have not played well in domes in recent years but looked fine last Thursday under the roof in Arizona. That was their only good outing this year on the road, however. I might have targeted this as the trap of the week if Sam Bradford didn't tear his ACL last week. Kellen Clemens might make Freeman look good in comparison against this Seattle defense.
Carolina at Tampa Bay (Thursday): The Panthers can firmly establish themselves as a wild-card threat and get over .500 for the first time in five seasons against a Tampa Bay team missing star running back Doug Martin. Who wins first: Bucs or Jaguars (or Dolphins again)?
Detroit vs. Dallas: This should rival Redskins-Broncos as the highest-scoring game of the week. Naturally, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had to open his mouth this week and say he's as good as if not better than Calvin Johnson. I now feel sorry for the Dallas secondary.
Philadelphia vs. NY Giants: Michael Vick is back in the lineup for the Eagles with Nick Foles hurt. I expect an offensive explosion after Philly somehow was held to only three points in last week's loss to Dallas. And I certainly don't think the Giants' problems were fixed just by beating Minnesota on Monday.
Pittsburgh at Oakland: I expect Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to make life miserable for ex-Pennsylvania prep star Terrelle Pryor. He was sacked nine times last time out against the Chiefs. I realize Oakland is coming off the bye, but the Steelers can almost sniff .500 now and won't let this get away.
Arizona vs. Atlanta: The Falcons are 0-2 on the road, while two of Arizona's three wins are at home. Obviously, if the Falcons were at full strength, they would be the choice, but Atlanta is far from that. I will say this: Carson Palmer's days as the Cards' starter could be over if he has another multiple-interception game. Bruce Arians brought backup Drew Stanton with him from Indianapolis.
Last word: The only reason I wouldn't take the Niners this week is if you want to save them for perhaps Week 13 at home against the Rams. I'm not sure I would recommend the Chiefs as my top overall choice the rest of the season as their home games remaining are against San Diego, Denver and Indianapolis (no real road pushover except maybe Week 15 at Oakland). So consider that option.
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