NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Expert Advice: Week 2
by Matt Severance - 9/10/2014
How embarrassing would it have been to have my initial Lock of the Week to lose in Week 1? The Philadelphia Eagles, easily the biggest favorites on the board, were down 17-0 at the half at home to Jacksonville last Sunday. Now, I did warn you the Jaguars are better than people think, but I obviously didn't see that coming. However, the Eagles woke up in the second half by outscoring the Jags 34-0. From a selfish perspective, I was disappointed in that result because it would have ruined a large chunk of competitors in my Survivor Pools. I ended up choosing Pittsburgh, figuring that half the world would choose Philly, and the Steelers nearly were upset by Cleveland.
There may have been two games that shifted your pools. The first being the Bears inexplicably losing at home to Buffalo -- so long Super Bowl hopes. Someday I will learn not to trust Jay Cutler. Or the Chicago run defense. It was the only game I missed under Extremely Confident. Also, New England lost at Miami, but that was my Upset of the Week. I don't really think it was one. The Patriots aren't all that great in my opinion.
On to Week 2, in which it appears there are only a few "easy" games that stand out. All teams listed first are the choice.
Lock of the Week
Denver vs. Kansas City: Clearly I am going to have the Broncos in this category at least a few times in 2014. They had zero trouble with Indianapolis last week. The Chiefs looked like the AFC's worst team in a 26-point home loss to Tennessee and then said goodbye to two starters on defense (Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito) to season-ending injuries. It's going to be a long year there.
Green Bay vs. NY Jets: I wouldn't worry about the Packers too much yet. Yes, they were gashed last Thursday night by the Seahawks, but I have a feeling that is going to happen to every team that visits Seattle this year. Those few extra days to prepare for the Jets can't hurt.
San Francisco vs. Chicago: The Bears usually got their a** kicked at Candlestick Park, not winning there since the mid-1980s. Maybe things will be different in the first regular-season game at Levi's Stadium? Doubt it. The Niners proved that preseason matters little as they looked just fine in their opening win at Dallas.
New England at Minnesota: I'm not buying the Vikings' big win at St. Louis last week. They just got to play the worst offense/QB situation in the NFC. The Patriots at 0-2? Simply can't see that happening. They play with a ton of urgency this week.
New Orleans at Cleveland: This game concerns me a bit if I'm backing New Orleans. The Saints are coming off a tough overtime loss in Atlanta and then have their home opener next week. Thus, they could easily overlook the Browns, although it appears as if Cleveland will be without two key offensive starters in running back Ben Tate and tight end Jordan Cameron. Saints will also play with much urgency.
Washington vs. Jacksonville: This scares me slightly after the Redskins were limited to only six points last week in Houston. The Washington offense actually outgained Houston's by more than 60 yards, but the Skins had two turnovers and Robert Griffin III was sacked three times and under pressure much more. RGIII is never going to be what he was as a rookie, which seems clear now. At the same time, Jacksonville's defense isn't close to Houston's.
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday): Will Ravens close ranks and rally around this Ray Rice mess, or will it tear the team apart? I honestly have no idea. But the Ravens usually beat the Steelers in Baltimore. This one will be close like every other game in this series is.
Buffalo vs. Miami: What a great week for Buffalo. That upset win in Chicago, plus the team was sold to Sabres owner Terry Pegula to assure the club won't be leaving that area anytime soon. Buffalo could be sneaky good with a great running game. Could the Dolphins be feeling too good about themselves after last week's upset of the Pats?
Tennessee vs. Dallas: It gives me great pleasure whenever Dallas stinks, I can't lie. This team looks like it might get four victories all year. The defense remains terrible, and QB Tony Romo didn't look ready to play last week against the Niners. Titans could be a nice AFC sleeper if new coach Ken Whisenhunt keeps QB Jake Locker playing well.
NY Giants vs. Arizona: Could the Giants actually dump Tom Coughlin if they lose here? That new West Coast offense didn't solve Eli Manning's accuracy problems, did it? New York didn't belong on the same field as the Lions. I'm only leaning the G-Men because it's at home and West Coast teams (region, not offensive scheme) usually don't play well at 1 p.m. on the East Coast. Short week for both, which should favor the home team.
Cincinnati vs. Atlanta: I expected the Falcons to bounce back this season, and that big opening win against New Orleans could set the tone for the entire year. I also don't believe Matt Ryan will throw for even half of the 448 yards he had last week against this Bengals defense.
Carolina vs. Detroit: The old, undisciplined, infuriatingly inconsistent Lions would always follow up a big win like Monday's with a dispirited effort the next. Is this team different? Maybe, but it's a short week and the Panthers should have Cam Newton back. If they don't, switch this pick.
Houston at Oakland: The Raiders have to win at least two games, one figures. This would be one of their few chances. I'm not expecting it, but it wouldn't surprise me, either. Suggestion for Oakland offense: double-team J.J. Watt on every snap.
Indianapolis vs. Philadelphia (Monday): Flip a coin here. I lean the Colts simply being at home, and the Eagles lost two starting offensive linemen to injury against the Jaguars. Another, Lane Johnson, remains out suspended.
Upset of the Week
Seattle at San Diego: I know, I know the Seahawks looked invincible in their opener. A few things make me like the Bolts here, even on a short week. For one, this is a huge "sandwich game for Seattle." It thumped the Packers on a hugely emotional night when the Super Bowl banner was raised. Next week, Denver visits Seattle in a Super Bowl rematch. The Chargers tend to lose games they shouldn't on the road but win ones they probably shouldn't at home. And the Seahawks are going to lose at least three games this season, probably all on the road. This smells like one.
Tampa Bay vs. St. Louis: Did you see how bad offensively both these teams looked last week? The Rams looked literally lost against a Minnesota club that I expect to finish last in the NFC North and isn't exactly a defensive juggernaut. Now St. Louis has to likely either start Austin Davis or Case Keenum at quarterback against a very solid Bucs defense. This one could end up 9-6 in favor of the Bucs.
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