NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Expert Advice: Week 3
by Matt Severance - 9/17/2014
You absolutely should not be picking road teams this early in the season as your top choice in a survivor pool. Teams can practice with noise, etc., but it's something that takes a bit of getting used to. Later in the year, clubs are a little more comfortable away from home. Plus, lesser teams don't realize they stink yet and can pull shockers at home. I bring this up because some of you may have been knocked out of your pool last week by the Saints losing at Cleveland in the final seconds.
I did have that game under "Extremely Confident" but pretty low in that category and admitted it worried me a little. Seemed like a trap possibility, and Drew Brees simply isn't as good a quarterback when he's not in a dome.
Cleveland over New Orleans was one of three major upsets. Some may have taken the 49ers at home in the Sunday night game against Chicago. I'm a life-long Bears fan, and I never saw that win coming, especially after trailing by 17 points. I did, however, call the Chargers beating the Seahawks in San Diego as it was a major "sandwich" game for the champs. My top pick was Denver, and the Broncos had a little trouble beating the visiting Chiefs. My top "Extremely Confident" pick was the Packers over the Jets, and Green Bay needed a huge home rally. I would have gladly accepted getting knocked out of a pool on the Pack losing considering I am a Bears fan. Ah well.
Week 3 is the last for a while without any byes. There do appear to be a few potential routs on the schedule unlike in Week 2. The team listed first is the choice.
Lock of the Week
New Orleans vs. Minnesota: I thought the Saints would win here regardless because they are way better than a 0-2 team and much better than Minnesota. I thought that before the Vikings reversed course on Adrian Peterson for the second time this week and banned him indefinitely. Now I see no way the Vikings can pull the road upset. Although I would warn you everyone and their brother will be on this pick. Minnesota looked lousy on offense without its star against New England. The Vikes might as well throw Teddy Bridgewater in there now. This season is over.
New England vs. Oakland: I would have no problem swapping this game with the one above if the mood strikes you. I do believe the Patriots will sleepwalk a bit through this one, and it might be closer than expected. But the Raiders are really bad, and they haven't won on the East Coast in years.
Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay (Thursday): Almost never take the Thursday game in these pools because the quick turnaround tends to lend itself to ugly games. That generally gives the worse team a better chance of the upset. The Bucs will play desperate at 0-2, but I don't see the Falcons losing at home. If Tampa loses, the Josh McCown experiment might be over already.
Cincinnati vs. Tennessee: Possible trap for the Bengals? They opened the year with impressive wins over playoff-caliber teams, will almost surely be without star receiver A.J. Green this week and might be looking forward to next week off. I wouldn't touch this in Nashville but at home Cincinnati shouldn't be upset.
San Francisco at Arizona: The Niners are going to be really ornery after blowing that game to Chicago. A whopping 16 penalties and four turnovers for a Jim Harbaugh-coached team? Yeah, San Francisco should be focused Sunday and probably gets to face Drew Stanton instead of Carson Palmer.
Miami vs. Kansas City: Move this out of this category if Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles plays, which he probably won't. Charles is banged up, and the Chiefs really have nothing offensively without him.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville: The Colts defense just isn't any good. Yes, the Jags have been dominated since taking a 17-0 halftime lead in Week 1 at the Eagles. They have to win at least a couple of games. Plus, it's a short week for the Colts.
Buffalo vs. San Diego: I'm not ready to believe in the Bills yet, but this seems like a letdown game for San Diego off last week's huge win.
Baltimore at Cleveland: Maybe the Browns aren't all that bad. The Ravens did have extra time to prepare and looked great last Thursday against Pittsburgh.
Detroit vs. Green Bay: As usual, I have no idea who the Lions are. Predictably, they laid an egg last week in Charlotte. At home, they should be very explosive and tough to beat. This will be a shootout.
Seattle vs. Denver: Two really motivated teams: Seahawks from last week's loss and Broncos from the Super Bowl debacle.
Carolina vs. Pittsburgh: The Steelers were lucky to beat Cleveland in Week 1 and didn't belong on the same field at Baltimore last week. This one could be a 16-10 slugfest.
NY Jets vs. Chicago (Monday): Will the Bears suffer their own letdown after one of the team's most unlikely comebacks in years? Both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are less than 100 percent, and top cornerback Charles Tillman is lost for the year. The Jets really should be 2-0; their offensive coordinator needs to stop calling stupid timeouts.
Upset of the Week
Washington at Philadelphia : I think the Redskins will be a better team with Kirk Cousins in there. I also know the Eagles have played with fire the first two weeks in rallying from 17-0 down vs. the Jags and 20-6 down at Indy. It's also a short week for Philly.
NY Giants vs. Houston: I suppose the Giants have to win a few home games. Guess this could be one, although I'd rather have Ryan Fitzpatrick on my team right now than Eli Manning.
Dallas at St. Louis: Rams QB Austin Davis didn't look too bad last week against Tampa Bay in his first NFL start. The Cowboys are likely going to be schizophrenic all year. But they actually have played pretty well since falling behind 28-3 in the first half of the opener vs. the 49ers. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray could have a huge day against the Rams' No. 30 run defense. He has killed St. Louis in two previous matchups with 428 yards rushing.
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