NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Expert Advice: Week 8
by Matt Severance - 10/22/2014
Clearly the team that has killed competitors in their survivor pools more than any other so far this season is Seattle. The Super Bowl champs didn't lose two straight at all last year and gave up more than 28 points just once. However, they lost another stunner in Week 7, 28-26 in St. Louis as the Rams played with nothing to lose, throwing two awesome special teams trick plays at the Seahawks. Pete Carroll was outcoached by Jeff Fisher, simple as that.
Some compared the 2013 Seahawks defense to the all-time units like the 1985 Bears (please!). And it was amazing. This season, Seattle isn't forcing turnovers or getting much pressure on the quarterback and ranks 19th in points per game at 23.5. Last year the Hawks allowed 14.4 per game. That Percy Harvin trade to the Jets also seemed a bit of a panic move. Don't see how that makes Seattle's offense better, although at least Harvin's teammates don't have to worry about black eyes from sucker punches now. Harvin was a punk at Florida and a punk with the Vikings. Why did the Seahawks think that would change?
I nearly had Seattle as my Lock of the Week in Week 7 as I very much assumed it would bounce back big from being pushed around by Dallas in Week 6. Thankfully, I stuck with Green Bay over Carolina, and the Packers rolled. The Pack and Cowboys are the NFC's two best teams at the moment. I also will pat myself on the back for hitting my fourth Upset of the Week this season, winless Jacksonville beating Cleveland in what was so clearly a trap game for the Browns. Maybe that game bit a few people. Perhaps Kansas City winning at San Diego did as well, although never bet against Andy Reid out of the bye week. The Patriots nearly bit many people but escaped the Jets last Thursday night. I warned you about that game.
This week on the bye are the NY Giants and San Francisco. It's pretty tough Week 8 with a lot of matchups that could go either way. I'm don't truly love a single road team.
Lock of the Week
Dallas vs. Washington (Monday): Let me be up front here that I don't like picking the Monday night game as my Lock of the Week because if somehow something bad happens to a key MNF player after the start of Sunday's games, then you are up a creek. And I keep thinking Dallas is so overdue a bad game. But the fact the Cowboys get to face Colt McCoy instead of Kirk Cousins (assuming RGIII isn't ready yet) is irresistible.
Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota: You could actually talk me into using the Bucs as the Lock of the Week. Yes, a 1-5 team. Tampa comes off the bye, and I believe will play its best game of the year. The Vikings have done squat three weeks in a row offensively, and the Tampa defense will have its way against Teddy Bridgewater.
NY Jets vs. Buffalo: You could also make an argument this could be a good Lock of the Week choice as you will never get a better chance to use the Jets. The Bills are down their top two running backs in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The Jets played really well in New England and probably get a boost with Harvin's debut. Yeah, I'm thinking hard about this one.
Denver vs. San Diego (Thursday): Do I think this could come down to the wire? I do. The Chargers really played the Broncos tough last year, including handing them their only home loss. Still, I fully expect the Broncos to not lose a home game all this season after crushing the 49ers on Sunday night. Could Denver be sluggish for a quarter or half in this one off that historic night for Peyton Manning? Yes, but the Broncos will still win.
Kansas City vs. St. Louis: I was very wrong on the Chiefs thus far. I'm not saying they will return to the playoffs as I don't expect that, but I didn't forecast a 3-3 record by this point with wins over New England and San Diego. The Rams' win last week was nice, but it was a bit of a fluke with those two wild special teams plays.
Seattle at Carolina: The Seahawks have never lost three straight under Russell Wilson. No way they can, right? If Seattle loses this one, then something is wrong there. Home-field advantage in the playoffs can also be forgotten.
Cincinnati vs. Baltimore: I only like the Bengals here if A.J. Green plays. He caught the winning TD pass in Week 1 vs. the Ravens. Although Green can't play defense, and that's where the Bengals have been pummeled the past three weeks.
New England vs. Chicago: I have given up on my Bears. I'll pick against them the rest of the season because they have won every time I have. They have looked much better on the road this year. Maybe the Pats are looking ahead to the Broncos game in Week 9. Doubt it.
Detroit vs. Atlanta (London): I was very wrong about the Falcons this year as I expected a playoff contender. Coach Mike Smith said all the right things during "Hard Knocks," but he's clearly not going to be back next season. I don't love Detroit if Calvin Johnson sits out again, but the Falcons appear to have quit. The best part of this game: the 9:30 a.m. ET start. So it's a reason for NFL fans to start drinking extra early this Sunday! (Not me, I will be recovering from Fantasy Fest.)
Houston at Tennessee: Flip a coin here I guess. The Texans are much more talented, and I'm still in shock what happened to them in that three-plus minute span in Pittsburgh on Monday night. When does Bill O'Brien give up on Ryan Fitzpatrick and turn to Ryan Mallett?
Miami at Jacksonville: I could have easily seen the Dolphins losing here before the Jaguars crushed the Browns last week. Now they will have the full attention of the Miami coaches and players. Denard Robinson was no doubt a popular pick-up in your fantasy leagues this week.
Arizona vs. Philadelphia: An NFC Championship Game preview? Would have laughed before the season, but these are two of four one-loss teams left in the NFL. That Cardinals defense has been very good other than the loss in Denver, and that's going to happen to any team. The Eagles come off a bye week.
New Orleans vs. Green Bay: This is a selfish pick because I hate the Packers and predicted the Saints would win the NFC this season. At 2-4, they must win this game, and they are unbeaten at home, albeit barely. One thing working in the Saints' favor is that the NFC South is terrible, so the division could be won with a .500 record. Maybe 7-9.
Upset of the Week
Pittsburgh vs. Indianapolis: I don't suppose you can ever call Pittsburgh winning at home an upset, but the Steelers are 3-point underdogs. The Steelers probably saved their season -- and maybe Mike Tomlin's job -- with Monday's win. I believe they build off that. The Colts have been awfully impressive in their five-game winning streak, but only two were on the road, and they could have lost at Houston.
Cleveland vs. Oakland: Can the Browns lose to a winless team a second straight week? I doubt it as Oakland hasn't won in the Eastern Time Zone since I was riding a Big Wheel (some exaggeration). If the Browns do lose, two things will happen: They start the Johnny Manziel Era, and fans in northeast Ohio turn their full attention to LeBron James and the Cavs. They open next Thursday vs. the Knicks in the TNT doubleheader opener.
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