NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Expert Advice: Week 9
by Matt Severance - 10/29/2014
Well, I owe an apology to my readers. A terrible Week 8 of Survivor Pool advice. I personally didn't take the Dallas Cowboys, thankfully, because I have a pretty steadfast rule in not choosing the Thursday or Monday night winners as my No. 1 choice in a Survivor Pool. I don't like being locked in that early in the week or that late. But Dallas was my Lock of the Week in this space.
So, of course, the Cowboys lost quarterback Tony Romo to a back injury for a bit of Monday's night's home upset loss to Washington, although I'm not sure that Dallas would have won even if Romo hadn't left the game. Brandon Weeden played well in his place, and the Cowboys offense went stagnant when Romo returned late. But how do you lose to Colt McCoy?
Sometimes it's easy to fall into a trap of loving a matchup more than the team you are choosing. That happened twice last week for me as well with the Buccaneers hosting the Vikings and the Jets hosting the Bills. I truly thought of using either Tampa or New York as my Lock of the Week, and of course they both lost. Don't overthink things. I did, stupidly believing I could rely on Mike Glennon and/or Geno Smith (and one-win teams). My personal choice ended up being Kansas City at home vs. St. Louis, and that game wasn't close. The Rams had a major letdown game after upsetting the Seahawks the week before. And they just aren't very good.
I can say I did hit on the Upset of the Week for the fifth time, with Pittsburgh blowing out Indianapolis with the Steelers as home underdogs. Not much of an upset, really.
On the bye in Week 9 are Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee. There look to be three clear favorites this week, and then every other game could go either way.
Lock of the Week
Seattle vs. Oakland: Obviously the Seahawks will win. Right? I would caution you against this for a few reasons. One, I could see Seattle, which doesn't seem to be all that focused right now, overlooking the Raiders with a very difficult stretch of schedule upcoming. Also, Week 9 last year the Seahawks were huge home favorites against a winless Tampa Bay team (like Oakland) and needed a minor miracle to win in overtime. Also, everyone and their brother is going to use Seattle here if they already haven't.
San Francisco vs. St. Louis: The Rams lost two starters last week in left tackle Jake Long and receiver Brian Quick. That Niners defense could dominate new starting tackle Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, who isn't ready yet but will start. No way the Niners lose off that rout in Denver and then last week's bye. Feel free to make this your Lock just in case Seattle gets upset and kills everyone else in your league.
Cincinnati vs. Jacksonville: This game moderately concerns me only in that the Bengals could have a bit of a letdown off a huge win over Baltimore on Sunday. Plus, Cincinnati has a quick turnaround on Thursday vs. Cleveland and might be without Gio Bernard. But since all three of those games mentioned are at home, I think Bengals backers will be fine. Like to see A.J. Green back on the field, if only for my fantasy football reasons! He did return to practice Wednesday.
Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore: About the only thing I am sure of here is that Ben Roethlisberger won't throw for 522 yards and six touchdowns this week (while on my fantasy bench). The Steelers are only a game out of first in the AFC North but really need this with two division losses already. They can't afford to be swept by the Ravens, who dominated Pittsburgh 26-6 in Week 2 on a Thursday night.
Denver at New England: Obviously the game of the week, matchup No. 16 between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It's unbelievable how good those two Hall of Famers have been in the past four games this season. This should be fun, and let's hope it's not the last meeting ever. At their age, you never can be too sure.
Carolina vs. New Orleans (Thursday): The Saints are unbelievable at home in prime-time games as they showed Sunday night against Green Bay. They are also winless on the road this season. How about 8-0 at home this year and 0-8 on road? Probably still be enough to win the NFC South.
Dallas vs. Arizona: I wouldn't touch this game. I don't necessarily trust the Cardinals on the road, but I most definitely don't trust the Cowboys at all any longer. They lost top linebacker Justin Durant to a season-ending injury on Monday, and we may not know if Romo can play until Sunday morning. I would slightly lean Arizona then but not with a ton of confidence.
Kansas City vs. NY Jets: I would be terrified to back the Chiefs here. Clearly the Jets are awful and they might be ready to quit on Rex Ryan as the players know he won't be back. However, Michael Vick should give New York a much better chance of winning than Smith did. Vick is starting here. Also, the last time the Chiefs came off a dominant win, they lost the next week. (albeit at a good 49ers team).
Houston vs. Philadelphia: The Eagles have lost two straight on the road, and their only away win was Week 2 at Indianapolis when the referees gifted it to them. It really depends on which Nick Foles shows up. The Texans have beaten four mediocre-to-bad QBs this season in Robert Griffin III, Derek Carr, E.J. Manuel and Zach Mettenberger. They have lost to Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger. I just don't know which Foles will show up.
Miami vs. San Diego: Yes, the Bolts had a few extra days to prepare off last Thursday's loss to Denver. However, this is the old West Coast team playing at 11 a.m. Pacific time on the East Coast. That rarely works out. The Dolphins are playing well, winning three of four, each by double digits. That lone loss was a last-second one to Green Bay.
Upset of the Week
NY Giants vs. Indianapolis (Monday): Let's stick with what works. The Colts were 5-point favorites last week at Pittsburgh and were gashed by Big Ben in a blowout loss. This feels like one of those games where Eli Manning goes off, even without Victor Cruz (out for season). The Giants also come in off the bye week. This starts a crazy-hard stretch for the G-Men, with games at Seattle and vs. San Francisco and Dallas next. So New York better win if it harbors any playoff or division title hopes.
Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay: Did the Bucs give up on this season already by dealing two guys -- first-round bust safety Mark Barron and reserve linebacker Jon Casillas -- before Tuesday's trade deadline? Seems awfully soon to give up on Barron, the No. 7 overall pick in 2012. Just to rub it in for Bucs fans, the team could have taken Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, who went No. 9 that year. Kuechly is a stud and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was No. 8, but Tampa didn't think it needed a QB then. I have little opinion on this game and less interest.
Minnesota vs. Washington: There's a chance, albeit not great, that RGIII could return here. I'm sure the Redskins will stick with McCoy another week as he was quite good against the Cowboys. Now that we will be in November by this weekend, it's time to remind you that the Vikings are playing outdoors this season, so weather is going to be a factor in at least a few games going forward. Sunday actually looks OK. I have little opinion here, but the Vikings do get Washington on a short week. It does look like Minnesota got it right in taking UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr -- and not Johnny Manziel -- with its first-round pick back in May. Barr won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors as he was everywhere in the win over Tampa.
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