NFL Survivor Pools Strategy Advice and Predictions: Week 14
by Trevor Whenham - 12/2/2014
Thank goodness for the Rams and the Vikings last week. They are exactly what survivor pools players who are still alive - or who are in a second- (or third- or fourth-) chance pool - need at this time of year. They were teams that aren't good enough to likely have been picked earlier in the year but who were in a spot that made them pretty easy to trust now. A gamble that didn't feel impossibly risky, in other words. In both cases they not only won but taught outmatched opponents an ugly lesson. So, which unsung heroes can step up and play the hero this week? Here are four candidates:
St. Louis at Washington: Last week picking the Rams was such an incredible success that there is no reason to look right back at them if you haven't used them already. They aren't likely to replicate last week's result - 52-0 wins don't come around every day. They are in a good place, though. While a lot of what happened was the result of the Raiders rolling over and dying early in the game, it was the Rams that were able to quickly and effectively crush the souls of those Raiders. They did it by sharp play and relentless pressure. That same formula will work almost as well here. This Redskins season is seven steps past preposterous at this point. Absolutely nothing that they are doing is working like it should, and they can't get out of their own way. It is an ugly train wreck of a team, and they just can't be trusted. The home fans - those that bother to show up - are going to be far from amused and will have very little patience in this one. What won't help whatever shred of confidence this team has remaining. The Rams are playing for nothing but pride at this point, but they have shown lately that they have no shortage of that. This one could get ugly. In fact, it would be more than a little surprising if it didn't.
Minnesota vs. New York Jets: Sometimes having original thoughts is just exhausting, so I avoid it when I can. We have already gone back to the well with the Rams, so we might as well do it with the Vikings, too. After all, you couldn't have picked both teams last week - not in the same pool, anyway. The Vikings are overachieving what they are on paper - by a wide margin - but they keep doing it, and it is time to pay attention - or keep paying attention in this case. They are feisty and well prepared and will be ready for this one. The Jets looked surprisingly competent on Monday night, but I give them little credit for that. The Dolphins decided, for some reason, that they had no interest in showing up for most of the game. The play was much more about what Miami didn't do than what the Jets did do. I don't think that it proved anything, and I certainly don't think that any of the positive things that they did do can be assumed to repeat themselves two weeks in a row. This is a mess of a team that has been especially awful on the road. The Vikings are, again, well positioned here.
New Orleans vs. Carolina: All year I have had no interest in touching the Saints - and people who are still alive in pools have likely shared that opinion. For the first time all year, though, I actually like enough about what they are doing to pick them in this spot, though. They only have three wins in their last six, but one loss was in overtime, and another was in a tough-fought game. They have been showing up. Mostly, though, I liked what they showed in Pittsburgh last week. They exploited the weakness of the Steelers to open up a big early lead and then weathered the inevitable comeback attempt to hold on for the win. It was an impressive effort for a flawed and challenged team - especially on the road. Now they are positioned to carry the confidence gained in that showing forward here against a just plain bad opponent. Carolina is doing nothing well and will be likely unable to exploit the clear weaknesses in a defense in turmoil. They are abysmal on the road, totally lacking confidence, and in trouble here.
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