NFL Survivor Pools Strategy Advice and Predictions: Week 4
by Trevor Whenham - 9/23/2014
Last week was a terrifying one for most remaining survivor pool players. The Patriots were the very obvious choice at home against perhaps the worst team in the league. They got the win we all expected, but they sure didn't win pretty. Their offense is the most flawed it has been under Belichick and Brady, and the Raiders played shockingly well defensively. We can't dwell about how we won, though - we just have to remember that we did win and figure out how we are going to do it again.
Things get a little tougher this week because six teams have bye weeks, so there are only 13 games to choose from. That decreases the chances that we will find an obvious game. Lucky for us, though, this week's selection of games offers two very comfortable games to choose from - and one that may seem tempting but should be avoided:
San Diego (-13.5) vs. Jacksonville: The Chargers are one of the best teams in the league right now. They beat Seattle, won comfortably in Buffalo against a Bills team with plenty of momentum heading into the game, and lost late to a very good Arizona team. They are playing with a lot of confidence, they are loaded offensively, and the coaching is very strong. They have played only one home game, and they looked very good against Seattle - beating them was no fluke. They would be a very tough opponent in San Diego for any team in the league right now.
Jacksonville, of course, is far from an elite team right now. In fact, they have been quite a bit worse through three games this year than they were last year - and that's saying something because they were terrible early last year. The offense has been non-existent, and the defense has struggled, too. They would struggle to beat most teams in the league right now - never mind one of the best teams in the league. There is a twist here, though. Barring a setback we are going to witness the beginning of the Blake Bortles era - at least as a starter. That is probably a good thing in the long run, but this is a rough spot to break in - especially with so many issues on offense that he needs to overcome. The Chargers are as easy a pick as we have seen all year.
Indianapolis (-7.5) vs. Tennessee: These teams have identical 1-2 records, but that is where the similarities end. The Titans inexplicably beat the Chiefs convincingly in the opener, but then have been shellacked twice in a row by Dallas and Cincinnati. They just aren't very good, and Jake Locker is working hard to prove that he doesn't deserve to be a starter in this league anymore. There is no shortage of issues, and they are a long way from being competitive. Indianapolis, meanwhile, has been a victim of a brutal opening schedule. They played at Denver and then hosted Philadelphia, and they were very competitive in both losses. Then they crushed the Jaguars. They have some issues - their running game is still underwhelming, for example - but Andrew Luck is playing well, and they have a distinct advantage in this one. San Diego is a much better pick, but the Colts are very comfortable as well.
Pittsburgh (-7.5) vs. Tampa Bay: According to the line the Steelers should be a very comfortable pick as well. While they are much more likely than their opponent to win this one, I still wouldn't pick them here. There are just too many reasons not to trust them at this point. They have a whole pile of key injuries on defense, and though the offense was strong last week, it has hardly been consistent this year. Sure, Tampa Bay has been terrible and has issues at quarterback right now, but on paper they are better than they have been, and they could show it. San Diego and Indianapolis are playoff-caliber teams - few would argue that. Pittsburgh is, at best, a fringe wild card contender, and even that seems generous. There is no reason to risk the pick at this point in the season, so why make it?
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