NFL Survivor Pools Strategy Advice and Predictions: Week 5
by Trevor Whenham - 9/30/2014
I couldn't seem to be able to pick a winner if my life depended on it last week, but at least I had the week of Survivor Pool action figured out. There were three games with a spread of at least a touchdown. I correctly called that the Chargers were an extremely comfortable pick and Indianapolis was safe as well but that Pittsburgh was a bad idea. This week there is much more to choose from - as I write there are six games with spreads of at least a touchdown - but more of them have more in common with Pittsburgh last week than with the other two games. Here is how the week shows up from a betting perspective:
The Good Options
Green Bay vs. Minnesota: If the Packers play like they did last week then they absolutely are going to win this game. They were, for the first time all season, really good - especially on offense. Minnesota has been surprisingly feisty this year without Adrian peterson, but Teddy Bridgewater, who was very good in his starting debut, is facing a banged up ankle, and he is by far the best option. The Packers are, for the first time this season, a comfortable pick here. They still aren't a slam dunk because they are relying so heavily on Jordy Nelson to make their offense happen, but at home on a short week they are certainly the squad to pick.
San Diego vs. N.Y. Jets: The only problem here is that the Chargers were a very obvious pick last week, so it is likely that they are unavailable for most people to pick this week. If it weren't for that then they would be easy to get behind here, too. The Jets are not playing well at all, they have a quarterback controversy to deal with, and the hot seat for Rex Ryan is heating up by the second. San Diego, meanwhile, has been very good the last three games, and they are very well positioned in this one. For the second week in a row the Chargers are the most comfortable pick on the board - something that was certainly never the case under Norv Turner.
The Not-So-Good Options
Philadelphia vs. St. Louis: There are a couple of problems here. Philadelphia was an absolute mess on offense last week - they didn't score an offensive point. That is going to be hard on their confidence, and it is tough to fully trust a team coming off a bad performance like that. The Niners were able to make Nick Foles look extremely uncomfortable with their defensive aggressiveness, too, and the Rams certainly have a defensive line that could do the same. The Eagles would only be a pick if neither the Packers and Chargers were available.
Detroit vs. Buffalo: I like the Lions a lot right now, and normally they would be a comfortable pick. There are two things that have cooled me on them, though. First, now that E.J. Manuel has been benched and Kyle Orton will be starting for the Bills, we can't be certain how the team will respond. It's not uncommon for a quarterback change to give a team a boost - especially when the backup is competent like Orton is and if the team feels like a change is needed. Second, we don't know what Calvin Johnson's status will be here. He was active last week but was basically invisible. He's obviously missed by this Detroit offense, and if he weren't at full strength it's a concern. I'd still pick Detroit if I had to, but it would be a nervous week.
The Awful Options
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay: Most weeks you can look at a game in which a team is favored by 11 points and pretty much blindly pick the favorite in your Survivor Pool if they are available. That certainly isn't the case here. The Saints have been just terrible. They are one-dimensional with the ball and seemingly incapable of passing - which is so odd for a Drew Brees-led offense. Their defense has been profoundly bad - proof of why Rob Ryan, despite being a defensive 'genius,' works for a new team every year or two. Tampa Bay has issues, but they were very tough last week to pull off a late win, and that could give momentum to an underachieving team. Trusting the Saints is just a horrible idea.
Denver vs. Arizona: The fact that the Broncos are favored by more than a touchdown is proof of just how much of a public team Peyton Manning and company are. Arizona has played very tough all year, and they are extremely well-coached. The Broncos have been solid, too, but have shown cracks that we didn't see last year. Denver absolutely can win this one - and are the more likely team to do so - but it would be far from a shock if Arizona were to stay undefeated, and pinning your Survivor Pool life to a team like Arizona losing is just too risky when other options are available.
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