NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 12
by Matt Severance - 11/25/2015
Sanity returned to the NFL in Week 11 as there were no Survivor Pool-destroying upsets, although unbeaten New England was pushed pretty hard at home on Monday night by Buffalo. That was one of eight games last week decided by seven or fewer points. There have been 84 such games decided by a touchdown or less this season, the most through Week 11 in NFL history.
The only moderate surprises were Indianapolis going to Atlanta and winning, and Tampa Bay crushing the Eagles in Philadelphia. But clearly the Falcons and Eagles are vastly overrated (Philly's Chip Kelly will be coaching at USC, LSU or Florida State next season). My top choice last week was an easy call: Seattle over San Francisco, and the Seahawks dominated the 49ers for the second time this season. My "upset" choice last week was Green Bay over Minnesota -- yes, the Packers were slight betting underdogs and they easily won. That felt like stealing money.
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Week 12 is one of the three best weeks of this regular season (after Week 1 and Week 17) because we get a Thanksgiving three-game extravaganza, although I'm pretty sure I'll be in a Turkey-based dreamland on my hammock by the time the Panthers and Cowboys kick off in the middle game. It should be an amazing experience at Lambeau Field in the night game as the Packers unveil Brett Favre's retired No. 4 in his first public return to the city. In addition to unveiling Favre's name and jersey onto the north facade of the stadium, a tribute segment will also be played on the big screen. And in maybe a bigger deal, it could be the final public appearance for Hall of Famer Bart Starr, who isn't in great health. Apparently Starr doesn't even remember his career at this point. The five-time NFL champion (two Super Bowls) is one of the few Packers more popular there than Favre. Should be a cool scene even though as a Bears fan I put the Packers somewhere in between the devil and Hitler.
The bye weeks are finished in the NFL so you have your full choice of teams again. So here we go for Week 12, with the first team listed as the choice. Not many clear-cut favorites this week.
Top Choice Of Week
Cincinnati vs. St. Louis: Did you see that Rams loss in Baltimore last week? I've never been concussed (that I know of) and am not a doctor (but stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night) but clearly Rams QB Case Keenum was concussed in that loss yet he stayed in the game for the final two plays after the injury. The guy couldn't even get himself off the ground without help. Someone needs to be fired for that. So it's not clear as of this writing if he or Nick Foles starts in Cincinnati. It won't matter. Bengals won't lose a third straight game.
Green Bay vs. Chicago (Thursday): I've used the Packers already or this would be the top choice. Jay Cutler doesn't win at Lambeau Field ... shoot, Jay Cutler couldn't beat Aaron Rodgers on the moon. This should be a blowout.
Jacksonville vs. San Diego: First time I've ever had Jacksonville in this category, I believe. The Jags have won three of four and they get a Chargers team that has totally given up and has to play at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
Arizona at San Francisco: This would also contend as my top choice if the game was in the desert. Might be a bit of trap game, however, for the Cardinals as they are off big prime-time wins over Seattle and Cincinnati. I could see this being closer than it should be.
Could Go Either Way
Detroit vs. Philadelphia (Thursday): Do you realize the Eagles are 6-0 all-time on Thanksgiving? They won at Dallas on Turkey Day last year. But the Lions are starting to play to their talent level and have won two straight. Probably Mark Sanchez over an injured Sam Bradford at QB for the second straight week for Philly.
Dallas vs. Carolina (Thursday): Yep, I'm picking a 3-7 team over a 10-0 one -- oddsmakers originally had the Cowboys favored as well. They are simply a different team with a healthy Tony Romo, winning his last seven regular-season starts. The Cowboys also have plenty of experience playing on Thanksgiving (that does matter), while Carolina never has. Plus, it's a must-win for Dallas and really the Panthers can afford to lose it.
Oakland at Tennessee: I went against the Raiders last week in a 10 a.m. Pacific time start (in Detroit), but they should be able to squeak by the Titans, who are pretty wretched offensively.
Kansas City vs. Buffalo: This could be a wild-card eliminator game in some regards. Kansas City is rolling with four straight wins, and that defense is playing like the NFL's best at the moment. It's a short week for the Bills, and they might not have starting QB Tyrod Taylor. This should be the lowest-scoring game of the week.
Indianapolis vs. Tampa Bay: The Bucs are going to be good next season, and they clearly made the right choice in taking Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick. Too bad we can't see him matched up against another former No. 1 overall pick in Andrew Luck, but Colts backup Matt Hasselbeck still hasn't lost as a starter this season (3-0).
Washington vs. NY Giants: Flip a coin here really. I simply prefer the home team. Is New York over that oh-so-close loss to New England in Week 10 -- even after a bye week?
Houston vs. New Orleans: The Texans get starting quarterback Brian Hoyer back, which means you should start him in your fantasy league this week because the Saints defense is almost historically bad. The team fired coordinator Rob Ryan during last week's bye.
NY Jets vs. Miami: Never back a warm-weather team to win up North this time of year -- although it doesn't look too bad in East Rutherford on Sunday -- unless it's clearly a better team. And the Dolphins aren't better than the Jets.
Seattle vs. Pittsburgh: Super Bowl preview? Seahawks can finally climb over .500, and the Thomas Rawls Era begins in the Pacific Northwest with Marshawn Lynch likely out for the regular season.
Denver vs. New England: It's a game we all circled when the schedule was released: Brock Osweiler vs. Tom Brady! Sadly, we don't get a 17th installment of Peyton Manning vs. Brady with Manning out until mid-December with his foot injury. If Osweiler keeps playing well, I don't think the Broncos can go back to No. 18. Short week for the Pats, and I think all those injuries finally catch up to them.
Upset Of Week
Minnesota at Atlanta: I don't really consider this an upset, but the Falcons are favored. Winner here probably takes the NFC's top wild-card spot. I don't think Atlanta even makes the playoffs as Seattle will take that second wild card. Falcons likely without top running back Devonta Freeman here.
Cleveland vs. Baltimore (Monday): Johnny Manziel now has as much chance of playing a snap at quarterback for the Browns the rest of his career as I do. What a clown that guy is. Dude, if you want to party, don't film it! Did they not teach common sense at Texas A&M? So it's Josh McCown back in there for the Browns with Manziel likely inactive Monday. The Ravens lost both QB Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett to season-ending injuries last week. Matt Schaub starts for Flacco, who had played every game since 2007.
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