NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 17
by Matt Severance - 12/30/2015
No Thursday night game (or Monday) in Week 17, so no need to get those Survivor Pool entries in early -- as I've said before, it's usually wise to totally steer clear of those Thursday games anyway and wait until your Sunday deadline to make a pick. Not taking advantage of the latest injury news is a mistake.
I've had a successful season in my pools and hopefully you have too. I compete in three and will cash out in two of them. I've already been asked in one whether I would consider splitting the pool with two other finalists regardless of what happens in Week 17. I'm still deciding. Hey, I just got married so I need the cash! Otherwise I'd roll the dice for sure. There's also the option of a tiebreaker spilling over into the playoffs. That's why I will write one more of these stories next week.
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Week 16 was a crazy one with expected "locks" losing in Pittsburgh (at Baltimore), formerly unbeaten Carolina (at Atlanta) and Seattle (home to the Rams). That Steelers loss could be hugely costly as Pittsburgh no longer controls its playoff destiny. The Panthers now have to try in Week 17 or risk losing the NFC's top seed. The Seahawks loss really didn't matter. The Rams seem to give that team fits for whatever reason.
My top recommendation last week was Kansas City over Cleveland, and the Chiefs won but it was closer than it should have been. I had used them, so went with Detroit over visiting San Francisco and the Lions rolled. My upset of the week hit for the first time in a while, calling the Jets over the Patriots.
In some ways, this should be the easiest week of the year to handicap because we generally know which teams will care and which won't. But obviously monitor which coaches will rest guys. The Patriots and Panthers surely would have liked to but now can't.
Here are my Week 17 picks, with the first team listed as the choice.
Top Choice Of Week
Houston vs. Jacksonville: I'd feel much better about this if Brian Hoyer is back under center for the Texans after missing the past two games with a concussion. It is looking like he will be. The Texans clinch the AFC South with a win. They still could with a loss, but the Colts would have to win and have about seven other game results go their way. I've used all the winners projected one category below.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland: Still can't believe the Steelers lost last week. They might have been my AFC Super Bowl pick had they simply gotten in the postseason. Now the Steelers need a win and Jets loss. Will this be Johnny Manziel's final game with Browns? (If he plays, as Manziel might have a concussion.) Coach Mike Pettine's?
New England at Miami: Presuming Bill Belichick has to play all his guys. The Pats clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win or Denver loss. But the Patriots won't know the Denver result until later Sunday. Next time Fins take the field after this, they will have a new coach.
Carolina vs. Tampa Bay: You have to start Cam Newton with the top seed in the conference on the line. If the Cats lose this and he doesn't play well for the second straight week, Arizona might not only steal the No. 1 seed but Carson Palmer the MVP.
Kansas City vs. Oakland: The Chiefs are in the playoffs and clinch the AFC West with a win and Broncos loss at home to San Diego. Both games start at the same time, so you won't see any K.C. tanking. Likely last Raiders game for the city of Oakland.
Denver vs. San Diego: Broncos will know when they take the field, depending on what New England does, if they can be the AFC 's top seed. Denver is at worst the AFC West champ and the No. 2 with a win. Likely last Chargers game for the city of San Diego.
Green Bay vs. Minnesota: This was flexed to prime time, and it's for the NFC North title. These teams could actually play again next week on wild-card weekend. The loser is either at the NFC North champ or at Washington.
Could Go Either Way
NY Jets at Buffalo: I'm pretty sure the Jets will win this as they are in the playoffs with a victory. My one worry here is that the Bills might still care simply for Coach Rex Ryan and to sweep his former club and keep it out of the postseason. I'm assuming Ryan is back next year despite a disappointing season.
Cincinnati vs. Baltimore: Needless to say, I'd have the Bengals at least one category higher if I had ever heard of their third-string quarterback, some dude named Keith Wenning. Actually I do know the name only because I also went to a MAC school and thus follow that conference a bit. Wenning might have to start with Andy Dalton still out and No. 2 A.J. McCarron questionable with a wrist injury suffered in Monday's loss, although McCarron thinks he's playing. If so, move this up a category. The Bengals could still get the No. 2 seed with a win and Broncos loss.
Indianapolis vs. Tennessee: As noted above, Colts need a win and Houston loss plus a miracle to take the AFC South. Indy might not even win here because former Hurricane Stephen Morris likely will have to make his first career start with Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck and Clipboard Jesus (Charlie Whitehurst) all hurt. This will be the final game for both head coaches, Chuck Pagano and Mike Mularkey. Next time we see the Titans, might Chip Kelly be their coach now that he's available? I sure think so.
Upset Of Week
Seattle at Arizona: I am projecting Carolina to beat Tampa Bay early on Sunday. Thus, the Cardinals would have nothing to play for here, and I doubt Palmer gets on the field with his history of knee injuries. But will Seattle play all its guys? The Seahawks are a wild-card team no matter what. But they might want to win to potentially visit the Redskins instead of the Packers next week. Seattle won't know where it's going if it wins until after the Green Bay-Minnesota game.
Washington at Dallas: Neither has squat to play for. Redskins are locked into No. 4 seed and likely to rest some guys, at least in the second half. The only drama here would be if Washington is forced to play Robert Griffin III at any point. Griffin's $16 million salary for 2016 is fully guaranteed if he fails a springtime physical. So the Skins probably have to keep Kirk Cousins active if they start Colt McCoy. You don't want RGIII taking the field and getting hurt.
NY Giants vs. Philadelphia: Also nothing at stake here other than the loser has to play a game in London next year against the Rams. Still stunned the Eagles fired Kelly. Giants might care a tad to send Coach Tom Coughlin out a winner.
Chicago vs. Detroit: Come on Lions, prove me wrong. Get Bears that last-place schedule and a better draft pick! Hey, it's been fun Adam Gase.
San Francisco vs. St. Louis: Wouldn't watch even if Elle Macpherson was sitting on my lap the whole time. OK maybe then...
Atlanta vs. New Orleans: Finale for Drew Brees and Sean Payton with the Saints?
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