Pretty bland Week 7 of NFL action and unlikely any result caused a ripple in your Survivor Pool. Some might have found Jacksonville beating Buffalo in London surprising, but the Bills were down several key starters due to injury and that actually was my Upset Of Week selection. Kansas City beating visiting Pittsburgh was no shock as the Steelers were starting third-string QB Landry Jones.
Atlanta only won by three in Tennessee, and had the Titans been able to pull that out it would have been a big surprise. Oakland going to San Diego and winning, and New Orleans doing the same in Indianapolis were small upsets, but that's about it. My top pick last week was resurgent Miami, and it trashed visiting Houston.
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Week 8 looks to be a challenge as there are only two teams favored by more than a touchdown: New England and St. Louis. A reminder that it's the final game in London this season so last time you have to worry about getting your pick in by 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. On the bye this week are Buffalo, Philadelphia, Washington and Jacksonville. No losses there unlike last week when three unbeaten teams were off.
As usual, all teams listed first are the pick.
Top Choice Of Week
St. Louis vs. San Francisco: I am torn between this game and Bucs at Falcons to be honest, so I'll wait until Sunday morning to choose. San Francisco hasn't looked good on the road this season in losing all three games and allowing a total of 120 points in them. But the Niners do have extra time to prepare here as they were last in action on Thursday in Week 7, going out meekly at home to Seattle. The Rams tend to be defensively dominant at home and could pitch a shutout. Just worry about depending on Nick Foles at quarterback.
Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay: Curious how the Bucs respond to last week's choke job against Washington. They did win unexpectedly in New Orleans in Week 2. Atlanta didn't look good at all last week in Nashville, but it might have been a trap game. That said, it was third straight questionable outing for Falcons. Yeah, I'm leaning toward St. Louis right now as my top pick.
New England vs. Miami (Thursday): I'm sure you have used the Patriots by now, but if you have read these columns over the past several years you know I stay away from these Thursday games as there are too many intangibles with the quick turnaround -- although they usually favor the home team. The Dolphins are starting to look scary good under interim coach Dan Campbell, albeit against two really bad teams.
Houston vs. Tennessee: The Texans are a mess right now and either Coach Bill O'Brien or GM Rick Smith is gone this offseason after how they seemed to butt heads over releasing knucklehead QB Ryan Mallett, which finally the team did Tuesday. O'Brien wanted to do it Saturday, but Smith overruled him. Now Brian Hoyer's backup is T.J. Yates, who just signed with Houston. The Texans also lost star running back Arian Foster for the season (which killed my fantasy team). But Titans are no good and may be without Marcus Mariota again.
Seattle at Dallas: I'm back on Seahawks bandwagon after how they dominated San Francisco last Thursday night. The Cowboys aren't reaching double-digit points here behind QB Matt Cassel unless they score on defense or special teams. There is an outside chance Dez Bryant returns, but that won't matter.
Could Go Either Way
Baltimore vs. San Diego: Ravens could mail it in after dropping to 1-6 in Monday's loss at Arizona -- it's almost cruel how close Baltimore really is to being 7-0. It's obviously a short week for the Ravens as well, but it's a 10 a.m. Pacific time start for the Bolts, and they are on a three-game skid. Antonio Gates might be out with a knee injury.
New Orleans vs. NY Giants: Should be an entertaining game. The most popular last name in New Orleans sports history is Brees, as in current Saints QB Drew. The second is Manning, as in former Saints QB Archie but also because Peyton and current Giants QB Eli live in New Orleans and are very tied into the community. Should be a shootout.
Minnesota at Chicago: Vikings haven't won in Chicago since 2007, but Adrian Peterson has owned the Bears in his career. That losing streak ends even with Chicago off the bye week.
Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati: Yep, the unbeaten Bengals go down, even off a bye week, as the Steelers are expected to get Ben Roethlisberger back this week. If for some reason he doesn't play, go ahead and flop these teams.
Oakland vs. NY Jets: The Raiders might actually be a playoff team this year. At 3-3, they currently are No. 7 in the AFC standings, so just out of a wild-card spot. Thus, this game against the Jets (4-2) could be crucial for a wild-card tiebreaker down the road. New York might be flat off a close loss in New England, while Oakland is off a big win in San Diego.
Green Bay at Denver: Flip a coin here. I'm simply going with the better quarterback in this potential Super Bowl preview and matchup of unbeatens. While Peyton Manning will go down as the best regular-season QB in league history, he's not close to Aaron Rodgers right now. This actually might be low scoring as it features the top two scoring defenses in the NFL.
Carolina vs. Indianapolis (Monday): This looks like a mismatch on paper with how good the Panthers have been and how much the Colts appear in turmoil. Who would have guessed the MVP candidate in this Week 8 game would be Cam Newton over Andrew Luck? Colts could lose this to drop to 3-5 and still have a game lead in the truly dreadful AFC South. I still have a bit of faith in Indy, however. Luck can't be that bad! These are the two oldest teams in the NFL. The Panthers roster has an average age of 26.9. The Colts average age is 27.2.
Upset Of Week
Cleveland vs. Arizona: I took an upset chance on the Browns two weeks ago when they hosted Denver, but the Broncos escaped in overtime. But two things are big against the Cards this week even though they are clearly the better team: It's a short week as Arizona played Monday night, and it's also one of those 10 a.m. Pacific time starts. Those usually don't go well for West Coast teams. This game is off the list if Josh McCown doesn't play and Johnny Manziel has to start, but McCown should go despite a shoulder injury.
Detroit vs. Kansas City (London): Folks overseas are treated to another crappy matchup. Notice how the NFL doesn't send its marquee teams over there? But, hey, it's still NFL football in the morning! Loser here might well get the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft. The Lions and Ravens are tied for the NFL's worst record at 1-6. Detroit fired a bunch of offensive coaches this week, so maybe that spurs the team to a win; head coach Jim Caldwell might get the boot on the flight back if Detroit looks bad Sunday.
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