It was a very chalk Week 11 around the NFL, which I'm not complaining about because I won my Confidence Pool for the week in missing just two games: Bucs-Chiefs and Titans-Colts.
Tampa Bay's 19-17 upset win in Kansas City might have had some implications in your Survivor Pool as well. But I warned you on that one, writing this last week: "The Chiefs had one of their most unlikely regular-season wins in years at Carolina, so this could be a major trap game against an unfamiliar opponent out-of-conference." Too bad I didn't take my own advice, but I only had the Chiefs middle-of-the-pack on the Confidence pick because I was a tad worried.
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My top Survivor choice last week was Detroit over Jacksonville even though I have a bad history of trusting the Lions just when I think they are getting good. Detroit did trail the terrible Jaguars entering the fourth but rallied to win 26-19. The Lions are crazy. They have trailed in the fourth quarter of every game so far yet are tied for the NFC North lead. The Lions are also the first team in NFL history to have each of their first 10 games decided by seven points or fewer. I can't decide if they are lucky or good or both.
Week 1 and Week 17 are obviously huge in the NFL, but it's tough to beat Thanksgiving week for tradition. I grew up in Michigan so was force-fed the Lions in the early game every year. That meant we couldn't eat until that was over -- usually a Detroit loss. I live in Florida now and about the only time I miss the fall/winter is on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But don't feel sorry for me, I'll be on the beach at some point on the Thanksgiving holiday. Because, you know, nothing is smarter than swimming in the ocean when stuffed and half-asleep on turkey and wine.
On to the Week 12 picks. No teams on the bye because of the holiday and it being one of the NFL's showcase weeks.
Miami vs. San Francisco: Can I actually trust the Dolphins now? They can basically annex the state of California with a victory here over the wretched 49ers after winning in Los Angeles and San Diego the previous two weeks. Sadly, no chance for a Miami superfecta as the Fins don't play the Oakland Raiders this season -- although a playoff matchup is possible. If you watch this game, check out Niners coach Chip Kelly. It looks like he already has checked out on the season.
Buffalo vs. Jacksonville: The worse the weather the better I would like Buffalo in this game against the warm-weather Jags. Top running back LeSean McCoy had thumb surgery this week but apparently will play. If he wasn't, I'd move this down. Top receiver Sammy Watkins could actually return from IR this week. That would help a Buffalo playoff push.
Baltimore vs. Cincinnati: I would go against the Bengals the rest of the way after losing both A.J. Green and Gio Bernard to season-ending injuries last week. Cincinnati is a prime contender to mail it in.
Detroit vs. Minnesota (Thursday): Restore the Roar! The Lions have become Thanksgiving monsters of late with three straight blowouts on the holiday. If they finish the sweep of the season series with Minnesota here, Detroit should win the division for the first time in more than two decades.
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (Thursday): This would be in third down if not for the fact that Andrew Luck is surely out with a concussion. The Steelers have been shaky on the road this year, but they can't lose to Scott Tolzien. Right?
New Orleans vs. Los Angeles: Glad to see that Jeff Fisher finally turned to Jared Goff in last week's loss to the Dolphins, but Goff's outing confirmed what we saw on "Hard Knocks": Goff looks overmatched at the NFL level. Watch and learn from Drew Brees, rook!
New England at NY Jets: I would probably take the big spread here as the Jets play the Patriots well and New England won't have Rob Gronkowski again. But I can't take Ryan Fitzpatrick to actually beat Tom Brady. Maybe at Scrabble or something since Fitz went to Harvard.
Dallas vs. Washington (Thursday): We might have to put the 2016 Cowboys draft among the best of all time with the way Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are going. Hard to believe no previous Dallas team had ever won nine straight games in a single season.
Tennessee at Chicago: Bears had another key player suspended for PED use this week (leading tackler Jerrell Freeman), and in an early Christmas present for me it sounds like Jay Cutler is done for the season with a shoulder injury. BUH-BYE. But I'm not bitter. Cutler will play for someone next year.
Atlanta vs. Arizona: Glad to see the "Most Interesting Coach in the NFL," Bruce Arians, was fine after being rushed to the hospital with chest pains. He will be on the sideline Sunday. Lean the Falcons simply as they are off the bye.
NY Giants at Cleveland: This smells like a major trap game to me. The Giants are a lot like the Lions as just when you think they have put it all together, they go out and lay a egg. It's Josh McCown back at QB for the hapless Browns with rookie Cody Kessler hurt again.
Houston vs. San Diego: It's a short week for Houston. I'm assuming all the Texans made it out of Mexico without suffering from Montezuma's revenge this week. Chargers are off the bye, but it's one of those tough 10 a.m. Pacific time kickoffs for them.
Seattle at Tampa Bay: I'm definitely not sold on the Seahawks going back to the East Coast for the second time in three weeks and winning in the potential heat in Tampa. The Seahawks do catch a break with a 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff, however.
Carolina at Oakland: Yep, I think the Raiders are due for a major letdown game here off Monday's comeback win in Mexico over Houston. Carolina also absolutely has to have this and comes in on extra rest after winning last Thursday.
Denver vs. Kansas City: This was flexed to the Sunday night matchup. Two good defenses and two very average quarterbacks. I lean Denver off its bye week.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay (Monday): Two marquee franchises but really a dog Monday night game with the Packers imploding defensively on a four-game losing streak, and Carson Wentz backsliding for the Eagles, who have dropped five of seven.
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