I don't want to overstate things, but I am pretty sure that there has never been an easier Week 12 in the history of the NFL for Survivor Pool enthusiasts than the one we were just lucky enough to experience. There were four games that jumped out as so obvious they were almost embarrassing, and all four turned out just like they were supposed to. No drama. No stress. If it was always this easy to pick winners - any week of the season - then no one would play Survivor Pools because there would be no challenge.
Unfortunately, this week isn't nearly as straightforward. One blow to the dream is that the Browns finally have their bye week this week. Betting against them has been the easiest thing we have seen in awhile - and will be the rest of the way this season, because they are as close to a lock to finish 0-16 as any team has ever been. Beyond that, there are a lot of games that are tighter this week than last week, and that means more risk is involved in making our picks. I hate risk when it comes to Survivor Pools. After the success of last week, though, we can fearlessly plunge into this week no matter how hard it looks. We are unstoppable:
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New England vs. L.A.: I'm assuming by now that everyone has picked the Patriots, so there is no pointing in spending much time on this game though the outcome is all but guaranteed.
Denver at Jacksonville: The Jaguars played better last week than they have lately, but they still weren't good enough to beat a pretty underwhelming Buffalo team. They have now lost six in a row and have clearly given up on their coach and each other. They have good talent on both sides of the ball but have been incapable of taking advantage of that talent. Denver is coming off a tough loss in overtime last week, but they know that they can't afford another loss if they want to remain competitive in a tight divisional race, and in a wild card showdown with the Dolphins that they are currently losing. They should be fired up. The Jaguars have really struggled to find offensive consistency, and that should again be the case against a Denver defense that is more than solid. The Broncos have a winning record on the road, and Jacksonville has just one home win. If Denver is still available to you then this is by far the most attractive non-New England pick available.
Dallas at Minnesota: Like the first two picks on this list, the Cowboys are an attractive pick but one that most people will have long since used so won't have available here. The Vikings have just one win in their last six games and are a mess on offense and not nearly the threat on defense that they were earlier in the season. Injuries have hurt them, and a general malaise has been an issue as well. They are a bit of a mess. More than a bit, really. Dallas, meanwhile, has won 10 in a row and is unquestionably the hottest team in the league right now. They match up very well in all aspects of this one, and they are a perfect 5-0 on the road so far. At some point Dallas is going to run into a situation they can't overcome, but this just does not seem like that spot. The Cowboys, if you have them as an option, are a very attractive pick.
Washington at Arizona: This is the least attractive pick on this list, but it is still fine, and it is the most likely one to be available to a lot of players. Washington has lost two in a row, but their effort against Dallas was strong despite the loss, and the lopsided loss to the Steelers still had some bright spots. Before that they had won four in a row. The defense is only okay, but Kirk Cousins is rolling, and the offense is in form as a result. Arizona, meanwhile, is really struggling. They have dropped three of four, and the win was a narrow one against the Niners so it hardly counts. Arizona is a much better team at home than on the road, but by this point in the season I suspect that their frustration and the reality that their season is already over will limit what they are capable of. Washington is still very much in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in an NFC that really lacks depth this year. That should be an added motivation for them here. Washington is in good position in this one.
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