Things were kind of crazy the first couple of weeks of the NFL season in Survivor Pool action. The last two weeks, though, things have been more normal. Mercifully. The games have seemed somewhat straightforward heading into the week, and the most obvious choices have turned out as expected. At this point it seems like that is the case again this week. We have a very easy pick and another quite attractive one as well. It should be a good week to be a Survivor Pool player:
New England at Cleveland: It is quite possible that there has never in the entire history of the world been an easier Survivor Pool pick than this one. Like ever. The reasons this one makes sense are so many that I'll just pick a small minority of them, and this will still be a long paragraph. First, it's the Browns - it has been a good idea to bet against the Browns all year because they are terrible, and that isn't changing in a hurry unless they find a way to clone Terrelle Pryor so he can play every position at once. The Joe Thomas trade talk - which absolutely should happen, by the way - is heating up again, and that won't help the focus. Plus, it's Cleveland, and Bill Belichick is never going to want to lose to the team that fired him. The guy forgets nothing and forgives less. And then you have the Patriots. They are embarrassed after being shut out at home by the Bills. They don't sit back and take embarrassment quietly. Then, some guy named Tom Brady is returning to the roster, and it seems like he might have a touch of anger and frustration to take out on an opponent. If you want to ignore the strength of one team and the incompetence of the other there is just a practical consideration. The Patriots are one of the best teams in the league, and they are the biggest favorites in the league. You probably haven't picked them yet this year because of the constant QB uncertainty. So you have a very good team in a very soft spot in week 5. It's a dream. Just make the pick.
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Pittsburgh vs. New York Jets: If you can't or, for some incomprehensible reason, won't pick the Patriots then this is probably the second-best pick if it is available to you. The Jets showed what they are on Sunday in their home loss to Seattle. They can't run the ball consistently, but they also can't throw it without completing a lot of passes to the guys in the other uniforms. They just aren't good. The biggest risk here is the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Steelers. Two weeks ago they lost by 31 to the Eagles and looked impossibly awful in basically every aspect of the game. Last week they beat a decent Kansas City team by 29, and it wasn't nearly as close as the score. I tend to think that the Philly showing was an aberration, so I trust them to a reasonable extent. They still feel like the second- or third-best team in the AFC, and they are at home for this one which surely helps - the debacle was in Philly. If it weren't for New England I would happily make this pick.
Oakland vs. San Diego: If you are still reading here then you are just stubborn - there are two strong picks, so you likely don't need to be looking deeper. There are a lot of games that don't offer much this week, but aside from the big two this is about as good as it gets. The Chargers have just one win and have found new ways to blow close games in each loss. They have some things going for them, but they ultimately just aren't very good. The seat of head coach Mike McCoy is getting hot, too, and that almost never helps a team focus. Oakland has three wins already. More significantly, all three of those wins have come on the road. This is a tough team that plays strong football. They are now at home against a rival, and they know just how important this game is. The Broncos are cruising, so the Raiders know they can't lose - especially against weaker divisional foes - if they want to have a chance to win the AFC West. Again, this game isn't nearly as attractive as the first two on this list, but it is the best of the rest and very much a pickable game.
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