NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 11
Maybe I've been going about this Survivor Pool thing all wrong the past two years? I actually know a few people who simply pick against the Cleveland Browns each week, and you can't argue with the results.
OK, first off, you can't go against the Factory of Sadness every single week because the Browns obviously play AFC North rivals Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore twice each season. But if you can find another team those three weeks, then you have been golden. After blowing their first double-digit lead of 2017 in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions, the Browns predictably lost by two touchdowns. They are an incredible 2-34 in their past 36 games and now the only winless club left after the 49ers beat the sorry New York Giants this past Sunday. If Cleveland does lose out, it's obviously guaranteed the No. 1 overall pick. The Browns would be the first team since the Bengals in 1994-95 to pick first in back-to-back years. Those picks didn't go great for Cincinnati in defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in '94 and running back Ki-Jana Carter the next year. Wilkinson was a pretty good player for a little while, but Carter was a bust.
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Perhaps the Browns can look to the 2008 Lions, the only team to ever finish 0-16. With the first pick of the 2009 draft, Detroit took quarterback Matthew Stafford, and he's on a Hall of Fame pace - albeit without a playoff win yet.
To make matters worse for that Browns front office, the King of Cleveland, LeBron James took a shot at the team this week: "I think Deshaun Watson should be a Brown. Doesn't mean that Myles Garrett isn't going to be a great football player. But Deshaun Watson should've been our quarterback. Doesn't mean you're [ripping] on the next guy. It's just that you're stating what you see."
Former Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, whom that analytic front office made no effort to re-sign in March 2016, says he hopes his Jaguars "hang 40" on Cleveland this week and that the franchise will go 0-16. I'd say that's dangerous bulletin-board talk, but, again, these are the Browns.
On the bye in Week 11 are Indianapolis, NY Jets, San Francisco (so three teams you would never use in a Survivor Pool) and Carolina. Here are the picks, with the chosen team listed first.
Kansas City at NY Giants: We are at the point of the season where you can't simply stick to home teams. I might say this is a trap game for the Chiefs, but Andy Reid is a magician coming out of his bye week (16-2 record dating to Eagles days) and the Giants have absolutely quit on Coach Ben McAdoo (who looks like Reid's long-lost son).
Jacksonville at Cleveland: For first time in forever, this is a game where you EXPECT the Jaguars to win. They are 7.5-point favorites, their first time in 11 years favored that by much away from home. I'm not sure I trust Blake Bortles enough to make Jacksonville as my top selection this week, but many who already used the Chiefs probably will.
Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee (Thursday): Ben Roethlisberger wants the NFL to stop with the Thursday night games. I'm starting to come around to his point of view. They are often really ugly and injury-filled. It's the Steelers' first-ever look at Marcus Mariota.
New Orleans vs. Washington: Are the Saints really this good? Second team ever to win seven straight following a 0-2 start (1993 Cowboys). Do note that the Redskins are 7-1 all-time at the Superdome and have won four straight there, with their most recent victory coming in Robert Griffin III's terrific NFL debut in 2012.
Philadelphia at Dallas: The Eagles are off their bye week and rolling along behind NFL MVP favorite Carson Wentz. The Cowboys looked lost without Ezekiel Elliott in Week 10, and now Jerry Jones is taking on the other 31 owners because he's so pissed about Roger Goodell suspending his running back. Must be nice to be a petulant billionaire.
Seattle vs. Atlanta (Monday): The Seahawks won't have Richard Sherman, but the Falcons won't have Devonta Freeman. It's the third meeting in 13 months between these clubs, with the home team winning the first two.
Detroit at Chicago: If the Bears can't beat the Brett Hundley-led Packers at Soldier Field, I'm not seeing them beat Stafford and the surging Lions. Let's see how John Fox can publicly embarrass himself on a challenge this week.
Baltimore vs. Green Bay: I think the Ravens stink, but the Packers likely will be without their top two running backs Sunday in Aaron Jones (he's out for sure) and Ty Montgomery.
Minnesota vs. LA Rams: If back on April 20 when the NFL schedule was released you had this circled as the best game of Week 11 between 7-2 division leaders, kudos. The loser probably won't get a Top 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
LA Chargers vs. Buffalo: I was going to say to flip this pick if Philip Rivers can't play; he was surprisingly put in the concussion protocol on Monday. His backup is the forgettable Kellen Clemens. But then the Bills announced rookie Nathan Peterman was starting over Tyrod Taylor, so I like the Bolts regardless. I'm sure the Chargers players will want this for Coach Anthony Lynn, the former Bills OC who was passed over for that head coaching job this past offseason.
Denver vs. Cincinnati: This is one of those where I simply favor the home team. During a five-game losing streak, Denver has been outscored 55-9 in the first quarter. Coach Vance Joseph is sticking with QB Brock Osweiler.
Oakland vs. New England: This game is in Mexico City - the Patriots spent this week in Colorado Springs, after winning in Denver on Sunday night, to help acclimate even better to the altitude of Mexico City. It's a couple of thousand feet higher than Denver. The Raiders come off their bye week but won at Estadio Azteca last year vs. Houston.
Miami vs. Tampa Bay: Rescheduled from Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma. How upside down is football in the Sunshine State this year? The Dolphins and Bucs stink, while the Jaguars could win a division title. Florida State and the University of Florida might not qualify for bowl games, while Miami is a national title contender and the state's biggest game of the year could be USF-UCF next week.
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