NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 17
What can I say? It's been an unusual year in the NFL!
Stars suffered season-ending injuries each week, it seemed. The New York Jets, whom I thought would go 2-14, proved better than the Giants, Bucs, Bears (no real shock there), Colts and Texans!
The top five seeds currently in the NFC all missed the postseason last year. The AFC hasn't been quite as wild as the Patriots, Steelers and Chiefs all repeated as division champions, but the other three playoff teams will all be new - right now we only know that one of those three is Jacksonville.
Shoot, the league even opted on its own to not have a Sunday night game in Week 17. I don't think anyone saw that coming. Frankly, I wasn't going to be watching football on the night of New Year's Eve regardless, but it's a smart move as the NFL can't allow the Sunday night game to damage the competitive balance of the earlier games or vice versa. Things simply didn't work out this year where one clear winner-take-all game stood out like Packers-Lions in Week 17 in 2016. There are only three playoff spots up for grabs Sunday.
From a Survivor Pool perspective, it wasn't a great season as I was knocked out in Week 6 (earliest in many years) with the Atlanta Falcons lost at home to the Miami Cutlers - ah, if December Sevy could go back and warn October Sevy. I'm in multiple competitions each year and almost always in contention into December (won more than a few), but these things happen.
Most likely, your competitions have already finished as I can remember just once in my personal history of a Survivor Pool reaching Week 17. That year, there were three of us still standing and we agree to split the pot instead of having to worry about the Week 17 results or potentially arguing over whether to spill the competition over into the postseason with a reset. If your competition does that, I recommend doing it by the spread (so you pick the best spread you like, whether it's a favorite or underdog covering) or it wasn't be as exciting and might end up tied through the Super Bowl.
Hopefully my advice brought you some success, and we'll be back next year. The 2018 season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 6, presumably at the home of the Super Bowl champion. If the Patriots win another Super Bowl as they are favored to, I'd bet right now that they open vs. Green Bay in what likely will be the final Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers matchup.
Here are the Week 17 picks, with the chosen team listed first. It's all about motivation for teams this week.
Minnesota vs. Chicago: "Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go, I hate to leave you, but I really must say, Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight." Good. F'ing. Riddance. John. Fox!! Vikings still have to play their key guys to assure they hold on to the No. 2 seed. I have no faith in Minnesota in the postseason, however, as Case Keenum will see a different level of intensity. So, no, the Vikings won't become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Baltimore vs. Cincinnati: Ravens are in the playoffs with a win and could still get in with a loss - but they won't lose. The Bengals are going through the motions with Marvin Lewis likely a Black Monday casualty.
Seattle vs. Arizona: This game kicks off at the same time as Panthers-Falcons. Seahawks are the NFC's No. 6 seed with a win and Atlanta loss, so Seattle has to go all-out. The Cardinals figure to look very different in 2018 with likely no Bruce Arians, probably no Carson Palmer and maybe no Larry Fitzgerald.
New England vs. NY Jets: Tom Brady vs. Bryce Petty with the Patriots needing a win for the AFC's top seed? Yeah, a Jets win would be a bigger upset than the Joe Namath's victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III.
Tennessee vs. Jacksonville: If the Titans win this, they are in the postseason and visit Jacksonville next week. The Jags really have no reason to play their starters with the No. 3 seed locked up. Coach Doug Marrone says he will play his guys, but I'm not buying it.
LA Chargers vs. Oakland: The Bolts need a win and some help to get in. The Raiders are on a short week and with nothing to play for. Marshawn Lynch needs to retire again.
Detroit vs. Green Bay: Meaningless game because the Lions did in Week 16 what they do best: Choke on the rare occasion you count on them. They had no right losing in Cincinnati last week. So long, Jim Caldwell.
Dallas at Philadelphia: The Eagles look like the most vulnerable No. 1 seed in years with Nick Foles under center instead of Carson Wentz. They have no reason to play anyone of note here. Dallas might want to finish with a winning record.
Atlanta vs. Carolina: Falcons are the NFC's final wild-card team with a victory or Seattle loss to Arizona, and that latter scenario is very unlikely. Dirty Birds have little shot, though, of becoming the first team in more than two decades to reach the Super Bowl a year after losing it.
LA Rams vs. San Francisco: #MeToo. I was seriously harassed the past two weeks, in which I was in my fantasy football championship game, by Rams running Todd Gurley. Needless to say, I lost. I believe the Rams are now the team to beat in the NFC. The San Francisco Garoppolos are going to be very good very soon. If the Rams do rest starters as rumored, flip this pick.
Buffalo at Miami: The Bills end the longest playoff drought in the league with a win and some help. I have stronger feelings about this being the potential end of Jay Cutler's NFL career than I do even John Fox's ouster, but those comments are definitely not PG-13 (they rhyme with jo kuck burself) so I'll keep them to myself.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: Saints win the NFC South with a victory or Carolina loss. The next time the Bucs players take the field for some OTA or whatever, I'm guessing Jon Gruden will be their coach.
Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland: I wouldn't touch this game from a Survivor standpoint, and I recommend you don't list the Steelers high in any Confidence Pool. They might simply presume the Patriots will win and rest many starters with at least the No. 2 seed locked up. The Browns will treat this like the Super Bowl as they try to avoid 0-16.
Indianapolis vs. Houston: Two teams whose seasons were ruined by a bad wing (Indy's Andrew Luck) and shredded ACL (Houston's Deshaun Watson). Colts will definitely have a new coach in 2018, while the Texans might. I'd take Bill O'Brien in Chicago.
NY Giants vs. Washington : Will Eli Manning be with the Giants in 2018? Does that even matter any longer outside of the Big Apple? Will Kirk Cousins be in D.C.?
Denver vs. Kansas City: Chiefs are locked into the fourth seed as the AFC West champions so Andy Reid would be silly to play guys like Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, etc., much if at all Sunday.
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