NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 9
The first six weeks or so of this NFL season were chock full of upsets, but it feels like the No Fun League is regressing to the mean in regards to favorites dominating the schedule of late.
I doubt there were many players knocked out of your Survivor Pool competitions in Week 8 because everyone that was supposed to win largely did. OK, the Bucs laid an egg at home vs. Carolina, but Tampa entered that on a three-game skid and with an injured quarterback, so hopefully you knew better than to take that team. The Jets pushed the Falcons in a monsoon but Atlanta escaped. The Browns led the Vikings at the half in London ... but then remembered they were the Browns. That was our last London/9:30 a.m. ET game of the season.
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I know it was a chalk week because two women, not to be overly sexist here, tied for the win in my top Confidence Pool this week as they each only missed one game - and at 2 points on the ladder. Come on! Shoot, I only missed two: Dolphins over Ravens and Lions over Steelers, and they were both under 5 points. My top Survivor pick last week was New Orleans over Chicago, and the Saints were never much in jeopardy of losing.
When I start these stories each football season, I recommend that you NOT save a team for later in the season because too much can happen. If you did save the Cowboys, shame on you. Now they are a much shakier selection in the wake of the Ezekiel Elliott finally having to serve that six-game suspension - at least as of this writing. There could still be some legal gymnastics, but it's likely Zeke is out.
How would you feel, too, if you waited on New England and Tom Brady sprains his shoulder in the next week or two (Pats are off this week) and has to sit a game? Now the team doesn't have a safety blanket in backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who was shockingly traded to the 49ers on Monday night.
It's a crushing Week 9 for byes not just in Survivor Pools but also fantasy leagues everywhere with New England (Brady, Gronk, Chris Hogan), Pittsburgh (Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown), LA Chargers (Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Philip Rivers), Minnesota (defense, maybe one of those receivers), Cleveland (haha) and Chicago (Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen) all off. Here are the picks, with the chosen team listed first.
Houston vs. Indianapolis: Man, do I wish the Bears had just stayed at No. 3 in this year's draft and taken Deshaun Watson. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told anyone who would listen that Watson was the next Michael Jordan of the NFL. Swinney has to pimp his guys a bit, but he has been right thus far. My only worry about Houston here is if owner Bob McNair says something offensive again before kickoff and the Texans players decide to forfeit.
Seattle vs. Washington: Great trade for the Seahawks this week in landing left tackle Duane Brown from Houston (for basically nothing that hurts the current team) and solving their biggest position hole on the roster. Meanwhile, I guess Kirk Cousins won't be going to San Francisco this coming offseason after all.
Philadelphia vs. Denver: Spectacular trade by the Eagles on Tuesday in getting 2016 Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi from Miami for only a fourth-round pick. The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Philly without question. The Broncos, meanwhile, are on a short week and Coach Vance Joseph is benching struggling QB Trevor Siemian - as he should - for Brock Osweiler.
Jacksonville vs. Cincinnati: The Jaguars favored by more than a field goal in a November game? What year is this? They are off their bye and should take care of business as long as rookie stud Leonard Fournette is healed from his sprained ankle.
Tennessee vs. Baltimore: I pondered this for the top spot with the Titans off their bye. But perhaps the Ravens solved their running game in Alex Collins and they played their game of the season last Thursday.
Carolina vs. Atlanta: The past two Super Bowl losers and league MVPs squaring off. The Falcons still don't look right offensively and go up against one of the league's top defenses. That should be the difference even though the Panthers for some reason traded top WR Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo.
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay: The Saints are winning with a running game and defense? What year is this!? I guess the Bucs have succumbed to the "Hard Knocks" Curse. I'm not sure if there is one, I'm just trying to get that phrase to catch on.
NY Giants vs. LA Rams: I still can't get on the Rams' bandwagon. This is one of those tough 10 a.m. Pacific time kickoffs, although the fact the Rams (like the Giants) are off their bye should mitigate that.
San Francisco vs. Arizona: Kudos to the 49ers for sending a second-round pick to New England for Garoppolo. Now Kyle Shanahan can see what he has for nearly a half of a season before deciding whether to pay Jimmy G big money as a free agent, take a QB high in the 2018 draft or, I guess, still go chase the Redskins' Cousins. You won't see Garoppolo play this week, though. The Cards are off their bye week but without starting QB Carson Palmer (broken arm). The Niners have to win once this year. This could be it.
Kansas City at Dallas: I would take Dallas here if Elliott were eligible considering the Chiefs are on a short week. Will be interesting to hear CBS' Tony Romo call a game involving his former team for the first time.
Oakland at Miami: I can't believe the Fins gave away Ajayi for so little. Apparently, his act had worn thin on Coach Adam Gase. Still, you are 4-3 and throw away your best running back when you already have the league's worst offense? Odd. That this is the Sunday night game instead of an early kickoff benefits the desperate Raiders.
Green Bay vs. Detroit (Monday): Green Bay might be the top choice coming out of a bye if Aaron Rodgers were healthy. But he's not. Still, I think two weeks of practice and preparation could make Brett Hundley a serviceable enough QB to edge the Lions - who almost never win in Cheeseland.
Buffalo at NY Jets (Thursday): Another thrilling Thursday night game courtesy of the NFL schedule-makers. Too bad that thrilling Dodgers-Astros World Series couldn't be rain-delayed to be playing Game 7 Thursday night.
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