NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 11
Every year in the NFL there's one WTF game. If I knew when/where it would come, I wouldn't be writing about it but spending my money somewhere on my yacht in the Caribbean. My first Survivor Pool story each year, I recommend sometimes playing "defense" against the rest of your competition. That is, avoid the game that just screams obvious victory on the off chance the unexpected happens and it burns everyone else.
Well, the WTF game of the 2019 season happened in New Orleans on Sunday. No way the Saints lose that one on a six-game winning streak as 14-point favorites and with the Falcons on a six-game skid. So, naturally, not only did the Saints lose but they got spanked 26-9. Stunner. A few statistics from that upset:
*-It was only the fourth time in NFL history and first in 18 years that a team on a losing streak of at least six games beat one on a winning streak of at least six.
*-It was the first time in 16 years a team with a record of 7-1 or better lost to one that was 1-7 or worse.
*-New Orleans had scored at least 10 points in 110 straight home games, one shy of the NFL record held by the Colts from 1997-2011.
*-Drew Brees tied a career high by being sacked six times; the Falcons were last in the NFL coming in with seven sacks.
I mean, I don't know what to tell you. Had the Saints as my top choice, but I was fortunate to have used them earlier in the season. I went with Green Bay at home over Carolina, and the Packers were perhaps six inches from losing that game. It was a very weird week with favorites like the Colts, 49ers, Chiefs, Rams and Cowboys all losing. I'm guessing a lot of Survivor Pools ended in Week 10.
Here's a look at Week 11, with four teams on the bye: Green Bay, NY Giants, Seattle and Tennessee. The team listed first is the choice.
14. Minnesota vs. Denver: I worry slightly about the Vikings having a bit of a letdown game following a big win in Dallas last Sunday night, but Minnesota has been mostly dominant at home and that very good defense should befuddle Broncos QB Brandon Allen in his second career start.
13. San Francisco vs. Arizona: Were the 49ers exposed a bit Monday? I believe Jimmy Garoppolo and that offense were. It's a short week, too. This will be close, but the Niners escape for the season sweep over Kyler Murray.
12. Oakland vs. Cincinnati: This will be a popular top pick as I'm sure no one expected they would be using the Raiders as their top Survivor choice this season off a 4-12 2018 campaign. However, kudos to Jon Gruden as maybe "Chucky" does know what he's doing. The Bengals are simply atrocious … they aren't going 0-16, but they won't win on the road.
11. Dallas at Detroit: This is if Matthew Stafford sits again for the Lions. We may not know until Sunday morning, but the Cowboys aren't losing to Jeff Driskel if Stafford is out. Stick with Dallas if Stafford plays but move this down a fair amount.
10. New Orleans at Tampa Bay: Really not too concerned about the Saints as every team lays at least one egg a season. They do need to start a bit faster, though, as New Orleans has scored a total of 25 first-quarter points in nine games. Tampa surprisingly released 2016 first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves this week, the most experienced corner on the roster.
9. Carolina vs. Atlanta: Sorry, I'm not buying the Falcons as having suddenly figured everything out, and they might be down running back Devonta Freeman and tight end Austin Hooper. Matt Ryan can keep playing well, though (fantasy football reasons)!
8. Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville: Here's another one that's dependent on whether the starting quarterback plays. If Jacoby Brissett returns from his injury, the Colts are good here . If he doesn't, slide this down about 4 spots and take the Jags. Brian Hoyer is simply not good.
7. Baltimore vs. Houston: The coulda-been Chicago Bears Bowl. Yep, good scouting Ryan Pace on preferring Mitchell Trubisky over fellow young QBs Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. Ravens look like arguably the NFL's best team right now.
6. Buffalo at Miami: I know more than a few Dolphins fans who are furious that their team has won back-to-back games to likely kill any shot Miami had at the top pick in the 2020 Draft. Calm down, so you get Joe Burrow instead of Tua Tagovailoa.
5. LA Rams vs. Chicago: Remember, gee, just last year that everyone was anointing the Rams' Sean McVay and Bears' Matt Nagy as offensive geniuses? Pshaw. To be fair, both are stuck with crappy quarterbacks and offensive lines.
4. Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday): The Browns could almost never beat Ben Roethlisberger but should find things a bit easier against Mason Rudolph. Cleveland has to win this game or the playoffs are a pipe dream.
3. Philadelphia vs. New England: Rematch of that wildly entertaining Super Bowl from two seasons ago, which Tom Brady recently admitted he still wasn't over. If Nick Foles can beat Brady at a neutral site, then Carson Wentz should be able to at home.
2. NY Jets at Washington: Yuck. Guess I'll take Sam Darnold over Dwayne Haskins, who makes his second NFL start and hasn't looked good in limited action thus far. Jets are going to cost themselves a shot at the top pick in 2020 with a victory.
1. LA Chargers vs. Kansas City (Monday): Game in Mexico City. Chargers have to have it or their season is essentially over at 4-7. They are on extra rest after losing last Thursday in Oakland, so we'll take the upset against a porous Chiefs defense.
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