NFL Survivor Pool Picks and Advice: Week 17
We have reached the final week of the NFL regular season, and there is still a lot left to play for. Starting at the bottom of the standings, the Jaguars and Jets have secured the Nos. 1 & 2 overall picks, respectively, for next year’s draft, but the remaining teams; Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Carolina, New York Giants, Detroit, and Denver; are all in play – depending on the results – to finish between No. 3 and No. 10. It’s going to be imperative to find out who is playing for each of these teams and what the motivation is for their opponents. At the top of the standings, the AFC has four teams at 10-5, with the Colts and Titans fighting for the AFC South division title. All of Miami, Baltimore, and Cleveland are still alive, but they will need some help from elsewhere to secure their playoff spot. In the NFC, Philadelphia takes on Washington on Sunday Night Football, and it’s a crucial game for the Redskins as if they win they win the division at 7-9. Who starts at QB for them is anyone’s guess as Alex Smith is injured and they just let Dwayne Haskins go.
Miami Dolphins over Buffalo Bills: This week is going to be all about motivation. The Dolphins desperately need a win to get into the playoffs. The Bills have no shot at the No. 1 seed but can sneak into the No. 2 seed with a Steelers loss. Based on how the standings have taken shape, the Bills will likely match up well against any of their wild-card opponents, and as such may take the opportunity to give some rest to its key guys.
Baltimore Ravens over Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have done well to win two straight games, but that’s where it ends. The Ravens must win this game to clinch a playoff spot, and this is a revenge game from three years ago when the circumstances were the same. In that contest, Tyler Boyd scored a TD with 44 seconds left, knocking out the Ravens and giving the Bills their first playoff berth in a very long time.
Cleveland Browns over Pittsburgh Steelers: Similar to the Rams two weeks ago, I can’t imagine how embarrassed the Browns are of losing to the Jets. I know they were without a bunch of receivers, but they laid an egg with their playoff hopes on the line. Pittsburgh is resting Big Ben for this one, so it’s hard to see the Browns choking twice in as many weeks.
Minnesota Vikings over Detroit Lions: This game has absolutely no playoff implications. Both teams suck, but we’ll take the team with the better playmakers and that’s the Vikings. Look for Cook and Thielen to torch the Lions, just as the Bucs did to them last Saturday.
New York Jets over New England Patriots: Imagine a scenario where I am picking the Jets to actually win a football game because they are the better team? I still can’t imagine that yet here I am. The Jets are locked into the No. 2 spot, so winning this game won’t affect them. The Patriots threw in the white towel against the Bills, and they’d be better served to lose and help their draft slot.
Dallas Cowboys over New York Giants: The Cowboys have a chance to win the NFC East, and that alone is crazy. They need to win and hope that Washington loses to Philadelphia. Dallas is the better team in this contest, and they’ll take care of their business. If the Giants lose – hint hint – they’ll fall into the No. 3 spot, and that’s too important for them to pass up for the bigger picture.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were in a great position last week to beat the Chiefs but failed. That was their Super Bowl, and now they will suffer a letdown here. The Bucs will not spot the Falcons 17 points in this contest. And with a win, they will clinch the No. 5 seed and ultimately face the winner of the NFC East – a team which they should easily handle.
New Orleans Saints over Carolina Panthers: The Saints are still playing for a high seed in the NFC, while the Panthers are looking forward to the offseason. I give credit to coach Matt Rhule for what he’s done with a depleted roster, but the Saints offense will simply be too much for the Panthers to keep up with. Saints win big and add to their momentum as they head into the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers over Chicago Bears: I for one am not interested in getting in the way of the Aaron Rodgers freight train that’s bearing down on the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Packers are so locked in right now that they may be the best team in the league. The Bears, while playing for a playoff spot, have been playing with house money since Trubisky got back, and I see that coming to an end here against a better team.
Indianapolis Colts over Jacksonville Jaguars: This is the fourth-highest spread we’ve seen all year, and two of them featured the Jets while the other featured Kendall Hinton as quarterback for the Broncos. The Colts need to win this game and hope for some help on the scoreboard. They should have no issues doing their part as the Jags are locked into the No. 1 pick and have a foot out the door already.
Tennessee Titans over Houston Texans: This is another crucial AFC South game as the Titans have it all to play for. With a win, the Titans will win the AFC South. However, with a loss, they will miss the playoffs entirely. That’s good enough for me to trust them to get back on track against a Texans team that isn’t playing for anything.
Los Angeles Chargers over Kansas City Chiefs: This is a meaningless game for both teams. The Chiefs already locked up the No. 1 overall seed and would do well to give their key guys some rest. The Chargers have nothing to play for, but Justin Herbert could finish up his ROY season in style. Look for the Chargers to come out slinging the ball all over the field and padding Herbert’s stats.
Denver Broncos over Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders saw their postseason hopes dashed last week with their unexplainable loss to the Dolphins. I don’t know that the team will have any motivation to travel to Denver and compete. The Broncos are no world-beaters, either, but should show up for their home finale.
Arizona Cardinals over Los Angeles Rams: This is a win-and-your-in game as both teams need a win to guarantee a playoff spot. However, both teams are likely to be without their starting quarterbacks, so which team do we trust more on defense and special teams? For me, it’s the Cardinals.
Seattle Seahawks over San Francisco 49ers. This game has very little meaning for both teams as the Seahawks have a very slim chance to jump into the No. 1 overall spot in the NFC. The Niners have been playing out the string for quite some time, so we believe the Seahawks will look to rest some of their guys for this contest. Nonetheless, the Seahawks are still the better team.
Philadelphia Eagles over Washington Redskins: I don’t feel comfortable taking either of these teams, but the Redskins are a mess right now and have too many injuries at the wrong time. The Eagles are also a mess, but we like Jalen Hurts to continue to make a case for the starting position next year. Philadelphia wins this contest and by default allows the Cowboys to get into the playoffs. Classic 2020.
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