NFL Survivor Picks Week Nine: Packers, Seahawks, and Falcons

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NFL Survivor Picks Week Nine: Packers, Seahawks, and Falcons
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It was role reversal last week in Arizona, with Jake Delhomme quarterbacking the Arizona Cardinals, and Kurt Warner taking charge of the Carolina Panthers. Delhomme went ahead and threw five interceptions, not unheard for him, and the Cardinals lost the game on a six-love turnover differential.

That wasn’t Delhomme? It was Warner? It must have been an out of body experience then, because going into that game we sure expected Delhomme to be more the INT-machine than Warner. The end result was a loss amongst my three picks from Week Eight , and simply some hope that you read the text, and picked one of the first two choices instead.

I did say I was “a little sketchy on backing the Cardinals in this game”, but amongst the available choices last week it still seemed like one of the safer bets to come through. How many times have we seen a team come off a big emotional win like the Cards did beating the New York Giants back in Week Seven, only to stink it up the very next week? Too many times to count, and the Cardinals fell right into that trip, and took me along with them.

The other two picks did come through, though. The San Diego Chargers allowed the Oakland Raiders to stay within striking distance all game, which further supports the Chargers poor running game, and run defense is making them little more than average this year, but a win is a win, as they say.

The Chicago Bears crushed the Cleveland Browns, 30-6. No surprise there, and nothing really to be proud of for Bears fans. If you own Matt Forte in your fantasy league, it is time to sell, sell, sell if you can convince a gullible owner that he’s “back”.

On to Week Nine, we have more bad teams on their bye this week, including the aforementioned Raiders, and Browns, plus the St. Louis Rams, and to a lesser extent (i.e. less bad), Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets. Choices may be slim again, but lets see what we can do if you are still alive in your survivor pool heading into the second half of the season.

 

Green Bay Packers over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (stats )

Similar to how I assess the Chargers this year, the Packers look like a pretty good, but not elite team. For the most part they have destroyed weak teams in the league, like the Browns, Lions, and Rams. On the other hand they’ve lost to, but hung around with, top teams like the Vikings (twice), and Bengals.

Well, I think we know which category the Bucs fall into this season. With the Rams, and Tennessee Titans winning last week, the Bucs remain the lone winless team. In proposing to break the streak, the Bucs are going to roll out their third QB of the season this week, rookie Josh Freeman.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think Freeman is going to be an improvement over the prior two. This is a total team effort of poor play this season, on offense, and defense, so slotting in a new QB—a rookie who the team felt should be third string out of training camp—is not going to spark this team into a surprisingly productive offense.

And he definitely will not help the defense, which has been giving up a ton of yards on the ground to opposing rushers. Ryan Grant has been feeding off of weak teams this year. Expect 24 carries, or more, and over 100 yards for him.

The one issue I have backing the Packers is that QB Aaron Rodgers is still getting hit a ton. Last week the Packers-Vikings broadcasters relayed from coach Mike McCarthy that with the game he felt he called, Rodgers should not have taken so many sacks in the prior game against the Vikings. Maybe, but Rodgers still took another six sacks last week, so whether it is the play calling, or protection, or Rodgers holding the ball too long, it doesn’t really matter, the guy is getting beaten up.

When do those sacks turn into an injury where Rodgers misses time? When do those sacks turn into a fumble returned for a TD? It could be anytime.

The Packers' passing game, when Rodgers can stay upright, is chugging along. It was nice to see Greg Jennings find the end zone last week after going through a bit of a drought, failing to score since Week One. They need him, because Donald Driver is dinged up, so James Jones would occupy his starting spot if Driver cannot play. Jones has the talent to be a decent replacement, but certainly the third, and fourth receiver spots get a little dire in this scenario. Jordy Nelson remains out with a knee injury.

Overall the Bucs are outmatched on offense, and defense, in this game, so even home field advantage will not save them from getting waxed by the Packers.

I understand the Bucs are going to wear their throwback creamsicle uniforms stirring memories of their winless 1976 season. Ah, memories. The throwbacks are, perhaps, very fitting for this season.

 

Seattle Seahawks over Detroit Lions (stats )

Talk about excitement, we’ve got a 2-5 team hosting a 1-6 team. Seattle’s division title hopes are fading fast, as they’ve fallen well behind the Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers, but they should still have enough home pride to put away the Lions in this game.

Seattle has not looked good lately, losing 38-17 last week, and 27-3 back in Week Seven with their bye week sandwiched in between those games. At least they are losing to decent teams though, the now resurgent Cowboys, and the Cardinals, respectively.

Last week the Lions lost to the…Rams. Advantage: Seattle.

Part of Detroit’s current problem is injuries to key players. QB Matt Stafford returned to action last week, but without WR Calvin Johnson, who remains questionable this week. Making matters worse, second-year RB Kevin Smith is also banged up, and could sit out this game. Head coach Jim Schwartz is on the ultra-high end of paranoid when it comes to disclosing injuries, so we won’t have a great idea about each player’s availability until just before kickoff.

Seattle has had its share of injuries too, but not to players with as significant roles as Johnson and Smith to the Lions. Seattle has more options on offense for QB Matt Hasselbeck to spread the ball around to. This group includes T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who complained last week about not getting enough opportunities, so expect some force feeding the ball in his direction this week.

The Lions allowed opposing rushers to have solid games each of the past four, including two games over 120 yards to Steven Jackson, and Matt Forte. Detroit’s defense is allowing an adjusted yard per rush of 5.0 in recent weeks. That is terrible. Coupled with allowing 266 passing yards per game in the same time, this could be a big game for either the Seahawks’ passing game, RB Julius Jones rushing, or both.

The Seahawks have been decent against the run, but not so against the pass, which, again, could circle back to their opponents in recent weeks. Regardless, beyond Calvin Johnson there are no receiving threats on the Lions, so with, or without Johnson, the Lions passing game will be limited.

Final advantage for Seattle is home field, and the Lions travelling across the country for this one. Seattle may not dominate this matchup if the Lions come to play big, but more than likely Seattle grabs the win here.

 

Atlanta Falcons over Washington Redskins (stats )

The only thing I don’t like here is that Atlanta is coming off a short week, having played Monday, and losing against the still undefeated Saints (although the Falcons made it a little thrilling in the end). Oh, and the Redskins on the other hand are coming off their bye week. I guess that is two things, but two rather minor things really, that otherwise swing this game in favor of the Falcons.

One thing I will say for Jason Campbell is he does not throw many interceptions. Now as far as the Redskins offense scoring points, they don’t do that either. That is seven games, and seven times under 20 points scored.

The Redskins did bring in Sherman Lewis to call the offensive plays effective Week Seven against the Philadelphia Eagles, but it made little difference in that game with very short preparation time for Lewis. Now we really get to see if he can work some bingo magic with a couple weeks to prepare.

I’m afraid the problems with the Redskins are deeper rooted than offensive play calls. Campbell is strictly a game manager QB at best, and his receiving options are below average once the opposing team focuses attention on Santana Moss. Note TE Chris Cooley is out for this game, although Fred Davis looks like a decent replacement for Cooley. The Falcons secondary is their Achilles’ heal, but I don’t expect Campbell et al to be able to take advantage of it.

Clinton Portis is starting to show the many miles he’s put on his legs hitting over 20 carries just once so far this season. As a team, the Redskins averaged less than 95 yards rushing a game in their past five, and that is with some creampuffs on the schedule. The Falcons are average against the rush.

Will this be the first game the Redskins top 20 points? Unless they surprise us, it seems unlikely.

The Falcons sport a better QB Matt Ryan, although one who has been somewhat turnover prone as of late, better RB Michael Turner, and better receivers Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. This team has managed over 20 points a game each of its past four games, although the defense did chip in last week with a fumble recovery TD.

Turner has been struggling through the season a bit along the lines of Portis, but without the mileage excuse. Prior to last week’s 20 carry for 151 yards and one TD line, Turner had back-to-back games with only 30, and 50 yards. Turner really needs the game to be going their way, with sufficient carries, to crank out the yards. This should be one such game with the expected struggles of the Redskins offense.

Ryan needs to protect the ball better, and in doing that I think locking on Gonzalez more, not less as suggested by the Monday Night crew, will keep the offense moving.

All in all, the Redskins have played against some of the worst teams in the league this year, and still lost, or did not win at all convincingly. The Falcons are a good to very good team when they play to their potential. I wouldn’t pencil this in as an expected romp by the Falcons over the Redskins, but they are a safe bet for the straight win.

Mike MacGregor created the Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy fantasy football and fantasy baseball draft tools, plus he developed various features and sports pools found at FFToday.com and MyOfficePool.ca. Mike owns and operates MyOfficePool.ca .

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