Last week there were some tight games and tough decisions for people who were still alive in their survivor pools. Thankfully, this week seems more straightforward—as long as the teams in a good position are not ones that you have already used before.
If you have used up all the obvious picks though, then it is time to gamble. That’s when these things really get fun. Here’s my survivor pools strategy advice and predictions for Week 11 of what has been a strange NFL season so far:
The Heavy Favorites
Out of the 14 games this week there are six with a spread of at least a touchdown, so this isn’t the tightest week of action that we have ever seen.
The biggest spread of the week belongs to the Patriots, favorites of more than two touchdowns at home against the Chiefs. Kansas City seems to have totally given up the last couple of weeks and they are playing without Matt Cassel this week, and New England discovered their mojo last week against the Jets. This one won’t be close.
The other huge spread—the Packers by two touchdowns over the Bucs—should be similarly one-sided. The Packers have yet to falter all season, while the Bucs have looked disorganized and disinterested recently and have clear issues.
While the Packers and the Patriots are clearly the top survivor pool picks of the week, you would really have to be on a remarkable roll to last this far into the season in your survivor pool without having picked these two teams. If you haven’t then congratulations, you have an easy pick. If not then we have to look elsewhere.
Thankfully, there are a couple of other attractive picks amongst the heavy favorites. San Francisco is unquestionably the real deal this year. Arizona has played well in their last couple games, but they are weak on the road and should be outmatched here. The Niners would be a safe pick.
Similarly, given how well Dallas is playing recently, and how poorly Washington has played of late, you could easily justify a pick of the Cowboys.
The other two strong favorites are far less attractive in my eyes. Detroit should be able to handle the Panthers at home, but they haven’t dominated in Ford Field this year and are not playing strong football right now. I’d pass.
I’d also pass on the Ravens at home against the Bengals given the fact that Baltimore just found a way to lose in Seattle. There is no excuse for any decent team to lose to the Seahawks.
Other Games of Interest
Buffalo at Miami
This is a perfect example of how quickly things can change in the NFL.
Not many weeks ago this would have been an easy pick for the Bills. Buffalo was rolling along and playing with tremendous confidence. Miami looked terrible and the deathwatch was in the final stages for coach Tony Sparano.
Recently though, the Dolphins have been playing with impressive enthusiasm and determination, while the Bills have bottomed out. Miami would be the team with clear momentum, but trusting a 2-7 team playing their backup QB doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.
San Diego at Chicago
This is another game that hasn’t turned out like it looked like it would several weeks ago.
The Chargers are playing lousy football and look like they could easily implode —hopefully signalling the end of the Norv Turner era.
The Bears are playing like a team possessed recently.
A month ago I wouldn’t have touched this game, but now I would pick the Bears and sleep soundly the night before the game.
Philadelphia at New York Giants
This is another one that might not have been a game to pick a month or more ago, but it certainly could be now.
The Eagles are a disaster. They have basically quit, and now they are playing without Michael Vick for at least a week. That means the Vince Young era is back in full swing—for better or for worse.
The Giants have been solid—especially at home—behind the very strong play of Eli Manning.
This rivalry contest could easily be not much of a contest, and the Giants would be a reasonably comfortable pick—and one that should be popular among pool players this week.
Jacksonville at Cleveland
If you can come up with a single reason to bet this game right now then you are a far more creative person than I am.
The Jags are lousy on the road, but Cleveland isn’t great at home. Both teams have young and wildly inconsistent quarterbacks and skill players who are good but not consistent, either.
From a survivor pool perspective this game essentially doesn’t exist unless you are really, really desperate.
Our official NFL Survivor Pool picks article will be available on Doc’s Sports homepage on Thursday this week.