NFL Survivor Picks Week Five: Giants, Eagles and Panthers

Mike MacGregorContributor IOctober 9, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 08:  Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 8, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Another three-for-three week last week with the survivor picks, in convincing fashion much like Week Three. Don’t look now but we are on a roll. Let’s try not to get too cocky however, as in most survivor pools a single slip up spells banishment from the pool.

Admittedly, the games have been on the easier side to choose from. Looking at this week, and I say this in the least cocky way possible, again there are a lot of big favourites, a.k.a. “sure things”. Is this the week of an unexpected big upset? If so, we’ll try to steer clear of it with our three “best of the best” picks.

New York Giants over Oakland Raiders—This choice barely requires an explanation, I would think.

The Giants are playing great. They can run the ball, they are passing better than expected going into the season thanks in part to a breakout campaign by wide receiver Steve Smith, and the defense is playing terrific. The Giants head home for this one coming off a three-game road swing, of which the last two games were barely in question from the opening coin toss.

And now they play the Raiders.

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The Raiders mustered just nine points total in their last two games, while allowing 20 plus in each. In JaMarcus Russell’s defense, the team continues to saddle him with not one, but two rookie receivers. That is about as much as I will defend Russell. He is completing barely over 40 percent of his passes. 40 percent!

Talk about a mess of epic proportions. Running back Darren McFadden is out with an injury and will miss two-to-four weeks. Honestly, that isn’t much of a loss and could be addition by subtraction if they can get Michael Bush going with significant carries.

The problem is the Giants, and any team playing the Raiders, just need to take away the running game and let Russell try to beat them. He won’t.

Of some concern for the Giants is Eli Manning’s foot injury, painful plantar fasciitis, although reports seem to indicate he will give it a go, not wanting to break his consecutive games started streak.

It is possible the Giants could look past this game as they play the undefeated Saints next. I don’t see that making a difference though. Even a half effort by the Giants looking past the Raiders should net a win here. The Raiders are that bad right now.

Take the Giants if they are still available to you. The weeks following this one—Saints, Cardinals, Eagles, Chargers—look somewhat more difficult to guarantee a win.

Carolina Panthers over Washington Redskins—Well here is a team you haven’t used yet, because if you have, then you’re out of the pool. That is right, the 0-3 Carolina Panthers, fresh off their bye week, face the 2-2 Washington Redskins.

How does one get confidence in a winless team, even though it is still early? Just take a look at their competition, and better yet, the relative strength each team faced so far.

The Panthers lost to the Eagles at home thanks to turnover machine Jake Delhomme. Then rebounded but fell short against the Falcons because the Panthers can’t stop the run. Finally, they dropped a weak excuse for a primetime game against the Cowboys in which they couldn’t stop the run, nor run the ball much themselves.

That doesn’t sound too compelling. Let’s look at the Redskins though. Washington made a game of it with the Giants, sort of, thanks to a big special teams play.

Then they beat the Rams 9-7. Yeah, you go girl.

Week Three lost to Detroit. Oh boy.

Last week they defeated Tampa  Bay 16-13, at home, and they needed to come from behind to do it.

St. Louis, Detroit and Tampa Bay are three of the worst teams in the league this year. Teams that survivor pool players feast on to stay alive deep into the season. Washington is right there with them.

The Panthers may not be the team they were last year when they dominated with their running game and finished 12-4. However, they’ve had two weeks to look at themselves in the mirror since the Cowboys loss to wake up and take some pride in their work. Signing defensive tackle Hollis Thomas to plug up the sieve-like run defense won’t hurt either.

I expect the Panthers offense will play better. They’ve got a good running game and we’re still waiting for Steve Smith to make a big impact like he is capable of doing. Tight end Dante Rosario is coming around as another reliable target for Delhomme, who just needs to play within himself to manage the offense.

Should we expect much resistance from the Redskins? I could say a lot of the same things about playing for pride, but it really looks like Head Coach Jim Zorn is dead man walking right now. This team doesn’t inspire confidence they are going to fight to keep him around.

If the Panthers want to keep pace with their division rivals the Saints and Falcons, then they need to get it together now. Must win game? Absolutely. Looking at their upcoming schedule, they face the Bucs and Bills the next two weeks. This team can get back to even at 3-3, and it starts with the Redskins this week.

Philadelphia Eagles over Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Donovan McNabb is back! Brian Westbrook is back! This team looks pretty healthy, and it is not like their record is unblemished from dropping their Week Two game to the Saints, while their division rival Giants keep chugging along notching win after win. Plus, the Eagles are coming off their bye week.

All of this diminishes what little chance the Bucs had to beat the Eagles this week in the first place.

The Bucs rolled out former “this guy is a project” draft prospect quarterback Josh Johnson to start his first game last week, and he performed about as expected. Well, he did throw for a touchdown on his very first pass, but the Bucs started on the Redskins 10-yard line. After that, we’re looking at about a 50 percent completion rate for under 100 yards for the game.

I can’t help but wonder how Johnson will respond to the Eagles pressure defense. Not well, I’d wager. The Bucs have some playmakers on offense and they are capable of running the ball. However, something is not clicking with these guys.

Replacing their offensive coordinator late in the preseason, and starting quarterback last week, shockingly hasn’t had an immediate positive impact. If the Bucs offense manages to score over 20 points it would be a surprise.

As for the Eagles offense against the Bucs defense, the Bucs, formerly renowned for their defense, have been dismal this season. In the first two games they gave up passing yards at will. The last two games have seen less passing from the opposition, because the Bucs can’t stop the run.

The Eagles are a balanced offense that can take advantage of anything the Bucs give them. Even if McNabb proves to be a little rusty, they had better convincingly outscore the Bucs or McNabb is going to be looking over his shoulder. Give me the Eagles this week with confidence.

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 FF Today.com and MyOfficePool.ca. Mike owns and operates MyOfficePool.ca.

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