Survivor Football Island Week 7: Outwit, Outpick, Outlast
Hello Darkness My Old Friend (Shane)
I mean really, getting 3 picks wrong in the first year of writing a survivor football blog is something else. On one hand, it doesn’t exactly lend to any credibility to my picking. On the other hand, in a Week 6 that had 6 spreads of 9+, only 1 team won with ease- the Houston Texans. Last week, I was correct in my thinking that the Jets would play better than expected (a controversial call away from forcing OT), that I wouldn’t touch the Baltimore-Chicago game (a Chicago OT victory), and that the 49ers would keep it close for comfort (5th straight loss by 3 or less). However, I did not foresee a Dolphins victory or Giants beatdown to say the least.
If it’s any consolation, there are 96/1,616 people left in my survivor pool, and that’s a mere 6%. Heading into Week 7, that’s incredible(!!) to consider. Usually my pool doesn’t drop this low until Week 12 or 13, and I’m positive my pool isn’t alone. Here’s what Week 7 looks like:
Week 7 Options
As of Tuesday, the majority of game spreads are between 3 and 6 points. That’s not to the point of panic, but it’s enough that most games will make you sweat. Let’s look at the 4 spreads of at least 5 points:
Tennessee: AT Cleveland. The Cleveland starting quarterbacks are like a merry-go-round that no one wants to be a part of. Kizer is starting again, and that actually makes me a bit more nervous than if Hogan had the nod. A healthy Mariota helps the case for the Titans here, but pick the away team at your own risk. Cleveland is going to get that win one of these weeks. Confidence: 5/10
Pittsburgh: home vs. Cincinnati. After scoring 9 points combined in their first two games, the Bengals offense has found some life, scoring 24, 31, and 20 points in their last 3 games. The Steelers are a bit of a mystery, and while they always seem to be a tough out at Arrowhead their offense just doesn’t look as prolific as in years past. Don’t forget this is a divisional clash, although the Steelers have won 7 of the last 8 in this AFC North matchup. In a week of slim pickings, this isn’t a bad choice. Confidence: 7/10
Minnesota: home vs. Baltimore. I said last week that Baltimore was a tough team to figure out, and an OT loss to the Bears didn’t change that opinion. Minnesota is another tough team to figure out, as no one seems to know what’s up with Sam Bradford even though the Vikings have posted some solid wins against the Saints, Bucs, Bears, and Packers. Minnesota isn’t a bad pick here, but I’d rather save them as a better option next week when they play host to the Browns. Confidence: 4/10
New Orleans: AT Green Bay. I know Aaron Rodgers is out for a while, and it’s a tough blow to this Packers offense. But I don’t think all hope is necessarily lost. When Rodgers went down in 2013, a semi-serviceable Matt Flynn went 2–2 and allowed Rodgers to have a phenomenal Week 17 which catapulted the Packers into the playoffs. New Orleans has played better their past few games, and believe it or not their defense has vastly improved. If this game was in the Superdome, I’d give the slight edge to the Saints. But it’s not and I’d feel better off flipping a coin. Confidence: 4/10
Dallas: AT San Francisco. Dallas is the away team here, but gets a major boost with Zeke Elliott’s suspension held off yet again. With the constant back and forth over the suspension, you might consider taking Dallas here to use Zeke while he’s available. The Cowboys are also coming off a bye, and their offense hasn’t scored less than 17 points in a game all year. Confidence: 8/10
Seattle: AT New York. Seattle plays worse away from home, but they should be well prepared coming off their bye week. It appears the Giants aren’t going down without a fight, and that makes this game tougher to predict than it would have been a week ago. Seattle ekes it out. Confidence: 6/10
Philadelphia: home vs. Washington on Monday Night Football. The Eagles are playing well and may be the team to beat in the NFC, but this is a divisional primetime clash that I’m steering clear of. Confidence: 5/10
And the Winner Is…
Clearly not me (lol). In all seriousness, there are quite a few selections this week that are good, but not great. I’m not picking New Orleans or Philadelphia, and I’d rather save Minnesota for consideration next week. Pittsburgh has a home clash but it’s divisional, and Seattle plays a Giants team that isn’t dead in the water just yet. So I think I’ll avoid both.
That leaves us with Tennessee and Dallas. As mentioned earlier, San Francisco has lost 5 straight games by 3 points or less. Call it a hunch, but even as an away team I feel like Dallas ends that streak this week. How ‘bout them Cowboys.
Be Gone AFC Demons (Drew)
Maybe I should take the Cleveland Browns this week. After all, they can’t do worse than my picks the past two times out, and I would then have lost on three fourths of the AFC North Division. Picking AFC teams has been straight brutal for me this season.
In all seriousness, this week is tough. There’s not a slam dunk option, and the couple big favorites I would consider (Titans, Saints, Panthers) are all on the road.
If you have the Steelers still available, I really like them in their game over Cincinnati, leveraging the momentum of last Sunday’s big win over the Chiefs. That said, I in theory do not have the Steelers at my disposal having used them two weeks ago.
One stat that I’m a big fan of — especially as the season goes on — is point differential.
Sans the occasional blowout, you really have to play well pretty consistently to stand out in this category. Right now the St. Lou… errrr Los Angeles Rams have a +41 point differential, second best in the NFC behind the Eagles and fourth best in the entire NFL.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have the second worst point differential in the NFC and fifth worst in the entire league at -39. Go figure.
I’m still not sure if the Rams are truly good, but I’ve seen enough to tell me that despite a 3–3 record, the Cardinals are not very good with unimpressive overtime wins against the Colts and 49ers and having to hang on for dear life against the Ryan Fitzpatrick led Buccaneers last week.
This game is obviously unique in that it’s being played in London, eliminating any type of home field advantage, but I feel okay about it, in part because I think the Cardinals are bad, and in part because I’ve had some decent luck with NFC teams and think I can keep it going.
The rest of the Rams home schedule is pretty rough as they don’t see another usable team until San Francisco in Week 17. If you’re still alive in your pool then, maybe you should be a guest writer on here.
Sean McVay coaches circles around Bruce Arians. Give me the Rams.