[sc name=”Author Seth I Finkelstein”]
Can you believe we are eight weeks through the season?
It’s not too far back when the Giants were Super Bowl contenders, the Jets were going to go 0-16, and the Patriots were destined for a 16-0 season. How things have changed.
For those of you still left in your survivor league pools, I’m here to help as always. Let’s get right to the madness.
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Observations from Last Week
- How could the Falcons be so bad in the red zone when you have Julio Jones? They are 48% for the season, 21st in the league, but the bigger concern is that number has fallen to 36% their last three games.
- The Bills are still relevant and it’s November. Can they actually make the playoffs? They are 5-2, tied for their best start through seven games since 2011 (they then proceeded to win one game the rest of the way.) The Bills need four to five wins to end their playoff drought. Their next four are @Jets, vs. Saints, @Chargers, @Chiefs. Pretty tough. Then they get the Pats and Dolphins twice and the Colts once.
- The Vikings are completely under the radar at 6-2. But after their bye this week, they have the thick of their schedule, @Redskins, vs. Rams, @Lions, @Falcons, @Panthers. Minnesota has been known to get off to good starts and then tail off.
- I think it’s safe to say the Pats defense is mostly back.
- I have no idea what happened in the Panthers Bucs game on Sunday or what to make of either team.
Rant of the Week
The Jets had one of the worst two-minute drives I’ve ever seen. And trust me, I’ve watched plenty of Jets last minute drives over the years. They got the ball at their own 4 with 1:07 left and no timeouts. They had a 10.24% chance to win this game. I’d say it was about three. I knew they had virtually no chance to win, but at least take a chance. On first down, McCown checked down to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins for nine yards. Tick tick tick. 47 seconds to go, another check down to Forte for 12 yards. Then a spike, followed by an incomplete deep pass to Kearse. Now you have 25 seconds left and still need to go 75 yards. Another deep shot wouldn’t kill you, now would it? Except McCown throws another check down to Forte for six yards which does literally nothing. Then mine as well check it down once more to ASJ. And finally an offensive penalty ends the game.
What’s to lose at this point Bowles?!? Take several chances deep and give your receiver a chance to make a play. At least get it to the midfield where you can be in Hail Mary territory. I’d rather you throw a pick then run an awful two minute drive reminiscent of when the Jets opened their new stadium on Monday Night Football in 2010 and lost to the Ravens 10-9. That night they ran the most horrendous two minute drill I’ve ever seen. My point is, throw some deep shots and take chances. Who cares if you throw an interception at that point, but don’t play it safe with stupid check downs.
Survivor League Strategy
For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple; pick a team to win each week, if they win you move on to the next week. But you cannot use that team ever again. There is no point spread involved.
While you many survivor pools are nearing their end, some have restarted so it’s like Week 1 all over again.
Before making any picks, look at the point spreads. Vegas has the best minds, smarter than any of us, use them to get a glimpse at how each team is projected to fare that week. There will be a game or two a week where the line makes NO SENSE which means Vegas is giving you an inside scoop and they’re mostly always right.
The biggest favorites in Week 9 per sportsbook (home team in caps):
- TEXANS -13 vs. Colts
- EAGLES -8 vs. Broncos
- SAINTS -7 vs. Bucs
- SEAHAWKS -7 vs. Redskins
- JAGUARS -5.5 vs. Bengals
Teams on bye: Bears, Browns, Chargers, Patriots, Steelers, Vikings,
The NFL did a tiny bit better scheduling this week giving the fans one more 4 p.m. game than last week. Now we have three to choose from. Whoever makes these schedules should be fired. HOW IN THE WOLRD ARE THERE ONLY THREE LATE GAMES???
If you’re reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines were from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.
Top Survivor Picks for Week 9
TEXANS -13 vs. Colts
This game has letdown and trap potential written all over it. Houston will probably be looking ahead to the Rams next week. Everyone is talking about how great DeShaun Watson is after the Seahawks game and he looks to be a stud. But how can you not be scared of how bad the Texans defense was on Sunday? Seattle running backs had 16 carries for five yards the ENTIRE game. The Texans defense knew Russell Wilson would be throwing and yet they couldn’t stop him. And worse yet, the Texans had two weeks to prepare for that game. That’s the scariest thing about this game. But luckily Indy is 29th in yards per play and 27th in passing yards per game, 197. Jacoby Brissett has 6.84 yards per attempt, 25th in the league (below seven ypa is not good at all). It doesn’t help that Brissett is constantly under pressure behind the worst line in football who have given up the most sacks and and quarterback hits.
The stats get better though. The Texans are third in red zone touchdown percentage at 65%, but over the last three weeks, that number is a wild 88%. Indy is 18th in the league for the season, 54%, but over the last three games that number dips to 44%. The Colts are winless on the road and their two wins have come against the winless Niners and Browns by three points apiece.
As long as Bill O’Brien doesn’t get in the way of this one, I don’t see the Texans losing.
Rams -3.5 @ GIANTS
I never thought I’d pick the Rams this late in the season. Both of these teams are off a bye, which was great for the Giants because they had a week off from getting destroyed by the New York tabloids. But I got bad news for the Giants because come Monday, the tabloids will be calling for McAdoo’s firing.
The Rams are built around Todd Gurley who is having a stellar year. They are a top five rushing attack who’s been averaging 146 yards in their last three. The Giants have had trouble stopping the run all season, 120 per game, but have slightly improved over their last three giving up 91 yards per game. The Rams have allowed 10 sacks all season, so Jared Goff should have plenty of time facing a pass rush that sacks the quarterback twice per game, 27th in the league. The Rams are also leading the league in third down conversion, 49%, while the Giants are bottom ten in the league in opposing third down percentage.
If you watched any Giants game all season, you’ve probably realized they can’t block allowing 17 sacks, 18th in the league. The Rams are the third ranked team getting to the quarterback averaging 3.5 sacks per game. The more I delve into the stats and research this game, the more I wonder how this line isn’t 5.5 to 6 points.
SEAHAWKS -7 vs. Redskins
Seattle is now 42-6 since 2012 at home. The Redskins are so banged up and injured that I don’t see how they win this week. Get ready for the Seahawks to rip off another long winning streak.
Top Survivor Picks to Avoid
SAINTS -7 vs. Bucs
I’ve seen the Saints let down against a divisional opponent one too many times. They’ve knocked me out of survivor pools when they are in this exact circumstance. The game that keeps coming back to me is Week 2 of 2015. The Bucs got destroyed the week before 42-14 by the Titans and the Saints were pegged as 10-12 point favorites. You can guess what happened. The Saints came out flat and lost 26-19. This is a similar spot for the Saints. They should win this game, while the Bucs are in free fall and their offense can’t do a thing. Usually in the NFL, after a bad week you come out and play well. Additionally, Jameis Winston plays best when everyone doubts him.
New Orleans’s has only scored 26 and 20 the past two weeks against the Packers and Bears and haven’t looked so dominant. Drew Brees has been the least sacked quarterback all year and the Bucs have been the worst at sacking the quarterback. The stats really don’t like the Bucs and favor the Saints, but how much worse can it get for the Bucs? You’re gonna have to trust my gut on this one.
- Bills -3.5 @ JETS- I actually like the home dog in this one. It’ll be a three-point game though.
- JAGUARS -5.5 vs Bengals- If you’re actually thinking of going with Blake Bottles, you’re crazy. I really like the Bengals in this one.
- EAGLES -8 vs. Broncos- The only thing that scares me in this one is the Broncos pass rush against the bad offensive line of the Eagles. If the Eagles score 21 though, it’s over.
- PANTHERS -2.5 vs. Falcons- I want nothing to do with this game. These teams are too erratic.
- Ravens @ TITANS (NO LINE YET)- I’m not sure why they can’t put a line out on this one. It’s not like Joe Flacco has been any good this year. You’re better off flipping a coin than trying to predict this one.
- CARDINALS -1.5 @ 49ers- Hopefully Jimmy G will play, but I will not watch a second of this gruesome game.
- Chiefs -1 @ COWBOYS – I really like the Chiefs in this one. Zeke is suspended and will probably not play, but who really knows. This game will be one at the line of scrimmage.
- Raiders -3 @ DOLPHINS- Just another horrible primetime game. NBC should’ve flexed this game to save us all from watching a team that’s been shutout twice (three times if you don’t include the touchdown in the waning seconds at the Jets in Week 3.)
- Lions -2.5 @ PACKERS- Let’s continue with the awful primetime games. Try advertising for this one ESPN. Who on the Packers can you throw in a commercial that’ll get me excited to watch them? And it’s not like the Lions are fun to watch. Their games are so boring. I’d go watch basketball instead, but NBATV is showing the Nets at Suns. Guess I’m stuck with this NFC North battle.
Any questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter @Seth_Fink.
Best of luck!