NFL Survivor League Picks (Week 10): Survivor Pool Targets and Avoids

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It was a high scoring and mostly lopsided Sunday. We saw two teams score 51 points, and even got to see three melees. I thought it would be underdog city, but instead, the favorites went 7-4-2 against the spread, 9-4 straight up. And the biggest favorite and team that seemed like a lock, the Seahawks, lost outright at home to the Redskins. It was their seventh loss at home since 2012.

 

Observations from Last Week

  • This is a new low for the Giants. 51 points at home. Allowing a 3rd and 33 conversion that ended up going for a touchdown. I predicted the Rams would win, but did not expect the game to be over at halftime.
  • The Rams were the lowest scoring team last year, 14 per game, that's 2.5 points worse than the Browns. This year, they lead the league averaging 33.
  • Are the Jaguars actually good? They're 5-3 and tied with the Falcons for the division lead. I've doubted them all year, but their defense is really really good. But Blake Bottles is still their quarterback.
  • The Texans offense is back to being their miserable self without Deshaun Watson.
  • What has happened to the Broncos? Since their bye they've lost four in a row by double digits. It seemed like they quit Sunday in the first quarter. Their once prideful defense allowed 51 points. Next up, the Patriots at home on Sunday Night Football. More below.
  • The Bucs are really bad. I wouldn't be surprised if Dirk Koetter gets fired very soon.
  • Kirk Cousins made himself a ton of money on Sunday. With a makeshift offensive line, in the toughest environment, Cousins went 75 yards in 35 seconds on four plays. Cousins had zero help from the running game, 23 carries for 51 yards all game. I'm still in awe of how he hung in there all day. Cousins dropped back to pass 37 times, and was sacked six times, and hit 11 other times. Here's a hot take: if Ben Roethlisberger retires at the end of the year, and the Redskins are stupid enough not to sign Cousins to a long-term deal, he will go to Pittsburgh.

Rant of the Week

Yes, yes, the hottest take this week is the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. They looked great on Sunday, but their coach Doug Pederson had a moment where he looked like he had no idea what he was doing. The Eagles were up 31-9 with 48 seconds left in the first half with the ball on their own 26 with two timeouts. If you want to take a knee, that's fine. You're up 22 and controlling the game. On first down, they ran the ball for six yards. Clock ticks. No timeout is called so it looks like the Eagles are going to halftime. There is now 19 seconds left because no timeout was called and 29 seconds ticked off the clock. Next play, 12 yards pass. So are you playing for points or not? Now they're at their own 44. Wentz throws a long incompletion to Jeffery. At this point Dan Fouts and Ian Eagle are perplexed.

Editor's note: Purchase any NFL Lineup Optimizer pass (including daily DFS cheat sheets), and you also get access to NBA and NHL Optimizers and DFS cheat sheets.

They were saying, you have two timeouts and if you want to concede the drive then just go to halftime. The Eagles ended up getting to midfield and getting nothing out of the drive. Luckily, for the Eagles they destroyed the Broncos, but Pederson had that moment in the grocery story where you say, 'should I buy this snack, do I really need it or is it a waste of money?' It seemed like Pederson couldn't make up his mind, and then decided to go for points after a stupid running play on first down and wasting 30 seconds. This may be an issue as the season goes along. Just something to remember when the Eagles are in the playoffs.

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. For example, how in the world are the Falcons 3 point favorites over the Cowboys? I know it's a must win for Atlanta, but you're telling me on a neutral field, these teams are even? There's your fishy line of the week. Vegas is begging you to bet the Cowboys, which means, you take the Falcons.

The biggest favorites in Week 10 per sportsbook (home team in caps):

  • LIONS -12.5 vs. Browns
  • RAMS -12 vs. Texans
  • Steelers -10 @ COLTS
  • PANTHERS -9 vs. Dolphins
  • BEARS -6 vs. Packers
  • JAGUARS -5.5 vs. Bengals

Teams on bye: Chiefs, Eagles, Raiders, Ravens (thanks goodness the Ravens are on bye. I am so sick of watching them.

Only three late games yet again. And one of them, the Giants at Niners is unwatchable.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 10

RAMS -12 vs. Texans

What looked like the game of the week, before Watson's injury, is now an afterthought. The Texans offense is anemic with Tom Savage under center. Last year, the Texans averaged 17 points per game. With Watson for six games, they averaged 35 points. Last week, they went back to their former self scoring 14 points and totaling 288 yards. It was brutal to watch Savage struggle against the 27th ranked defense, per DVOA. The Texans defense is 15th in defensive DVOA, but they look a lot worse. They give up an average of 5.6 yards per play, 26th in the league, and they have a -1 turnover margin.  I don't see how the Texans can keep pace or slow down the highest scoring offense. The Rams are averaging six yards per play, and 382 yards per game, third in the league. Even if the Rams have a let down game or trap game before traveling to Minnesota next week, all they need to do is score 21 points and that will be enough.

Steelers -10 @ COLTS

This is a perfect spot for the Steelers. They are off a bye, and under Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh is 6-4. Their defense is tied for fourth in sacks, 26, and they get to face an offensive line that has allowed the most sacks, 36, and second most qb hits, 73.

The Steelers offense finally seems to be clicking. They figured out the most effective way to move the ball is running Le'Veon Bell. When Bell gets at least 25 carries, the Steelers are 5-0. The Colts are giving up 4.3 opponent rushing yards per play over their last three, and 113 rushing yards per game. The Steelers will control this game as they are fourth in time of possession. The defense is clicking only allowing three touchdowns once all season. Additionally, over their last three, this defense is allowing a meager 22% touchdown rate in the red zone. They bend, but don't break.

LIONS -12.5 vs Browns

I think this line is about three points too high. I don't trust the Lions to cover a twelve point spread, but I do believe they will win. Matthew Stafford will not let his team lose to the Browns.

As much as the Browns are the butt of every joke, their defense is surprisingly average; they are 18th in defensive DOVA. However, they have DeShone Noodle Arm Kizer (he under throws EVERYONE). The Lions defense is 11th in DVOA. I expect the Lions to hold the Brownies to 10 points or less. The Lions will score 21 and that will be plenty.

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Patriots -7.5 @ BRONCOS

If you think the Patriots have an easy matchup this week, you couldn't be more wrong. Denver is New England's house of horrors. Who can forget the 2015 AFC Championship game loss to Peyton Defalted Arm Manning? Or C.J. Anderson's epic overtime run in the snow ending the New England's perfect season up to that point? (Brock Osweiler was the quarterback for that game). Let's throw one more out there from the 2005 AFC Divisional when Champ Bailey had a 100-yard interception return. Tom Brady is 3-7 playing at Denver in his career including the playoffs. It's the only team Brady has a losing record against. However, the Patriots are off a bye week where Bill Belichick is 12-5 in his tenure with the Pats.

The Broncos could not look any worse. They have lost four in a row and five of their last six. Their defense which was their backbone just gave up 51 points. That's embarrassing. But the Broncos loves primetime games at home. They are 12-3 at home in them since 2013. I know I know, they were embarrassed by the Giants several weeks ago. However, I am certain the Broncos will play their hardest game Sunday night with their season on the line.

JAGUARS -4 vs. Chargers- I really can not buy into this Jags team with Blake Bottles quarterbacking them. Their defense is fantastic. Besides for that weird first game of the season where the Jags allowed 37 points, they haven't allowed 30 since. They are allowing an average of 14.5 points per game and a paltry 11 their last three. They are also fifth in opponent red zone touchdown scoring, 44%. The defense leads the league in sacks with 35 through half the season. The record for sacks in a season is 72, set by the '84-5 Bears. You know, only one of the greatest defenses of all time (not the team that won the Super Bowl). Also, the Panthers have the second most sacks with 29. Six sacks is the largest gap between any two teams in the NFL.  The Chargers have a good defense, but the Chargers have a good offensive line; they are bottom ten in sacks allowed and quarterbacks hits. This game may very well come down to Blake Bortles. You know what that means.

  • Seahawks -6 @ CARDINALS- If Arizona wins, both teams will be 5-4. Wow. Thursday Night games are too much of a crapshoot, although the Cardinals have not beaten the Seahawks at home since 2012 (last year they tied).
  • Vikings -2 @ REDSKINS- What a game this will be. Can the Redskins continue their momentum from Sunday's enormous win? Will the Vikes come out flat after their bye? I like the Skins as a home dog in a low-scoring affair.
  • BEARS -6 vs. Packers-  When this line came out before the Packers Monday night game, the Bears were favorite by three. What a jump. How much worse can Brett Hundley be? An argument can be made that Aaron Rodgers should be the MVP. The Packers are so bad, but the Bears aren't good either. This is a ton of points for the Bears to lay.
  • Jets -2.5 @ BUCS- Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick will both be going against their former team. The Jets are off a mini-bye after their dominating Thursday night win against the Bills while the Bucs have lost five in a row and look lost. I'd be shocked if Fitzpatrick can give this offense a spark.
  • TITANS -4.5 vs. Bengals- I still don't know what to make of either of these teams. This feels like a 20-17 game.
  • Saints -2.5  @ BILLS- Now we will find out if the Bills are for real or not. They usually falter in the second half of the year, and after they got beat bad by the Jets last week, this will be a very telling game.
  • FALCONS -3 vs. Cowboys- This line literally makes ZERO sense. Cowboys should be a favorite, let alone this game should be pick 'em. But, Vegas is begging you to take the Cowboys, so go take the Falcons.
  • Giants -1.5 @ 49ERS- This line opened up at Niners favorite by 1.5 and now the Giants are favorite? What am I missing? A word of advice though, don't touch this game or watch it.
  • PANTHERS -9 vs. Dolphins- Whoever decided the Dolphins should be on national television in primetime in three consecutive weeks should be fired. How can anyone think the Dolphins would be fun to watch during Weeks 9-11? Yet this is a lot of points for a team to lay that hasn't scored more than 20 the past three weeks and is averaging 18,7 points per game, 24th in the league.

 

Any questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter @Seth_Fink.

Best of luck!

 

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