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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 12) - Targets and Avoids


Sunday was one of the worst Sunday's Vegas has had all season and remaining entrants in survivor pools nearly had the same fate. However, the Vikings rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit, the 49ers scored late, and the Cowboys win was much narrower than it should have been. The Saints, Bills, and Ravens took care of business while the Raiders and Rams pulled away late. The Jets and Falcons were the two upsets, but you could have perhaps seen both of those coming.

Survivor pools are a near wasteland at this point in the season. I was apart of a survivor pool where you pick the winner. It started with 2,871 people. Eight are now left. I'm somehow still apart of a loser survivor pool (where you pick the loser), 1,840 began and now 21 are left. You had to pick two teams beginning in Week 10 in the survivor pool and two beginning in Week 11 in the other. It's getting really slim-picking out there.

This week there are only two games with point-spreads of more than seven; Browns -11 vs. Dolphins and Saints -9.5 vs. Panthers. This is also the final week of byes and four teams are off; Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, and Vikings. If you are reading this article on Thursday or later, the lines below are correct as of Wednesday. The teams I like against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets against the spread able to be found on the bottom of the column.

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Top Survivor Picks for Week 12

Browns -11 vs. Dolphins

If you haven't picked Cleveland yet, now is the time. As bad as they can be, they aren't losing this game. Even though the loss of Myles Garrett is really bad for the Browns Defense, it won't impact them too much in this spot. You also have a warm-weather team traveling to cold Cleveland.

Browns 27 - Dolphins 17

 

Saints -9.5 vs. Panthers

If you're still alive in your pool, you may have already taken the Saints, but the Panthers may still be available to those in loser survivor pools. Carolina has lost two in a row, most recently a blowout loss at home to the Falcons. Their stats have gotten significantly worse the last three weeks, opponent yards per play has allowed 6.4 yards, 30th in the league, whereas through the season that number has been 5.5. They're 22nd in opponent third-down conversions and dead last in allowing touchdowns in the red zone. The Saints are top-10 in those three stats through the last three weeks.

While the Panthers are number one in sacks, the Saints have allowed the seventh-fewest sacks and fourth-fewest quarterback hits. The Saints have a good pass rush that creates pressure and the Panthers are eighth in sacks allowed, and ninth in hits allowed. The one stat that keeps popping out to me is turnovers. Kyle Allen has been reckless lately, tossing nine interceptions (four last week) in the team's last four games. With the pressure that New Orleans creates, and their ability to create turnovers, 13th in the league, Carolina is in trouble. It's also problematic for Carolina that New Orleans has given the ball away just six times, best in the league.

It seems like the Saints game two weeks ago was a fluke and they got back on track in Tampa Sunday.

Saints 31 - Panthers 21

 

Steelers -6.5 @ Bengals

Pittsburgh may not have a very good offense but their defense is stifling. The Bengals point scored the last five games; 17, 17, 10, 13, 10. They aren't getting more than 14 on the Steelers. Pittsburgh has enough to get more than that.

Steelers 17 - Bengals 14

 

Lions -3.5 @ Redskins

Washington is such a bad team, and even more so a horrendous franchise. They may not win another game this season. They get blown out in so many games and it seems like the players have thrown in the towel. Dwayne Haskins may be good, but he is not ready to play yet. Jeff Driskel for the Lions has improved the last two weeks and should have no problem against this Redskins Defense in a stadium that may not even reach half capacity.

Lions 30 - Redskins 17

 

Patriots -6.5 vs. Cowboys 

The way to beat New England is by running the ball. Their defense has allowed an average of 150 rushing yards the last three weeks. Ezekiel Elliot is one of the best backs and the Cowboys rank seventh in rushing. However, the last three games they've averaged 99 yards on the ground, which is right in the middle of the pack. Elliot has run for 45 and 47 yards the last two games while Dak Prescott has thrown for 397 and 444 yards the last two weeks. I think the Patriots will follow the Vikings strategy and make Prescott beat them. New England will sell out to stop the run. While the Vikings secondary is average, New England's is the best. They rank first in opponent yards per attempt and second in opponent passing yards per game. They're also first in opponent yards per play, third-down defense, third in red-zone defense, and third in sacks.

The way to beat New England is pressuring Tom Brady and Dallas has a decent pass rush, 14th in the league in sacks. But the Cowboys secondary has been bad the last two weeks allowing 220 yards and a 71.9 completion percentage to Kirk Cousins and 209 yards, 57.7 completion percentage to Jeff Driskel. If the Patriots can block up front, they'll have no problems.

Patriots 27 - Cowboys 21

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Bears -6 vs. Giants

The Giants have nearly a full yard more in offensive yards per play and are averaging 10 more points per game. But will Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley be able to do anything against the Bears Defense? I know Chicago won't be able to do anything offensively. This is a vintage Bears offense; throw 5-yard dinkers and give your defense no help. This is way too many points for the Bears to lay and the over/under is somehow 40.5.

Bears 16 - Giants 14

 

Bills -4 vs. Broncos

Certain teams have been my demise this season. The Broncos are one of them. I bet them over 7.5 regular-season wins and then took them in games several times in the earlier weeks. I've really paid attention to their games because of that and their 3-7 record should be closer to 5-5. They should have beaten the Bears in Week 2. That's when there was a bogus roughing the passer call and the refs gave the Bears the extra second to kick the game-winning field goal. Two weeks later, they blew a 17-3 lead to the Jaguars. Three weeks ago, they blew a game to the Colts and on Sunday, a 20-0 lead to the Vikings.

Now let's look at who the Bills have beaten. The Jets, Giants, Bengals, Titans, Dolphins, Redskins, and Dolphins again. They played the Patriots close, but got blown out by the Eagles and narrowly lost to the Broncos. This team is so overrated and the stats prove it.

Yards per play; Bills ranked 19th, Broncos 23rd. Opponent yards per play; Buffalo 4th, Denver 8th.

3rd-down conversion; Bills 20th, Broncos 30th. Defensively; Bills 6th, Broncos 7th.

Touchdown percentage in the red zone; Bills 3rd, Broncos 27th. Defensively; Broncos 2nd, Bills 23rd.

The Bills turnover margin is 0, Broncos -2.

So the stats lean slightly toward the Bills, but the smart money does not. The line opened with the Bills -5.5 yet despite 53 percent of the bets are on Buffalo, the line has come down to four signaling major early wiseguy money on the Broncos. These teams should both be 5-5 and I think this line should have opened at three.

Broncos 14 - Bills 10

 

Raiders -3 @ Jets

The battle in this one is the Raiders' good rushing attack led by Josh Jacobs against the NFL's number one ranked rush defense. In all the other stats, these teams are pretty even. But the Raiders have to travel across the country for an early 1 p.m. game.

Jets 23 - Raiders 20

 

The Rest

Colts +3.5 @ Texans - Indy beat the Texans a month ago and this time they will pull out another close one. Bill O'Brien is such a bad coach while Frank Reich is one of the better ones. The Colts are a physical defense, one that's allowing the fourth-fewest opponent yards per play through their last three while the Texans are 31st in that span. Also, how could you be that bad off your bye last week?

Bucs +4 Falcons - I can't forecast these teams. Is Atlanta really back? They've won two in a row after their bye and haven't allowed a touchdown in those games. The Bucs have lost five of their last six. I'll take the points with no confidence.

Eagles -1.5 vs. Seahawks - This is really a must-win game for the 5-5 Eagles. Carson Wentz will be able to pass against the 28th-ranked passing defense. Russell Wilson should also be able to move the ball so I expect a lot of points.

49ers -3 vs. Packers - The Packers can't stop the run, 25th in the league, and the Niners love to run it, as they rank second. Green Bay's offensive line ranks in the bottom half in sacks and quarterbacks hits allowed, while San Fran is tied for the most sacks.

Rams +3 vs. Ravens - I really wonder what would have happened had the referees called a pass interference against the Ravens on DeAndre Hopkins Sunday. It would have been 7-0 Texans and who knows what else may have happened. Nonetheless, the Ravens smoked them, but I still am not sold on their defense. Sean McVay will work his magic and their offensive line is revamped.

 

Best Bets for Week 12

  • Broncos +4
  • Jets +3
  • 49ers -3

Last week: 1-2

Season total: 16-16-1

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