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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 14) - Targets and Avoids

If there were a dozen people left in a survivor pool this past week, odds are those pools are down to just several. The upsets began Thursday when the Bills beat the Cowboys, and continued Sunday when the Dolphins and Redskins won as 10-point underdogs.

If you're somehow still alive in your pool with just four weeks to go in the season, what a remarkable job you've done. I was eliminated in my loser survivor pool (where you have to pick the loser of each game). The last two weeks I've had to choose two teams so this past week, I was down to a dearth of options. I went with the Raiders who lost to the Chiefs, but I also took the Texans to lose to the Patriots. If you're going to go down with a team, then it's best to go down with New England. 19 people entered Week 13 and only 11 made it through.

Four weeks remain in the regular season and it's getting real slim-picking out there. While there are some big spreads this week, you may have used those teams. There are some off-the-radar picks I'll break down and if you're out of survivor pools, don't worry I'll have my three best bets and pick each game against the spread. Teams I pick against the spread will be italicized, with my three best bets at the bottom of the column.

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Top Survivor Picks for Week 14

Vikings -13 vs. Lions

Minnesota is off a heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks on Monday night. They'll rebound well against David Blough. Although, nearly two touchdowns in a divisional game is a lot to lay.

Vikings 38 - Lions 27


Packers -13 vs. Redskins

The chances of Green Bay losing this game in Lambeau are slim, but Washington will easily cover this spread. How you beat Green Bay is by running the ball, they rank 25th against the run, and pressuring Aaron Rodgers when your defense is on the field.

The Redskins rank 20th in rushing yards per game with 99 yards, but their last three has seen that number shoot to 129 yards, which ranks seventh in that span. Derrius Guice, who's been dealing with an assortment of injuries in his young career, finally looks like the second-round draft pick he was supposed to be. He ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries against the Panthers. Adrian Peterson also ran for 99 yards on 13 carries, so they should be able to run the ball against the Packers anemic run defense.

Now, can Washington get any sort of pressure on Rodgers? Well, they rank ninth in total sacks on the year and recorded 13 sacks in the last two games. Now that's a recipe to hang with Green Bay.

Packers 24 - Redskins 13


Eagles -8.5 vs. Giants 

I put Philly in this section last week and they lost to the Dolphins 37-31. Luckily for the Eagles, they face the Giants at home on Monday Night Football. New York is on an eight-game losing streak and looks awful. They've turned the ball over 28 times, tied for the league most, and while the other stats I look at aren't too bad, they fail the eyeball test massively. I'm forced to watch this team being in a New York market, and it is not fun. I do have RedZone but you need to have multiple TV's and it's awful having the Giants on one of the three screens. There is no spark in that team and they will be a complete dud on national television.

Eagles 31 - Giants 10


Steelers -3 @ Cardinals 

You may need to take a shot with a team if you're nearly out of options and the Steelers are a very solid option. Their offense isn't good but they'll be able to run the ball against the 24th ranked rush defense. The Steelers have been averaging 113 rushing yards per game the last three weeks, 11th in the league. So running the ball will help Devlin Hodges. However, Pittsburgh will win this game because of their phenomenal defense. They are first in takeaways, fifth in opponent yards per play, ninth in getting off the field on third down, and 11th in opponent red-zone defense.

The Cardinals offense has sputtered the past three weeks averaging just 4.7 yards per play, down from their season average of 5.3 yards. In that span, they're also dead last in converting third downs.

Steelers 20 - Cardinals 16


Jets -5.5 vs. Dolphins

Two weeks ago the Dolphins went to cold Cleveland and got rocked. Now, after a huge win at home against Philadelphia, they head to cold windy New York, where it's gotten significantly chillier the past couple days. The Jets Defense will stymie the Dolphins, as New York is tied for first in opponent yards per play the last three weeks.

It would also be really really bad for Adam Gase to lose to his former team twice in the same season.

Jets 28 - Dolphins 13


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid

Bucs -3 vs. Colts

You may be tempted to take the Bucs in your survivor but I'd highly advise against it. Just because they are off a dominating win and the Colts off a crushing loss, doesn't mean you should pencil in Tampa. The Colts have looked dead several times this season, beginning with a Week 3 home loss to the Raiders, only to rebound the following week and beat Kansas City in Arrowhead. Then they lost in Weeks 9 and 10 to the Steelers and Dolphins only to come out in Week 11 and crush the Jaguars. Once again, they've lost two in a row and everyone is counting them out. Not so fast.

These teams are so even in the stats I look at (yards per play, third-down conversions, red zone scoring) but then you have to add in the fact that Jameis Winston can literally throw the game away.

Colts 24 - Bucs 20


Titans -2.5 @ Raiders

This is one of my favorite bets for the last couple of weeks. The red-hot Titans have won three in a row against the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Colts and are now everyone's darling. Oakland was everyone's darling two weeks ago after they won three in a row to push their record to 6-4. But the last two weeks have seen the Raiders get blown out by the Jets and Chiefs. It is crucial to note those games were in cold weather and Derek Carr is now 2-10 in games that kick off in under 50 degrees. Luckily for them, Oakland returns home and no one is giving them much of a chance.

The stats won't back me up on this because Oakland's defense stinks. Tennessee's offense is number one in yards per play the last three weeks so that doesn't help my case but I really just think these hot teams flame out sooner rather than later. I can't get over the fact that the media is obsessing over Ryan Tannehill, who's had three consecutive good games. Do we all not remember how average he was with the Dolphins? This is also desperation time for Oakland because if they lose this game, they fall to 6-7, which would all but knock them of the playoffs.

Raiders 24 - Titans 21


Browns -8.5 vs. Bengals

Cleveland shouldn't be favored by nine over anyone in this league. For that team to average just 5.2 yards per play the last three weeks with Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt is ridiculous. Andy Dalton will keep the Bengals in this game and get the back-door cover.

Browns 26 - Bengals 20


Texans -9.5 vs. Broncos

Houston is off an enormous win, finally beating the Patriots. They'll have a let-down factor after that win. Deshaun Watson will be running for his life against the Broncos pass rush. I'm not calling for the upset but Houston better not take the Broncos lightly.

Texans 27 - Broncos 26


The Rest

Bears +3 vs. Cowboys - Statistically, Dallas has a great offense but they fail the eyeball test. They've won six games and not one of them has come against a team with a winning record. I'll take the three points with the home team on Thursday night.

Panthers +2.5 @ Falcons - These two teams played just three weeks ago when Atlanta pummeled Carolina 29-3. Both teams come in on losing streaks; Panthers have lost four in a row, and just lost their coach this week. The Falcons have lost two in a row, and probably should have lost their coach already. Both of these teams are relatively similar, but Carolina has more firepower offensively with Christian McCaffrey. However, it will be the Panthers defensive line which will make the difference. They rank first in team sacks, which doesn't bode well for Matt Ryan, who was sacked nine times Thanksgiving night. Additionally, I like taking teams after they've just fired their head coach.

49ers +3 @ Saints - This game you just want to sit back and enjoy. I lean San Fran because their pass rush is outstanding and Drew Brees will feel pressure like he hasn't all season.

Bills +5 vs. Ravens - Buffalo had an extra three days to prepare for this one after their enormous Thanksgiving win in Dallas. I think they will bring everything they have to stop Lamar Jackson and have a great chance to cover this spread.

Chargers -3 @ Jaguars - How could anyone want to have their hard-earned money on this game? Maybe the Chargers will lose this week on a last-second blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Nothing is off the table with the Chargers.

Patriots -3 vs. Chiefs - I love love love the Patriots this week. Why? Because there are so many pundits, columns, talking heads asking the question if the Patriots dynasty is over. Some aren't even asking the question, but rather just stating it. Tom Brady is too old. They have no weapons on offense. Just stop. We've heard this so many times before, and countless times New England goes out that next week and just rolls over their opponent. The Patriots looked in control against Houston early, driving all the way down the field on their first possession but had to settle for a field goal. They pounded the run on that drive, going with jumbo formations. It was old school football at its finest, but then after a Houston three-and-out, New England got the ball back and Brady threw an interception. Houston scored a touchdown and the momentum had fully shifted. It was Houston's game. I expect New England to come out Sunday, and run the ball. Kansas City is allowing 141 rushing yards, 30th in the league. And through their last three, the Chiefs have allowed 146 rushing yards. The Patriots will control the clock, keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field, and play their usual stellar defense. Plus, when are you able to get value on the Patriots only laying three points at home?

Rams +1 vs. Seahawks - These teams last played in Week 5 when the Rams missed a potential game-winning field goal. This is such a tough game to pick but I like the home dog on Sunday night.


Best Bets for Week 14

  • Colts +3
  • Raiders +2.5
  • Patriots -3

Last week: 2-1

Season total: 20-18-1

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