If you waited until this past weekend to pick the defending Super Bowl Champions as your Survivor Pick, then you were severely let down by the Bucs. Or did you decide this could be your best chance to use the Steelers against the winless Lions? Well, the Lions are still winless – except they now have a tie to their record.
Most pools may have ended by now entering Week 11, especially with the number of upsets the past two weeks, but for those still standing, let’s get into the best picks for the upcoming weekend. I’ll try to avoid the notable favorites (Packers, Rams, Cardinals, Bills, etc.).
Here are the top 5 picks for your pool:
Panthers over Washington
This game will most definitely be one of my Best Bets ATS in my other column this week. I love betting teams coming off their “Super Bowl” win. For Washington, defeating Tom Brady and the Bucs was precisely that. Don’t forget, the WFT came close in the Wild Card playoffs last January to upsetting Tampa Bay behind none other than QB Taylor Heinicke but fell short 31-23. Washington succeeded in the revenge matchup on Sunday by striking early with two interceptions off Brady and capitalized by converting scores on both.
One can argue that the Panthers had a similar win against the Cardinals on Sunday, but take into account that Arizona entered the game missing QB Kyler Murray, WR DeAndre Hopkins, and DE JJ Watt. Also, what we saw on Sunday was more indicative of the team Carolina can be from here on in, given that the Panthers finally moved on from the failed Sam Darnold experiment and put the games in the hands of QBs PJ Walker and Cam Newton. This was a squad energized by Newton’s return and played up to their potential. The Panthers’ defense has been playing stellar all season, but it has consistently been Darnold’s mistakes on offense that has disappointed.
Carolina is a sneaky good team entering the second half of the season and not one to be overlooked. They are well-coached and possess a potent offense now that RB Christian McCaffrey is back from injury. This is a time when the public still may not be taking Carolina seriously enough to jump on the Panthers’ value.
Browns over Lions
I overlooked the fact that the Browns were missing not one but two RBs before their embarrassing loss to the Patriots. Had I taken into account both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt would not be available for the contest, I would have switched my pick immediately. However, that was last week, and now this is a new week. Whether or not QB Baker Mayfield will suit up this weekend shouldn’t matter as Cleveland is set to play the worst team in the league – the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, the Lions blew yet another chance at securing their first win of the season when they missed a would-be, game-winning field goal in OT against the Steelers. Still, a tie beats a loss, so there was at least a moral victory in that.
As mentioned earlier, whether it be Mayfield or Case Keenum behind center for the Browns this weekend, the offense should be able to rebound and put up enough points to dominate the Lions, who will most likely be flat from their OT tie. This could be the last chance to score an easy victory by selecting an average team like the Browns, so if you have yet to use your pick on them, better do so this weekend.
Niners over Jaguars
Which Jaguars team will show up this weekend? The one that shocked the Bills two weekends ago or the one that proved they are one of the worst teams in the league against the Colts on Sunday. I’ll bet the latter as Jacksonville will host the Niners coming off a Monday night game against the division rival Rams. While I wouldn’t necessarily bet the Niners ATS, I’ll take them straight up.
The Niners have been a disappointment all season, but they still boast a superior roster to the Jaguars. Jimmy G. can still prove to be a competent QB and has the necessary weapons to win with WRs, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Jacksonville, meanwhile, has struggled on offense the entire season behind rookie QB Trevor Lawrence who has not looked like a No.1 overall pick to date. San Francisco may come out flat, playing on a short week and having to travel cross-country to play an early game. Fortunately, in Survivor Pools, your team needs to win outright and not against the spread. Take the Niners.
Dolphins over Jets
It is always a risk to hedge your bet on a terrible team, but the Dolphins have at least shown they can play to their potential after upsetting the Ravens at home last Thursday. The Jets, on the other hand, continue to regress from week to week. Rookie QBs Zach Wilson and Mike White have been interception machines, and that should continue this weekend no matter who takes the field for New York. The Dolphins, at least, possess the more competent QBs, RBs and WRs out of the two teams and should be able to post up the necessary points to edge out their division opponent. It’s a considerable risk, but if you are in a bind with all of your playoff contenders already selected, the Dolphins may be the team to rely on – even for just one week.
Saints over Eagles
Had it not been for a bogus roughing-the-passer penalty, the Saints may have pulled off the upset over the Titans this past weekend. Instead, what should have been an interception in the endzone set up Tennessee with a new set of downs at the 1-yard line right before half in what turned out to be an eventual TD. A failed 2-point conversion halted any last-minute opportunities the Saints had for a comeback to force OT, as did an onside kick they could not recover.
This weekend, the Saints should bounce back against the over-performing Eagles. Let’s not forget, this was a team squandering a few weeks ago until they discovered their long lost run game and completely blew out the Lions and managed to upset the Broncos this past weekend. Granted, the Broncos were coming off an emotional upset of their own a week prior when they defeated the Cowboys in blowout fashion. One had to have predicted they would not have the same energy facing a team considered inferior.
Sean Payton should have his team ready to rebound from the defeat in Tennessee. By now, teams must recognize that when the Eagles are forced to rely on Jalen Hurts to throw the ball rather than use his feet; they struggle to move the ball upfield. Payton will have a game plan in place to ensure Hurts is limited. Take the Saints.