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Week 3 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

NFL Week 3 Survivor Pool Picks
Date & Time Sunday September 22, 2013, 12:00 AM (EDT)
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NFL | NFL Week 3 Survivor Pool Picks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It was another bittersweet weekend for NFL Survivor Pool members as a number of teams avoided a near upset (Houston, New Orleans) to keep prize money aspirations intact but for another group it spelled the end of this year’s hopes and dreams as the Eagles were upended by the surging Chargers. We get set for Week 3 as we preview the top five most favourable matchups, a few games to stay away from, and a couple under the radar games that could prove fruitful if you’re willing to gamble in order to save the big teams for later in the season. Without further ado:

Top Plays:

Seattle Seahawks (-19) vs Jacksonville Jaguars

This line is absolutely staggering and is one of the most lopsided we have seen in some time, but for good reason. This could very well be a matchup between the NFL’s best and the NFL’s worst, as the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders, while the Jags are lottery favorites. Seattle plays very well at home as demonstrated by their convincing victory on Sunday night against their hated rivals from San Francisco. This is a prime let down spot as the players and fans alike will probably be a shadow of their Sunday night selves, but this is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags lost by 10-points to the Oakland Raiders last week on the road with very limited production out of MJD and Chad Henne so just imagine what is going to happen against the league’s best defense in the league’s loudest stadium. This is going to be an absolute write off and while I’m not going to touch the spread in this one, as the ‘Hawks offense could go cold, I can’t see the Jags reaching double digits. Lock this one in and move on to Week 4.

Denver Broncos (-14.5) vs Oakland Raiders

This is another game where the line is very high and while the Raiders are a much better team than the Jaguars, I don’t think you can argue with a two touchdown line. Peyton Manning has been in a league of his own since returning from neck surgery last year and the Broncos absolutely own the Raiders, especially in Denver. While Terrelle Pryor is emerging as the go to guy in Oakland and Darren McFadden does have some raw skill, there isn’t enough on either side of the ball to keep pace with the Broncos. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker make up a very formidable receiving unit and without their best cover guy in Tyvon Branch to shut down one of them, it is going to be a very long night for the Silver and Black. Oakland got the win last week, but it could be a while before they taste victory again and while using Denver at this juncture in the season for your pool may not be ideal, I think it is just as safe as taking the Seahawks this week.

New England Patriots (-7) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Patriots almost spoiled the party for a lot of people last Thursday, as their suddenly anemic offense struggled against a very average Jets defense and if not for New York’s abysmal offense, it could have been a much different outcome. Tom Brady looks very rattled with the situation going on with the Patriots’ offense, but luckily for him it looks as though Rob Gronkowski will be back this week. The Bucs were supposed to be a team on the rise, but they have looked atrocious through two weeks, with losses to the Jets and Saints on last second field goals. Doug Martin has been a ghost and Josh Freeman only seems to be able to complete passes to Vincent Jackson, leaving the Bucs with an 0-2 record. Add in the off-field fire going on with Freeman, Darelle Revis, and head coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs are just a train wreck at the moment and now have to go to Foxboro to play one of the best home teams in the NFL. After two subpar weeks, I can see this being the game where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady go haywire and just throttle the Bucs with no mercy. If Gronk does play, this will be a stronger option, but even if he doesn’t I think the Pats have more than enough to get the job done. Brady knows how Revis plays from his days with the Jets and Aqib Talib would love to show up his former club. Take New England if you haven’t done so already.

New Orleans Saints (-7) vs Arizona Cardinals

This was a game on my radar as possibly being a stay away type contest, but after learning that Larry Fitzgerald is likely to miss the game, my play on the Saints went through the roof. New Orleans had a huge opening week win at home over the Atlanta Falcons, but just squeaked out a win on the road against Tampa Bay, which made me a little hesitant to include them here. However, they catch a Cardinals team coming off a hard fought victory over the Detroit Lions, but are likely without they’re best (and only) receiving threat in Fitzgerald. Rashard Mendenhall has played well at times, but I don’t see him as being the kind of back to put up significant numbers against the Saints lackluster defense, meaning they’ll be able to play man coverage downfield and limit the damage through the air from Carson Palmer and Andre Roberts. Patrick Peterson is a great talent, but was burned twice by Calvin Johnson and with Peterson likely matched up with Marques Colston, expect a solid outing from Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore. Love the Saints.

Minnesota Vikings (-6.5) vs Cleveland Browns

This was a game I had circled on my schedule for a top play heading into week three action leading up to the shocking Trent Richardson deal and now I like it even more. The Cleveland sports fan continues to get toyed with, as they lost yet another superstar and don’t get anything tangible in return as they’ve clearly thrown in the towel already this season after an 0-2 start. The Browns were already without Brandon Weeden for this one and now without Trent they look even more depleted as they’re poised for a lottery selection instead of possibly challenging for a wild card spot. The Vikings meanwhile have looked strong this season despite their two losses to Detroit and Chicago but if they got a bounce in either game they could be staring at 2-0 and looking to the postseason for the second consecutive year. Christian Ponder is not a great quarterback but Adrian Peterson makes the position much easier for Ponder and playing at home should give them extra incentive here. Josh Gordon returns for the Browns but I don’t think it makes a world of difference with Brian Hoyer taking the snaps. Vikes should win easily and are a team that will save you from using one of the top end teams early in the season.


Pool Breakers:

Some games to stay away from this week as I think they can be used in more favourable spots later in the year or could be upset outright:

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) vs Kansas City Chiefs

The Eagles were a sexy pick last week as they hosted the Chargers for their home opener, with San Diego traveling across the country and playing on a short week. For those who took the Eagles, they found out in a very bad way that there are still adjustments to be made in Philly, especially on defense and this matchup is one I’m staying away from. To me, the Eagles are the better team and are playing at home, but the Chiefs have managed a 2-0 record by defeating the Jags and Cowboys and do have some playmakers on their roster. It also marks the return of Andy Reid to Philadelphia for the first time since being let go so you can bet that he will have a full game plan prepared and that the reception for the former bench boss will be quite accepting. This game is too close to call, as Desean Jackson will have to contend with Eric Berry and if Jamaal Charles can get something going on the ground, it will keep the Eagles offense on the sidelines, leaving the window open for the upset.

Cincinnati Bengals (+3) vs Green Bay Packers

This is a very intriguing matchup and one I will be watching intently as a football fan and fantasy football player, but not one I would count on in any way from a gambling or survivor pool perspective. The Packers looked dominant in their home opener victory against the Redskins last week, but now they’re taking to the road to face the Bengals, who are coming off a big win over the Steelers. There is no question that the Pack have one of the best offensive units in the league, but the Bengals are up there as well with the likes of AJ Green, Jermaine Gresham, and the tandem of the Law Firm and Gio Bernard, plus they have a much better defense. While it is entirely possible that Rodgers goes off and leads the Pack to another big win, it seems unlikely as James Starks won’t be nearly as effective as he was last week and the Bengals pass rush is among the league’s best. This is a game I could see going either way and in a survivor pool I think both of these teams can be used in a better position later in the season.

San Francisco 49ers (-10) vs Indianapolis Colts

San Francisco is going to be playing with an edge in this one after getting shellacked on Sunday Night Football against their hated rivals from Seattle and Colts fans and brass should be concerned heading into Candlestick Park. However, there are enough angles and storylines in this game that have me keeping the Niners for a different matchup, despite being double digit home favourites (we had the Titans-Texans game in this spot last week). Andrew Luck is returning to California where he spent his collegiate career at Stanford and will surely have a lot of fanfare in attendance, and is playing his former college coach in John Harbaugh. The Colts also acquired Trent Richardson on Wednesday night and while he may not be active for this game, I think it’ll give Donald Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw one final audition to keep at least a backup role with the club, so they could be playing with an edge as well. Again, I don’t necessarily think the Colts will win, but I think the Niners are a better option later in the season in a more favourable matchup and with the number of strong plays on the board this week, I think staying away from San Fran is the best bet here.

Pool Makers:

These are some under the radar games that are worth looking at if you’re willing to take a risk and want to save the big dogs for later in the season.

Baltimore Ravens (+2) vs Houston Texans

It shocks me that the Ravens are underdogs in this spot as they host the Texans, who despite having a gladiator label on them have been anything but through two weeks. They have shown great resiliency by notching two come from behind wins and Matt Schaub has looked like a hall of famer in the process, but that is largely based on the fact that the Texans have been playing from behind. Baltimore was shelled in their season-opener against the Broncos and held on for a modest victory over the Browns, but I think this is the game the Ravens use to make the statement that they’re not a pushover this season and that they’re once again a contender to win the AFC North. Ray Rice is hobbled, but I think that will motivate Bernard Pierce to have a big game and Torre.y Smith has yet to break out for a big game, and while Ed Reed is returning to Baltimore, I don’t think he will be on the field and as such the angle dissipates quite a bit. If the Texans get behind once again here, I don’t think the Ravens defense will allow Schaub to do what he has done to the Chargers and Titans.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5) vs Chicago Bears

It is very tough to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers these days as they have clearly fallen off as an AFC contender, a spot they have occupied seemingly for the last decade. The injuries that have mounted and the unfamiliarity of Big Ben and his receivers appears to be taking its toll. The Bears, meanwhile, looked great in their season opener, but very sloppy against the Vikings at home last week and now must rebound at Heinz Field, which is never an easy feat. Matt Forte is loving the Marc Trestman system and Jay Cutler seems to be buying in as well, but I think this could be a tough week for the Bears. Ike Taylor, who did a remarkable job on AJ Green last week, is the likely candidate to matchup against Brandon Marshall this week, allowing the Steelers to focus their attention on Forte, who is susceptible to a letdown effort against a motivated defense. While the Steelers are in disarray, I think their season is on the line here and if they drop to 3-0 they can pretty well kiss the playoffs goodbye. If you’re looking for an underdog this is where I’d go.

Good luck in your survivor pools. See you next week.

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