Boy, the Green Bay Packers just aren’t very good are they? They lose to Jay Cutler one week and then need a phantom facemask and a Hail Mary to beat the Lions this week. They will be hard to trust going forward.
Each week, we’ll publish a column with a look at the best choices for the week in your Survivor Pool. We’ll also identify a sleeper team if you want to risk it for the week. And finally, we’ll try to pick those teams to avoid so you can live to see another day.
So, what does Week 13 hold?
Bye week: None. Bye weeks are done for this year.
Survivor Pool – Week 13 selections
Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of early Saturday:
At this late in the year, it’s all about analyzing your opponents and who they have left. These percentages are somewhat less useful than earlier in the year, but they still provide some directional help. Let’s get to it!
If you’ve never read my Survivor columns previously, I can’t stress this rule enough. I (almost never) save a team for later in the season. There is too much volatility in the NFL and the best information you have is for the upcoming week. Trying to predict performance in future weeks is nearly impossible.
Here are my choices for Week 13 in order of preference:
- New England Patriots – Yes, the Pats are banged. Yes, you probably have a shot to play WR for the Pats at some point this year. But, they still have Tom Brady and the Eagles are just awful especially on the defensive end. I can’t the see the Patriots losing two in a row. I give the Patriots an 85% chance of winning.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Boy, Mike Pettine doesn’t seem to be too good at this coaching thing. And that’s bad news because he’s a coach. The Bengals will be without Tyler Eifert, but the Browns will be with Austin Davis. Sure, the Bengals are on the road, but who exactly scares you on the Browns team? I give the Bengals an 83% chance of winning.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Matt Hasselbeck can’t go 5-0 this year, can he? The Steelers just have too many weapons on offense (even with Heath Miller likely to miss the game). The Steelers defense is soft, but the Steelers at home should be able to handle the Colts one-dimensional attack. I give the Steelers a 75% chance of winning.
- Carolina Panthers – The Panthers are for real. They have enough on offense to keep up with most teams. And they have Josh Norman who can shut down half the field. I know New Orleans is at home, but who exactly is going to take over on offense and lead the Saints against Cam Newton? I don’t see it. I give the Panthers a 73% chance of winning.
- Chicago Bears – Well, I guess in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. The Niners have looked better with Blaine Gabbert at QB, but it’s all relative. The Bears will have a full complement of their offensive weapons this week and should be able to outgun the Niners at Soldier Field. I give the Bears a 71% chance of winning.
- Buffalo Bills – LeSean McCoy is healthy, Sammy Watkins is doing Sammy Watkins things and the Bills’ defense is stout. The Texans have Brian Hoyer and Alfred Blue at two of the three most important offensive positions.
Other teams I like this week: Maybe Washington. Maybe. It’s a “rivalry” game, but Dallas shouldn’t put up much of a fight with Matt Cassel back under center. Kirk Cousins is a much better QB at home than on the road. If you believe this isn’t the Washington teams of the last 20 years, then go with them. But, if you don’t this is where Washington crumbles every year.
As for the avoid list, I’m going to shy away from the Kansas City Chiefs on the road to the Oakland Raiders. It’s a divisional game and the Chiefs seems to playing over their heads. Their defense is legit, but will Alex Smith go a ninth straight game without a pick.
If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are vulnerable to the deep ball and the Jags have Allen Robinson who can exploit that weakness. The Titans can bring pressure, but they have to because of the weak defensive backfield. Blake Bortles is elusive enough to sneak away from that pressure.
Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.