Survivor sweats were few and far between in Week 6, as the big favorites mostly won with ease and the majority of contestants lived to fight another day.
Dallas was my pick in Week 6, so it was an unnecessary struggle with the Colts on the board, but the Cowboys got there. Through six weeks, my picks have been the Rams, Packers, Broncos, Bengals, Ravens and Cowboys. The “Games to Consider” went 3-0 last week and sit at 16-3 for the season.
Week 7 does not feature difficult decisions for survivor players. The most difficult decision for most will be which double-digit favorite to take. There are three and there could be a fourth, depending on how the line goes between Washington and Green Bay.
Sometimes you run into weeks like this and it feels pretty good to have multiple options, but this is when you really have to consider that season-long blueprint and decide which one makes the most sense going forward. I’ve mentioned that the core concept of this type of contest is to go 1-0 every week, but you should also be positioning yourself for as many 1-0 weeks as possible.
The latter is at the forefront in Week 7.
GAMES TO CONSIDER
Los Angeles Rams (-15.5) over Detroit Lions
I have already used the Rams, so I am trying to shy away from doubling up on teams as the pick, even if they make the most sense. It seems only right. The Rams are the second-biggest favorite on the betting board this week in the Matthew Stafford-vs.-Jared Goff revenge game.
One of those QBs looks really good. The other does not. The Lions, masters of garbage-time scoring, were shut out through three quarters by the Bengals and had 71 yards of offense. They gained 133 yards on two garbage-time drives to score 11 points. The Lions have only three first-half touchdowns in six games, so they’ll play from behind here.
The Rams enter this week second in yards per play on offense, and they have the second-best pass defense in adjusted net yards per pass attempt. The Lions are 29th in yards per play on offense and 31st in adjusted net yards per pass attempt. In the Stafford-Goff Bowl, one team has a very clear edge, and it is the one favored by more than two touchdowns.
If you haven’t used the Rams, this is obviously an excellent week to take them. They are at Houston next week and host Jacksonville on Dec. 5, so other options also are on the horizon. A lot of people probably don’t have the Rams available in light of Week 1 against the Bears or last week against the Giants.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13.5) over Chicago Bears
It is some kind of week if we can say the Buccaneers are 13.5-point favorites and are only the third-biggest favorites on the board. The Bears are 32nd in yards per play and the Buccaneers are fifth, so this is a major offensive mismatch in every sense.
The Bears have allowed an NFL-high 22 sacks, and we know the Bucs can get a ton of pressure with their front four. While the Bucs’ 12 sacks are tied for 18th, they’re still generating a lot of pressure and are the highest blitzing team in the league.
Missed tackles and injuries in the secondary have been the biggest maladies for the Buccaneers’ defense. The Bears are not a team able to exploit that. Chicago’s offense goes through the run, and the Bucs are second in yards per carry allowed.
Tampa Bay has a ton of weapons in the passing game and seems to have found a really effective screen game with Leonard Fournette, using him in a James White type of role. The Bears have a solid defense, but they have a lot of guys to worry about here and don’t force enough turnovers to give the offense a chance to keep up.
The Bucs will be big road favorites off the bye against Washington in Week 10 but can also be used on “Monday Night Football” against the Giants in Week 11 at home if they are not your choice this week.
Green Bay Packers (-9.5) over Washington Football Team
The Packers are winning despite a lot of key injuries. Players like Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, David Bakhtiari, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Josh Myers, Preston Smith and Darnell Savage are likely to show up on this week’s injury report in some capacity.
Green Bay has reeled off five in a row after that disastrous opening game against New Orleans. The Packers have had a couple of close calls that have come down to the leg of Mason Crosby, but they’ve won all the same.
As big favorites, the Packers certainly merit consideration this week, though I will caution survivor players that Green Bay goes to Arizona on Thursday in Week 8 and hosts the Chiefs the week after. I’m not sure Washington can perform well enough to pull off the upset anyway, but there are some lookahead possibilities at Lambeau Field.
The Packers are + 0.5 in yards per play differential and Washington is -0.5, so that bodes well for Green Bay. Washington is a bottom-five defense in adjusted net yards per pass attempt, which should give Aaron Rodgers a chance to put up some numbers.
Between the injuries and the upcoming schedule, I’d rank this game last of the ones to consider. There are spots to take Green Bay in Week 10 hosting Seattle if Russell Wilson is still out or Week 14 off the bye hosting the Bears.
Arizona Cardinals (-17) over Houston Texans
Back in Week 4, a lot of discussion percolated on social media and message boards about taking the Bills as the obvious choice against the Texans. The idea was that it would be too cute or overthinking it not to take Buffalo as an 18-point favorite. The Bills won 40-0, so maybe that was the case.
Arizona is about as big a favorite this week, and the same discussions are taking place. How big does a favorite have to be before you just do the world’s most obvious thing and take it in survivor?
Believe me, I understand the draw. And I certainly don’t have to make a statistical case.
Here’s the thing. If you’re in a contest that uses Christmas as a week, you have to leave Arizona available for the game against the Colts because the other games are 49ers at Titans and Browns at Packers. It’s the same thing I said last week about the Cowboys if you are in a contest that treats Thanksgiving as a separate entity.
This is written for a general survivor audience, so that won’t sway me, but you need to be aware of it if you are in one that has that provision.
For my purposes, though, I just want to leave Arizona as another good team to have down the line. The picks so far have been Rams, Packers, Broncos, Bengals, Ravens and Cowboys, so I’ve used four of the six best teams in the league. If you’re in a similar spot, you want to try to leave as many good, trustworthy teams as possible because there haven’t been many of them.
The future is the only reason not to take the Cardinals in the present. It’s a judgment call.
New England Patriots (-7) over New York Jets
Despite four double-digit favorites this week, I’m not picking any of them for this survivor report. Contestants across pools are likely to burn a really good team like the Rams, Buccaneers, Packers or Cardinals this week based on the huge spreads. Sneaking a team like New England into the mix isn’t a bad idea.
First, in the extremely unlikely event that one of the double-digit favorites loses, you’ll avoid that land mine. Second, this is the only opportunity to take New England until Week 17 against Jacksonville. Third, you’ll save those four more trustworthy teams, if you haven’t used any of them already.
The Patriots won 25-6 over the Jets in Week 2. Zach Wilson and the Jets don’t really look any better now than they did then. The Patriots are 2-4, but they’re not that far from being 4-2 with wins over the Buccaneers and Cowboys.
The Patriots don’t beat many offenses from a yards-per-play standpoint, but the Jets are one. New England has 5.3 yards per play to just 4.6 for the Jets, who rank 31st in the league. The Jets’ defense grades slightly better in yards per play on defense, but that comes solely from New England’s last game, when Dallas put up 567 yards.
The line for that Week 2 game was -5.5 or -6. That was with the Patriots on the road at MetLife Stadium and with Mac Jones in his first road start. I actually really like the way Jones has played, which is more than I can say about Wilson. I don’t think this line is right. It should be closer to 9 or 10, but there is a perception bias against New England with the 2-4 record and the close win over the Texans — which, let’s be honest, was a horrendous spot for the Patriots.
The Patriots have to feel like they still have a shot at the playoffs. This is a must-win if so, and it is really hard to see Bill Belichick not taking advantage of a rookie QB again, as he so often has, with a 23-6 SU record against first-year quarterbacks.
Pick: New England Patriots