Resources: Yahoo survival pool pick distribution • SurvivorGrid.com
Week 5’s biggest killer: Jacksonville over Pittsburgh (32.89 percent)
Week 5’s biggest success: Philadelphia over Arizona (31.19 percent)
My picks so far: Buffalo – Oakland – New England — Seattle — Philadelphia
The most maddening thing about survival football is that it can sometime seem like your fate is being decided by nothing more than a coin flip each time you make a pick.
Take Week 5, for example. I felt pretty confident in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. My ultimate advice, though, was to go with the Eagles, mostly because I felt more strongly about the Cardinals not having a chance in Philly than I did in the Jaguars laying down in Pittsburgh.
And, maaaan, did I ever make the right call on that one. I don’t say that to boast. I truly feel lucky to have dodged the trap door set by what now seems like a pretty dysfunctional Steelers team. Two of the people on our panel weren’t as lucky.
Week 6 presents me with a similar fork in the road because I’ve again focused my attention on two games that seem pretty similar. The coming-off-a-bye Atlanta Falcons over the visiting Miami Dolphins and the coming-off-a-bye Washington Redskins over an 0-5 San Francisco 49ers team that’s traveling across the U.S. for the second time in a week.
I’ll spare you the suspense. I’m casting my lot with the Falcons over the Dolphins.
The last time we saw the Falcons, they were losing to the Bills at home in Week 4, eliminating 16.1 percent of Yahoo players in the process. But they’ve had two weeks to think it over while the Dolphins haven’t done anything but look terrible on offense in a home game they somehow won over Tennessee and then play a part in one of the weirdest cocaine scandals in sports history (which is saying something).
Here’s what I really like about this pick: The Falcons are 11.5-point favorites and Numberfire lists their odds of winning at 81.3 percent. None of Atlanta’s remaining games is higher than 65 percent.
Despite those numbers, the Falcons are only being picked by about 15 percent of the crowd, way behind the top two picks, Houston over 0-5 Cleveland and Denver over the 0-5 New York Giants.
While both the Texans and Broncos should win easily, they hold much more future value than the Falcons. Houston still has home games left against the Colts, Niners and Cardinals while the Jets come calling to Denver in Week 14. Plus, should either decide to somehow lose to an 0-5 squad, you’ll be reaping some nice rewards lower down the ladder.
This is why I also think Washington looks like a good pick this Sunday. There’s only about 11 percent of the field backing the Redskins and, like the Falcons, they’re also coming off a bye.
In this case, though, my tiebreaker is Washington’s Week 15 opponent, a home date against a Cardinals team that could have packed it in long ago. I know that’s still more than two months of survivor picks away, but it’s enough for me to keep them in my cupboard.
Let”s hope I chose the right path …
Other thoughts: I’m not sure how to feel about the six teams I’ve picked so far. I thought getting bye on the Bills in Week 1 was a value, but Buffalo has proved to be better than we thought. The Oakland win was nice given Derek Carr’s injury and their remaining schedule and none of the four were real risks … That said, the last three weeks have eliminated at least 30 percent each time, so it’s a good feeling to still be alive … Another thing: I think we’re finally at a point where we’ve determined the handful of bad teams to follow around: In my mind, those are the Browns, Colts, Niners and Jets (yes, still) with the Bears, Cardinals and Giants on the next rung down … The Saints are a pretty interesting pick at home this week if Matthew Stafford can’t play for the Lions … I’m on the hook for this week’s “Funishment.” If the Falcons lose, this by-the-book Chicagoan pledges to eat a hot dog with ketchup on it while someone films it. And if you’re not sold on a hot dog with ketchup being a real punishment — though I swear for me, it is — I’ll top that wiener off with a couple of dried crickets. Let’s go Falcons.
Experts are not allowed to pick a team in the No. 1 spot more than once. (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports graphic)