NFL Survivor picks for Week 13
Most Survivor pools have very small percentages of the starting field left as we head into Week 13. It is definitely that time of the year where some bad or mediocre teams are the only ones available. The good teams have largely been used to get to this point and are in really short supply.
The Thanksgiving part of last week also did a number on pools that used that wrinkle. However, it sure looked like Week 12 was going to be a challenge, but favorites were very, very profitable with covering spreads, which obviously means that they won a lot of games straight up. It wasn’t the potential carnage we were looking for, with the exception of the Vikings on Monday night and the Lions on Thursday.
My “entry” for the article did end up going down in Week 12 with a loss for the Lions. It was a good run, but like so many others, Week 12 was the end for me, at least for the article. For the rest of the way, I have put all of the teams back in the hopper, but I’m also aware of the fact that most remaining entries don’t have those teams, so I’ll try to tailor the article towards picking teams that most are likely to have at their disposal.
NFL Survivor Picks to Consider
The Cowboys are tied for the biggest favorite on the board this week for Thursday Night Football. It isn’t a short week for either team, as both played on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys are rolling right now. They are stepping up in class a bit for this game, but they’ve outscored the opposition 127-37 over the last three weeks. The talent level for the Seahawks is way higher than it is for the Commanders, Panthers, and Giants, but the Cowboys are playing extremely well.
The Seahawks are not. They’re squandering a lot of talent and have lost three of their last four. Even their wins haven’t been impressive recently. Right now, it’s hard to envision the Cowboys losing the game, even if Seattle is a better squad than Dallas’s recent conquests.
The Dolphins are the other big favorite, but likely not an available option, much like the Cowboys. But, by virtue of being the biggest favorite on the board, they have to at least be worthy of consideration. The Commanders defense has been terrible throughout the majority of the season and the losses of Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the Trade Deadline haven’t helped.
Washington has lost five of six and the only triumph was a 20-17 win over the Patriots in Week 9. Again, I don’t want to spend much time on this one because it would be surprising for most entries to have the Dolphins.
The Chargers are a big road favorite here over the hapless Patriots, who have scored 13 points over the last two weeks. They’ve lost nine of 11 this season and everything looks to be falling apart. Bill Belichick seems to be partially out the door and I’m not sure any of their quarterbacks have a future on the roster.
If the Chargers can’t win this game, then when can you back them? Brandon Staley’s seat seems to be getting hotter by the day, even with a cheap ownership group that doesn’t want to pay somebody not to coach. This would be less about taking the Chargers and more about going against the Patriots, who seem to be a very good team to go against based on where things stand.
LA does have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, but you may not find a worse pass offense than New England’s. All of the Chargers’ deficiencies seem less problematic here.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson probably won’t be cleared to play on Sunday after suffering a concussion on a shot to the head/jaw in Cleveland’s loss to the Broncos. The Browns did not go back to Cleveland, as they practiced on UCLA’s campus this week. So, there are no travel considerations, despite what some people may report.
But, the main crux of the issue here is that Cleveland is walking wounded into SoFi Stadium. DTR probably won’t play. Myles Garrett has a shoulder injury that he is supposedly playing through. Amari Cooper took a shot to the ribs last week. Denzel Ward likely won’t be out there to shadow Cooper Kupp (and Greg Newsome II had major issues with Courtland Sutton last week).
Without DTR, the Browns would either turn back to PJ Walker, who stinks, or Joe Flacco, who was 18-of-33 for 149 yards in Week 17 last season. Matthew Stafford and the Rams aren’t perfect, but Kevin Stefanski has a lot to overcome this week.
If you have the Jaguars, this is clearly the play of the week in my estimation. The Bengals gave up over 400 yards to the Steelers. While they only gave up 16 points, their red-zone magic seems less and less sustainable with how much pressure they are now under. Only the Cardinals have allowed more red-zone attempts (54) than the Bengals (43) and Cincinnati is extremely fortunate to have only allowed 22 touchdowns.
The Bengals are 32nd in explosive play percentage against and can’t stop either the run or the pass until the other team gets inside the 20. While I grant that the Jags have had plenty of situational offensive problems (24th in RZTD%, 22nd in 3rd Down%), they’ve lost once since Week 3 and the 49ers team that beat them is light years ahead of the Bengals led by Jake Browning. If you’ve managed to hold Jacksonville until now, it is time to deploy them.
Because you probably don’t have the Jaguars or any of the other big favorites this week, I’d consider this to be 1b to the 1a that will follow. The Panthers really are that bad and now they’ve fired Frank Reich to go with interim head coach Chris Tabor, who ran Cleveland’s special teams into the ground in that role. Tabor said in his initial press conference that he was the one who made the call to fire OC Josh McCown and assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley.
Things could not be messier in Carolina and all of that has to leak onto the field. Meanwhile, the NFC South is bad and Tampa Bay is only one game back in the standings, so they have plenty of incentive to win and hope for the best. Much like what I talked about above with the Patriots, this is less of a play on a team and more of a play against a team. Playing against the Panthers is 10-1 so far and it would be pretty surprising if it didn’t continue.
NFL Survivor Pick for Week 13
The Steelers looked free and easy on offense without the elephant-sized Matt Canada in the room. Kenny Pickett didn’t throw any TD passes, but he had 278 yards and a 72.7% completion rate, which were both season-bests. His 7.66 adjusted net yards per attempt were the third-highest of the season and his 33 pass attempts were the second-most, yet the Steelers still ran for over 150 yards.
Najee Harris had one of his most effective games of the season and Pat Freiermuth finally made an appearance on offense. The Steelers had three big explosives in the passing game and I would anticipate that things only keep getting better the further they are from the stink of Canada’s game-plan.
The Cardinals have shown signs of life with Kyler Murray, but have still been outscored 58-30 over the last two weeks and they’ve allowed 419 and 457 yards, including 228 on the ground last week to Kyren Williams and the Rams.
Are the Steelers the optimal pick this week? Maybe not, but keeping in mind the teams left for most readers at this stage of the game, I think they’d be the best option.