Tennessee’s 22-13 home loss to the Texans marked the fourth week in a row that the most popular survivor pool pick went down in flames. Nearly half of all remaining entries were knocked out, leaving only a minuscule percentage that have survived through 11 weeks of NFL action. If you’re still alive, grab a wishbone during Thanksgiving dinner, because this is going to be a tough weekend.
Before we dive into this week’s picks, let’s look back at how we did last week:
Week 11 picks
Best Bets: 1-0 (YTD: 15-5)
Leans: 2-0 (YTD: 11-2)
Traps to avoid: 1 elimination avoided (YTD: 10)
On to the Week 12 picks!
These aren’t your mother’s Titans. These aren’t even your slightly older twin brother’s Titans. After losing multiple key players to injured reserve throughout the season, Tennessee enters this contest with ten starters listed as questionable to play, including wide receiver A.J. Brown. New England ranks second in defensive DVOA, so I have a hard time seeing how Dontrell Hilliard, Chester Rogers, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are going to beat Bill Belichick. The Patriots have held the last four quarterbacks they’ve faced under 225 passing yards and have surrendered an average of 10 points per game during their five-game win streak. The Titans’ strength as of late has been the pressure their front seven has been able to generate, but that’s nullified by an outstanding New England offensive line consistently giving Mac Jones time to throw and creating massive running lanes to the tune of 156.3 rushing yards per game during the month of November.
New England is the second-biggest favorite this week, yet they’re only the seventh-most popular pick in survivor pools, at just under 5%. Their future value lies in a Week 17 home game versus the Jags. You’re in the driver’s seat if you have them left to use, so park your car in Harvard Yard and park your entries on the Pats.
Quarterback Mac Jones and the New England Patriots are enjoying a five-game winning streak. (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)
LEANSDallas Cowboys (-7.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
When the Christmas trees start going up, the Raiders start going down. It’s an annual tradition the franchise seems intent on keeping, regardless of where they’re based or who’s coaching them. Since the bye, Las Vegas is giving up 32 points per game and getting steamrolled by backfields. Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith has been cleared to return. America’s team averages 1.4 more yards per dropback and 1.3 more yards per carry when Smith plays. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are going to have a literal field day.
Nearly 26% of entries are locked in on Dallas, whose future value is mostly concentrated in a Week 16 home game against Washington.
Pick a position, any position. Don’t tell it to me, though. Do you have one in mind? Okay, the Saints are down their best player at that spot. Sean Payton is a great coach (for the most part), but his Week 9 loss to the Falcons is looking worse by the day and the kitchen is looking bare for this Thanksgiving night matchup. New Orleans is a run-stopping team, which won’t really matter since Buffalo runs about as much as Baron Harkonnen. Sean McDermott’s offense will attack through the air, where the Saints defense ranks 22nd in yards allowed per game.
Only 3% of entries have taken the Bills, who end the season with home games against the Falcons and Jets.
TRAPS TO AVOIDChicago Bears (-3) at Detroit Lions
Is this how you want to spend your holiday? Sweating your survivor pick on Andy Dalton and a coach who’s on the verge of getting fired? In their last two games, Detroit tied in Pittsburgh and lost by three to Cleveland. It took miracle comebacks from the Ravens and Vikings to defeat them earlier in the season. Half of their contests have been decided by a single score. The Lions may be bad, but they don’t lay down. They’re a live dog in this one.
More than 17% of entries are on Chicago, making them the third-most popular pick.
Houston Texans (-2.5) vs. New York Jets
I mean, seriously, what are we doing here? Don’t bumhunt a bad team with another bad team. Imagine that your actual life is on the line with your pick. How comfortable do you feel now, taking the Texans?
Six percent of entries are riding with Houston, possibly into the sunset.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, Football Outsiders, CBS Sports, and nfl.com.