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While Carrie Underwood waits all day for Sunday night, the rest of us are waiting for survivor pools to thin down. It's been a month since more than 5% of entries were knocked out in a week of NFL action. If that's going to change in Week 8, it will be because at least one of the four double-digit favorites loses.
Before we dive into our pool picks, let's reflect on how we fared last week:
Week 7 picks
Best Bets: 2-0 (YTD: 13-2)
Leans: 1-0 (YTD: 7-1)
Traps to avoid: 1 elimination avoided (YTD: 7)
On to the Week 8 picks!
Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5) at New York Jets
Last week's 41-17 dismantling of the Ravens helped answer the question of whether the Bengals are for real or merely a mirage for thirsty Cincinnati fans. Their defense ranks fifth in DVOA and they have the sixth-highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 27 points per game. The Jets, by comparison, score less than half as many points per game (13.3) and will be giving Mike White his first career start at quarterback after rookie Zach Wilson exited the lopsided loss to the Patriots with a strained PCL.
New York's defense is in the bottom 10 in nearly every statistical category and is the only defense that hasn't recorded an interception this year. The Jets' top six linebackers are injured. As we saw with the Ravens, the one weakness you don't want to carry into a game against the Bengals is a secondary that gives up big plays because Joe Burrow has been going deep more often than Jacques Cousteau. The Jets have surrendered the sixth-most deep passes in the NFL. Gang Green's propensity for blitzing is unlikely to work against Burrow, who is PFF's top-graded quarterback against blitzes. This matchup is a worse pairing for the Jets than Mark Sanchez and a butt.
There's one huge pro and one huge con to taking the Bengals against the Jets. It's a good pick because there are no "gimme" games for them after this week so they don't have much future value. However, almost 49% of entries are on Cincinnati. If you fade them and they happen to lose, you just knocked out half of your pool on a single game. With multiple alternate options on the board, it's tempting to lay off.
Los Angeles Rams (-14.5) at Houston Texans
The 1-6 Texans upset the Jaguars in Week 1 and upset their locker room this week when they traded veteran running back Mark Ingram. Is Houston in full tank mode? The team just designated quarterback Tyrod Taylor to return from injured reserve, but Davis Mills may still draw the start against the Rams. The magic number in this game is 29. That's how many points Los Angeles is averaging per game and also the average number of points Houston is allowing. The Texans are the second-lowest scoring team in the NFL, breaking double-digits just once in the five games Mills has started. His counterpart on the opposing sideline, Matthew Stafford, owns the highest QBR of any quarterback this season. The Rams should roll against a defense ranked 27th in yards allowed per carry and 29th in yards allowed per passing attempt.
Because 66% of entries have already burned the Rams, only 6.8% are on them this week. This is a great spot to use them, or you could wait until their Week 13 home game vs. the Jaguars.
Buffalo Bills (-13.5) vs. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have dropped six in a row, including a 35-0 home loss to the Bills in Week 2. Their defense has been pummeled for the second-most points and the second-most passing yards. Not ideal when you're facing Josh Allen and the second-highest scoring team in the NFL. Miami's anemic run game has forced them into a pass-heavy 67/33 split, but they're facing a defense that ranks second in completion percentage allowed and first in yards allowed per passing attempt. The Dolphins are very likely to leave Buffalo the same way that tourists do: disappointed.
A shade over 15% of entries are locking in the Bills. They have a considerable amount of future value in a game at Jacksonville next week and two contests against the Jets.
TRAPS TO AVOID
Kansas City Chiefs (-10) vs. New York Giants
Are we expecting the Chiefs to magically fix their defense before Monday night's game? That unit is more cringe than Patrick Mahomes' brother. They're tied with the Jaguars for the least number of sacks, even though they've played one more game. The secondary has been burned for more 40-plus-yard passes than any other team, and Giants QB Daniel Jones happens to throw a nice deep ball.
Am I overreacting to Kansas City's woes? Maybe, but it's better to overreact and stay away from situations like this in survivor than to ignore all the red flags and hope for the best-case scenario. There are simply too many preferable options this week.
Just over 18% of players are taking the Chiefs in Week 8, making them the second-most popular play.
Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
More than 3% of you are betting on Geno Smith to advance you in your survivor pools this week. Am I missing something? Is this some sort of new avant-garde performance fad where a large group of people on the internet are like, "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if we all put our survivor entries on Geno this week?" Trevor Lawrence has progressed into a starting-caliber quarterback and the Jags are coming off a bye, just like you might be if you take the Seahawks this week.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
I understand wanting to bum-hunt the Lions. They have about as many L's as a chorus of "Deck the Halls." They also led the Packers at halftime, led the Rams in the fourth quarter last week, and lost on last-second field goals to the Ravens and Vikings. The Eagles aren't a good team and Dan Campbell will have his guys ready to play. Christmas comes early in Detroit this Sunday, knocking out the nearly 2% of entries on Philly.
Stats provided by PFF, Pro Football Reference, and nfl.com.