Surviving Week 13
Last week probably thinned out a lot of who was left in your pools as the Lions, Texans and Chiefs all lost. The Saints, Niners, Panthers and Ravens were the plays, though the former three weren't largely available, and the latter were only three-point favorites over the Jets.
I picked the Texans who despite losing to the Raiders the week before had played the Cardinals in Arizona to a three-point loss and had the Seahawks and Colts dead to rights earlier in the year. But perhaps there's a reason one shouldn't trust a team that had been on an eight-game losing streak, even against one that had been an historic doormat for most of the year.
In any event, let's take a look at this week's slate:
|Team ||Opponent ||%Taken ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|PANTHERS ||Buccaners ||27.10% ||360 ||78.26
|Patriots ||TEXANS ||22.60% ||350 ||77.78
|COWBOYS ||Raiders ||21.50% ||380 ||79.17
|LIONS ||Packers ||7.70% ||275 ||73.33
|49ERS ||Rams ||7.10% ||365 ||78.49
|BROWNS ||Jaguars ||6.90% ||290 ||74.36
|BILLS ||Falcons ||2.60% ||160 ||61.54
|EAGLES ||Cardinals ||0.90% ||155 ||60.78
|COLTS ||Titans ||0.70% ||190 ||65.52
|Broncos ||CHIEFS ||0.40% ||220 ||68.75
Home team in CAPS
** Average of the two moneylines
Given the Panthers, the most popular team, are only 27 percent taken and that this polling data has less utility once we get this deep into the year because (a) it includes pools with different rules whose picks diverge more as we go along; and (b) the distribution of teams taken in your particular pool will largely depend on who's been used by the few remaining entrants, I'm not going to delve into the math. But you'll want to take a rough guess at the team distribution based on everyone's remaining choices and factor that into your decision.
1. Dallas Cowboys
I detest the Cowboys and think they're a soft team. But they should be able to light up the Oakland pass defense at home, especially as the Raiders will be traveling on a short week. I give the Cowboys a 78-percent chance to win this game.
2. Cleveland Browns
I know the Jaguars cost me last week, but that was more Houston being bad than Jacksonville being good. The Browns defense is stout, and they attack downfield in the passing game. I also don't like a warm-weather team having to go to Cleveland. I give the Browns a 77 percent chance to win this game.
3. New England Patriots
I think this is a prime letdown spot for the Pats after the huge comeback win over the Broncos last week. The Texans still have a pretty good defense, and I see this being a close game. I give the Patriots a 77 percent chance to win it.
4. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers destroy doormats, and they did it to St. Louis the first time around, but this version of the Rams is playing a lot better, and it's largely the same team that gave San Francisco so much trouble last year. I expect the Niners to win, but I don't think it'll be easy. I give them a 76 percent chance.
5. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are on quite a run, but this Bucs squad is tough defensively, improving offensively and has won three in a row. Moreover, it nearly beat Seattle in its building before that. I give the Panthers a 76 percent chance to win this game.
6. Detroit Lions
They let people down last week, but I think Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers
is worse than the Bucs. And the Lions probably would have won anyway were it not for so many turnovers. I give the Lions a 74 percent chance to win this game.
Not that anyone has them available, but I wouldn't gamble on them playing in a tough venue on the road against a division rival they saw two weeks ago.