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Survivor Pool Picks: Week 5, 2021

By Matthew Schiff | 10/6/21

Upset Special: Indianapolis at Baltimore

The Colts are struggling at 1-3 and desperately need a win in the conference to have any hopes of making the playoffs. In looking at the stats, the defense has performed fairly well, staying in the top ten in most categories except for one – average points allowed (24) – which ranks them 16th.

This week the Ravens will be at home in a game forecasted for rain and focused on ball control. Baltimore has turned the ball over 5 times in the first four weeks, and the Colts has eight takeaways. Bad weather doesn’t favor that type of matchup and it would be a surprise if this game didn’t change on a bad bounce. Yes the oddsmakers put a large spread on this game, but other factors are going to decide this contest.

#3: Minnesota over Detroit: (3-1: buf, TB, AZ, GB)

Never take a survival pool entry that is between division rivals.
Never take a survival pool entry that is between division rivals.
Never take a survival pool entry that is between division rivals.

This is my standing rule. But occasionally, a game stands out where the trends seem to say, forget the rules.

The Vikings welcome the Lions this week in a game that the home team should run away with it. Either Dalvin Cook (ankle) or Alexander Mattison should have no problems with this defense and Kirk Cousins should bounce back from last week’s sub-par performance. This is a game between two average teams with one (Vikings) thinking that they are going to make the playoffs. As such, this is game just need to go out and execute. Minnesota is a third choice because of my rule above, but this might be the best choice of the week based upon the matchups and personnel.

#2: New England over Houston: (3-1: TB, GB, DEN, no)

Bill Belichick and his youthful Patriots almost pulled off the victory last week against the reigning Super Bowl Champions, missing a 56-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining. This week’s task won’t be as difficult, nor as emotional.

New England has quietly put together a top five defense this year, limits teams to 17.5 pts per game, and should win the turnover margin against a Houston team that is 28th in turnovers lost. Mac Jones has shown excellent skills in his defensive reads, and a new dynasty is hoped for from the rookie and his head coach. Yes the Pats will be on the road as the Boston faithful watch their Sox in the playoffs in Tampa (of all places). No NFL team just lies down in their home building, but until the Texans start making smart personnel moves, the Texans faithful will be tortured with an NFL product that just isn’t up to league competition – short of Brandin Cooks who is having a great statistical year.

 Patriots / Texans Comparison
NE Def Rk Stat Rk HOU Off
306.8 5 TOT YDS 30 263.3
185.0 4 PASS YDS 29 180.3
121.8 19 RUSH YDS 26 83.0
17.5 6 PTS SCORED 29 16.8
5 13 T OVERS / T AWAYS 28 7

#1: Tampa Bay over Miami: (4-0: SF, CLE, CAR, BUF)

Tom Brady and company slipped away from Gillette Stadium last week with a win – barely. Tom Terrific didn’t have a four touchdown night, but it was enough to beat the mentor on his home field.

This week, as long as the Bucs can remember to show up on offense, you should be able to comfortably pick the Bucs at home against their cross-state rivals.

The Dolphins will be playing without Tua Tagovailoa again and will call on Jacoby Brissett, who has done more than an admirable job in relief. But his stats don’t light the world on fire as he embodies the term “game manager”. Combine that with the fact that the Dolphins are 2nd to last in points scored, and the fish don’t exactly put fear into me with this pick. That said, the betting community believes that Miami will cover the spread. Question is, can they pull off the upset? This writer doesn’t think so, and therefore, is putting his pick where his mouth is with the Bucs.

 Dolphins / Buccaneers Comparison
MIA Off Rk Stat Rk TB Def
252.0 31 TOT YDS 20 375.0
173.8 30 PASS YDS 32 327.5
78.3 28 RUSH YDS 1 47.5
15.5 31 PTS SCORED 23 26.6
6 25 T OVERS / T AWAYS 11 6

 Dolphins / Buccaneers Comparison
MIA Def Rk Stat Rk TB Off
388.3 24 TOT YDS 7 399.5
251.5 17 PASS YDS 1 327.5
136.8 27 RUSH YDS 30 72.0
27.3 25 PTS SCORED 5 30.5
6 8 T OVERS / T AWAYS 24 5