Survival of the Fittest NFL Style: Wildcard Saturday Edition
As most of you know by now (and if you don’t, where the hell have you been?), I’ve been making my weekly NFL Survivor Pool picks here on the blog. And I somehow managed to go 17-0. That’s right – I correctly picked one team to win each week. If you want to see the entire season’s picks, just click here.
Admittedly, this is a great accomplishment, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of some very bad NFL teams. That’s right, I’m talking to you St. Louis. I picked you to lose 7 different times out of 17 and you did not disappoint. Thank you thank you.
Special mention also goes to the Cleveland Browns, who lost for me 3 times. And to the rest of the Sucky Six, thank you. I need to tip my cap to Oakland who beat Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Denver to knock out a lot of my competitors. I’d be remiss if I also didn’t thank the Kansas City Chiefs for beating Denver in Week 17, eliminating over half of the remaining pool.
So even though going 17-0 seems impressive (I’d certainly never even come close before), 14 other people in the pool did the same thing! Which is also unprecedented. So we decided to split a portion of the pot and walk away now with a nice chunk of change. We also agreed to continue into the playoffs for a winner take all pot.
Playoff Survivor Rules
We have to make five picks (Wild Card Saturday, Wild Card Sunday, Divisional Round, Conference Championship Round, Super Bowl). And just like the regular season, once you use a team, you can’t pick them again.
NOTE: THIS MEANS THAT EACH DAY OF PLAYOFF GAMES IS TREATED SEPARATELY. ON WILD CARD SATURDAY, I HAVE TO MAKE A PICK. I CANNOT MAKE A PICK ON WILD CARD SUNDAY UNLESS AND UNTIL I ADVANCE BASED ON A CORRECT PICK ON SATURDAY.
Here’s the kicker: if at any point you are unable to make a pick because you have no teams left to use, you are automatically eliminated.
This also means if say two people are left and one has no teams to use, and the other has one left to pick, the person that is capable of making a pick wins, regardless of if that teams wins or not.
Wild Card Weekend
WILD CARD SATURDAY (Pick #1) – Either NYJ, CIN, PHI or DAL. If your pick wins, you can submit a Wild Card Sunday pick. If your pick loses, you’re out.
WILD CARD SUNDAY (Pick #2) – Either BAL, NWE, GB or AZ. If you’ve picked both Sat/Sun correct, you advance to the following weekend. Lose and you’re out.
And here a couple of quick notes from the guy who organized the pool:
1) If for some reason, 15 people pick incorrectly Wild Card Saturday and 1 person picks correctly, that person wins and it ends there. But if say 10 people incorrectly pick Wild Card Saturday and 6 are correct, and all 6 of those people pick incorrectly Wild Card Sunday, the 6 people will split the pot. Basically, treat Wild Card Saturday as its own week.
2) If at any point, like the example above, everyone remaining loses at the same time or multiple people make it all the way through to the end, the pot will be split amongst those involved.
Without further ado, let’s get to the Wild Card Saturday breakdown: Jets at Bengals and Eagles at Cowboys.
Remember: Wild Card Saturday is separate from Wild Card Sunday. Also, I am applying one of my rules from regular season survivor here: no saving a team. If I think a team will win, I will pick them, regardless of whether I think they will make the Super Bowl. Got it? Good. Ok, let’s get going.
Jets at Bengals
Let’s start with the Bengals:
- I am not sold on this Bengals team and in my opinion, they are paper tigers (heh heh – see what I did there?)
- The AFC North was weak this season and their win total is padded as a result. They haven’t beaten a playoff team since November 8. Also, they finished with only a +14 point differential. (These great stats courtesy of the playoffs preview by Andrew Katz of No You’re A Towel).
- Ocho Cinco is banged up. And will be covered by Darrelle Revis. ESPNews showed a remarkable graphic: the Jets have held opponents’ #1 receivers to less than 30 yards per game this season. That, my friends, is what is known as a shut-down corner. And his middle name is Shavar. Come on, how awesome is that? Darrelle Shavar Revis.
- I do like Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson (did I really just type that?) but I think the Jets will have a great defensive game plan to shut them down.
- Finally, I know the Bengals “lay down” last Sunday when they got crushed by the Jets, 37-0. But I have a problem with any team that “lays down” and then expects to just turn it on a week later. The football gods do not approve. And neither do I.
And now the Jets:
- This is my basic breakdown and why I’m picking them: #1 defense and #1 rushing offense. Defense and an effective running attack win games on the road. And win playoff games.
- Yes, yes, yes, Mark Sanchez is a liability. But my expectation (well, really my hope) is that he is not a factor. Someone asked if I was ok relying on Sanchez to lead a game-winning drive down by 5 with 2 minutes left. The answer is absolutely not. But I am banking on the fact that the game does not go that way.
- In other words, if the defense and running game do what they’re supposed to do, Sanchez won’t be put in a position to win or lose the game for them. I mean, Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the same basic concept. I’m not picking the Jets to go that far, but you see what I’m saying.
- Did I mention Darrelle Revis? He plays for the Jets. He’s good.
- I see a big defensive play by the Jets making the difference in this game.
Pick: the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.
IMPORTANT CAVEAT: At this point, I’m playing with house money. I’ve already pocketed a nice amount of change for winning the regular season, so anything that I do in the playoffs is gravy. Would I normally put all the marbles on Mark Sanchez on the road in Cincinnati? Probably not. But you know what? I am going with my gut and my gut says the Jets will win this. And if they don’t? Well then I won’t have to worry about making any more picks.
Eagles at Cowboys
I’ll keep this one short and sweet: I am not going anywhere near this game. Here’s why:
- Divisional rivals. And not just any divisional rivals: the NFC East rivals.
- A team trying to beat a team 3 times in one season. This is not easy to do.
- A rematch of Week 17.
- This one has trouble written all over it.
If I had to pick based on just my gut: it’s the Eagles. And DeSean Jackson is the difference. But I’m not putting my survivor pool on the line. And I would not be surprised in the least if the Cowboys win.
If the Jets win, I’ll be back with my Sunday Survivor pick. Here’s a hint: it’s not Arizona.