The Rules of Survival: Week 8

It’s not about just winning. It’s about surviving. I don’t remember who said that, but there’s something to be said for attrition, coming out on top if even by the thinnest of margins, because it shows you can persevere. Ask any Redskins fan who didn’t turn off the TV when their team got down by more than three touchdowns on Sunday. Surviving is about having faith that your team can pull a rabbit out of a hat even when there is no hat… and no rabbit.

But for me, surviving is something much simpler. It’s about picking one team each week that has what I believe to be the highest probability of victory, and then crossing my fingers (and holding my breath) and hoping they take care of business like they’re supposed to. And for the 7th straight week to start the season I did just that, and the teams I chose did just enough to take care of their business each and every week.

Two days ago it was the Cardinals doing their thing to take out the Ravens under the prime time lights out in the desert. Here’s how I’ve fared so far this season in Survival…

Week 1: NEW ENGLAND def. Pittsburgh 28-21
Week 2: CINCINNATI def. San Diego 24-19
Week 3: GREEN BAY def. Kansas City 38-28
Week 4: SEATTLE def. Detroit 13-10
Week 5: ATLANTA def. Washington 25-19
Week 6: NY JETS def. Washington 34-20
Week 7: ARIZONA def. Baltimore 26-18

The metrics are simple, but sometimes it takes a lot of patience and fortitude to actually follow them. You see, I’m just like everyone else. My gut tells me things each week, so when the metrics go against my gut I’m sorely tempted to ditch the metrics. But they’ve kept me perfect so far, which helps me stick to them regardless of what my gut seems to say. More teams are on a bye this week, and we have a matchup of two undefeated teams as well. As always I’ll start by looking at the home teams.

NEW ENGLAND vs. Miami
KANSAS CITY vs. Detroit (from London)
CHICAGO vs. Minnesota
CLEVELAND vs. Arizona
BALTIMORE vs. San Diego
ATLANTA vs. Tampa Bay
NEW ORLEANS vs. NY Giants
HOUSTON vs. Tennessee
PITTSBURGH vs. Cincinnati
ST. LOUIS vs. San Francisco
OAKLAND vs. NY Jets
DALLAS vs. Seattle
DENVER vs. Green Bay
CAROLINA vs. Indianapolis

Then I get rid of teams that I’ve already used in Survival, as well as teams playing divisional contests this week. Wow, that took a lot of teams out of play right off the bat, which makes the selection process that much easier, of course. Next, I get rid of home teams playing against undefeateds. Never bet against an undefeated. Of course that’s only one team — Denver — and even at home I can definitely see the Packers taking them out, so it works.

Next I remove the home teams with losing records. Losing promotes losing, and I’m not hanging my hat on a team that has more losses than wins. At least not yet. That leaves me with only two possibilities: the Raiders, coming off a demolition of the Chargers, and the Panthers, who are still undefeated on the season against an underachieving Colts team. Both seem a bit like trap games since I think the Panthers are due for a course correction (or at least a loss), and Oakland might have expended all of its energy in last week’s phenomenal effort.

It comes down to defense, though, and I trust Carolina’s more than I trust Oakland’s, especially against an inefficient Indianapolis offense. So my pick is the Panthers to take care of their business and stay perfect on the season.

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