The anti-Cleveland strategy continued to work in week 8, notching another victory in the Survivor Pool. That makes two consecutive wins after a rough patch. Now, though, it's time to look in a different direction than the Browns thanks to a bye.
That's OK, because there's some decent opportunities for victories in week 9. Here's the week 9 Survivor Pool picks.
Don't overthink week 9. Indianapolis is really bad. I picked Cincinnati as my sleeper pick for week 8 in the Survivor Pool, and despite not showing up against Indianapolis, they still came away with a win.
There's several factors why Houston should beat the Colts straight up. This is Indianapolis's second straight road game, which starts to wear on teams at this juncture of the season. The Colts also don't match up well against a Houston team that has seen a resurgence on offense.
The Texans are a top-10 offense now with Deshaun Watson at the helm. The Colts own the second-worst defense in total yards per game. The stat that is most glaring for the Colts is that they rank second from the bottom in yards per play allowed and third from the bottom in yards per play on offense. They can't stop anybody and they don't move the ball consistently.
That's a major issue against a rejuvenated Houston team. The defense isn't what we saw last year, but they're not as bad as they showed in week 8 against Seattle. The defense can still rush the passer at a decent level, which will thwart any attack the Colts can mount offensively. The Colts just don't have the personnel to match up with teams in the NFL. That continues to show each week and will happen once again in week 9.
Bet the Texans to win big in the week 9 Survivor Pool.
Tennessee hasn't been as impressive as many people believed they would be, but this week offers a nice matchup to start the second half of the season.
The Titans are coming off a bye and square off against a Baltimore team that can't stop the run. The Ravens allow the third-most rushing yards per game at 132.8 yards. Tennessee, meanwhile, averages 124 yards per game on the ground, ranking eighth in the NFL.
The Titans' strength will square off against Baltimore's major weakness. It's not just the rushing department, though, that has me believing Tennessee should have an edge. Baltimore's offense isn't good. They average just 4.4 yards per play, the second-worst mark in the NFL. And the Titans aren't far off Baltimore's prowess as a complete defense.
Baltimore ranks seventh in yards per play allowed. Tennessee ranks 10th, allowing just 0.2 yards per play more than the Ravens per game. Don't pay too much attention to that Thursday night massacre in week 8 by Baltimore. We've seen Miami not show up on the road before, so it wasn't surprising that Baltimore looked like a world beater against the Dolphins.
This will be a different story with Tennessee well rested and owning several advantages in the matchup.
New Orleans Saints
Oddsmakers are loving New Orleans. The Saints are seven-point favorites in week 9 against Tampa Bay, and it's hard to argue with the number. The Buccaneers haven't been the team advertised in the preseason and they looked awful in week 8 against Carolina.
But, I'm not completely sold on the Saints just yet. And I'm not completely giving up on Tampa Bay just yet.
The Buccaneers actually rank fourth in total offense. They took a step back last week, but we shouldn't completely give up on this offense. The Bucs average the fifth-highest yards per play, not far off from New Orleans ranking of third. There's not much separation in offenses, so why is New Orleans winning, while Tampa Bay is losing? Injuries have hampered Tampa Bay's beginning of the season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where Tampa Bay ranks fourth from the bottom. However, the Buccaneers only allow 0.2 more yards per play than New Orleans on the defensive side of the ball.
I'm anticipating some better health for the Buccaneers in this matchup, allowing the defense to at least slow down the Saints at times. Tampa Bay is better than its record indicates. That makes this a must-win for the Buccaneers, which should make this much closer than many believe.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH