NFL Eliminator Challenge: Week 2

Welcome to week two of our NFL Eliminator Challenge series!  Week one is always tough in these leagues, but this year was even worse with no preseason and limited info coming out of training camps. 

In ESPN’s eliminator challenge, 19% of entries picked the Colts to win, 10% picked the Eagles to win, and 4% picked the 49ers to win.  The equates to 33%, meaning 1/3 of eliminator seasons ended in week one of this year. 

While we unfortunately fell victim to the Colts debacle, we did hit with our two alternate picks where both the Bills and Chiefs won their respective games.  Time to hit a perfect 3-0 for week two!  Feel free to comment at the bottom or hit me up on twitter!

Step 1 – Avoid Division Matchups

Last week there were nine division games; great for football fans, terrible for eliminator leagues.  While we certainly saw some blowouts (looking at you Packers and Ravens), we also saw some nail bitters. 

Take a look at what happened in Detroit.  The Lions blew a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter to Mitchell Trubisky of all people.  In these division games we also saw two of the biggest upsets of the week.  The Jaguars, after trading away their best players, beat the rival Chargers, and the Washington team with no mascot, beat the Eagles, a team who had gone to the Super Bowl not long ago.  What a week!

Last week we made the mistake of picking a division matchup for our pick of the week.  That won’t happen again.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, do yourself a favor and avoid the below division games:

  • Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
  • Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
  • Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
  • Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
  • Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers

Step 2 – Avoid Marquee Matchups

Looking at the prime time matchups from week one, we got to enjoy some great games.  Of the four prime time games from Thursday to Monday, we saw two decided by a field goal or less. 

On Sunday night we witnessed the Rams beating the Cowboys by a score of 20-17, and then the late game on Monday gave us a final score of 16-14.  While these weren’t major upsets by any means, we have seen a trend where these games can get a little too close for comfort.  I mean, they are picked for prime-time for a reason!

SI.com

For whatever reason, when primetime hits, some teams rise to the occasion while others shrink in the bright lights. Unless you want to take a chance, I would avoid the below marquee games:

  • Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
  • New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks
  • New Orleans Saints @ Las Vegas Raiders

Step 3 – Avoid Picking Against Home Field Advantage

What is one thing the Jaguars and Washington upsets of last weekend had in common?  Both happened in front of their “home crowds.”  While empty stadiums certainly take something away from home field advantage, don’t discount the effects jet lag, living in hotels and practicing in foreign environments have on football teams.

While home field advantage may not be what it used to be, I would still be aware and avoid the below games where the favorite is the away team:

  • Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
  • San Francisco 49ers @ New York Jets
  • Los Angeles Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles
  • Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers
  • Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans
  • New Orleans Saints @ Las Vegas Raiders

Step 4 – Make your pick!

My pick of the week is:

  • Pittsburgh Steelers over the Denver Broncos

While this may not be the sexiest pick of the week, this pick hits all of our rules.  It isn’t a division game, it isn’t in prime time and our pick is playing at home.  An added bonus is Denver just played a late Monday night game, so they have one less day to prepare. 

I also think the Steelers offensive is just too powerful for the Broncos young and inexperienced offense to match.  This might be more of a risky pick, but it’s my pick of the week!

Other options I like this week:

  • Arizona Cardinals over the Washington Football Team

While Washington might be 1-0 after beating a well built Philly team, this pick is all about Kyler Murray and what he was able to do with his feet last week.  I just don’t think Washington has the talent to contain or chase down Kyler, and I’m expecting another big rushing day from the young quarterback.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Carolina Panthers

Yes, I know this is a division game (I know, I know), but hear me out.  The game is in Tampa Bay where the Bucs had to travel to New Orleans last week.  Even though last week wasn’t technically a prime time game, it was televised like one, so the pressure was the same.  

This week however, they move up to the 1pm time slot, where many won’t be paying attention.  That all being said, with all the pressure on the Buccaneers this year, do you really see Tom Brady and Bruce Arians starting the season at 0-2, losing to Teddy Bridgewater?  I don’t.

Last Week Record = 2-1

Follow me on twitter and let me know what you think of this week’s picks @DE_aaron!

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