NFL Eliminator Challenge – WEEK 12

Welcome to Week 12, Season Nine, of our NFL Eliminator Challenge series!  For those of you who are new to our series, we follow four simple steps to make our picks.  While these are not hard rules (more like guidelines and suggestions), they have historically worked out well for us in the past.  We are happy to have you join our eliminator community and feel free to hit me up on twitter to give me your thoughts!

Step 1 – Avoid Division Matchups

While there may have only been four division games last week, two of them ended in upsets, one with the favored team playing on the road.  The Vikings went back and forth with the Packers but got the last word with a field goal as time expired in front of their home crowd.  More surprising was down in Tennessee where the 8-2 Titans hosted the 1-8 Texans in what was expected to be a division blowout.  Instead, Tannehill threw four interceptions and the Texans won a major upset on the road.  This is why we try to avoid division matchups, it happens every year!

Every single year one of the top teams gets upset by an underdog division rival.  The problem is you never know when it is going to happen.  Unless you can predict the future, I recommend avoiding this week’s division matchups:

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  • Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
  • Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
  • Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
  • Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos
  • Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
Step 2 – Avoid Marquee Matchups

While there were no major upsets in prime time last week, we did get a great one in Los Angeles.  The Chargers hosted the Steelers in a shootout, where the Steelers almost came back from a two touchdown deficit late in the 4th quarter, only to lose by allowing a 53 yard bomb in the final few minutes.  With so many games on the slate this week, get ready for a wild ride!

Prime time games are in prime time for a reason.  Expect close games where the unexpected can happen. Unless you want to take a chance, I would avoid this week’s marquee games:

  • Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
  • Las Vegas Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys
  • Buffalo Bills @ New Orleans Saints
  • Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
  • Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Team
Step 3 – Avoid Picking Against Home Field Advantage

So much for home field advantage in Week 11.  Of the 15 games played last week, only six were won by the home team.  We saw some embarrassing losses by powerhouses like Buffalo and Tennessee, in front of their home crowd, with the only major road team upset being the Packers playing in Minnesota (although you could chalk that upset to being a division matchup).  This rule gets worse and worse by the week.

While home field advantage may not be what it used to be, the stress behind travel and being out of your comfort zone is still a real thing and something you should be careful with.  Be aware and avoid this week’s games where the favorite is the away team:

  • Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
  • Buffalo Bills @ New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts
  • Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins
  • Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
  • Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos

Step 4 – Make your pick!

My pick of the week is:
  • New England Patriots over the Tennessee Titans

Normally you wouldn’t expect a 7-4 team to be the pick of the week when hosting an 8-3 team, but the Titans proved last week that they aren’t the same team they were in the first half of the season.  With Henry hurt, Tannehill seems to be crumbling under the pressure, and as a Dolphins fan who has seen Tannehill play many games in New England, I know how this story ends all too well.  These two teams are trending in opposite directions and I think Tannehill is in for more turnovers this weekend.

Alternate pick of the week:
  • Houston Texans over the New York Jets

With five division matchups, five prime time games, and six favored teams playing on the road in Week 12, we don’t have a ton of great options this week.  If you have already used New England and need a wildcard pick that plays by the rules, the Texans are an interesting play this week.  They are hosting a Jets team that looks abysmal and just lost their stud rookie running back with their quarterback still hurting.  While the Texans are risky, they could pay off against a Joe Flacco led Jets team on Sunday.

Alternate rule breaker pick of the week:
  • Dallas Cowboys over the Las Vegas Raiders

While this is technically a prime time game (despite playing at 4:30 in the afternoon), if there is a team I would pick who knows how to play in front of a national crowd, it would be the Cowboys.  Both teams are coming off tough losses on a short week, and I think that favors the team with more talent on both sides of the ball.  While I don’t expect a blowout, I do expect Prescott to have a better showing on Thursday, leading to a all too common Cowboy thanksgiving victory.

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Last Week’s Record = 2-1

Season Record = 22-10-1

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

Thanks for reading!

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