Welcome to the eleventh season of our NFL Eliminator Challenge series. For those of you who are new to our little group, 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 comment at the bottom or hit me up on twitter to give me your thoughts!
Step 1 – Avoid Division Matchups
Another week, another division upset. While the Patriots beating the Bills surprised many two weeks ago, no one saw this past weeks upset coming. Not only did the Denver Broncos upset the Kansas City Chiefs, but they beat them for the first time since 2015! On top of that, it’s not like it was even a close game, with the Broncos staying in control all four quarters and they even held the Chiefs out of the endzone from start to finish. This. This is why we avoid division games.
Every year one of the top teams gets upset by a division rival. The problem is you never know when it’s going to happen. Unless you can predict the future, I recommend avoiding these division matchups:
- Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Step 2 – Avoid Marquee Matchups
For all the thrill we got in Denver last weekend, prime time games were a bit of a dud. Thursday was our closest where the Bucs had a hail mary attempt at the end to potentially win the game, but it never looked like it had a chance. That game was then followed by Sunday night and Monday night games that both appeared to be decided early and never really got going. We can’t win them all, but don’t let this make you forget what has happened earlier this season.
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:
- Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
- Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
- Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets
Step 3 – Avoid Picking Against Home Field Advantage
Two weeks in a row our division upset was also a home field advantage upset. While there weren’t a ton of other home field advantage upsets last weekend outside of what went down in Denver, the Commanders did give the Eagles everything they could handle, the Giants took the Jets into overtime, and while not a major upset, the Panthers pulled one off against the Texans. The more the season moves along, the more home field advantage seems to be coming into play.
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. While this is one of our softer rules, I’m not ready to give up on it yet. Be aware and avoid the below games where the favorite is the away team:
- Indianapolis Colts @ Carolina Panthers
- Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets
Step 4 – Make your pick!
My pick of the week is:
- Cleveland Browns over the Arizona Cardinals
The Cleveland Browns have one of, if not the best defensive units in the NFL today, along with possibly the defensive player of the year in 2023. The Cardinals on the other hand just traded away the quarterback who has been starting for them all year, and rumor is Clayton Tune is starting this game. Assuming a last minute Kyler switch doesn’t happen, I’m not sure the Cardinals score any points in this one.
Other options I like this week:
- New Orleans Saints over the Chicago Bears
While the Saints aren’t blowing teams out, they are quietly 4-4 and have been playing better football as Kamara has gotten back in playing shape. On the other end of the field is a Bears team still missing their starting quarterback and they are playing their second road game in a row. I think the Saints run away with this one.
- Baltimore Ravens over the Seattle Seahawks
While this is my least favorite of my three picks, the Ravens are playing as good as any team in the NFL right now and while the Seahawks may be 6-2, three of their wins came against the Giants, Panthers and Cardinals. While this should be a close one, I think the fact that the game is in Baltimore is what puts it over the top for the Ravens.
Last Week’s Record = 2-1
Season Record = 18-6
Follow me on twitter and let me know what you think of this week’s picks @DE_aaron!
Thanks for reading!