The NFL bye weeks have arrived, and the smaller number of games adds to the degree of difficulty in survivor pools. Of course, as we found out in Week 5, things can be difficult enough anyway. Just ask those who had the Vikings or the Patriots. Or the Ravens on Monday night, as we did here.
The Vikings kicked a 54-yard field goal to beat the Lions in a game that had nearly 58 percent of the Circa survivor field gasping for air. The Patriots led for 15 seconds against the Texans, but those were the most important 15 seconds because they came at the end of the game. The Ravens didn’t lead until they won with a touchdown in overtime.
It isn’t easy. The rules make it sound easy, but it really isn’t an easy proposition. And now we’ve reached the toughest week to date.
This week’s bye teams — the Falcons, Saints, Jets and 49ers — would not have been popular teams in a survivor context anyway, but fading those teams might have been an option. This week’s betting board features a lot of small lines hovering around key numbers as well, including some really uncomfortable favorites.
Through five weeks in this column, the picks — all winners — have been the Rams, Packers, Broncos, Bengals and Ravens. This week’s selection is the Cowboys over the Patriots as 4-point favorites. We could very easily be looking at a 5-0 Dallas squad going into Foxborough. At the very least, we should be looking at a 5-1 Dallas squad coming out of Week 6.
The Cowboys have had at least 24 first downs in every game and rank third in yards per attempt on the ground and fifth in adjusted net yards per pass attempt. The Patriots had 24 first downs in a game once. They’re 27th in yards per attempt on the ground and 28th in adjusted net yards per pass attempt.
Do the Patriots have a better defense? Sure. New England is great at taking away a team’s best weapon and still manages to do that on a pretty regular basis, holding the opposition to 5.1 yards per play. What player do you take away for the Cowboys, though? Amari Cooper? CeeDee Lamb? Ezekiel Elliott? Dalton Schultz?
Dallas’ arsenal is one of the most impressive in the NFL, and Dak Prescott has been remarkably efficient coming off a really gruesome injury. The Patriots have faced Tua Tagovailoa, Zach Wilson, Jameis Winston, Tom Brady (in the rain) and Davis Mills. That set of QBs would make a lot of defenses look pretty good. And only one of those teams has an above-average set of skill players.
The Cowboys have their defensive concerns, but they’re also just outside the top 10 in third-down defense and have forced 12 turnovers, as Trevon Diggs is having a monster season.
This is maybe a little risky compared with other spots. If your survivor pool uses Thanksgiving as a separate week, you might not want to use the Cowboys here, as they are one of six teams in action Nov. 25 and host the Las Vegas Raiders. The other games are Bears vs. Lions and Bills vs. Saints, so those are two tougher games.
But you also have to worry about getting to Thanksgiving, and for me, the Cowboys are the best option on the board this week.