NFL Survivor Pool Picks: are Jacksonville Jaguars the New Gold Standard for Fades?

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NFL Survivor Pool players love a good fade team. And why not? Find a bad team to fade and you can keep the good times rolling all season long. In most Survivor Pools you can pick a team only once. So the best teams in the league offer little long-term value over the course of the pro football season. But it’s like Christmas every week if you find a fade team that is so awful that you can just blindly pick against them repeatedly and advance far in your pool as a result.

The best Survivor Pool fade team of all time, of course, was the 2008 Detroit Lions squad that went 0-16. Pool players that did their homework and realized the Lions would be that bad before the season started were able to ride them all the way to Survivor Pool glory.

But teams that bad are rare, and even the worst teams each season usually win a couple games. Last season Tennessee and Cleveland were the two worst teams. They each won three games. San Diego and Dallas were the next worst teams with four wins apiece. In 2014 two teams, the Titans and Buccaneers, were the worst teams with two wins each. Not since 2009, when the St. Louis Rams went 1-15, has a team finished with less than two wins.

It seems it’s just as tough to finish the season 0-16 as it would be to go undefeated. That means the Browns, everyone’s favorite fade team the last two seasons, have a very good chance for a win heading down the stretch. They also have some division games coming up, and you can only fade once in a division series. So those of us that like to ride a good fade team should look out for a team to compliment the Browns. And I think that club is the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jags have two wins on the season, in London vs. Indianapolis and on the road at Chicago. I’m not at all impressed with those wins. This team was a sexy pick in the offseason to have a breakout year. You always have to be wary of the teams everyone is excited about for unprecedented success as those clubs normally fall on their faces, but I have to admit I fell into the trap with Jacksonville and expected them to at least contend in a very weak division. However, they have fallen off a cliff in a big way. And in my opinion this is the second-worst team, after Cleveland, in football right now.

Coach Gus Bradley is supposed to be a defensive genius. This team has given up 69 points combined in their last two games, both blowout losses. They have given up 27 or more points in five of seven games. Their overall defense is ranked middle-of-the-pack at No. 13 with 349.3 yards allowed on average per game, but a pass defense that has been decent has been offset by a running D that has allowed nearly 125 yards per contest (No. 27 in the league). This isn’t enough to help an offense that ranks near last in the league in many categories. Yes, QB Blake Bortles throws for a lot of yards, but that’s normally because the team is down big and passing every down while the defenders on the other side of the field are playing soft to protect the lead.

It’s a miracle that Bradley is still coaching this team. Most thought he would be fired after the trip to London, but the Jags won that game so that would have been unprecedented. But with the last two games, blowouts vs. Oakland and at Tennessee, it’s obvious that a move should have been made. Bradley made offensive coordinator Greg Olson the scapegoat after the Titans loss last week and promoted QB coach Nathaniel Hackett to the OC role (it’s not like he had much success grooming Bortles into a viable NFL QB). The coaching situation is just a mess here. Maybe Bradley has naked pictures of owner Shahid Khan. I can’t explain why else Bradley is still around. He is gone after this season. He knows it. His team knows it. Everybody does.

It looks like this team has quit on Bradley. Their loss to the Raiders is excusable since Oakland has a pretty good team this season. But to go into Tennessee and go down 27-0 at halftime is inexcusable (Jacksonville was only a 3.5-point underdog). The game wasn’t as close as it appeared on the final box score since the Jags got a lot of garbage-time points against a Tennessee defense that took their foot off the gas. That miserable result is all on the coach. They just weren’t ready or motivated.

But I think that the coaching situation plays into our favor as Survivor Pool players looking for a solid fade team. If the team has given up on Bradley then that should continue as long as he keeps his job. I feel like an interim coach might spark this team. So while Bradley may be hindering his team’s success, his staying power at the head coach position can really help us in our pools.

NFL Survivor Pools have been tough this year. A lot of pools are winding up as many contestants have been knocked out. My main pool is down to about 15 entrants after Minnesota was upset by Chicago on Monday Night Football. Finding a great fade team to ride down the stretch can be a key to late-season Survivor Pool success. Cleveland might win a game or two this season. But there’s a good chance that Jacksonville won’t. At least the Browns seem to be trying hard every week, and they seem a good bet to get their first win before the Jags win another one.

Let’s look at Jacksonville’s schedule down the line to examine how prosperous of a fade team they might be:

Week 9 at Kansas City

Week 10 vs. Houston

Week 11 at Detroit

Week 12 at Buffalo

Week 13 vs. Denver

Week 14 vs. Minnesota

Week 15 at Houston

Week 16 vs. Tennessee

Week 17 at Indianapolis

I don’t think they will be favored in any of their remaining games barring a major injury on the other team. They could possibly be a small favorite in that Week 16 rematch with the Titans, but after the result on Thursday Tennessee would probably still be a slight favorite there. I think that game or the season finale at Indy are the only winnable games for this team left on the schedule. If I keep moving on in my Survivor Pool I will definitely be looking to go against this team down the stretch.