Week 7 Observations
Homer’s Odyssey has nothing on the Browns-Colts game. Dante’s journey through hell and purgatory was but a walk in the park by comparison. There are simply no works in the canon sufficient to convey what I experienced in taking the Browns in Survivor this week, but I will try.
On Wednesday, I looked at the percentage-owned numbers, and the Seahwaks were nearly 60 percent. I wanted to fade the Seahawks in my home league pool, but I had already used the Bills, 49ers and Chiefs, so there were no great pivots.
But there were only eight people left, so it was pretty easy to track their histories — none had any of those teams left either, save for one who had the Bills. That meant there was a good chance at least six would take the Seahawks, and the pot odds would be too good to refuse. The only problem was picking the right team.
My first instinct was the Ravens, even though they were hosting the 5-1 Lions. The Lions are pretty good, but probably not that good, and since upsetting the Chiefs on Opening Night, they had mostly beaten up on weak opponents. This just seemed like the kind of spot where they’d fall flat.
So on Friday evening Portugal time I typed Ravens into the email (we still do the old home pool via email), but before I hit send I took another look. The Browns were 3.5-point favorites per the market, the Ravens only three. And my hunch was just a hunch, the Lions were a tough, physical team with a good offensive line, a solid defense and a good coach. The Browns were probably getting Deshaun Watson back, had an elite defense and were playing the Gardner Minshew Colts. Was I really going with the -160 Ravens over the -192 Browns?
Sasha happened to be sitting next to me on the sofa. She’s often been good luck in the past. I said, “Sash, what do you think, Ravens or Browns?” She thinks for a second (knows nothing about the NFL) and says, “Browns.” I say, “Are you sure?” She says, “No, Ravens. No, no, Browns. It’s Browns.”
So I type in Browns and hit send. Now you know what good process looks like.
. . .
Later that night I regretted it, wondered if it were too late to change. The Ravens were *my* pick, the team I thought was in the right spot, and the Browns were just ever-so-slightly more favored by the market. Didn’t I make the same mistake trusting FantasyPros a couple weeks ago? Sure, the Vegas market has much more information and less groupthink that the FPMs (Fantasy Pros Midwits), but fading my own instincts for some other metric on which to hang my hat was the real sin, not which hook I used.
I figured it was probably was too late, but maybe I’d write a post about it Saturday to test the theory. It’s easy to remember all the times you stuck to your guns and won, or sold yourself short and lost, but what about when you did the cowardly market-based thing and won, or rashly overrated your own prescience and lost? It’s easy to forget about those because they don’t fit the narrative.
The next morning (Saturday) I got an email from the pool runners asking a couple of stragglers to get their picks in. So I could change to the Ravens after all! But a voice inside my head said, “Leave it alone — don’t tinker with it now.” I stuck with the Browns and scrapped the idea to write about it.
Sunday morning we got the picks. It turned out, as I expected, six of eight were on the Seahawks, one was on the Bills, while I was on the Browns.
. . .
You can imagine how I felt seeing the Ravens up 28-0 midway in the second-quarter as I watched the games yesterday. They were so obviously the play, and in my nutlessness I was stuck with the Browns who had already lost Watson to an injury in the first quarter, were getting destroyed by Minshew and down 14-7 with P.J Walker at QB.
I can’t get into all the blow-by-blow because it would take too long, but this was one of the most insane games I’ve ever watched, and the only crazier Survivor win I’ve ever had was the 4th-and-19 conversion with 26 seconds left by Lamar Jackson, followed by Justin Tucker’s record-setting 66-yard FG that hit the upright and went through.
A few facts about this game: The Browns blocked a field goal, scored on a defensive fumble recovery in the end zone,* made field goals of 54, 54 and 58 (Dustin “Tucker” Hopkins kicked out of his mind) and only got the W thanks to two penalty calls, one of which was a defensive hold after PJ Walker had fumbled away the game and the other on a ball thrown five yards out of the back of the end zone that by some miracle was deemed catchable enough for a PI. Even then, the Browns got to fourth down and an injured Kareem Hunt just barely got the ball to break the front end of the plane.
*The strip-sack fumble TD came after a 4th-and-4 punt by the Browns from the Colts 43. The announcers questioned the punt, citing “analytics” and saying “I’m going with what the kids are doing.” Of course, it never occurred to them the Browns had Walker as their QB, were facing a backup QB and have one of the best pass rushers of all time in Myles Garrett who casued the fumble. It was almost as if something good were guaranteed to happen after that.
But the only thing that made the game tolerable at all — the only reason I’m writing this today and not residing somewhere beyond the grave after defenestrating — is that at some point in the third quarter it occurred to me I might have already used the Ravens, checked my own history and discovered, to my surprise (and great relief!) that I had in Week 1.
In other words, even though my hunch was completely right, and even though I was still an abject coward in subordinating it to the “wisdom” of the market, neither of those facts had any impact on my pick.
Moreover, the only reason I didn’t take the Bills was that I used them the prior week, even though I had the Dolphins available. So I was unjustly rewarded for taking the Bills (who only beat the Giants due to mismanagement by Brian Daboll and poor refereeing) in Week 6, so that I could luckbox the W in Week 7 too.
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