The stakes have never been higher in your NFL survivor and knockout pools this week. If you pick the right team, chances are you won your league. If you choose poorly, you're out after 16 weeks of hard work and preparation. Week 17 is tricky, though. Teams like the Saints are resting starters, while squads like the Panthers and Redskins are decimated with injuries. And multiple teams are favored by double-digits, including the Patriots (-13.5), Chiefs (-14), Steelers (-14.5), Seahawks (-13), and Rams (-10). Not all of them will live up to expectations, so before making your NFL Week 17 Survivor Pool picks, you'll want to hear what SportsLine's Mike Tierney has to say. The national sportswriter who has reported from seven Super Bowls has his finger on the pulse of the league, and he's developed a reputation as a Survivor Pool master.
Tierney excels both against the spread and straight-up. The past two seasons, he hit on nearly 65 percent of his straight-up NFL office pool picks (330-180-2), beating the vast majority of experts on NFLPickWatch.com.
Tierney is an amazing 150-88 picking every NFL game straight-up in 2018, including a 12-4 effort in Week 16. Now, Tierney has studied the matchups and locked in his optimal Week 17 NFL Survivor Pool pick, in which you need to pick one team each week to win but cannot select the same team twice in a season.
A win clinches a berth in the AFC playoff picture for the Ravens (9-6), while a loss means they'll need help in other games. But Baltimore has been among the hottest teams in the NFL the last six weeks, going 5-1 straight-up since rookie Lamar Jackson took over starting quarterback duties.
The Ravens own one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL, ranking third against both the pass and the run. There are only two quarterbacks who have thrown for more than 300 yards against Baltimore too. One is Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, and the other is the player it'll face again on Sunday: Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield torched the Ravens for 342 yards in a 12-9 overtime victory in Cleveland on Oct. 7. Cleveland has won five of six -- in the five wins, the rookie passed for 13 touchdowns and only one interception. Cleveland is also one of just six teams to gain more than 100 yards rushing against Baltimore this season. The Browns' defense has improved greatly as well, allowing just 19.8 points per game the last six outings.
There's a better team worth backing that you surely have available -- and you'll be shocked to see who it is. Tierney is sharing his season-ending play only over at SportsLine.
So which surprising team is a must-back in your Week 17 survivor pool? Visit SportsLine now to see which team carries you to victory, all from the man who has hit on nearly 65 percent of his straight-up NFL office pool picks the past two seasons.