By Justin Boylan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For five weeks I’ve been walking on eggshells around the NFL schedule trying to avoid the landmine game that would blow me out of the 94WIP Suicide Pool. For all the close games we’ve had each week, there hadn’t been the big upset that slashes survivors like Machete Cortez.
Last year it came early. Remember week 2? The Patriots were 13-point favorites at home against Kevin Kolb’s Cardinals. The Pats didn’t score a touchdown until the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter, and Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yard field goal to win it in the final seconds. It was one of the freak occurrences that could not be anticipated or explained.
We were able to avoid such heartbreak, until the last two games of the week. Between the late-night Raiders special and the Geno Smith coming out party, more than 4,000 participants have been left dead in the water. That’s almost half of the field that entered week 5 alive gone faster than a Mike Vick injury.
So please excuse me while I cash in on maybe the biggest mismatch in NFL history. Now is not the time to look past the gigantic blinking PICK ME sign on the road to the ring.
My Selection – Broncos vs. Jaguars
(Teams used: Colts, Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs, Packers)
As I look at Denver’s schedule, I don’t see a better time to use them. Week 8 they are in Washington, but I’d rather take them at home. After their week 9 bye, their next four are three divisional games and a date with the Pats in Foxborough. Week 14 at home against the Titans is too far away for me to not take them here.
This pick doesn’t exactly require justification, but it will make me feel like I actually worked on my pick this week. The Jags have scored 51 points this season, and the Broncos scored 51 points four days ago. Jacksonville has scored five touchdowns. Denver’s rookie tight end Julius Thomas has six. The Jaguars have gained a total of 1,259 yards, which is just 625 yards shy of what Peyton Manning has put up through the air.
Also, in news beaten to death as much as Philly’s longest-tenured coach, it’s the largest NFL spread since the birth of the first bookie. The Broncos money line right now is -7,000. So rather than betting $700 on the Broncos to win $10, I’ll settle for getting through week 6.
Best Bet for Survival – Seahawks vs. Titans
Denver is lock of all locks, but this is a solid runner-up. If you still have Seattle, congrats, but now might be the time. There’s no reason to save teams like the Broncos and Seahawks for a later game, because life in the pool is not guaranteed.
After this week, they have two divisional road games before coming back home in week 9 to play the Bucs. Can you wait that long? Looking ahead will get you killed. Live in the now, and take the sure thing.
The Seahawks are unbeatable at home. Ryan Fitzpatrick is beatable anywhere.
Cheating Death – Browns vs. Lions
This pick comes with a Megatron-sized disclaimer before it. Calvin Johnson has not been practicing this week, and could miss his second-straight game. Without him, Matthew Stafford is throwing to Ryan Broyles and Kris Durham. The Lions live to throw the ball, and without Johnson the Browns can focus almost all of their effort towards stopping Reggie Bush.
Speaking of the Browns, are you aware that they have ripped off three-straight wins? Of the non-undefeated teams, only the Colts have a streak that long. Yes Brandon Weeden is back in after they lost Brian Hoyer for the year, but I expect the defense and the Dawg Pound to be the difference makers.
The Browns and Eagles could both be in first place after this week. I love the NFL.
This might be the last week of smooth sailing, and I don’t intend on passing it up.
Justin Boylan is a producer at 94WIP and graduate of Temple University. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @justintboylan.