By Justin Boylan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hey, congrats to those of you who are still with us. You’ve made it through eight weeks, and it’s on to the back nine. Many have failed to make it this far, whether by trusting the wrong quarterback on the road or thanks to a home team letdown, so take second to give yourself a high-five. You earned it.
All right, that’s ENOUGH. The finish line is nowhere in sight, as we are still just treading water hoping not to drown. Six more teams hit the bye this week, including the always-dependable Broncos and 49ers, and the almost-too-bad-to-be-true Jaguars. Combine that with the eight teams you’ve already used, and your options are likely limited this week.
I’m picking between two teams: the Patriots and the Cowboys. Dallas is coming off a fantastic last-second loss to the Lions, and is home against the putrid Vikings. The Cowboys can’t stop any team from having a passing party, except the Eagles apparently, but Minnesota’s entire offense is Adrian Peterson. Dallas should win easily.
Yet I don’t have the stomach to make that pick. Watching the Cowboys collapse in the final seconds was way too fun for me to put my suicide pick in that position. I want Peterson to go for 290 yards and three touchdowns. I want Christian Ponder to throw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Greg Jennings to take an improbable lead. I want Dallas to lose, and so I won’t be picking them anytime soon.
My Selection – Patriots vs. Steelers
(Teams used: Colts, Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs, Packers, Broncos, Chargers, Saints)
This game is usually a must-see, nationally televised, primetime showdown. Not this year. The Terrible Towels have been better served as handkerchiefs, especially after their trip to Oakland. The Steelers have scored more than 20 points on the road just once this season, in a loss to the Vikings.
The Patriots are hurting on both sides of the ball (more so on defense), but are damn near unbeatable at home. They only have three regular-season home losses in the last three and half seasons.
They lost to the Giants in 2011, who won the Super Bowl that year, and lost to the 49ers last year, who went on to play in the Super Bowl. The third home loss was against Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals, in a game we have already discussed in this space because it knocked me out of last year’s suicide pool.
Everything went Arizona’s way. They turned a block punt into a touchdown, Kolb had one of his two career rushing touchdowns and he didn’t throw an interception. After all that, Stephen Gostkowski still had a shot to win it for New England, but missed a 42-yarder.
So if everything goes wrong in Foxboro, the Steelers have a chance. I just don’t see it. Tom Brady is 2-0 in his career hosting the Steelers, with seven touchdowns and no picks. And that was when Pittsburgh was good.
New England is averaging 22 points per game, and the Steelers defense is giving up 22 points per game. On the flipside, the Steelers are scoring 18 points per game, and the Pats are allowing… wait for it… 18 points per game. Let’s keep this one right around where it should be. I might have to sweat it out, but the Patriots take it.
Best Bet for Survival – Packers vs. Bears
Seattle might be a better bet than this best bet, but I feel like I have the Seahawks in this section every week. This is typically a stay-away because these teams are division rivals, but it’s Josh McCown on one side and Aaron Rodgers on the other. The Packers have put up 38 a game since losing Randall Cobb and James Jones to injuries, and Jones could be back this week.
Rodgers is magnificent. Check out Green Bay’s next four games. They’ll be 9-2 when they go to Detroit to try to sweep the Lions. The Packers are gunning for that 2-seed, watch out.
Cheating Death – Browns vs. Ravens
Bye bye Brandon Weeden, hello Jason Campbell!!!
In their week 2 match-up, in which the Ravens won 14-6, the Browns offense was led by Weeden and Trent Richardson, a couple of stiffs. Nowadays it’s all about Campbell and Willis McGahee. A new day has dawned in Cleveland.
Also, I’ve convinced myself the Ravens aren’t good. The Browns will be in it in the fourth quarter, much like they were last week in Kansas City. This time they pull the upset. Jason Campbell!!
The word around the pool is there’s a roadblock game coming next week.
Until then, stay alive.
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.