By Justin Boylan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If I had to make a list of NFL players and coaches never to bet on, Carson Palmer and Wade Phillips would easily crack the top five.
Mark Sanchez would be a unanimous no. 1 on this fake list, but he’s become an $8 million dollar cheerleader. Brandon Weeden stole the throne as THE man never to bet on, until he lost his job too. If he were still a head coach, Norv Turner would definitely be on there, but as an offensive coordinator he’s no longer in a position to completely ruin his team’s chances.
So my list needs some work, but without a doubt Carson Palmer and now-interim head coach Wade Phillips are on it. And would you look at this, the first roadblock game in the 94WIP Suicide Pool is the Houston Texans at the Arizona Cardinals.
Thanks to Phillips, who is in his third year as defensive coordinator, the Texans have the league’s best total defense and are allowing the fewest passing yards per game. It looks like he has found a place to call home. But that all came crashing down Sunday night, when Gary Kubiak was rushed to the hospital at halftime. Phillips took over as head coach and watched a 21-3 lead turn into a 27-24 loss, just like old times.
Palmer is one of five starting quarterbacks who is 33 or older, and stands alone as the one who won’t be missed by any fan base (the five: Romo, Palmer, Brees, Brady, Peyton). Palmer left Cincinnati and Oakland with sub-.500 records and has played in two playoff games in 10 seasons. He’s unreliable, unpredictable and a terrible throw waiting to happen.
This roadblock game is a coin flip. Seriously, I’ve been sitting here flipping a quarter trying to figure this one out. It isn’t working.
What I know is the Texans look much better with Case Keenum than they did with Matt Schaub, but haven’t been able to turn one of those improved performances into a win. This is still a team that’s lost six straight games, even if the last two under Keenum were by a combined four points.
The Cardinals are coming off the bye, and are 3-1 at home with wins against Detroit and Carolina (respectable wins), and a loss to Seattle (respectable loss). At 4-4, Arizona is one of the only average teams without a bad loss to explain. They got beat by the Saints and 49ers on the road as expected, and lost to the Rams in the season opener by a last-minute field goal. They’ve been able to take care of business against lesser opponents, beating Tampa Bay and Atlanta. The Texans are a lesser opponent.
It’s Phillips that pushes this one over the top. I can already see the camera cutting to him on the sideline with one of those classic dumbfounded looks on his face that we all came to love during his time in Dallas.
I’m not proud of it, but I’m betting on Carson Palmer and taking the Cardinals.
Let’s finish this with some quick picks.
My Selection – Titans vs. Jaguars
(Teams used: Colts, Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs, Packers, Broncos, Chargers, Saints, Patriots)
Welcome back, Jacksonville! The Jags spent their bye week losing their top offensive weapon for the year. That’s unfortunate for them, but good for us.
The Titans have Jake Locker back under center, just snapped a three-game losing streak and are very much in the playoff hunt.
The anti-Jags approach is an exact science.
Best Bet for Survival – Saints vs. Cowboys
The Saints are back home after losing to the Jets because they refuse to play well outdoors. If you throw out last year without Sean Payton, and the Saints haven’t lost two in a row since 2009. Plus, the Panthers are suddenly breathing down their neck in the standings. This is a Sunday night statement game for the Saints.
Cheating Death – Eagles at Packers
NICHOLAS EDWARD FOLES IS REWRITING HISTORY. Meanwhile, the Packers are starting Seneca Wallace. Sometimes it’s good to be lucky.
When a roadblock game hits the pool like a tidal wave, luck is all I have left.
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.