By Justin Boylan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What a start to the season. Things are going great. The Eagles are 2-0, my fantasy team is equally undefeated, I’ve hit on a four-team teaser and I’m cruising right along in the Suicide Pool. It’s a wonderful time to be alive. Damn it. Well, three out of four isn’t bad. At least I’m not here writing about my one misstep out of the gate. Welcome back to week 3 of my Eagles-centric, fantasy football, gambling column.
Yeah, I’m still bitter. A quick shout out to Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears who came back from a 17-point hole, on the road, in San Francisco to win on Sunday night. It’s totally acceptable to pull that one off after barely resembling a football team at home against the Bills.
Last week turned out to be just as rough as week 1. Another 5,500 competitors were knocked out, bringing the two-week total of the dead to well over 50 percent of the pool we started with. At this rate, a winner will be crowned before Lane Johnson’s suspension is over. To try to keep you alive a littler longer let’s go over the Suicide Pool cardinal rules, which cover the most common inadvertent exit strategies. They may seem obvious, but they are also easy to forget when you’re looking at a full slate of potential picks.
Rule #1 – no road teams
Since 1990, home teams have won 58 percent of the games played. So far in 2014, the home teams are 19-13, and home favorites are 16-8 (straight up, not against the spread. Can you imagine an against-the-spread suicide pool? That’s next, next level).
Picking a heavy road favorite often sounds like a safe pick, but home underdogs are 4-3 to start the season. It’s more of a toss up then you’d think. And there’s no need to settle for a toss up when there’s plenty of options on the table. This week that road killer was the Saints. They lost in Cleveland and brought 2,387 competitors down with them. Upsets happen every week, and more times than not it’s the home team on their home field celebrating an unlikely victory.
The exception to this rule is a situation like the one the Patriots were in last week. Brady and Belichick were facing back-to-back losses, which happens something like once every hundred years, and their opponent’s face of the franchise and best player was deactivated 48 hours before kickoff. So okay, when that happens, go for it.
Rule #2 – no divisional games
The longer you survive, the harder it is to avoid picking one, but you can make it pretty far without having to go with a divisional matchup. Divisional games are rivalry games. The teams know each other very well, and it often comes down to the final series or play. Just avoid the headache as long as possible.
The exception here, like I suggested last week, is Peyton Manning.
Rule #3 – no saving teams
This sounds more like a warning than a rule, but it’s a rule. Believe it. Do not look ahead on the schedule and pass on a team simply because you love a game they have down the road. That’s the worst way to go out. Treat the pool like every sports cliché ever: one week at a time. If you like the Seahawks pick the Seahawks, don’t hesitate because you see they have the Giants in week 10. Life is precious, nothing is guaranteed.
Guardian Selection – Bengals vs. Titans
Of the four 2-0 teams in the AFC, the Broncos and Bengals feel like the ones that will be in the conversation come January (I still don’t know what to make of the Bills, I need to see them against the Chargers). Giovani Bernard has looked like the second-year stud many expected, which helps balance a passing game that features A.J. Green. Marvin Lewis does expect Green to play this week, but whether you believe him is a different story.
The Bengals also have a nasty defense that has given up 16 and 10 points this season to teams with a better one-two punch than Jake Locker and Shonn Greene. The Titans just lost to Dallas at home, and they were owned in the run game. Bernard will pick up the slack left by a hobbled Green and have himself a day.
Best Bet for Survival – Patriots vs. Raiders
The worst (or the runner-up) team in football, with a rookie quarterback making his third start, in New England, against a Pats team with ground to make up, and it’s the biggest spread of the year. Moving on.
Cheating Death – Packers at Lions
Look here I’m breaking all the rules. Let’s see how they hold up. I’m really excited for this game. Both quarterbacks should be able to do whatever they want; it could come down to who can limit the ground game. On paper, that appears to be Detroit. Wow, those rules are starting to make sense.
Follow and advance, but most importantly stay alive.
Justin Boylan is a producer at 94WIP. Follow him on Twitter @justintboylan.
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