By Justin Boylan
*Reminder: The 94WIP Suicide Pool homepage is CBSPhilly.com/suicidepool.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s Roadblock Week in 94WIP Suicide Pool for the 580 remaining participants. Hold on, that can’t be right. I would like to crunch those numbers again. Crunch. Yes, that’s accurate, only 580 people left. My demographic has shrunk significantly since we started back in week 1 with 20,000 hopefuls.
More people were knocked out last week (638) than are left going forward. The big killer was Washington, which took 384 lives in their loss to the Buccaneers. Washington won the time of possession battle by almost 10 minutes and ran 23 more plays, mostly by successfully running the ball for 5 yards per carry. Still, they turned it over three times and gave up 12.5 yards per attempt to Josh McCown, including two second-half touchdown passes to the Bucs’ big-play rookie Mike Evans. Washington failed to score a point in the final 30 minutes.
The Browns and Broncos had rough days as well, taking out a combined 138 people in the process. This late in the game, I can see teams like Cleveland and Washington doing damage because your choices are limited and sooner or later you have to roll the dice with a team you can’t trust. But staying alive this long, still having Denver available and as double-digit favorites they put up seven points against the Rams, the lowest output since Peyton Manning moved to Denver, is just a brutal way to go out.
The second-largest slayer, with 96 knockouts, was the New Orleans Saints. The Grim Reaper was all over that one. Since week 4, my Reaper’s touch of death is 6-2 with upsets like the Bucs over the Steelers, the Rams over the 49ers and Colt McCoy over the Cowboys. That’s a .750 killing percentage. The Saints are just the latest casualty of Reaper’s reach.
Speaking of those Saints, and to get back to Roadblock Week, the powers that be have selected Monday night’s Ravens-Saints as the game you must select, and win, to advance (in addition to your usual weekly pick). I knew a roadblock was coming, but my money was on Cardinals at Seahawks being the game of choice. Do you go with the best record in football or Seattle at home? That seemed like the toughest game to pick.
As for the real roadblock game, I’m not thinking twice about it: Ravens. I’m over the Saints and their untouchable home field advantage. They’ve been touched plenty at home this season. The Saints are where they belong, in the worst division in football. The NFC South has been terrible against the rest of the league, 6-20-1, and the Saints are 0-2 against the AFC with losses to the Browns and Bengals.
The Ravens have already beaten the rest of the NFC South, because everyone does. They are also coming off the bye week. This is Joe Flacco’s first trip to the Superdome to play the Saints. He played a game there in February 2013, but it was against the 49ers. Flacco threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, and won the Super Bowl MVP. For his career, Flacco is 2-2 in domes with 300 yards per game, eight touchdowns and one interception. I feel much more comfortable backing the better team, so give me the Ravens in the roadblock.
Grim Reaper Selection – Bills vs. Jets
I’ve been on the wrong side of a few Bills games, but this time I’m rolling with. Both teams have had extra time to prepare with the Jets coming off the bye and the Bills playing last Thursday. The Bills hung 43 on the Jets in week 8, by far their largest output of the season, when Kyle Orton threw four touchdown passes and three of Geno Smith’s eight pass attempts were intercepted before Rex Ryan switched to Michael Vick.
Best Bet for Survival – 49ers vs. Redskins
I’m going to let Brian Mitchell handle this one. Go ahead, B-Mitch!
Cheating Death – Dolphins at Broncos
There has been a seat on the Dolphins bandwagon with my name on it since their week 7 win in Chicago, which was correctly predicted in this very section. Miami is 4-2 in their last six games, and the two losses came on last-second touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. I believe the Dolphins will be in the playoffs as a wildcard, and I think the heads will really start to turn after this weekend.
The Broncos offense will likely be without two major weapons, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Julius Thomas, which will make it harder to succeed as a one-dimensional attack. Denver can’t run the ball with just C.J. Anderson against a defense that’s third in DVOA. If the Dolphins can keep this game in the 20s, they have a good chance to ruin the Broncos’ perfect home record.
Justin Boylan is a producer at 94WIP. Follow him on Twitter @justintboylan.
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