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Week 10 NFL Picks

Does the Andrew Luck injury open the door for the Houston Texans in the AFC South? (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Last Week: 7 – 6 – 0
Season: 87 – 45 – 0

Thursday Recap

Bills 22 at Jets 17
Direct quote from my cousin; “The coaching ineptitude in this game… Like watching Andy Reid vs Andy Reid.” I think that perfectly sums up Thursday night’s contest.

While watching the game, I kept thinking, “The Patriots are just so good. These teams look like garbage.” Then after thinking about it some more, I thought, “Maybe the Patriots always look so great because these teams are garbage.” Whatever. Last night proved a lot of things.

First, Ryan Fitzpatrick Ryan Fitzpatricked the crap out of that game. He was brutal. So much for being ranked ahead of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in ESPN’s QBR rankings. Second, Tyrod Taylor is equally bad. Pocket Presence is a delicate balance. If your pocket presence is slow, you’re gonna get crushed. If it’s too sensitive, you leave the pocket with plenty of time left to find a receiver. Taylor’s pocket presence is hypersensitive. Taylor takes off if someone grunts too loud. I lost count how many times he took off with time left in the pocket only to get tackled at or near the line of scrimmage. Finally, Rex Ryan using both challenges in the 1st half and having no timeouts for the final 11 minutes was so Rex Ryan. And for the record, I liked Todd Bowles going for it on both 4th downs inside the red zone. Play calls could have been better, but the aggressiveness was there. That’s the part that counts going forward. To recap, if you didn’t watch, you didn’t miss much. Just remember the Patriots are great because they are in fact, great, AND because their division is an annual tire fire.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Lions at Packers
The Lions were smart not to fire Jim Caldwell… yet. When you fire a coach you want his replacement to have a reasonable shot at success in his first game. The Dolphins gave Dan Campbell the Titans and Texans. The Titans gave Mike Mularkey the Saints. Had the Lions fired Caldwell, his replacement would get Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau after two straight losses. If Caldwell goes, expect it on Monday because Detroit has the Raiders and Eagles on deck. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -11.5

Cowboys at Buccaneers
I thought the Cowboys would win the division entering the season. I thought they still had a reasonable shot until they lost to the Eagles last week. I still think they have a small sliver of hope if they can win two straight before Tony Romo returns. With that said, this season was a big indictment of the Cowboys. Injuries are a part of football. Absolutely, losing your top two players and dealing with injuries/suspensions makes for devastating losses, but other teams manage those same injuries and suspensions.

The Steelers are leading the AFC Wildcard race despite their franchise quarterback missing half the season. Did I mention the Steelers also lost the league’s top running back to suspension and now to injury? The Colts are 4-5 despite Andrew Luck’s body decomposing right before our eyes. The Chiefs remain competitive without Jamaal Charles. The Panthers are undefeated without their top receiver. Even the 49ers have won a football game with BLAINE FREAKING GABBERT. So don’t give me the injury/suspension excuses, Dallas people. You don’t need to be undefeated or even have a winning record, but six straight losses mean your team is crap. No ifs, ands or buts about it. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -1.5

Panthers at Titans
The Panthers could go two ways this week and I haven’t the slightest clue which way they’re trending. After surrendering big leads late in the 4th quarter in consecutive weeks, the Panthers could go into Nashville and pummel the lowly Titans. Or, the problems from the last two weeks come home to roost and Carolina suffers its first defeat of the season. With the Redskins and Cowboys on deck, the Panthers have a reasonable shot at an 11-0 start. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -5.5

Bears at Rams
Sam Bradford and Nick Foles are locked in a fierce battle to prove their respective team lost the deal that swapped the two quarterbacks this summer. When you watch Bradford you think about what a dumb trade Chip Kelly made to lose Nick Foles for a quarterback with no deep ball and little accuracy. Then you watch a Rams game and realize Foles has apparently lost his mind. We can’t all be winners, but as the Bradford/Foles trade proves, we can all be losers. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams -7

Saints at Redskins
What happened to Alfred Morris? Can anyone explain this to me? I’ll admit I haven’t seen every minute of Washington’s season, but I can’t imagine Morris just forgot how to run the football? Three years ago he was one of the NFL’s top running backs. Is the Washington line bad? Do they like Kirk Cousins that much? If I’m Morris, I’m giving Jay Gruden one of these every day until I get my touches back. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +1

Dolphins at Eagles
Ryan Tannehill can’t/won’t throw the deep ball. This bodes well for the Eagles as it’s probably their lone defensive weakness. Speaking of defensive weakness, anyone else find it hilarious and devastatingly sad the Eagles stuck Nolan Carroll on Dez Bryant for most of the game last week? If only the Eagles signed a top cornerback for $60 million in the offseason to throw at the opposing team’s top receiving threat. If only. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -6

Browns at Steelers
The Steelers can’t catch a break. Well, maybe they can as it appears Johnny Manziel will start over Josh McCown this week. This is a must win for Pittsburgh. It’s unclear how long Ben Roethlisberger will be out, but the next four weeks (@SEA, IND, @CINC, DEN) will be tough even with a healthy Roethlisberger. With the Bills finding their footing defensively and the Raiders improved play this season, the Steelers could fall out of the playoffs for the 3rd time in four seasons. (If McCown ends up starting, I’ll take the Browns.) STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -5.5

Jaguars at Ravens
The Jaguars are secretly one of my favorite teams to watch. They’re like a young NBA team with a ton of talent but no idea how to use it yet. Essentially, they’re the Orlando Magic. Though he turns the football over a little too much, I like Blake Bortles. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +5.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Vikings at Raiders
Speaking of young, talented quarterbacks, Derek Carr is quietly becoming one of the NFL’s best passers. In only his second season, he already ranks among the top 10 in touchdowns, QB Rating, interceptions (only 4), the controversial QBR, and yards. Ok, he’s technically ranked 12th in yards but that’s only because he missed a week. You get the point. Carr is really good. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders -3

Patriots at Giants
I’m worried about the Patriots without Dion Lewis. I can’t even remember what Tom Brady is like without a Danny Woodhead or Shane Vereen coming out of the backfield. Can Brandon Bolden or James White fill that void? Also, I’ve never be a supporter of Deflategate. I thought the whole thing was nonsense. While I’m not a Patriots fan, I celebrate greatness. What New England has accomplished is amazing. With that said, this made me laugh when it came across my timeline this week. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +7.5

Chiefs at Broncos
Kansas City is still lingering in the AFC Wildcard hunt. Though a loss Sunday wouldn’t doom their season, it isn’t recommended. (How’s that for analysis?) By the way, look how much faith Vegas has lost in Manning and the Broncos. The Broncos are 7-1 and hosting the 3-5 Chiefs and the line is less than a touchdown. The Broncos opened as a 6 point favorite on the road last week against a 3-5 Colts team. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -5.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Cardinals at Seahawks
The Seahawks always finish strong under Pete Carroll, so it’s never easy to discount them from the playoffs. However, 2015 is different than previous seasons. While the NFC isn’t loaded with great teams, there are plenty of good teams vying for those two Wildcard berths. Currently, the two Wildcard teams have 6 wins. That puts the Seahawks two games out already. There are also three other NFC teams with equal wins to the Seahawks (4) and one of which owns a head-to-head victory over Seattle. Monday night is a huge game for the Seahawks. Any hopes of another division crown die with a loss. Even a playoff spot becomes questionable if the Seahawks drop to 4-5. I’m trusting Seattle’s customary late season surge here, but I don’t feel great about it. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -3

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Texans at Bengals
I know I teased the possibility of the Houston Texans snatching the AFC South from the Colts, but it’s not happening. First of all, the Colts were just as good (and some would argue better) with Matt Hasselbeck under center this season. Though the offense is less explosive, turnovers go way down. Second, the Colts schedule is a near cakewalk. Of their remaining seven games, only two opponents have more than three wins. Finally, the Houston Texans’ schedule is full of landmines. Four of their remaining eight opponents own at least five wins. Houston can’t run the football or defend the run, either, ranking 28th and 27th in the NFL, respectively. I love Bill O’Brien. I’d like nothing more than to see the Texans rally. It’s just not a likely scenario, not even in the trash heap that is the AFC South. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +11

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 6 – 7 – 0
Season: 66 – 62 – 4

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