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Week 10 NFL Picks

After an 0-3 start the Saints have won four of their last five. Now Drew Brees and the NFL’s best offense are thinking playoffs. (Photo by Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

Last Week: 10 – 3 – 0
Season:     80 – 51 – 2

Thursday Recap

Browns 7 at Ravens 28
During Thursday night’s telecast, Chris Collinsworth briefly mentioned how many picks the Browns will have among the top 50 in the upcoming NFL Draft (4). He mentioned this as a sign of hope for a franchise still searching for its first win. I laughed. In theory, that many picks at the top of the draft should translate to added talent. However, the Browns have proven themselves very capable at whiffing in the draft, even with multiple picks in the early rounds. In fact, from 2012 through 2015 the Browns had two 1st round picks in three of the four drafts over that stretch. That’s seven 1st round picks in four drafts. There are only two of those players remaining on the roster, and both were selected in the 2015 draft. That’s five 1st round picks (3 top ten picks) discarded for lack of production. That’s incredible. So yeah, four picks in the first two rounds may sound nice, but if history has taught us anything, it’s just more opportunities for the Browns to screw up.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Packers at Titans
Things aren’t going well for the Packers. I think we’ve started blaming the “lack of talent” a little too much. Green Bay’s problems run much deeper. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been the best QB in the league for almost two years. Mike McCarthy’s offense has been figured out by opposing defenses. It’s just not this year, either. After a 6-0 start to the 2015 season, the Packers have been a mediocre 8-10 since. That’s not a fluke. That’s not a rough stretch. That means your team is no good anymore. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +3

Vikings at Redskins
The NFC is a complete disaster, but in a good way. Outside of the Cowboys, the NFC is a bunch of good but not great teams beating up on each other week in and week out. The Redskins and Vikings are a perfect example of how volatile the NFC is this season. Minnesota jumped out to 5-0 before dropping their next three. Washington started out a disappointing 0-2 before reeling off four straight wins. They then went winless in their next two games. It’s not always pretty but I’m enjoying the craziness of the NFC this year. If you’re wondering, Sam Bradford was 0-2 against the Redskins last season. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins -3

Bears at Buccaneers
Political rant #1: While there are a million reasons, I think social media is one of the biggest culprits for all the hate and animosity in our country. Prior to social media, political discussions required face-to-face interaction. At the very least it was a phone conversation where both parties could hear one another. It’s a lot harder to insult someone and use horrifying language when you’re looking straight at them or can hear their voice on the other end of the line. Now, important discussions are carried out via platforms where people put on their Internet muscles and say things they’d never say to another’s face. We surrender our humanity when we use Facebook/Twitter etc… to engage in political discourse. We can’t see or hear the pain in someone’s voice. We can’t understand where anyone is coming from. We’re just one robot shouting at another, trying to make the snarkiest comment before we drop the mic. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers +1.5

Chiefs at Panthers
It’s already a long road for the Panthers to get back to the postseason. While a loss Sunday wouldn’t end their season, it would require help from within the division to extend their playoff appearance streak to four. The Chiefs are probably the hottest team in the league over the last 10 months but they’re pretty banged up and the Panthers are in desperation mode. Beating the Panthers boils down to hitting Cam Newton. After Cam takes a few licks he kind of checks out. His footwork gets sloppy, he doesn’t move well in the pocket anymore, and he forces things downfield. Newton is a great player and as tough as they come. I think four straight seasons of taking a pounding may have finally taken its toll on last season’s MVP. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -3

Falcons at Eagles
It kills me thinking about the Eagles choking away three wins. I’m not a shoulda, woulda, coulda kind of guy, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see the Eagles atop the NFC at 7-1. Which is amazing considering how much the offense lacks talent at the skills position and Wentz is fighting for his life behind a ragtag offensive line. Furthermore, the Eagles have yet to lose by more than one score and they still boast the NFL’s 3rd best point differential. I fear that all may change this week. The Eagles secondary is a disaster against the deep ball. Julio Jones is kind of good. If the Eagles get 4+ sacks, they’ll win. If not, this will be the Eagles’ most lopsided defeat of the season. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -2

Rams at Jets
Political Rant #2: If you start a Facebook post with “I never post about politics” you’re a bad person. It’s fine if you want to be like everyone else and shout things at your computer as you type with furry, but don’t pretend you’re above all the political crap by prefacing your statement with, “I don’t usually do this“ blah blah blah. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -1.5

Broncos at Saints
Drew Brees and the Saints are winning me over. The defense still isn’t great, in fact it’s pretty much awful, but the offense is real, real good. Aside from Brees, what makes that offense great is how hard it is to get them off the field. New Orleans is converting 53% of their 3rd downs. That’s tops in the NFL and almost 3.5 percentage points higher than the 2nd ranked Packers. Over their last three games, the Saints are converting 63% of their 3rd downs. Sure, they played the dreadful 49ers last week, but the Chiefs and Seahawks boast top 11 defenses (according to Football Outsiders) and the Saints still dropped 838 yards on them. I’m buying the Saints against teams with limited offenses. It’s just too hard to keep up with Brees at this point. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -2

Texans at Jaguars
Political Rant #3: Colleges and Universities excusing students from classes and delaying exams due to distress about a Presidential Election is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It’s been a decade since I was last in college, so maybe things have changed that much. Are college kids still in diapers? Do they Facetime Mommy and Daddy before bed each night? Are nightlights included in dorm rooms now? My goodness. The world is an unpredictable and scary place. If you can’t handle the results of a DEMOCRATIC PROCESS how can you handle just about anything else life throws at you? We need to bring back the draft if for no other reason than to toughen up future generations. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +1.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Cowboys at Steelers
I have a theory that has a 1.7% chance of being accurate. The Steelers knew what they were throwing out there last week in Baltimore when they started Ben Roethlisberger. As I mentioned last week, the Steelers don’t often win in Baltimore. Why not use it to knock the rust off Roethlisberger and make sure he’s as close to top form as possible for a home game against the NFC’s best? It’s a stretch, but I think we’ll see a much better performance from the Steeler offense Sunday. With the Dallas secondary a little banged up, I think a healthier and less rusty Roethlisberger can take it to an unproven Dallas defense. Or maybe this is just blind hope. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -1.5

Dolphins at Chargers
Political Rant #4: The hypocrisy this week has been top notch. The anti-Donald Trump crowd was adamant about how wrong it was to use fear and hatred as a tool to drum up support. Then Trump wins and within seconds the anti-Trump crowd reverts to fear and hatred to oppose his Presidency. Well done. Well done. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +4

49ers at Cardinals
Colin Kaepernick really blew it. He used his anthem protests to draw attention to the racial discord in this country, especially between the police and minorities. Though some were outraged and filled with hatred, many were watching where this would lead. Then Kaepernick said he didn’t vote, at all. He proved all the naysayers right. He didn’t have to vote for the established candidates (I didn’t). He could have researched his local/state candidates and identified with any one of them. If still there was nothing, he could have written in an individual who he deemed worthy of his support. That takes effort. That requires dedication to a cause, a cause we believed Kaepernick cared about. Instead he copped out. And if you watched last week’s performance against the Saints, it epitomized Kaepernick; gaudy numbers as empty and meaningless as his devotion to racial equality. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -13.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Seahawks at Patriots
The Seattle defense is a fraud, or at least it’s been for the last few weeks. Good defenses get off the field on 3rd down. In week 7 against the Cardinals, Seattle allowed Arizona to convert 48% of their 3rd down opportunities (10/21). A week later, the Saints converted 60% of their 3rd downs (9/15). Last week, the Buffalo Bills and Tyrod Taylor converted a whopping 71% of their 3rd down opportunities (12/17). The NFL average hovers around 41%. Maybe it’s the Kam Chancellor injury. I don’t know. That defense just isn’t as fearsome as it’s been. Expect Tom Brady to have his way Sunday night. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -8

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Bengals at Giants
In my Thursday Night pick I briefly referenced the percentage of passing targets the NFL’s top receivers account for on their respective teams. The numbers were impressive but none more so than AJ Green and Mike Evans. For a receiver to account for over 30% of his team’s passing targets was surprising to me. I’m all for it, too. It never makes sense to me why teams don’t look for their best offensive talent more. Could you imagine the Warriors telling Steph Curry not to shoot as much, or the Patriots running the football more because Tom Brady was throwing too much? I understand there’s value in spreading the ball around to keep the defense honest, but you do that after the defense realizes you’re going to feed your bell cow. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Pick

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 7 – 6 – 0
Season:     63 – 66 – 4

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