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Week 11 NFL Picks

The Baltimore Ravens should thank their lucky stars that Ben Roethlisberger will be out for Sunday night’s AFC North slugfest. Also, you’re not gonna believe this, but I like the Eagles this week. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

[Please note: I won’t be on my couch Sunday. I’ll be at the mercy of someone else’s NFL Ticket (and my wife’s desire to explore a new city). Thus, Monday’s recap will be brief, if there is one at all. I apologize to all three of my readers.]

Last Week:  10 – 3 – 1
Season:      96 – 49 – 1

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Dolphins 14 at Bills 19
The hotel I’m at doesn’t have NFL Network so I was spared another Thursday night snooze fest. However, based on his recent play and Thursday night’s box score, it appears Ryan Tannehill may have collided with the inevitable rookie wall.

Camping out for Black Friday Deals… or Twilight (Bye Week)

Titans
Early season struggles ultimately cost Tennessee a shot at the playoffs. However, the Titans will face Jacksonville twice over their final six games. If they can scrap together two wins from a four game stretch that includes the Texans, Colts (away), Jets, and Packers (away), the Titans will finish 8-8 and possibly save their coach’s job.

Vikings
I’m still down on the Vikings. There’s no way they make the playoffs. No way. I promise a 500 word apology post if I’m wrong about this.

Giants
Tom Coughlin told his players the Giants were picked as underdogs against the Thanksgiving Turkey. If the Cowboys beat the Browns this week, the Giants will undoubtedly come back from their bye in full fledged “no one believes in us,” mode.

Seahawks
Seattle is a solid playoff team at home and a below average team on the road. I like it when things are simple. Anyway, four of the Seahawks last six are very winnable games, so I’d be surprised to see this team finish worse than 10-6. And that means the Monday night fiasco will likely cost some team a playoff spot.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Cardinals at Falcons
The Atlanta pass rush has struggled over the past two weeks. Ray Edwards was even cut to give the team a kick in the rear. The Arizona offensive line has yet to stand between a pass rush and their quarterback. Enjoy the confidence boost, Atlanta. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -9.5

Browns at Cowboys
Here’s where the Cowboys playoff push finally gains a little momentum. Or, here’s where the Cowboys season completely goes up in flames. I’m leaning heavily toward “momentum building,” but this is the Cowboys. They’re usually full of surprises. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Browns +9.5

Packers at Lions
This is pretty much Detroit’s season. A loss here and the Lions playoff chances go from doubtful to nearly impossible, mainly because their schedule over the final six weeks features five playoff teams with a combined record of 35-10. Yeesh. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Packers are coming off a bye and are nearly as desperate for a win. Why? Because as long as Seattle keeps winning, the Packers are at risk of missing the playoffs for two big reasons. 1. If Seattle finishes tied with Green Bay for a Wildcard spot, that spot will go to the Seahawks because of the Seattle Screwjob. 2. If Seattle keeps winning and surpasses the 49ers, the Packers still lose the tiebreaker to the 49ers because they lost to San Francisco way back in Week 1. I think the Packers win the division, so don’t expect any of this to matter, but the aforementioned scenarios make this game important to the Packers. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -3.5

Bengals at Chiefs
Last Monday night felt like a last stand for the Chiefs. 1-15 seems inevitable now. A home game against the Panthers in Week 13 or road contests in Cleveland or Oakland in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively, could give Kansas City another victory or two, but why not secure the top pick and make management look as bad as possible? BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals -3.5

Eagles at Redskins
This is the most excited I’ve been about an Eagles game in a month. Not only do I get to watch the beginning of the Nick Foles era, but I also get to watch an entire game of Robert Griffin III without flipping between seven other games. If Mike Shanahan wants to win this game, he’ll ride Alfred Morris, not RG3. The Eagles can’t tackle. It doesn’t take much to bring down Griffin, assuming you can catch him. Conversely, Morris is a tank. He’ll run over/through/around the Eagles secondary with no problem. I don’t trust Shanahan to do the right thing. Besides, I think the Eagles offense flows better with Foles because he can read a blitz better. Also, I’m an enormous homer. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +3.5

Buccaneers at Panthers
A big deal was made of the Buccaneers defensive performance against the Chargers a week ago. It’s amazing what a gifted turnover returned for a touchdown does for perception. In reality, the Bucs allowed the Chargers to have their best offensive performance in over a month. Furthermore, the Tampa Bay offense struggled, totaling only 279 yards and was aided by a defensive touchdown and a special teams score. I like the underrated and overachieving Panthers defense for some weird reason, and I think Cam Newton has his best day of the 2012 season. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +1.5

Jaguars at Texans
I’ve stared at this game for 20 minutes trying to figure out something to say that would make this small paragraph worth reading. I just wasted your time. Sorry. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -15

Jets at Rams
I still can’t decide if the Rams deserve credit for playing the 49ers to a tie or if they deserve criticism for not winning. I’m leaning toward criticism. Not only did the Rams blow a 10 point 4th quarter lead (including two 49er touchdowns within 25 seconds of each other), but the Rams self-combusted in overtime. First, they lost an 80 yard catch and run by Danny Amendola to the San Francisco two because of an illegal formation penalty. Then, a successful 53 yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein was cancelled by a delay of game call. Zuerlein then missed from 58. I still like the Rams here, but I liked them better when they weren’t a team that shot itself in the foot. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams -3.5

Late Games (4:25PM ET)

Saints at Raiders
I’m in on the Saints beating teams they’re supposed to beat. Though their defense still stinks, Drew Brees has that magic again. New Orleans is also in full-fledged playoff mode now. One loss could end their season. The Raiders are playing out the schedule and trying to recall why they fired Hue Jackson. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -4.5

Chargers at Broncos
A month ago the Chargers blew a 24 point lead to the Broncos and turned their season on its head. Sunday will be San Diego’s last shot at a division title and possibly, the postseason. A Denver win would essentially put the Broncos up by four games with six to play. I’m going to regret this, but I think the Chargers have a little fight left in them. They deserved to win in Tampa last week but a punt block and Philip Rivers’ painfully foolish turnover sunk them. This is San Diego’s season. (Yep, I already feel awful about this pick.) CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +7.5

Colts at Patriots
The fact that this game was promoted to CBS’s Game of the Week slot is a win for Andrew Luck and the Colts organization. Anything positive that happens on Sunday is just gravy. I’ve heard some TV people point to Indy’s win over the Packers as proof the Colts could win Sunday. However, as I stated then, I felt the Packers loss was more about the Packers collapsing than a Colts comeback. Then again, the Patriots have mastered squandering 4th quarter leads, so maybe the Colts are golden. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts +9

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Ravens at Steelers
Sunday’s premiere matchup was supposed to be a battle for 1st place in the AFC North. Now, with Ben Roethlisberger out with a shoulder injury, it’s almost a forgone conclusion the Ravens will leave Pittsburgh with a two game cushion in the division. Getting ahead of myself? Perhaps, but hear me out. The Ravens are susceptible in the secondary due to injuries to Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. The Steelers greatest asset is their long list of playmakers at receiver and Roethlisberger’s ability to buy them time to get open. With Roethlisberger out, the receivers won’t be as potent. More importantly, Byron Leftwich can’t move like Roethlisberger, nor can he get rid of the football quickly. Leftwich’s slow windup and release will give the Ravens even more time to get home. Unless Pittsburgh finds a running game from yesteryear, I don’t see how the Steeler offense can do enough to win. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Bears at 49ers
Thanks to concussions to Jay Cutler and Alex Smith, we could be treated to a Jason Campbell/Colin Kaepernick showdown Monday night. While starting two backups will undoubtedly impact the offenses, this game was going to be decided by the defenses regardless. Unless Smith plays and Cutler doesn’t, I like the Bears to win. San Francisco’s defense is obviously fantastic, but Chicago’s defense creates more turnovers and scores more points. What better way to boost a sluggish offense than scoring points for them? BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; No line yet

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 9 – 5 – 0
Season:     79 – 64 – 3

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