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Week 13 NFL Picks

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers need a win to keep pace with the Bears and hold onto their playoff spot. Elsewhere, RG3 makes a push for the NFC East and the Broncos go for seven in a row. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Last Week:  6 – 10 – 0
Season:      111 – 64 – 1

Thursday Recap

Saints 13 at Falcons 23
If you missed Thursday’s game, it went something like this: The Falcons controlled the game early. Drew Brees looked out of sorts, throwing two interceptions. Of the Saints first five drives, only one went for more than 19 yards and that one drive ended with an interception. Then, with about eight minutes to go in the 1st half, Brees found a rhythm and the Falcons fell asleep with a 17-0 lead. It was 17-7 with the Saints about to score again just before the half. The Saints scored but a penalty nullified the touchdown. Brees then managed the clock like Andy Reid and allowed time to expire before the Saints could even muster a field goal. Still, the Saints retained momentum, kicking field goals on their first two drives of the 2nd half. I should also mention Lance Moore dropped an easy touchdown pass prior to one of those field goals. If you’re keeping track, the Saints were a stupid penalty and a dropped pass from leading 21-17. Instead, they trailed 13-17. Anyway, the Falcons went three and out for the fifth drive in a row and New Orleans seemed poised to take control of a game the Falcons wanted no business winning. And then Brees through another interception. I stopped watching right there. Even though it was still a one-possession game, you could just tell the Saints blew the game. It was over. Brees would go on to finish with 5 interceptions and the Falcons again won a football game despite playing like garbage. The Saints are dead. The Falcons are frauds.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Jaguars at Bills
Jason Babin said he wanted to play for a winner. Instead he ended up on a team with more losses and fewer wins than the team he departed. This is cruel justice for an overrated player with no other thought than crushing the quarterback. Sniff out a screen pass? I’d rather not. Offsides on critical 3rd downs? I’m too excited about hitting the quarterback. Stop the run? Nah, not my game. Endless spin moves despite ineffectiveness? It’s my go-to move. I’d love to congratulate the Eagles, but removing Babin from the defense needed to happen five weeks ago. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills -6

Seahawks at Bears
If you noticed, my picks were downright deadly last week. If you followed them, you’re likely now homeless or living in your parent’s basement. My apologies. One should never pick games on fewer than 12 hours of sleep in four days. “I got to do a better job there.” Anyway, the one thing I did get right last week was picking the Bears because Jay Cutler played. Is Cutler that good? No, but Brandon Marshall is. Cutler is competent enough to get Marshall the football. Jason Campbell is not. In fact, I could probably make a reasonably convincing case that Marshall deserves to be in the league MVP discussions. He IS the Bears offense. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -4

49ers at Rams
I feel bad for Alex Smith. I really do. The guy’s been dumped on his entire career. Sometimes he’s earned it, but not this time. On the other hand, I understand the move. No one was scared of the 49ers with Smith under center. Colin Kaepernick gives the offense an explosive element that gives defensive coordinators nightmares. Is everyone a little too giddy about Kaepernick’s performance against a lousy Saints defense last week? Absolutely. There’s film of Kaepernick now, so don’t expect it to be this easy every week. In fact, I think he’ll struggle this week and throw San Francisco into a full-blown quarterback controversy extravaganza. I can’t wait. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +9

Patriots at Dolphins
The Patriots have been the most consistent and dominate team in the NFL over the past month. They’re averaging more than 45 points per game over that span. Even the defense has started contributing. I’m 85% of the way to declaring the Patriots the best team in the AFC. A win in Miami against a feisty and desperate Dolphins team could push me to 92%. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -9

Cardinals at Jets
Let me use this worthless game to make excuses for the lack of production from this blog in recent weeks. 1. I’ve spent 11 of the past 17 nights away from my house. 2. My wife is interviewing for medical residencies, which means I’m on solo dad duty to two kids waaayyy too often. 3. I’m trying to figure out how I want to revamp the weekly recap post. I hate hate hate the current format. It’s a miserable experience every Sunday night into Monday morning. 4. It’s the Holidays. I get distracted easily. 5. It’s hard to write when the Eagles are this bad. 6. You don’t care, do you? 7. Sorry. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -4.5

Colts at Lions
The Lions are done. Considering Detroit isn’t a poster child for mature, unwavering veterans, I’m guessing they start mailing it in anytime now. Conversely, the Colts lead the AFC Wildcard race and have rallied around their ailing coach and rookie quarterback. This is a big game for the Colts. The Colts are 2-3 on the road and both wins came against the cellar dwellers of the AFC South. They obviously won’t win the division, so Indy will be on the road throughout most of the postseason. A nice road win would be a huge confidence boost. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts +5

Vikings at Packers
Green Bay really, really, really needs this win. I though Green Bay packed it in last Sunday night in New York. I guess winning five in a row is exhausting. Two reasons why the Packers must… I repeat MUST… win this game. 1. The Vikings trail Green Bay in the standings by only one game. Obviously, a Minnesota wins catapults them ahead of the Packers with the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Packers can also likely kiss the division title goodbye with a loss. 2. Due to the Seattle Screwjob, the Packers would be in real danger of missing the playoffs altogether with a loss. Not only would Minnesota jump ahead of the Packers, but Seattle would too with a win over Chicago. I know Green Bay’s banged up, but Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league. Find a way. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -8

Texans at Titans
Not sure what to make of the Texans recent struggles. Has Houston stolen games they were destined to lose and will now move forward with added momentum? Or, were those close victories over bad teams foreshadowing the Texans descent? Houston is too good and too balanced to fall off the map, but they do have an identity crisis. Matt Schaub has thrown the football 55 and 48 times in the Texans last two outings. Sure, overtimes account for the drastic change from his typical 25-34 range, but 15-20 more throws per game is significant even with added playing time. Arian Foster is the Texans meal ticket. Schaub is a capable quarterback but he won’t lead your team deep into the playoffs. Maybe Gary Kubiak is keeping Foster fresh and thus limiting his carries. I don’t know. All I know is the Texans are a better team when the football is on the ground in Arian Foster’s hands. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -6.5

Panthers at Chiefs
The Chiefs are going to win again at some point, right? The Panthers are coming off a national televised win AND Cam Newton’s best performance of his young NFL career. It seems like this would be one the Chiefs could win. Then again, the Panthers have been a resilient group on the road, sporting a 2-3 record with those three losses by a combined nine points to the Buccaneers, Falcons, and Bears. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -3

Late Games (4:25PM ET)

Buccaneers at Broncos
The Buccaneers blew a huge opportunity to strengthen their playoff chances by letting the Falcons off the hook last week. Now they travel to Denver to face the red hot Broncos. It seems unlikely the Broncos run the table and finish the season on a 11 game win streak, but it’s hard to pick when they’ll fall. Tampa Bay’s defense isn’t good enough to beat Peyton Manning on the road. Tampa’s best shot is a big day from Doug Martin and resorting to the way teams used to beat Manning; by keeping him off the field. I don’t see it happening, and I don’t see the Ravens taking out the Broncos, either, so that leaves Oakland, Cleveland, and Kansas City to stop Denver’s winning ways. Maybe the 11 game win streak is more likely than not. For the Buccaneers, a loss Sunday could be devastating if the Vikings, Seahawks and Redskins all win. Fortunately, both Minnesota and Seattle will likely lose and the Giants appear motivated again, so the Redskins could be in for a long night, too. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -7

Browns at Raiders
To think some people picked the Raiders as a Wildcard team. Even the Browns think the Raiders are a dysfunctional, embarrassing franchise. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; No line

Bengals at Chargers
As the Chargers and Norv Turner head into the home stretch of their time together, let’s remember the 2012 season as the year San Diego finally overcame their annual September struggles. We don’t even have to include how they collapsed to a 1-6 record in October and November. At the end of the road, you focus on the positives. You should know I don’t trust the Bengals. I don’t really know why, just a gut feeling. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +1.5

Steelers at Ravens
If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough to play and play adequately, then I can’t wait to watch this rivalry. If Big Ben is out again, then I’m out, too. No one is more pissed about Roethlisberger’s injury than the Bengals. Cincinnati was counting on Pittsburgh to beat Baltimore at least once, if not twice over their two meetings within a month. Instead, Baltimore got off easy by playing the Steelers minus their best player. If the Steeler offense and their seven turnovers couldn’t get it done against the Browns, I doubt they’ll find success in Baltimore, even if Baltimore’s defense is subpar this year. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; No line

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Eagles at Cowboys
I understand the outcry about the NFL not flexing this game out of the Sunday night slot, but I am one fan who’s glad they didn’t. I don’t care how bad the Eagles are; I love watching them, especially in prime time against the hated Cowboys. If Reid has one last trick up his sleeve before he’s handed his walking papers, I hope and pray it’s to finish 3-0 against the division over the final month of the season. Reid dominated the NFC East throughout his tenure. What better way to go out than to do it one last time. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +10

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Giants at Redskins
Speaking of the NFC East… The Redskins still have a reasonably decent shot at winning the division. They’d need to win Monday night, of course, but hear me out. If the RobertGriffinSkins pull the upset against the Giants, they’d trail New York by only one game in the standings (7-5 vs. 6-6). The Giants remaining schedule is nasty; NO, @ATL, @BAL, PHI. Washington’s isn’t great, either, but it’s slightly better; BAL, @CLE, @PHI, DAL. The Giants ALWAYS struggle against the Eagles and travel to Atlanta and Baltimore while the Redskins get Baltimore at home and go to Cleveland. It’s possible and maybe even likely the Redskins can pick up another game over the final four weeks to force a tie. Then again, this is the Giants we’re talking about. As soon as they need a win, they’ll turn into the best team in football. Forget this whole paragraph. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -2.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 3 – 12 – 1
Season:     88 – 83 – 5

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