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Week 13 NFL Picks

The Giants are doing that thing the Giants do where they keep winning and no one really understands why it’s happening. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Week 11: 10 – 4 – 0
Last Week:  13 – 3 – 0
Season:     110 – 65 – 2

Thursday Recap

Cowboys 17 at Vikings 15
The Cowboys did their best impersonation of the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night. Penalties negated big plays, the offense was stuck in mud, and just an overall sloppiness all night long. Dallas’ saving grace was that the Vikings were somehow sloppier and more inept offensively. Regardless, us Eagle fans rejoice because the Vikings move down the NFC standings and more importantly, climb higher in the draft.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Chiefs at Falcons
For the record, I’m going to declare the Chiefs winners of the AFC West and the Falcons the NFC South champ. I really like both of these teams. The Chiefs are built to go win anywhere, which is pretty amazing considering two of their top three offensive weapons have missed a combined 11 games this season. I can’t really say the same about the Falcons. Understandably, their three worst offensive outings of the season have come against the Broncos, Seahawks and Eagles (all top 10 defenses). They’re 1-2 in those games. All three were away from the confines of the Georgia Dome, though, so I think Sunday will be a different story. After a big division win in an extremely physical and violent game, traveling to take on one of the league’s best offenses isn’t ideal. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -4.5

Lions at Saints
Detroit is 6-1 over their last seven games and the Saints are a blocked extra point from 6-2 over their last eight. Raise your hand if you had either of these teams in the playoff hunt as the calendar turned to December. Also, New Orleans’ defense hasn’t been as horrible of late. In fact, they haven’t surrendered more than 23 points in any of their last five games, lowering their season average to 27.9 points per game (yikes). SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -5.5

Rams at Patriots
While I understand the Rob Gronkowski injury is a devastating blow to the Patriots, I don’t believe all hope is lost. With the AFC South and AFC North leaders trailing by three in the wins column, the Patriots are all but guaranteed a bye in the AFC. Furthermore, with how competitive the AFC West will be down the stretch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see New England maintain the top seed. The Patriots could finish 11-5 without Tom Brady. My guess is 12-4 or 13-3 is more likely. Meanwhile, Oakland must play three division games on the road while hosting the Bills and Colts, so I don’t think they’ll catch the Patriots. Are we even sure Oakland is the biggest threat to New England? Assuming the AFC South winner falls in the opening round, I’d argue Oakland is New England’s preferred Divisional Round foe. Oakland’s defense is horrible. Wouldn’t Bill Belichick opt for the poor defense and playoff newbie offense as opposed to the stout defense and grind it out offense type of teams that have given the Patriots playoff fits over the last half decade? The Chiefs, Broncos and Ravens all play a similar style to those Jets, Ravens and Giants teams that knocked out the Patriots in recent postseasons. While Pittsburgh lacks a good defense, the threat of Ben Roethlisberger and that offense in the postseason wouldn’t be ideal either. It’s way too early for any of this but I still maintain Oakland is the least of New England’s problems. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -13

Broncos at Jaguars
I, like Cris Collinsworth, thought last Sunday’s battle between the Broncos and Chiefs was awesome. In fact, I thought it was the best game of the season (and certainly my favorite). Yes, the offenses struggled at times, especially throughout the 1st half. However, I credit defensive dominance for the struggling offenses and low scoring output. It’s rare to see a game nowadays with the intensity and violence that was on display in Denver. I know I’m in the growing minority here, but football isn’t supposed to be basketball, where teams fly up and down scoring points at will. Violent resistance is what makes football great. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -6

Texans at Packers
Allow me to use this space to outline the bleak playoff chances of the Eagles. There are currently ten teams in the NFC with five to seven wins. The Eagles have the worst conference record of that group and are currently 0-3 in the division (those are generally the first tiebreakers used depending on the opponent). More importantly, the Eagles own zero head-to-head tiebreakers over any of the Wildcard contenders other than Minnesota. Furthermore, the Buccaneers and Saints both sit three games ahead of the Eagles in the loss column within the conference. That means for the Eagles to even control their playoff destiny, they’d need two consecutive weeks of every team ahead of them losing. It’s amazing a team that started 3-0 is all but eliminated from the playoffs eight weeks later. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -7

Eagles at Bengals
The missed blow to the head call on Sam Bradford at the end of the Thursday night game is getting a lot of attention. I’m not bothered as much by the officials not throwing a flag there as I am by the fact that if it were Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in that situation a flag would have absolutely been thrown. Carson Wentz and the Eagles didn’t receive a flag against the Giants last month when Wentz was hit on the head in the exact fashion Bradford was Thursday night. Yet, when Fletcher Cox’s left arm made contact with Aaron Rodgers’ upper chest and slid into his neck a flag was thrown and a 15 yard penalty assessed. Of those three plays, the strike to Rodgers’ chest was the LEAST “flagable” offense. The NFL continues to ruin football by aggressively protecting the elite, immobile quarterbacks and obsessing over ticky-tack infractions in the secondary while mostly ignoring holding penalties against pass rushers. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +1

Dolphins at Ravens
I love John Harbaugh. Justin Tucker is absolutely great at what he does. Campaigning that a kickoff through the uprights should count for one point is dumb though. Really dumb. I was embarrassed for both of them. How about we not give the kickers any more power in swinging outcomes? Don’t they have enough? RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +3.5

49ers at Bears
Chip Kelly did a lot to scuttle the Philadelphia Eagles organization. His free agent signings were garbage. His trades were disasters. His draft resume over those three years is full of land mines and booby traps. Fittingly, Kelly will face off against one of his failed draft picks that may not be such a failure after all. While he wasn’t Tom Brady, Matt Barkley had the most promising start of his NFL career last week, throwing for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he threw two interceptions, he also rallied the Bears back from a 27-7 deficit, and if not for some laughable drops, would have completed the rally and won the game with his fourth touchdown toss on the day. While I have no idea what their relationship was or is like, I’m guessing Barkley would like to stick it to the coach that traded him away after only two seasons. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears +1

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Bills at Raiders
Rex Ryan reminds me a little of Donald Trump, so let’s use this space to rant on Trump’s declaration that those who burn the American flag should be put in jail or have their citizenship revoked. As I’ve said a number of times, I refused to vote for Trump or Clinton. However, I was among the crowd that believed Trump would cut the crap after winning the election and become a more decent, reasonable human being. I’m losing hope by the day. Burning the flag, while ignorant and stupid, is freedom of expression. If he’s willing to revoke that freedom, where will he stop? BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +3.5

Giants at Steelers
Every day this week I woke up and laughed that the Giants had the NFL’s 5th best record. How did that happen? The Giants are the strangest team. While no one really believes they’re as good as their 8-3 record, absolutely no one wants to see them in the postseason, especially the Cowboys. Eli Manning continues to underachieve while overachieving. He’s a miracle and a disaster wrapped into one. He’s a “miraster” or a “disacle.” The Giants have no business winning this game… which means they most assuredly will. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +6

Redskins at Cardinals
The NFL’s top ranked defense and 9th ranked offense is pointing fingers with a record of 4-6-1. Tensions between coach and players are nearing a boiling point. I love stats, but file this one away in the “stats can be misleading” department. Also, I hate that the Redskins and Cowboys are so much fun this year while an Eagles game is like watching your dog poop on the floor over and over. REDKSINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +2.5

Buccaneers at Chargers
It’s the fourth month of the season and I still can’t figure out Tampa Bay. Some weeks the Buccaneers are an offensive powerhouse with a lousy defense and other weeks the defense looks impenetrable while the offense is self-combusting. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -3.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Panthers at Seahawks
The Panthers are a model of consistency this season. Play bad, play well, choke away lead, toss in poor coaching decisions, and lose game. Ron River chasing points on three consecutive extra points was a disaster last week. Everyone and their mother knew it was a mistake as it was happening. You don’t fix a mistake by making another. You think old River Boat Ron missed those three points he surrendered when he had the football with a minute left trailing by three? My son gets mad whenever teams punt, kick extra points or run the football. He loved everything Rivera did last Sunday in Oakland. My son is six years old and thinks he can hold his breath underwater for 178 seconds. He’s not the ally you want, Ron. Do better. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +7

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Colts at Jets
I don’t quite understand why the scheduling of Thursday Night Football is so difficult to solve. It’s pretty clear the Thursday night product is garbage in terms of quality of play. It’s also pretty clear the NFL wants to keep the Thursday night package. I can’t imagine the NFL moving backwards in terms of programming and revenue. Therefore, why not use the 18 week schedule someone (I think Bill Simmons) laid out a few years ago? It’s easy. All you do is extend the season by one week and give each team two bye weeks. Each team will then play on Thursday night coming off a bye week. It not only keeps the Thursday night package, but also makes it better AND improves the overall health of players by adding that 2nd bye week. What am I missing here? JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets +1.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Week 11: 8 – 5 – 1
Last Week: 7 – 9 – 0
Season:     85 – 87 – 5

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