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Week 14 NFL Picks

The Ravens head to New England to face off with the AFC leading Patriots. Is this a preview of another January showdown? (Photo by CHARLES TRAINOR)

[I’m sorry these picks are both late and brief and… bad. My son had off school so I spoiled him rotten instead of writing my horrible picks. I’m also rolling on 45 minutes of sleep today after my 2 year old puked all night. Really, though, what does it matter? I went 4-11 against the spread last week. I’m probably better off flipping a coin at this point and you’re better off asking someone who’s never watched a football game.]

Last Week:  7 – 8 – 0
Season:     117 – 73 – 2

Thursday Recap

Chiefs 21 at Raiders 13
Andy Reid’s formula for success worked in Philadelphia for a decade and it’s working again in Kansas City. Patient, conservative offense, bend-but-don’t-break defense, and winning the turnover battle are the foundations of Reid’s success. It’s not always fun to watch, but you have to credit Reid for “putting his players in position to win.”

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Steelers at Bills
The Bills aren’t good. Wins over Arizona, New England (3rd string QB with broken thumb), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Jacksonville. Losses against New York (Jets), Miami, New England, Seattle and Oakland. The Bills aren’t good. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -3

Broncos at Titans
This should be a really fun game. Denver needs a win to keep its slim lead over Pittsburgh and Miami in the Wildcard race. The Titans, meanwhile, can ill afford a loss, especially if the Texans beat the Colts Sunday. A Titans loss and Texans win would essentially drop the Titans two games back in the AFC South with only three weeks remaining. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos +1

Redskins at Eagles
The Eagles won’t make the playoffs for the 3rd straight year and 5th time in six seasons, so there’s nothing they could do over the final month to appease their rabid fans. However, sweeping the NFC East over the last four weeks would certainly quell the uprising that’s growing on Broad Street. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +3

Cardinals at Dolphins
The Cardinals are still lingering in the NFC Wildcard hunt. Last week against Washington was the first time we’ve seen anything resembling the Cardinals team that went to the NFC title game in 2015. This is another matchup of two teams desperate to hang on in their respective playoff chases. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -2

Chargers at Panthers
Benching Cam Newton was stupid. Allowing Newton to play out the remainder of that blowout in Seattle was also stupid. I understand what Ron Rivera was trying to do by benching Newton. He’s trying to get Newton’s attention. Someone needs to. Newton has been pretty lousy all season. He appeared to have little interest in that football game Sunday night after Seattle jumped ahead. Rivera should’ve benched Newton midway through the 3rd quarter for not giving a crap anymore. Of all the “franchise” QB guys in the league right now, I can’t think of one I’d want less than Newton after this season. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -1.5

Bengals at Browns
No thanks. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Browns +6

Bears at Lions
I’ve actually enjoyed watching Matt Barkley over the last six quarters. Though his stats don’t jump out at you, I thought he managed that snow game perfectly last week. When needed, he tossed a handful of big throws on 3rd down despite the elements. Let’s not forget Barkley was a projected top 10 pick before he returned to USC. The talent is there. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears +8

Texans at Colts
Is 2014 Andrew Luck back? Because it kind of feels like he’s back. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +6.5

Vikings at Jaguars
My eyes are burning and I’m way too lazy to research this on my own, but has any team in NFL history ever whiffed on two top 10 QB picks within a five year stretch? In all likelihood the Jaguars will have another top ten pick this spring. Do they dare take a 3rd swing at a franchise quarterback? VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -3.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Jets at 49ers
Chip Kelly should go back to Oregon. He’s beloved there. He gets complete control of his football team and gets to handpick players he wants. No more trying (and failing) to win over NFL locker rooms, no more dealing with professional divas, and most importantly of all, no more losing. What does he see in San Francisco that makes him want to be there other than the money? Couldn’t Oregon match or surpass his current salary? Outside of Carlos Hyde, is there anything on the 49ers offense that’s even remotely intriguing? We need Oregon to be great again, Chip. Go home. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -3

Saints at Buccaneers
I’m buying Tampa Bay’s defensive resurgence against limited offenses like the Chiefs and an injury-riddled Seahawks, but I don’t think they can contain elite offenses like the Saints. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints +3

Falcons at Rams
Don’t be fooled by last week’s result against one of the NFL’s hottest teams. The Falcons are still really good. Matt Ryan and the offense moved the ball at will against the Chiefs and dominated that game. A pick-six, a fake punt for a touchdown, and a two point conversion that backfired swung that game. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -6.5

Seahawks at Packers
Another great game! The Seahawks find themselves in an unexpected battle with Detroit for that two seed and 1st round bye. The Packers need wins and at least one Detroit loss to have any shot at winning the NFC North. I’ve found the Seattle secondary to be inconsistent at best unless both Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are in the lineup. With Thomas gone for the season, I think Aaron Rodgers will have his way with the Seattle defense. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers +3

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Cowboys at Giants
After the Eagles lost to the Bengals (essentially ending their playoff hopes), I wanted nothing more than for the Giants to win in Pittsburgh so this Dallas/New York matchup would mean more. Unfortunately, Eli Manning did Eli Manning things and ruined any chance of Sunday night’s showdown determining the NFC East champ. Is Eli Manning the only quarterback in history to break everyone’s heart? Also, if I’m the Cowboys I’m a little worried Eli stunk last week. Can’t imagine him being that bad in big games in consecutive weeks. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +4

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Ravens at Patriots
What a way to end the week. As I mentioned last week, the Ravens are the type of team to give the Patriots fits in the playoffs. The loss of Rob Gronkowski severely limits the potency of New England’s offense, which will already have its hands full against the NFL’s top defense. I’m guessing this won’t be the last time we see these teams play this season. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens +7

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 4 – 11 – 0
Season:     89 – 98 – 5

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