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Week 8 NFL Picks

The Cowboys and Eagles add fresh faces to the fray when they renew what promises to be a fun rivalry Sunday Night. Also, let’s limit punts! (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Last Week: 10 – 4 – 1
Season:    62 – 44 – 1

Thursday Recap

Jaguars 22 at Titans 36
Remember yesterday how I mentioned Blake Bortles’ stats are inflated by garbage time production? Take a look for yourself. While the Titans were jumping out to a 27-0 halftime lead, Bortles went 7/16 for 64 yards. In the 2nd half, Bortles went 26/38 and threw for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns.

London (9:30AM ET)

Redskins “at” Bengals
I’m too lazy to look it up, but I’m going to blindly declare this the best game the NFL has sent overseas. It’s not a great game, but it’s a good one, one that I am actually interested in sitting down to watch. A Bengals win would send them into the bye at 4-4 and feeling good after a slow start against a tough schedule. It would also send Washington into their bye at 4-4. Though the Redskins wouldn’t feel so optimistic after dropping two in a row with the Vikings, Packers, Cowboys, Cardinals and Eagles on deck after the bye. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals -3

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Chiefs at Colts
A mind-boggling 4th quarter collapse to Brock Osweiler is all that stands between the Colts and a three game win streak. As a fan of the NFL, I’m happy to see Andrew Luck rounding back into his former self. In fact, he’s playing the best football of his career right now. Though, if the Colts continue to give up sacks at their current rate, it’s only a matter of time until Luck gets injured again. The Chiefs are tied for dead last in the NFL with only 8 sacks. Luck leads the NFL in being sacked. Someone has to be less awful Sunday. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -3

Raiders at Buccaneers
Jameis Winston looks great against bad defenses. Last week’s opponent, the 49ers, are currently ranked 30th in overall defense and 31st in points allowed. In Week 1, Winston shredded an Atlanta defense that ranks among the worst in nearly every defensive category. This week’s matchup pits Winston against the NFL’s worst ranked defense in yards allowed. On the other hand, the Raiders are 4-0 on the road. I smell a shootout. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders -1

Seahawks at Saints
There’s been a TON of backlash for the Seahawks/Cardinals 6-6 tie last week. I love an old school defensive battle but even I struggled to stay with that debacle. Since the NFL’s ratings are down, maybe they should try some new things to increase the game’s excitement and attract more viewers. Why not limit the amount of times a team can punt? If teams could only punt three times per game, offenses would be more aggressive on 3rd and longs. That would eliminate those God-awful four yard outs on 3rd and 19 that the entire league runs these days. Limited punts would likely increase scoring, too, as teams would have better field position on a more frequent basis. I don’t know, maybe it’s a dumb idea, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add another element of strategy and excitement to a sport with cratering ratings. By the way, isn’t it great how a tie can be absorbed in drastically different ways? I’m totally projecting here, but I imagine the Seahawks were pretty thrilled with a tie given their performance and I can’t help but think the Cardinals were devastated. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -3

Lions at Texans
To no one’s surprise, Houston really misses JJ Watt. That defense just isn’t the same without the front seven wreaking havoc at the line of scrimmage. Their run defense is in the bottom five of the league, dropping from the top ten the last two seasons. More importantly, their turnovers are way down, 2nd worst in the NFL in fact. Overall, Houston is still a fine defense but that team thrived off of opportunities the defense created. Those opportunities haven’t been there this year. Though the Texans are 4-0 at home, I like how this Lions team keeps scrapping together wins. With Brock Osweiler afraid to throw the football 10 yards downfield, I don’t see why Detroit can’t steal a victory here. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions +2

Jets at Browns
Ryan Fitzpatrick is back under center and the Browns will likely go through two more quarterbacks before the final whistle blows Sunday. But enough about this game, can we talk about why the Atlanta Falcons ignore Julio Jones for long stretches? In the 1st half last week the Falcons built a 27-10 lead by feeding Jones. He finished the half with 5 receptions and 107 yards. Over the next 29 minutes and 49 seconds, while the Falcons were squandering their lead into a 30-30 tie, Jones had only 2 receptions for 32 yards. In the final 11 seconds of regulation, with the Falcons scrambling to get into field goal range, Jones had two big catches (both in heavy traffic) for 35 yards and gave the Falcons a shot at a game-winning 58 yard field goal. The Steelers never stop feeding Antonio Brown. I’ve never understood why the Falcons ignore Julio Jones for stretches. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet

Patriots at Bills
Is there any doubt the Patriots win by multiple scores? Let’s see… the Patriots hate Rex Ryan. Check. The Patriots were shut out by Buffalo in their first meeting this season. Check. Tom Brady missed that game. Check. Rob Gronkowski essentially missed that game. Check. Bill Belichick does vengeance better than anyone in the league. Check. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -6

Cardinals at Panthers
Rant time. Let’s visit the election again. Donald Trump is a reprehensible human. It’s hard to refute such a point. With that said, I find that talk shows, news coverage, media personalities, etc. have gone too far in mocking Trump. Let’s not forget, as hard as it may be to believe, Trump is a human being. It’s funny that while we despise Trump for his ignorance and childish behavior toward others we often use that same behavior in ridiculing him. Let’s just pretend for a minute that Trump was black, or a woman. Would we grant the media carte blanche in dehumanizing him as viciously as we have now? Yes, Trump is a punch line. Yes, he acts like a buffoon. No, I do not support him. However, if we continue to attack and mock him with the same malice we attribute to him, how much different are we from the person we despise? (I’m taking the Panthers off the bye because I’m banking on Arizona being physically and emotionally down after last week’s disappointing tie. I regret this pick already.) PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -3

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chargers at Broncos
I’d like to stop for a minute and praise some of the stellar uniforms in action last week. The Dolphins and Falcons sported beautiful throwback jerseys. I’m not even sure why either team has updated uniforms. The old ones were perfect. The Eagles also deserve a hat tip for going all black. Only the Ravens of the Ray Lewis years do all black better than the Eagles. Anyway, I really want to pick the Chargers here. I haven’t been impressed with the Broncos since Week 3. I’m going for it. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +5

Packers at Falcons
I’m in the minority here, but I liked Dan Quinn’s decision to go for it on 4th and 1 in overtime from his own 45 yard line. If you watched the 2nd half of that game, you know the Chargers were having their way against the Atlanta defense. San Diego had scored on four of their last five drives. A Falcons punt there would have likely led to the same outcome. Atlanta’s best chance was scoring a touchdown to win the game. Now here’s where I’m open to criticizing Quinn’s decision; the play calls on 3rd and 4th down were terrible. The Falcons took 3rd and 1 for granted and attempted a casual QB sneak to pick up the 1st down. It failed. At this point I think Atlanta should have looked for Julio Jones. I know, 99% of the time I’d also opt for running the ball on 4th and 1, but Julio Jones can get open anytime he wants off the line of scrimmage. He’s just too big. Anyway, that’s two weeks in a row a Matt Ryan interception late in the 4th quarter has cost Atlanta a victory. What’s worse is the Falcons had a lead in both scenarios. While I’m not totally buying the Packers offense as “back” after last week’s performance, they shouldn’t get much resistance from one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Regardless, I banking on Atlanta’s desperation to avoid a three game skid here. The Packers banged up secondary should also make for an explosive day for the Falcon offense. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -3

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Eagles at Cowboys
Bennie Logan is out for the Eagles. That’s a really, really, REALLY big problem. Logan is key to the Eagles run defense. Without him, teams can double Fletcher Cox without a second thought. It doesn’t help that the Eagles sport an undersized group of linebackers that have struggled with tackling this year. If the Eagles have any hope of winning they’ll need to force Dallas into passing situations on 3rd down and pressure Dak Prescott into costly mistakes. Of course that’s easier said than done. Of quarterbacks to start every game for their team this season, only Derek Carr has been sacked less than Prescott. On the flip side, I think Dallas’ defense is vulnerable, so if Carson Wentz would like to break out of his two game mini slump, Sunday night would be the right time. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Vikings at Bears
Jay Cutler is this generations Jeff George; so much talent yet so little winning. While the Bears aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be this season, it’s hard to be excited about the future without a reliable piece under center. I’m expecting a blowout here. The Vikings were embarrassed last week. They’ll make sure it won’t happen again. Though it won’t matter against the Bears, the Vikings need to find some semblance of a running game. You can’t rank 31st in the league in total offense if you have championship aspirations. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -6

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 10 – 5 – 0
Season:    50 – 53 – 4

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