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Stand and Deliver. Week 7 NFL Picks

Tim Tebow’s opportunity to prove himself a worthy NFL quarterback has arrived. Will his passion and leadership translate to victories? Elsewhere, AFC South supremacy is up for grabs and the Falcons and Jets look for much-needed wins against conference foes.

Last Week:  9 – 4 – 0
Season:      57 – 34 – 0

Possibly involved in the death of Moammar Gadhafi (Bye Weeks)

Bills
At 4-2, the Bills should feel good about themselves. But not too good. Buffalo’s loss to the Bengals in Week 4 after surrendering a 17-3 halftime lead could come back to haunt them. Last week’s sloppy effort against the Giants won’t help, either.

Bengals
Remember when I predicted the Bengals would enter their bye week in 1st place of the AFC North? Well, I was off, but only by a smidge. At 4-2 the Bengals have surprised most with a stout defense and adequate quarterback play from rookie Andy Dalton. The Bengals may have had the best bye week ever, fleecing the Raiders for at least one 1st round pick and possibly another in exchange for Carson Palmer.

Patriots
The Patriots are the Patriots. They can play any style of football and win, too. Even the defense stepped up this past week. We’ve seen New England start hot and collapse in the playoffs quite often in recent years, so I’m in no rush to label them Superbowl favorites. Nonetheless, it’s hard to ignore the Patriots are the best team in the AFC. And it’s not even that close.

Giants
With St. Louis, Seattle, and Arizona in their rear view mirror, and Miami on deck in Week 8, the early schedule has been favorable to New York. Conversely, the second half of the Giants’ 2011 campaign is a gauntlet of playoff contenders. Entering the bye at 4-2 may look good, but 5-1 would’ve been more comforting. Their unexpected loss to Seattle may cost the Giants later.

Eagles
Raise your hand if you had the Eagles as the Week 7 bye team with the least amount of wins in your office pool. Regardless of their record, I’m cautiously optimistic about my Eagles. They’re slowly getting healthy, the defense looks improved (at least for one week), LeSean McCoy had 28 carries IN ONE GAME, the team appears in good spirits, and the franchise may have saved Jerome Harrison’s life. Let’s hope these trends continue.

49ers
If you need Jim Harbaugh, he’ll be down on Bourbon Street showing off his middle-aged, pleasantly plump stomach. Make sure not to chase him down, though. You wouldn’t want to look as pathetic and insecure as Jim Schwartz.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Chargers at Jets
The coaches are bickering about winning Superbowls and failing to meet obnoxious predictions. The truth is, and it wouldn’t hurt either coach to hear this, both Norv Turner and Rex Ryan are overrated. Turner took an immensely talented Charger team and underachieved for nearly half a decade. Ryan took a terrific defense and failed miserably at building even an average offense. These coaches actually need each other. If it’s rings they really want, they should swallow their pride, kiss and make up, and join forces. But then I’d only have one head coach to call overrated instead of two. So cancel that idea. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -2

Bears at Buccaneers
I’ve given up trying to figure out the Buccaneers. The Bears, on the other hand, I kinda/sorta/maybe like. They’re relentless. Despite a lousy receiving core, a confused and/or oblivious offensive coordinator, and subpar secondary, the Bears still find ways to scrape their way to wins over lesser or equal teams. I consider the Buccaneers and Bears equals. Thus, I like the dysfunctional Bears over the bi-polar Bucs. I think. Either way, the UK is in for one – insert your own hyperbole here – game. Woohoo! BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -1

Redskins at Panthers
Cam Newton hasn’t played well recently. In fact, last week he was downright bad. Carolina’s injury depleted defense doesn’t allow any room for error, so Newton must be more judicious with the football. It also wouldn’t hurt for the Panthers to unleash their running backs. I like the Panthers’ chances this week. Washington is clearly desperate. The last person to believe John Beck was a decent quarterback also selected Ted Ginn Jr. with the 9th overall pick. Hold on, are we overreacting to John Beck? The Redskins defense is good and Carolina’s is bad. Why do I want to pick the Redskins? I’m definitely going to regret this pick. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -2.5

Falcons at Lions
I haven’t been a fan of Detroit all year and I finally figured out why. They can’t convert on 3rd down. Plus, Matthew Stafford has been a little overrated. The Falcons need a win to keep pace in the NFC South. After watching Frank Gore rip through Detroit’s defense last week, expect the Falcons to try a similar approach with Michael Turner. If we’re lucky, someone will take another run at Jim Schwartz – this year’s obvious choice for “overly aggressive dude who is obviously overcompensating for something.” FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons +4.5

Seahawks at Browns
Dear Colt McCoy,
Please stop sucking. We think we can win this one.
Love,
Your Cleveland Teammates
SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks +3

Broncos at Dolphins
I’m pumped for Tim Tebow’s debut. I understand half of America is hoping he flops, but what’s not to like about the kid? He’s honest, unafraid, and hungry. We always root for scumbags, so it’d be nice to see a stand up guy succeed. On a similar note, why is it the mainstream media always makes a big stink whenever some celebrity is treated poorly because of political beliefs or sexual orientation, but when a football player is ripped and chastised for his faith no one says a peep? America: Freedom of speech to all, but only if you’re saying what certain people want to hear. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos +2

Texans at Titans
Another lackluster season may really be the best thing for the Texans. Nothing substantial is going to be built with Gary Kubiak at the helm. The sooner he’s on the street, the sooner the Texans can progress. The AFC South is a steaming pile of mediocrity that won’t be won. It will ultimately be charitably gifted to the participant that sucked the least. Here’s the first of what promises to be a very close competition to be the best lousy team in the NFL’s weakest division. Oh, sorry NFC West. I meant the NFL’s SECOND worst division. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -3

Game to Watch: Chargers at Jets
Game on Call: Texans at Titans

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chiefs at Raiders
I’ll be watching for two reasons. 1. The return of Carson Palmer. Is he really healthy and back to his old self? Or, is his arm still a noodle, and is he still afraid of contact like my son is afraid of the hairy behemoth in Monsters, Inc.? And 2. The Chiefs did an unexpected 180 in the three weeks prior to their bye. They hung with, and should have defeated the Chargers, and then rallied to defeat the Vikings and Colts. Obviously, neither Indianapolis or Minnesota is any good, but if the Chiefs have any hopes of competing in 2011, this is a must win. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs +6

Steelers at Cardinals
Pittsburgh is only a 4 point favorite against the 1-4 Cardinals. I think that says all you need to know about the Steelers’ struggles this season. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -4

Packers at Vikings
When the NFL schedule came out in the spring, this was probably the game FOX pegged for it’s premiere afternoon telecast. What they hoped would be a battle for division supremacy in the NFC North turned into Christian Ponder’s debut. I still think the Vikings are much better than their 1-5 record. At this point, though, only Jared Allen believes me. Oh well. I’m still waiting for Donovan McNabb’s “Kurt Warner” moment. You know, when he goes elsewhere next year as a backup, ends up starting, and leads his team deep into the playoffs. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -9

Rams at Cowboys
I don’t care how many of you emailed me to tell me I was crazy, I still think the Cowboys are one of the best teams in the league. Of course, if they figure out a way to lose to the Rams, I’ll gladly issue you all refunds. One of these days, Sam Bradford should do his best “rookie year Sam Bradford” impression. I think the good people of St. Louis would appreciate that. The Rams are the Cardinals biggest fans right now. As long as Albert Pujols and the Cards keep winning, the Rams’ stench gets lost in the winds of the Fall Classic. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -13

Game to Watch: Chiefs at Raiders
Game on Call: Packers at Vikings

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Colts at Saints
Week 7 isn’t the greatest slate of games the NFL has ever offered. And that’s putting it nicely. The primetime national telecasts are no exception. While Peyton Manning vs. Drew Brees is Must See TV, Curtis Painter and the 0-6 Colts against Drew Brees and an embarrassed Saints team has that blowout before halftime feel to it. But hey, at least the World Series is there to bail us out. You know, the decisive baseball series the Phillies and Red Sox spent $100 million trying to win only to embarrassingly collapse at the most crucial time? You remember now? SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts +14

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Ravens at Jaguars
It’s the NFL’s best defense squaring off against the league’s most inept offense! We’re bringing it straight to you! Tonight! On Monday Night Football! The worst part about this game is we may never see the same Blaine Gabbert ever again. Rookie quarterbacks shouldn’t have to face Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and the Raven defense at night in front of a national audience. It’s inhumane. On the other hand, a win in front of a national audience… ok, check that… an audience consisting of Maryland and the Central Florida region… could keep Jack Del Rio’s coaching career on life support for another week or so.  RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -8

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 6 – 5 – 2
Season:     43 – 42 – 5

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