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Time to Dance. Week 13 NFL Picks

Ray Lewis knows December is when contenders dance and pretenders leave the floor. In a clash of NFL titans, the four best teams in football go head to head in two highly anticipated division battles with heavy playoff implications. The playoff push is officially on.

Last Week:  9 – 7 – 0
Season:     109 – 72 – 0

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Texans at Eagles
Last time Andy Reid and the Eagles played on Thursday night following an ugly loss, they blew out the Arizona Cardinals. While I’m hoping for a similar performance tonight, Arian Foster gives me doubts. He’s the NFL’s leading rusher and his role in the passing game increases every week. In case you’ve somehow missed Philadelphia’s linebackers hopelessly trailing opposing running backs and tight ends all season, let me remind you; Eagle linebackers (ok, mostly Stewart Bradley) are weak in pass coverage. If Asante Samuel sits out, my apprehension escalates tenfold. With that said, the Texan defense ranks 31st against the pass, so Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin should have their way with the Houston secondary. The Eagles should be motivated after last week’s embarrassing loss in Chicago, and the game is in Philadelphia where temperatures will hover around freezing. So maybe there’s nothing to worry about. By the way, did you known Sean McDermott also plays tight end for the New England Patriots? Me neither. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -8.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Redskins at Giants
Donovan McNabb always found a way to beat the Giants as an Eagle. It’s doubtful he’ll be able to continue that success as a Redskin, at least this year. McNabb is playing with a 3rd string running back, an over-the-hill #1 receiver, and an offensive line that’s as effective as a mesh umbrella. Despite the coaching change, new coordinators, and position upgrades, the Redskins are almost the same team they were under Jim Zorn – little talent, no heart, poor coaching. This is a big game for the Giants. A loss would drop them to 1-3 in the division and would significantly increase their chances of missing the playoffs altogether. The sooner Eli Manning gets Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks back, the better off New York will be. Until then, it will be up to the defense to keep winning. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +7

Broncos at Chiefs
The highly anticipated “finger wagging revenge” game. I expected the Broncos to improve following their thrashing of the Chiefs a few weeks ago. To no one’s surprise, I was wrong. The Broncos got smoked by the Chargers in front of a national audience and fell to the inexperienced Rams in Denver. Kansas City hasn’t forgotten the 49 point beating the Broncos put on them in their first meeting. However, the Broncos are so bad right now; the Chiefs should win just by showing up. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -9

Jaguars at Titans
With Kerry Collins back at quarterback, the Titans will once again resemble a playoff team. Although Collins’ return is a big addition to Tennessee, they’ll need to get Chris Johnson going if they want any chance of winning the division. We’re 12 weeks into the season and I still have no read on the Jaguars. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they inconsistent? Are they about to collapse? I haven’t got the slightest clue. Regardless, the Titans are extremely desperate and need to make their fans forget about the Vince Young controversy and Cortland Finnegan’s underwhelming boxing debut last week against Andre Johnson. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Available Yet

49ers at Packers
You know you’re in the NFC West when …You’re 4-7 and a game out of first in the division. …You face a division rival on Monday Night football and no one cared before, or after the game until the opposing quarterback threw a temper tantrum. …When you start a quarterback claimed off waivers over two former #1 overall picks. …When a potential division champion travels to face another potential division champion and is still a double digit dog. Yep, the 49ers epitomize the NFC West. Despite an unfortunate loss last week, I still consider the Packers the best team in the NFC. I welcome any arguments, but you can’t convince me otherwise. Aaron Rodgers is the top quarterback in the conference and I’ll take Green Bay’s defense over anyone else’s with the possible exception of the Giants’ D. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -10

Browns at Dolphins
I was amped to see how Cleveland fans would respond to LeBron James’ return Thursday night. I must say, I was disappointed. TNT broadcasted LeBron’s exit from the tunnel and the arena booed, but it was less intense than I expected. A few moments later, it was over. With the exception of a few “a-hole” chants, LeBron went through pregame warm-ups in front of a relatively quiet crowd. Some clever chants erupted throughout the game, but LeBron got the best of Cleveland in his homecoming. However, LeBron once again proved his ignorance when he spoke about “continuing his greatness” in a postgame interview. Remind me again what he’s won? Some people never learn. As for football analysis, I hope Colt McCoy plays on Sunday. Otherwise, the Browns are fish food. (Get it? Oh wait, Dolphins are mammals.) DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley; Browns +4.5

Bills at Vikings
Brett Favre thinks he’s God. Stevie Johnson blames God for dropped passes. This should be fun. Maybe we’ll even see a plague or two inside the Metrodome to punish Johnson. The Vikings look like the token, “we stunk for a while but we’re making a frantic push for the playoffs and it’s going to scare the crap out of everyone who could meet us in the playoffs,” team. The Steelers did it last year; the Vikings will do it in 2010. Brett Favre won’t win a Superbowl, but he’ll ride off into the sunset with a better legacy than the one he had a month ago. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -6

Bears at Lions
I think the Lions are going to win, but I can’t decide which reason I like the best. Here they are: 1. Because I expect the Bears to come out flat against a weaker opponent after such a big victory over Philly. 2. Because Jay Cutler is due for a stinker and the Lions are due for a win. 3. I’m exceptionally bitter about the Bears beating my Eagles last week. On second thought, I like all three. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions +3.5

Saints at Bengals
Chad Ochocinco is engaged to be married, the Bengals are destined for another blackout, and Carson Palmer and Marvin Lewis’ days in Cincinnati appear numbered. Who could have foreseen these events in September? Currently riding an eight game losing streak, the Bengals will face one of the NFL’s hottest teams in the Saints. I find it hard to believe the Bengals will finish the season on a 13 game skid, but their remaining schedule isn’t conducive to an easy win. They’ll either beat the Saints on Sunday or the Browns in two weeks. I’m going with a win over the Browns in two weeks. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +7

Game to Watch: Redskins at Giants
Game on Call: Jaguars at Titans

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Raiders at Chargers
Philip Rivers had Vincent Jackson back for less than a quarter. Not that it matters, because Rivers has proven his ability to win with Joe Schmo running routes, but still. The Chargers are going to need Jackson at some point, especially with the status of Antonio Gates fluctuating on a weekly basis. What gets lost in all the hoopla surrounding Rivers’ quest to surpass Dan Marino’s single season record for passing yards is the magnificent play of the San Diego defense. The Charger defense is more balanced than any in the NFL. They’re the only defense ranked in the top three in passing yards against per game (2nd) and rushing yards against per game (3rd). In fact, no other defense in the NFL ranks within the top ten in both categories except for the Giants (1st in pass and 9th in rush). Forget about the Steeler, Raven, and Jet defenses come playoff time. The Charger defense is the one to avoid. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -13

Panthers at Seahawks
The Seahawks went from a good team at home to a bad team everywhere. If I had the stones, I’d pick the Panthers to win. I don’t, so I won’t. Carolina fans should be feeling a little more optimistic about their franchise, though. Jimmy Clausen is finally, albeit slowly, settling in at quarterback. He’s not Sam Bradford, but he improves little by little every week. The Panthers have also made the most of injuries by uncovering reliable contributors like running back Mike Goodson and giving extended auditions to young receivers Brandon LaFell and David Gettis. The Carolina defense is young and good enough to win now, so, despite the team’s struggles this season, Carolina is only a passing game away from competing again. On a totally unrelated note, how angry do you think Panther fans get when broadcasters praise Julius Peppers’ “motor” and “desire”? Obviously, Peppers is having a great year in Chicago, but the dude dogged it throughout his last two seasons in Carolina. He made a fool of the defense, the franchise, and himself. True all-pros bring it regardless of their team’s record. Peppers is a front runner. I hope the Bears miss the playoffs solely because of him. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -6

Falcons at Buccaneers
As you know, I’ve been hesitant to consider both teams legitimate contenders. Last week, the Falcons proved that I’m a complete idiot. Here’s Tampa Bay’s chance to do the same. In my defense, the Buccaneers have yet to defeat an opponent with a winning record, so my doubts have been confirmed thus far. Even though the Falcons are a division rival, I can’t see Tampa Bay stealing a win here. Actually, I think this is where the wheels begin to fall off for the Buccaneers. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -3

Rams at Cardinals
Just so you know, Derek Anderson puts his heart and soul into this sh**. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, that isn’t enough. Anderson’s sideline giggle and postgame rant on Monday night combined for his best performance of the season. Arizona won’t compete again until they find a capable quarterback. St. Louis found their quarterback at the top of the 2010 draft in Sam Bradford, and that’s why the Rams will beat the Cardinals on Sunday… and a majority of times over the next decade. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams -3.5

Cowboys at Colts
Indianapolis could use an easy win. If this game were played a month or two ago, they’d of had it. Now, the Cowboys are one of the hotter teams in the NFL. If not for a boneheaded Roy Williams fumble, Dallas would be riding a three game winning streak. Makes you wonder where the Cowboys (and Vikings) would be had coaching changes been made a few weeks earlier. Regardless, I expect the Cowboys to do a lot of spoiling over the final month of the season. After losing three of four, and with three of their final four games played within the division, the Colts could certainly use a win. Although a loss wouldn’t doom the Colts (because they’re only shot at the playoffs is to win the division), some breathing room over the Titans and Jaguars would be nice (assuming Jacksonville loses on Sunday). I want to pick the Cowboys but Manning is due for a lights out performance. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -5.5

Game to Watch: Falcons at Buccaneers
Game on Call: Raiders at Chargers

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Steelers at Ravens
The week 13 night caps make up for an underwhelming Sunday slate. I can’t think of two games I’d rather see. Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore is one of my favorite matchups. You won’t find a harder hitting game in the NFL. Even fans leave the stadium bruised. I sure hope the Ravens pull out the all black uniforms (most intimidating uniforms in football). With that said, I like the Steelers. I’m still not overly impressed with the Raven offense and I like the Steelers ability to grind out wins. However, if Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t play, or reports of a broken bone in his foot are true, then I like the Ravens. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers +3

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Jets at Patriots
In my opinion, this AFC East clash is an even bigger game than the AFC North battle on Sunday night. The Jets and Patriots hate each other just as much as the Steelers and Ravens. Only, the Jets and Patriots are significantly more public with their disdain. There’s also slightly more at stack in this one. The winner would stand alone atop the AFC with the inside track to the number one playoff seed. The loser would find themselves in the fifth or sixth playoff position. Division rivals, Superbowl contenders, deep-seeded hatred, playoff positioning at stake, cold weather, under the Monday Night lights? This could be epic. In the words of Triple D’s Guy Fieri, “That’s the corner of delicious and juicy right in the middle of flavortown.” Needless to say, I can’t wait. By the way, I’m flipping a coin for my pick. Heads – Jets, Tails- Patriots. And… it’s tails. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets +3.5

*****

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m doing horribly this season. I’m a handicapped handicapper. Last week I went 2-14 against the spread. (Holla!) I’ve also had a losing record in seven of the past eight weeks. In my defense, though, a good handicapper is consistent. I’m consistently bad. Who says a successful handicapper must tell you who to pick? If they’re consistently bad, like me, why can’t they do the opposite? Finding someone who always makes the wrong picks is just as helpful as someone who always makes the right ones.

Last Week: 2 – 14 – 0
Season:    73 – 98 – 5

(Lines as of 12/2, 6:40PM ET, from bodog)

3 Comments

  1. younger brother

    Your point about the Bears has been mine since the season began. Friends ask me why I hate the Bears and my response is a simple two-word answer: Julius Peppers!
    As for your NFC favorite right now, I have to disagree and go with the Falcons. I know you hate all that is the NFC South, but they know how to win (regardless of what the Packers did to help). Good teams take advantage of the opportunities given them and right now the Falcons are doing just that. The Packers have yet to show some consistency on both sides of the ball. Either the offense stinks or the defense does. They are yet to get them working together. The Falcons look a lot like the Eagles old “bend but don’t break” defense, which all Philly fans raved about for years.

  2. Who would have thought that the colts would have lost to the cowboys and Peyton Manning would have thrown not one, but four interceptions. I agree with you, it does make you wonder how well the cowboys and vikings would do if they made coach changes earlier in the year.

    The Ravens and Steelers game definitely lived up to all the hype that surrounded them. Ben played a great game even with a broken nose and all. The game was super competitive and all the stars played well, especially troy polamalu who had the game changing play in that game.

    I am looking forward to the Patriots and Jets game like everyone else. Hopefully, this game will be as entertaining as the Ravens and Steelers game. I expect more points to be put up in the New York and New England game too. I can’t wait.

  3. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

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