Seasons are on the line in Week 10 but not in Chicago, where the Texans and Bears do battle to prove they’re among the best the NFL has to offer. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)
Last Week: 10 – 4 – 0
Season: 86 – 46 – 0
Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)
Colts 27 at Jaguars 10
These Thursday night games have to stop. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed one. The teams are often lousy, the level of play is worse, and the NFL Network’s broadcasting duo of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock is downright painful. If you opted for Grey’s Anatomy or The Office or gauging out your eyes with a spoon over last night’s victory for the Colts, here’s what you missed…
Mike Mayock really, really, really likes Andrew Luck. Every time I tuned in to the game, Mayock was raving about Luck’s arm, body, ability to read defenses, demeanor, credit score, etc, etc… I’m high on Luck too, but I don’t turn on a football game to hear a broadcaster gush about one player like he’s got a 3rd grade crush or something.
Unlike Luck, Blaine Gabbert could be out of the league in two years if he doesn’t figure some stuff out. Gabbert is well into year two and looks almost as lost as he did when he was an overwhelmed, scared-to-death rookie in 2011. If I’m a Jaguars fan, I don’t feel good about the future… for about 80 reasons. Gabbert is only one of them.
Also, the Colts won. Really, they did. I promise. It even said so on the scoreboard. Jacksonville couldn’t run the football (3.1 yards per rush), protect the football (3 turnovers), or keep drives alive (1/10 on 3rd down). If it weren’t for a Luck interception at the Jacksonville 8 and then a Luck fumble at the Jacksonville 19, the score would’ve been even more lopsided.
And finally, Luck wasn’t spectacular but he didn’t completely suck, either. It was a solid performance by the rookie. Can I go to bed now?
Recycling Romney/Ryan Lawn Signs (Bye Week)
It’s likely the Browns undergo some major changes in the offseason as a new front office moves in. My question is this: Can you commit to a rookie as your franchise quarterback of the future when that rookie quarterback will turn 30 next season?
Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Bryan Bulaga and now Clay Matthews. Add those standouts to a plethora of injured linebackers and there’s some legitimate concern on whether the Packers are/will be healthy enough to defend their NFC North title. Rodgers struggled a little these last two weeks behind a shaky line and missing his top two targets, so Green Bay must get healthy to compete for another ring.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Noted. Let’s move on.
If the Redskins want to get better, Alfred Morris needs more touches. Morris has had more than 16 touches only once in the Redskins last four games. In that one game, Morris rushed for 120 yards on 22 carries. Robert Griffin III has the help he needs. Mike Shanahan simply has to utilize it.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Giants at Bengals
The Bengals have lost four in a row. The Giants have played like garbage for three consecutive weeks. Who breaks out of their funk, or, if neither team shows any improvement, who sucks the least? Looking at the schedule and the standings, this game means more to the Bengals. The Giants have a two game lead in the NFC Least and a bye next week, which means they don’t play again until AFTER Thanksgiving. They’re probably already thinking about vacation and the holidays with family. The Bengals, on the other hand, can kiss the 2012 season goodbye with a loss. A win keeps them alive for a Wildcard berth. Desperation beats daydreaming of turkey and stuffing. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +4
Titans at Dolphins
The Titans are another desperate team. Though they’re already likely out of playoff contention, a loss this week would certainly be the decisive blow. Titans owner, Bud Adams also put the entire team on notice after last week’s embarrassing effort against the Bears. Not only are the Titans playing for their playoff lives, they’re playing for jobs, too. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Dolphins a little hungover from last week’s discouraging loss to the Colts. Then again, I’ve picked the Titans to upset too many teams this year only to watch them fall flat on their face, so screw them. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins -6
Lions at Vikings
It really doesn’t matter what happens in this game, the Vikings are done. Kaput. Finished. As I mentioned weeks ago, there’s no way Minnesota wins more than two of its final six games (@CHI, @GB, CHI, @STL, @HOU, GB). Even with a win on Sunday against the Lions, the Vikings won’t finish with more than eight wins. Eight wins won’t get you a Wildcard in the NFC. I have no feel for the Lions this season, but this is an important game for them. After Sunday, the Lions face the Packers twice, the Texans, Colts, Falcons and Bears. That’s no cakewalk, either. I think it’s safe to say neither of these teams will be in the playoffs this year. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions -2.5
Bills at Patriots
I still can’t get over the Bills committing to Chan Gailey for another year. The Bills three wins this season have come against the Chiefs, Browns, and Cardinals – three of the NFL’s worst 10 teams. Against the more elite teams, the Bills closest margin of defeat was 12, but I should mention they lost to the Patriots by 24 and the 49ers by 42. I should also mention the Bills spent a ridiculous sum of money improving their defense in the offseason. But hey, it’s not Chan Gailey’s fault. Bring him back for another season. Why not? PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -11
Falcons at Saints
The Falcons are undefeated and the Saints are gaining momentum as they try to salvage a lost season. I know what you’re thinking and I’m here to tell you it’s not happening. Drew Brees could be Steve Young, Tom Brady, and Randall Cunningham all wrapped into one and the Saints still couldn’t outscore the Falcons, not with how bad New Orleans’ defense is. Even against the lowly Eagles, the Saints defense was horrendous. If it weren’t for the Eagles inept red zone offense, the 2012 Saints would have been buried Tuesday morning. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -2.5
Chargers at Buccaneers
Though Tampa Bay’s offense is virtually unstoppable right now, I’m still not high on the Bucs playoff chances because their defense really struggles against teams that can throw the football. Luckily for the Buccaneers, San Diego is not one of those teams. In fact, the Chargers are one of those teams that don’t do anything well. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -3
Broncos at Panthers
I like the Panthers. They’re the gritty, fight-tooth-and-nail team I want my Eagles to be instead of the soft pansies they are. Oh well. This is a game the Broncos win if they’re legitimate AFC contenders with the Texans and Patriots. Considering the Panther defense struggled against the Falcons, Giants, and Saints (teams that throw the football well), I think Peyton Manning and the Broncos score enough points to keep the Panthers and their still developing offense at a safe distance. Besides, everyone is way too high on the Panthers in this game. That never bodes well for the underdog. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -4.5
Raiders at Ravens
Sure, the Ravens have been mediocre at best since taking out the New England Patriots in Week 3. And yes, Baltimore benefited from a friendly schedule that included the Chiefs, Bengals and Browns (twice) over the first nine weeks, but that doesn’t mean the Ravens are all-of-sudden awful. This is Baltimore’s shtick. Survive the regular season, turn it on in December, and look great in the playoffs right up until they choke away a big win (Pittsburgh in 2010, New England in 2011). Baltimore isn’t as good as we thought they were after Week 3, but they’re not as bad as everyone thinks they are right now. Did I mention two of Oakland’s three wins came against the Chiefs and Jaguars? RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -7.5
Late Games (4:25PM ET)
Jets at Seahawks
The Jets offense struggles against bad defenses. I can’t imagine they’ll have much success against a Seattle defense that allows the fourth fewest yards in the NFL and the third fewest points to boot. More importantly, the Seahawks are at home, where they’ve beaten the Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots – all better teams than the lowly Jets. Russell Wilson also continues to improve on a weekly basis. So, assuming the Jets do in fact lose, how can they justify not going to Tim Tebow in Week 11? They can’t. It’s impossible. Tebow isn’t a great quarterback but he has an uncanny knack for winning football games. Why not see if Tebow has an encore in him? SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -6
Rams at 49ers
The Rams were looking good at 3-2 and even held their own against better teams like Miami and Green Bay. Unfortunately, traveling to London for a “home” game broke the young and inexperienced Rams and they were routed by the Patriots. You never know how young teams will respond to such events. Can we write off the Rams now, or will Jeff Fisher circle the wagons? I don’t know. I just know this line is too high. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +11
Cowboys at Eagles
I admit, I’m an idiot when it comes to the Eagles. I haven’t given up hope yet. I still believe Andy Reid can turn “this thing” around, salvage his job, and get the Eagles into the postseason. Am I confident of this? Not at all, but hope isn’t measured by quantity. It either exists or it doesn’t. With that said, the Eagles offensive line is atrocious. If Michael Vick escapes the Cowboys defense coherent and able to walk on two feet, it’d be a miracle. Last week I said I often pick the Eagles simply because they’re family, but sometimes even family needs to know you won’t stand behind them when they’re being stupid. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -1.5
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Texans at Bears
A huge test and great opportunity for both teams to prove they are indeed elite. Both the Bears and Texans are 7-1. However, both have been somewhat downgraded by NFL fans because of weak schedules. The Texans have an impressive win over the Ravens. The Bears best win may have come in Week 1 against the Colts. They both suffered a loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Jay Cutler isn’t Aaron Rodgers. And the Bears defense hasn’t faced an offense capable of running the football like the Texans. Of Chicago’s eight opponents, only three ranked inside the top 20 in rushing and none of those three were ranked higher than 12. Chicago, meet Arian Foster. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +1.5
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Chiefs at Steelers
Yeah I’m not watching this. I’d be shocked if Jon Gruden is still sober after halftime. Other things to watch instead: Heat at Rockets. Diners Drive Ins and Dives. Water boil. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -12
If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 10 – 4 – 0
Season: 70 – 59 – 3