The Bears are currently atop the NFC North Standings but don’t expect them there for long. The Vikings will win the North and the South will retain the Wildcard spots. (Photo; Mark Konezny/USA Today Sports)
Last Week: 7 – 6 – 0
Season: 72 – 45 – 2
Showing off voting stickers in the most self-righteous way possible (Bye Week)
Vance Joseph lost his mind last week. After barely getting within field goal range (and I mean b a r e l y), Joseph focused on burning clock instead of moving into more reasonable range for kicker Brandon McManus. After gaining 5 yards on 1st down, Joseph opted to burn clock before a 2nd down run play that lost a yard. McManus ended up missing a 51 yard game-winning field goal. Why coaches go conservative once they reach field goal range is beyond me. Do they not watch kickers miss extra points, chip shots, and clutch kicks week in and week out?
I’m not sure whether last week’s defensive performance was Minnesota’s defense finally rounding into the form many expected back in the summer, or if Detroit’s offense was just that big of a mess. If it’s the former, the rest of the NFC better be on alert because that defense we saw Sunday against Detroit was by far the NFC’s best this season.
Unless John Harbaugh has a guarantee for next year nobody knows about, he should probably bail on Joe Flacco. That offense was lifeless Sunday against Pittsburgh. I really like Harbaugh, but he’s about to finish with 9 or fewer wins for the 5th time in six seasons. Only Marvin Lewis stays employed with that kind of production.
I’m as enthused about the Texans six game winning streak as most. Five of those wins came against teams with a current record of 3-5 or worse. Houston’s win over the Dolphins was their only victory over a winning team, and I’m not sure anyone in or out of Miami legitimately considers Miami a threat in the AFC. Luckily for the Texans, they have only one game remaining against a team currently over .500.
Panthers 21 at Steelers 52
I’m not going to put too much into this loss for the Panthers. Last month, the Redskins were served up on a platter to the Saints. It was almost guaranteed to be Drew Brees’ record-breaking night. It would’ve taken a miracle for Washington to leave town with a win. Thursday night felt similar. It was Pittsburgh’s first home game since the tragic shooting on October 27th. While there’s no way to prove it, those things matter in sports. They impact outcomes. It became clear at some point in the 2nd that Carolina would never escape the avalanche of emotion and intensity from the Steelers and that city. While their road issues are a concern, I’m not going to put too much stock in how badly they were stomped in Pittsburgh.
Also, there’s been a lot of talk about Eric Reid’s ejection. I’m 100% in favor of ejecting the player in that situation. HOWEVER, I’ve never actually seen it done. So while I think it was the correct call, it also smells a little funny that the first time a hit like that came with an ejection was when the guy suing the NFL was involved. Kiko Alonso nearly killed Joe Flacco last season and wasn’t ejected. There are countless other examples. So while I believe Reid’s hit deserved an ejection, his ejection wasn’t actually in line with punishments handed down for identical hits.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Lions at Bears
I’m afraid to look, but a few weeks back I recall saying something about the Lions being the Vikings biggest threat in the division. I’d like you to forget about that. Thank you. I think Golden Tate is really good, but gracious he can’t be that good. Detroit looked completely lost on offense last week in Minnesota. They couldn’t run the ball, they couldn’t throw the ball, and they most certainly could not pass protect. Based on record they’re certainly not out of playoff contention yet, but take a close look at their schedule and 5-11 or 6-10 is the most likely outcome. At least Matt Patricia beat Bill Belichick once AND taught a reporter how to sit properly during press conferences. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions +7
Saints at Bengals
A few weeks ago I declared the Bengals the real deal, a legitimate threat in the AFC. I think I was wrong. Like Houston, Cincinnati only has one win against a team currently above .500. Also like Houston, that team is the Miami Dolphins. The Bengals are 0-3 against playoff teams. Without AJ Green, I don’t see how Andy Dalton and the Bengals match New Orleans’ explosiveness. If there’s hope for Cincinnati here, it’s catching the Saints after a huge win over the previously undefeated Rams. Coming off a bye certainly won’t hurt the Bengals chances either. I’m rolling with the Red Rifle for kicks and giggles. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +6
Falcons at Browns
I remain convinced the NFC South will account for both Wildcard spots again. The Falcons are destined for 10-6 and I’m not buying any of the contenders in the North outside of Minnesota. That leaves Seattle and the 2nd place team in the NFC East. Seattle is fine, but they’re not a playoff team, and though they currently trail the Eagles and Redskins in the standings, I think Atlanta is better. Dan Quinn deserves a ton of credit for not letting the wheels fall completely off after a disappointing 1-4 start. He’s patched that injury depleted defense back to respectability and the much-maligned offense from last season is now one of the NFL’s best in nearly every statistically category, including red zone offense. The Falcons now convert 70% of their red zone trips after failing to reach 50% in 2017. Atlanta and Philadelphia have a lot of similarities. If they make it, I wouldn’t want to face either in the postseason. They’re experienced and their records are somewhat misleading. The Eagles obviously have two humongous collapses on their resume that have them at 4-4 instead of 6-2. Atlanta also has two perplexing defeats; blowing 4th quarter leads in the final minutes against New Orleans and Cincinnati. I’m in on the Falcons. They’re good. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -6.5
Patriots at Titans
I thought the Titans looked really good Monday night in Dallas. I know Dallas isn’t a juggernaut or anything, but that game couldn’t have started worse for the Titans and they didn’t flinch. The Titans epitomize the chaos of the NFL. They storm back to beat the Super Bowl champs only to lose to the lowly Bills and then get completely smothered by the equally perplexing Ravens. The only logical outcome Sunday on the Titans roller coaster is to beat the Patriots. It makes too much sense. The Patriots are due for a loss and I’m convinced Bill Belichick loses to former assistants the first time around just to give them a boost of confidence. (See Week 3 in Detroit.) TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +7
Jaguars at Colts
About ten years ago there was this sports website where you could buy, short and trade professional franchises and players as stocks. I forget the name of the site but it was really interesting. When you unloaded stocks you could use the profits (if there we any) to purchase gift cards to places like Best Buy or something like that. It was free but you could still turn your sports knowledge into spendable funds. Anyway, if that site were still around, I’d be buying Colts stock. Andrew Luck is returning to form and that backfield is explosive. Frank Reich is an offensive genius. In a division as bad as the AFC South, the Colts could challenge for the division crown next year. In fact, it’s not too late for it to be this year. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -3
Cardinals at Chiefs
I don’t believe the Chiefs are in any real danger of losing to the Cardinals, especially at home. Though, I’m not totally convinced they’ll cover. Kansas City has the highly anticipated showdown with the Rams next week on Monday Night Football. You don’t think there’s a small chance they jump on the Cardinals early, fall asleep at the wheel and end up giving up two or three unanswered scores in the 4th quarter? 17 is a huge line. It makes me nervous. On the other hand, picking the Cardinals to cover isn’t any more reassuring. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -17
Bills at Jets
Take a look at this wonderful information.
AFC East starting quarterbacks:
30 year-old Ryan Tannehill OUT for the Dolphins.
22 year-old Josh Allen OUT for the Bills.
21 year-old Sam Darnold OUT for the Jets.
41 year-old Tom Brady just keeps on ticking.
— Charlie Yook (@yookc) November 7, 2018
This sums up the last 15 years in the AFC East. Can you imagine being a 20-something Boston fan and not having any idea what life was like before Tom Brady? Kids really are spoiled these days. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -7
Redskins at Buccaneers
The key to beating the Redskins is eliminating their running game. Alex Smith isn’t capable of carrying Washington to victories. The same things that made Andy Reid draft Patrick Mahomes still plague Smith today. He’s afraid to throw downfield in tight spaces. If you can’t throw someone open in today’s NFL, you’re just another quarterback defenses don’t fear. In each of Washington’s three losses they struggled to establish a ground game, leaving Smith to try and carry the offense on his own. With the Redskins losing two more starting offensive lineman last week, the running game should be easier for opposing defenses to eliminate. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -3
Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)
Chargers at Raiders
The Chargers are really good and have been completely ignored. I’m excited to bet on the Chargers against whatever trash the AFC South sends into the postseason. Anyway, the Raiders officially gave up on their season last Thursday night, so I’m going to give up on this game and focus on something more important; gross Halloween candy. M&M’s are one of the best candies of all time. However, the Halloween snack size version of this great treat is disgusting. The bags are too thin or something and the M&M’s end up tasting like a nasty combination of all the other candy around it. This has been an issue for years and it’s still not fixed. Is it impossible to make a wrapper suitable to prevent outside flavors from infiltrating my beloved M&M’s? Skittles bags are up to the challenge! Steal that technology! (Note: I’m taking the Raiders to cover because who knows how many field goals and extra points the Chargers will miss.) CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders -10.5
Dolphins at Packers
I know he fumbled in a crucial spot last week, but it’s nice to see Mike McCarthy finally give the bulk off the offense to Aaron Jones. I’ve only been calling for this move for the past 10 months. I’m worried about the Packers, and I don’t mean because I’m just now realizing they stink. I’m worried that three weeks from now we could be without Aaron Rodgers on account of the season being a lost cause. This is an absolute must win for the Packers. Miami’s defense is garbage against the run. They even made Detroit’s running game look lethal. Please, Mike McCarthy, don’t complicate this. Run the ball, eat clock, and keep Rodgers upright for another week. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -10
Seahawks at Rams
I was never buying the Rams as this juggernaut that couldn’t be stopped. There were too many things about that defense not to like. That secondary is a bunch of individuals playing as individuals instead of as a unit. Any competent offense they’ve faced this season has exposed that. Look at their potential playoff opponents; Newton, Wentz, Ryan, Brees, Cousins, maybe Rodgers. Jared Goff has been stellar this season, but I don’t know if I’m ready to believe he’ll be able to hang 30+ in the postseason in order for his team to advance. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks +10
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Cowboys at Eagles
I think we’ll see the 2017 Eagle defense make an appearance in this one. I’ll contend til I’m proven otherwise that this team was playing for the bye the moment that Tennessee game went to sh**. Hopefully they’ve regained their focus and ratcheted up the intensity for the stretch run. Speaking of focus, let’s all enjoy these quarterback statistics featuring Dak Prescott and EJ Manuel…
EJ Manuel last 16 starts:
3,170 pass yds – 17 TD – 14 INT
Dak Prescott last 16 starts:
3,166 pass yds – 16 TD – 14 INT pic.twitter.com/JtIxD8bj8Q
— Eagles Fan Problems (@EagleFanProbs) November 6, 2018
Man, that was fun. Remember when Dallas fans were celebrating the Cowboys getting the better quarterback three rounds later after the Eagles got Wentz? And how if the Eagles called and offered Wentz for Dak the Cowboys would immediately hang up? Ahhh memories. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -7
Monday Night (8:15PM ET)
Giants at 49ers
No one is interested in this matchup. I mean, maybe I’ll tune in to see if Nick Mullens’ debut was a fluke or not, but this contest isn’t worth ESPN’s brutal Monday night broadcast. Instead, let’s talk about movies. Hollywood has pretty much run out of original ideas, so why not get creative with old ideas? Who do I have to pay to make a Man on Fire prequel? I need to know all the demons in Creasy Bear’s closet. Who wouldn’t watch this??!?! Call it Creasy and you can have all my money. I’ll sell out the theater myself. You’re welcome. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +3
If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 6 – 7 – 0
Season: 66 – 63 – 5