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Week 11 NFL Picks

Tim Tebow kicked off Week 11 by putting on a show during (and after) the Broncos victory over the Jets. A significant injury may have changed playoff fortunes in the AFC, playoff hopefuls like the Falcons and Chargers need wins, and the 49ers fight for the NFC’s top seed.

Last Week:  9 – 7 – 0
Season:      90 – 56 – 0

Taking notes on the Tim Tebow “Possum” offense (Bye Weeks)

Colts
Don’t fret, Colt fans. Your two game cushion in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes should hold for the remainder of the season. Now would you please tell management to put Peyton Manning back on the field?

Saints
In my opinion, their win over Atlanta last week ensured the Saints the NFC South title, meaning they’ll probably avoid Green Bay until the conference championship. Obviously, a New Orleans collapse could change all that, but their schedule makes an extended slide unlikely.

Steelers
For an older defense like Pittsburgh’s; the bye could not have come at a better time. Look out for the Steelers over the last six weeks. Due to Houston’s mounting injuries, the Steelers will claim the top seed in the conference. That’s bad news for the rest of the AFC.

Texans
Not a good bye week for Houston. With Matt Schaub lost for the season, the Texans have now lost three of their top five players to injury, and there are no clear indications as to when Andre Johnson will return. Injuries are what make the NFL the poster league for second chances. This is Matt Leinart’s. The Heisman winning quarterback out of USC will have an opportunity to erase those disastrous Arizona seasons from the minds of NFL fans and prove he belongs in the NFL as a starter. To be honest, his job shouldn’t be that difficult. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate in the backfield, Leinart only needs to complete enough passes to keep opposing defenses from stacking eight or nine defenders in the box to stop the run. As long as Leinart does that, his running backs and offensive line will handle the rest.

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Jets at Broncos
Wow. Just wow. After 55 minutes of ugly, stagnant offensive football, Tim Tebow flicked the switch and lit up the New York defense on a game-winning, 95 yard drive capped by a Tebow 20 yard touchdown run. I’ve never seen anything like the Broncos’ recent 4-1 surge. As much as I love Tebow, he’s downright awful at times. Then, voila, he’s an unstoppable machine running through your defense en route to a game-winning drive. I call it the “Possum Offense.” Play dead until the opponent thinks they’ve won, then BAM! The Jets didn’t know what hit them. I didn’t know what hit them.

If you want to see how magnetizing Tebow is as a player and person, go back and watch his appearence on the set of the NFL Network’s postgame show. All five of the Network’s analysts were absolutely giddy to have Tebow join them. They shook his hand as if he were Joe Frazier. They asked him questions as if he were from a different planet. After a solid 10 minutes, Tebow finally left. It felt like the longest post game interview I’ve ever seen. And you know what? It made me like Tebow even more. He’s the most refreshing, down to earth, humble, and admirable athlete in the entire sporting world. And like Michael Irvin said, who cares if his statistics are unimpressive. Only one stat matters, and Tebow is 4-1 in that department. So, the legend continues. I have no idea where it’s headed or how far it can go, but I’m glad I get to watch.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Buccaneers at Packers
If you haven’t heard, Green Bay wide receiver, Jordy Nelson publicly declared this past week that his race helps him succeed at his position. I totally agree. As Nelson stated, opponents discredit his abilities and speed because he’s a white man playing a predominantly black position. I find it hilarious and refreshing that Nelson was so open about discussing a stereotype that is so widespread in athletics. (But let’s be honest, more often than not, it’s true.) I know I said the Packers will lose at some point, but this isn’t the week. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -14

Panthers at Lions
It’ll be interesting to see how Cam Newton bounces back after a frustrating outing last week. Hopefully, Newton hasn’t hit the rookie wall. The Lions will certainly be out for blood after being humiliated last week against the Bears, but I secretly like the Panthers’ chances here. Detroit’s secondary isn’t very good and I’m not sold on Matthew Stafford. Oh yeah, I forgot, Carolina’s defense isn’t good enough to beat anyone right now. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +7

Jaguars at Browns
Jacksonville isn’t awful. In fact, had they kept David Garrard around, they may be competing for a playoff spot right about now. The Jacksonville defense has surrendered less than 13 points per game over their last four outings. Considering three of their opponents over that stretch have seven wins each (Steelers, Ravens, Texans), that’s an impressive and surprising feat for a 3-6 team. I’m not sure if Jack Del Rio is a dead man walking or not, but a strong finish and a little progress from Blaine Gabbert and the offense could buy Del Rio yet another year. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +1

Raiders at Vikings
I’m still confused as to why the Raiders opened as underdogs. While I’m not all that in tune with the AFC West, I thought Oakland looked impressive last Thursday over San Diego. The Vikings, on the other hand, couldn’t generate any offense against one of the worst ranked defenses in the NFL. I could be missing something here, but the Vikings’ season is over and the Raiders are in a three team scrum for a division title. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders -1

Bills at Dolphins
Two weeks ago the Bills were favored against the Jets. After consecutive ugly losses, Buffalo visits the 2-7 Dolphins as underdogs. All is not lost, though. With New York’s loss to the Denver Tebows on Thursday, the Bills move right back into the AFC Wildcard race with a win. Buffalo’s recent failures can be attributed to relying too much on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is a solid quarterback, not a great one. Buffalo must find ways to make Fred Jackson successful in the running game and take that pressure to move the offense off of Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins are feisty (and good), even at 2-7, so a win won’t come easily. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +2

Cowboys at Redskins
While Dallas and Washington always play each other tight; they’re headed in opposite directions right now. The Redskins are reeling from a five game skid. The Cowboys are poised for a five game win streak. The Redskins are just so bad right now that anything but a two touchdown win by Dallas would shock me. If they haven’t given up on Mike Shanahan already, the Redskin players appear close. Sunday will only push them closer to mutiny. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -7.5

Bengals at Ravens
Ray Lewis will reportedly miss his first game since 2007. For a 36-year-old middle linebacker, that’s impressive. And to think Andy Reid doesn’t value the linebacker position while players like Ray Lewis have been dominating offenses for years is unfathomable. Oh well. The Bengals don’t suck, which means the Ravens won’t either. That probably didn’t make sense, but trust me, it does. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -7

Game to Watch: Bengals at Ravens
Game on Call: Cowboys at Redskins

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Cardinals at 49ers
There’s talk of a quarterback controversy in Arizona. Poor Kevin Kolb. Lucky for him, the 49er defense is one of the league’s best. I’m sure they’ll do a fine job of making John Skelton look incapable. While these division games against lesser opponents may not seem like a big deal, they should mean a lot to the 49ers. Like I said earlier, I expect Green Bay to lose at least once, if not twice. With five of their seven remaining games within the lowly NFC West, San Francisco has a realistic chance of winning the NFC’s top seed. They’ll need to finish no worse than 1-1 in their remaining games against the AFC North (Ravens and Steelers), but the opportunity remains, nonetheless. How the 49ers finish the season will say a lot about how dangerous they’ll be in the postseason. If they’re content now and shut it down hoping to turn it on come playoff time, then they’ve already lost the season. It’ll be easy to lose focus with those five games against the Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals. Jim Harbaugh’s greatest challenge could be keeping his team that’s never won focused and fighting. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -9.5

Seahawks at Rams
The Rams are winners of two of their last three and the Seahawks are coming off a big win over Baltimore. The NFC West is back, baby! At the beginning of the season, if I told you Sam Bradford would be the worst quarterback in the division, would you have believed me? I wouldn’t have believed me. Unfortunately, Bradford has done more than regressed. He’s back to square one. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams -3

Titans at Falcons
You’ll have a hard time finding a team that had a better week than the Titans. First, Chris Johnson snapped out of his funk to rush for over 125 yards, his first 100 yard game of the season. Then, the Titans learned Houston’s starting quarterback, Matt Schaub, would miss the remainder of the year. With a game against Houston remaining, the Titans have a puncher’s chance of winning the division. But even if they fail there, a win in Atlanta would put them in the driver’s seat for that final AFC Wildcard spot. Atlanta, on the other hand, needs a win badly. Losses like last week’s devastating overtime defeat often linger. Hosting a team with renewed playoff hopes won’t help. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +6.5

Chargers at Bears
Tim Tebow can’t throw the football worth a lick. Philip Rivers can. Philip Rivers continually turns the ball over. Tim Tebow doesn’t. It’s annoying to hear coaches and announcers say time and time again how “turnovers kill you,” but it’s true. The Broncos keep winning because Tebow doesn’t hurt the team with turnovers. The Chargers keep losing because Rivers has struggled to protect the football. Chicago’s defense forced Detroit into six turnovers last week. If San Diego has any hope of a stealing a victory, Rivers can’t commit multiple turnovers. Not punting to Devin Hester would help a lot, too. For no reason whatsoever other than the Bears feeling a little too high and the Chargers in desperate need of a win, I’m taking the upset. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +4

Game to Watch: Chargers at Bears
Game on Call: Titans at Falcons

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Eagles at Giants
I’ve said enough about the Eagles this week, so I’ll keep this brief. Michael Vick will play. If the Eagles lose, he has until July to heal those ribs. Also, as I stated earlier this week, I’m certain the Eagles win here simply because they do whatever drives their fans crazy. Beating the division leading Giants in New York will certainly do so. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +4.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Chiefs at Patriots
The Chiefs were already missing their two best players. Now Matt Cassel is out. If the Chiefs stunk before, I fear how bad they’ll be on Monday night. Considering Bill Belichick takes pride in embarrassing former employees/coworkers/etc…, we could be looking at a 56 – 10 blowout. I hope ESPN is rethinking how they choose their games for next season. It’s been a rough go this year. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -14.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 8 – 8 – 0
Season:     72 – 68 – 6

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