Week 12 is highlighted by two rematches from the 2012 NFC playoffs. The Saints host the 49ers while the Giants host the Packers. Playoff football in November? You shouldn’t have! (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Last Week: 9 – 5 – 0
Season: 105 – 54 – 1
Texans 34 at Lions 31
The refs blew this game, Jim Schwartz is a dope, and the Texans ignored their best player for the 2nd week in a row. Arian Foster is your meal ticket, Houston. Not Matt Schaub.
Redskins 38 at Cowboys 31
I said the Cowboys were due to break out or completely fall apart. I predicted they’d break out. I was wrong. They broke.
Patriots 49 at Jets 19
Giving is the spirit of the season. I credit the Jets for taking that giving spirit to the workplace.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Vikings at Bears
This whole Jay Cutler thing makes me unhappy. As we witnessed Monday night, the Bears are nothing without Cutler. That means the Vikings may get into the playoffs, which subsequently means I have to write a 500 word apology for declaring the Vikings would not make the postseason. I should have known the Bears defense would fall apart when the team needed it most. They did the same thing when Cutler went down in 2011 (Hello, Tim Tebow), and they’ll likely do the same in 2012. The Bears need Cutler back even more than they need their defense to rebound. If Cutler plays, the Bears win. If not, they lose. VIKINGS/BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; No line
Raiders at Bengals
A few months ago, Cincinnati’s December schedule looked like a death march; @SD, DAL, @PHI, @PITT, BAL. Now, the Chargers are a mess, the Cowboys are soft, the Eagles lack that thing that pumps blood to organs, the Steelers could be without Ben Roethlisberger for a month, and the Ravens are still the same Ravens, at least offensively. In other words, the Bengals aren’t dead just yet. With the Dolphins falling flat on their face and the Steelers dealing with a multitude of injuries, that AFC Wildcard berth behind the Colts just got interesting. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders +8
Steelers at Browns
Not sure how many times Cleveland’s opponent wished they had Brandon Weeden as their starting quarterback, but this is definitely one of those times. Despite only two wins to show for their efforts, the Browns have been competitive in nearly every single game this season with the possible exception of getting crushed over the final three quarters against the Giants. The Browns are better than 2-8, and no, I’m not trying to be funny. BROWNS If I were Charles Barkley; Browns +1
Bills at Colts
You know how your dad dominated you on the basketball court when you were kid? You’d spend weeks and weeks improving your game and adding new wrinkles to throw at the old man. When your confidence was high enough, you’d play your dad again. And he’d crush you, again. That’s what the Colts felt like last Sunday. They were confident; they thought they were ready to compete with the big boys. Then Tom Brady slapped them with a cold dose of reality. Last week was an important lesson for the young Colts. This week’s will be even more important. Responding to bad losses is what separates playoff teams from the rest of the pack. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +3
Broncos at Chiefs
The Willis McGahee injury could cost the Broncos a 1st round bye, but their remaining schedule is so weak they could finish 3-3 just by showing up. I’m hoping Peyton Manning keeps the Broncos rolling so Week 15’s matchup against the Ravens decides the 2nd seed in the AFC. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -10.5
Seahawks at Dolphins
I’m ready to write off Russell Wilson’s previous road struggles as growing pains. I now expect him to be a capable quarterback regardless of location. I’m also ready to write off the Dolphins. The wheels fell off in Miami. It happens. Don’t expect a late season rally, either. After Seattle, the Dolphins still have the Patriots twice and travel to face the 49ers in San Francisco. The playoffs are gone. 8-8 is even a pipe dream. But hey, a 6-10 season for a team many picked to be the NFL’s worst is somewhat respectable. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -3
Falcons at Buccaneers
Can the Buccaneers catch the fading Falcons in the NFC South? Yes, but only if they get this win first. A loss on Sunday all but guarantees the Falcons the division. A win for the Buccaneers means the Bucs only have to gain one game on the Falcons before their Week 17 showdown in Atlanta, where another win over the Falcons would clinch the division. Is it likely? Ehh, probably not. Sandwiched between their two matchups against Tampa Bay, Atlanta visits Carolina and Detroit and hosts New York (Giants) and New Orleans. Two losses are certainly possible. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they also face the likelihood of dropping two games, as they must travel to Denver and New Orleans while hosting Philadelphia and St. Louis. Hopefully the Bucs keep it interesting. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers +1.5
Titans at Jaguars
The Titans are actually still alive in the AFC Wildcard hunt. Ben Roethlisberger’s injury only improves Tennessee’s chances because they own the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh. Maybe Bud Adams should threaten his coaches and players’ jobs before every game for the remainder of the season. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -3
Late Games (4:25PM ET)
Ravens at Chargers
I used to love watching Philip Rivers. Now it actually hurts to see him play. Rivers has absolutely been terrible the past two seasons. He’s a turnover machine, I can’t even remember his last 4th quarter comeback, and most importantly, he’s not winning. With that said, it’d be hard to drive your car if someone stole your tires. That’s essentially what the Chargers have done to Rivers. Darren Sproles? Gone. Vincent Jackson? Gone. Antonio Gates? Healthy eight weeks a season. Rivers stinks, but the Chargers haven’t done a thing to surround Rivers with capable weapons, so they’re partly to blame for Rivers’ struggles. And still, I like Rivers better than Joe Flacco. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +1
Rams at Cardinals
St. Louis blew a victory over the 49ers and followed it up by no-showing at home against the Jets. The Cardinals, meanwhile, forced the Falcons into six turnovers and still managed to stretch their losing streak to six. I feel like the Cardinals are due. I also couldn’t care less about this game. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -2.5
49ers at Saints
One week the 49ers look average. The next they look absolutely unbeatable. I give up. I’m taking the Saints, but only because Drew Brees is at home and I don’t trust San Francisco’s quarterback drama. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints No line
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Packers at Giants
Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong for Tom Coughlin and the Giants. The Giants, having lost two in row, were almost certain they’d be underdogs against the Packers, owners of a five game winning streak. Not so. Vegas opened the game by giving the Packers a point. That line has grown to three. The “nobody believes in us” rallying cry only works if, you know, nobody actually believes in you. Sadly for Coughlin and the Giants, not only does Vegas believe in the Giants, but millions of gambling fans do, too. I’m not one of them. I like the Packers. New York’s secondary is bad. New York’s pass rush is overrated. Aaron Rodgers is really, really, really good. He’s evolving into the unstoppable force Peyton Manning was in prime time. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers +3
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Panthers at Eagles
The Eagles are equivalent to a 1980 Chevy Citation, it doesn’t matter who’s driving the car, it will break down. The Panthers, on the other hand, are a 2005 Toyota Camry with a drunk driver at the wheel – the car is functional, but there’s no way it survives the incapacitated driver. Remove Ron Rivera and his boneheaded offensive coordinator, and I’d bet the Panthers are no worse than 5-5. Anyway, my brother (a Panthers fan) and I, along with a few friends, decided we’d go to this Eagles game. We made the decision after the Saints trounced the Eagles because the ticket prices dropped dramatically. – We’ll buy tickets now while they’re cheap, the Eagles will win two in a row against the Cowboys and Redskins, and the playoff push excitement will be fun. – Oops. In fact, things are so bad right now, I had the following text exchange with a friend:
Him: How much are tickets going for now? I think we could sit on the bench for $68!
Me: Yeh. We blew it. For $90 I think you get to play special teams.
Him: And they’ll pay you $50 to play O-line.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Philadelphia Eagles. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +2.5
If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 6 – 7 – 1
Season: 85 – 71 – 4