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Week 12 NFL Picks

The AFC’s Super Bowl representative has been made clear. Sunday night will prove as much. And it’s not Peyton Manning’s team. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Last Week:  9 – 6 – 0
Season:    103 – 59 – 0

Camping Outside of Best Buy (Bye Week)

Bills
Buffalo’s remaining schedule is soft, so there’s the possibility of finishing .500 or better for the first time since 2004.

Bengals
The rest of the division is too far behind to catch up unless the Bengals aid their cause with a collapse of their own. Believe it or not, the Bengals have a decent shot at a first round bye.

Eagles
A Giants win Sunday gives the Eagles control of their own destiny. As I stated earlier in the week, the Eagles defense deserves a ton of a credit for Philadelphia’s turnaround. (A cupcake schedule helps, too.)

Seahawks
ESPN’s Monday night showdown in Week 13 between the Seahawks and Saints will go a long way in determining the top seed in the NFC.

Thursday Recap

Saints 17 at Falcons 13
BORING!
(ATTENTION Drew Brees fantasy owners: Be aware, the fantasy playoffs may not be good to Brees. From Week 13 through 16, three of the Saints’ four games will be against the Seahawks and Panthers. Both defenses are ranked in the top five in points against, yards against, and passing yards against. Good luck.)

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Steelers at Browns
A battle to stay on life support in the AFC North. Woohoo! I was surprised how poorly Cleveland played last week with a chance at the division title on the line. The Steelers are surging and the Browns are sinking. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers +1

Buccaneers at Lions
Even Jim Schwartz can’t screw this one up. Though, I’m sure he’ll find some ridiculously dumb way to make it interesting. This could be a really fun game if each quarterback promised to throw to Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson 20 times. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers +9

Vikings at Packers
This is a big game for the Packers. Even with Rodgers out, Green Bay has a 50/50 shot at beating the Vikings. It’s a win the Packers desperately need in order to remain within striking distance of their NFC North foes and that final NFC Wildcard spot. A loss wouldn’t eliminate the Packers, but it would certainly hurt their chances and maybe even force them to rush Aaron Rodgers back for their Thanksgiving showdown with Detroit. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -5

Chargers at Chiefs
I was surprised how many people felt worse about the Chiefs after their loss in Denver. I guess I’m wrong, but I actually felt better about the Chiefs’ playoff chances after that loss. Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs come out flat this week. Then again, the Chargers have looked flat for three weeks now. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -5.5

Bears at Rams
Probably the best game of the early slate. This should have a semi-playoff feel to it. The Rams have once again elevated their level of play in the second half of the season. While it’s late in the season, it’s not too late to make a playoff push, at least not yet. Though a loss to Chicago Sunday would all but finish off the Rams’ already slim playoff hopes. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams -1

Panthers at Dolphins
The Panthers went from “unproven” to “Super Bowl contender” in a matter of weeks. Cam Newton’s performance Monday night was perfect. It appears he’s finally turned the corner and gotten over the hump he’s been stuck on the past season and a half. The Panthers aren’t explosive offensively but they’re built to pound teams, a formula that’s proven effective in the postseason. With all their recent success, it’d be a shame for the still-learning-how-to-be-good Panthers to blow it all in Miami. Good teams don’t take weeks off. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -4.5

Jets at Ravens
Ed Reed might be the first player in NFL history to have two homecomings in the same season. This should be special. The schedule says the Jets will win (they’ve alternated wins and losses all season), but Baltimore’s season will be on the line Sunday. They can’t flush their season down the drain at home to a rookie quarterback, right? RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3.5

Jaguars at Texans
I circled this game way back in the spring when the schedule came out. I just knew it’d be two teams battling for the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Gary Kubiak can’t keep his job, so why haven’t I read anything about him being done in Houston? Please tell me he won’t be back. Even when they were good, this Texans team underachieved. It’s time to start fresh. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +10

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Titans at Raiders
I’m probably not going to watch a single play of this one. But hey, MATT McGLOIN! RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders +1

Colts at Cardinals
I trust Arizona at home (4-1) more than I trust Indianapolis on the road (4-1). Why? Because the Colts have found themselves trailing by multiple scores in their last three games. Their opponents? The Texans, Rams, and Titans. As long as Carson Palmer can keep the mistakes to a minimum, the Cardinals are a playoff team. I know, I know; trust Carson Palmer and you’re likely to get burned, but I don’t like this Colts team. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -2.5

Cowboys at Giants
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones guaranteed this week that Head Coach Jason Garrett would be back for yet another season in 2014. At first, I thought this was the greatest news for the rest of the NFC East, and trust me, it certainly is. Anytime you can retain a guy that’s 26-24 over four years with one of the most talented rosters in the league you have to do it. However, I think Jones might be right with this decision. Given the Cowboys cap situation next year, it’ll be hard for Jones to attract anyone good enough to upgrade the position. Garrett may actually be Dallas’ best option. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -2.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Broncos at Patriots
The Patriots will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. They’re the grittiest team in the conference. They’ve overcome injuries, scrapped together ugly wins, and gone back to their roots as a smart, rugged, overachieving football team. I like this team. I even put dollar bills down to back up my belief in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots +3

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

49ers at Redskins
Such a great matchup. Two of the NFL’s most disappointing stars in 2013 go toe-to-toe. This should be epic. I can’t wait to see who throws the decisive interception. My money is on Robert Griffin III but Colin Kaepernick is a lock for another 147 yard masterpiece. Don’t sleep on the 49ers missing the playoffs entirely. It’s totally in play right now. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -6

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Last Week: 6 – 7 – 2
Season:    76 – 78 – 7

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