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Week 13 NFL Picks

Drew Brees and the 9-2 Saints have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And so do 31 other NFL teams. Yes, even you, Houston. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Last Week:  8 – 5 – 1
Season:    111 – 64 – 1

Thanksgiving Day

Packers at Lions (12:30 ET)
Kudos to the Packers for not pushing Aaron Rodgers back too soon. There’s no need. The playoffs, and even the division, are still well within reach. Despite his absence, Packer Nation should be thankful for an elite quarterback that is worth ten wins by himself. The Lions? Well, clearly they have the best player in football, so that’s easy to be thankful for. But this week, Detroit is thankful Rodgers has a bum shoulder. Even one of the league’s worst coaches can’t screw this up. (Just a warning: This is almost the same Lions team Matt Flynn lit up like a Christmas tree two seasons ago. So anything is possible here.) LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions -6.5

Raiders at Cowboys (4:30 ET)
Finding something for the Cowboys to be thankful for is harder than I thought. Tony Romo? Bleh. Dez Bryant? Meh. DeMarcus Ware? Slowing down. Sean Lee? Injured, again. Having a terrible GM that thinks he’s doing a great job and can never, ever be fired? Yeesh. So yeah, not a lot to be thankful for in Big D. At least they’re in the playoff hunt. The Raiders have the coolest uniforms in the NFL. Even if you can’t play well, at least you look good. Gotta give thanks for that. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -9.5

Steelers at Ravens (8:30 ET)
My fear is we get an awful game between two teams struggling this season instead of the knock out, drag out slugfests we loved a couple of years ago. I’m already tired of this giving thanks gimmick, but I’d never forgive myself for quitting after two picks. Ravens: Thankful they won the title a year ago so their fans can’t be too upset with Flacco’s lackluster season. Steelers: Thankful to be in the playoff race despite an 0-4 start. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Jaguars at Browns
As I’ve said several times, this Cleveland season was a success the moment they fleeced the Colts for a 1st round pick in exchange for Trent Richardson, so be thankful for that, Cleveland. The Jaguars better give thanks for Gus Bradley. His work is already starting to show results. I’m still mad the Eagles didn’t bring in Gus. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +7

Titans at Colts
Both of these underwhelming, overrated teams should be thankful they reside in the awful AFC South. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -4

Bears at Vikings
Josh McCown has prevented yet another Chicago season from bursting into flames after a significant injury to a key player. I know it’s tough, Chicago, but be thankful for Josh. A Bears playoff run won’t heal the pain of losing Derrick Rose, but it will ease it. And for the Vikings? Adrian Peterson, I guess? BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears +1

Dolphins at Jets
Way to keep the AFC East competitive, guys. Seriously, job well done. God forbid the Patriots feel a little heat every once in a while. The Dolphins are thankful for words like “bully” and “24 hour news cycle.” Without them, they’d be just another mediocre team in a league full of them. The Jets are giving thanks for their win this Sunday. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -2

Cardinals at Eagles
As an Eagles fan, I am VERY, VERY thankful for an entertaining season. The last time the Eagles were legitimately in a playoff race at Thanksgiving was the Michael Vick revival tour of 2010. Translation: the last five games are house money. I can’t and won’t be upset unless DeSean Jackson costs us a playoff berth. You may not believe this, but the Cardinals are actually thankful for Carson Palmer. Sure, he’s killed them with turnovers at times, but he’s Arizona’s first reliable starter since Kurt Warner. If he can maintain his numbers over the last four weeks (89/129, 8 TD, 2 INT), the Cardinals are a playoff lock. Sadly, I can’t pick the Eagles because I haven’t seen Nick Foles and the offense against a top 10 defense. Obviously, I’m suspicious. Larry Fitzgerald against our corners is also scary. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals +3.5

Buccaneers at Panthers
As much improvement as Cam Newton has shown this season, I think Carolina’s success has slightly more to do with its defense. I’d give thanks for an elite defense. I miss those days. Tampa Bay has a lot to be thankful for this season, too. They’ve won three straight. Mike Glennon looks capable of being a stable franchise quarterback. Greg Schiano isn’t a moron after all. They’ve remained competitive despite drama, injuries, and of course, MRSA. Too bad for Tampa the Panthers are due for a blowout victory. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -8.5

Patriots at Texans
New England is thankful for Tom Brady and late 2nd half rallies, because without them, they’d be 5-6 instead of 8-3. I’d love to know what Bill Belichick’s plans are with Stevan Ridley. Ridley’s fumbling issues are getting worse. With that said, it’s beyond unfair for people to blame Ridley’s critical fumble in the AFC Championship game last year as the reason the Patriots lost. Yes, the fumble was huge and swung the game, but THE DUDE WAS KNOCKED OUT. How do you hold onto something without consciousness? How? Don’t fret, Houston, the season is almost over and you’ll be free of Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak forever. Give thanks! PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -9

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Falcons at Bills
The Bills are technically still alive in the AFC Playoff hunt. I’d be raising hell if I were a Bills player/fan/writer/beer vendor. This a crucial game for Buffalo’s already slim playoff hopes. Playing in Orchid Park in freezing weather with snow shoveled into various parts of the stadium is a HUGE advantage over a soft dome team with nothing to play for. Instead, because the NFL has this stupid Toronto agenda, the Bills will play in a controlled climate with limited home field advantage. The Falcons are certainly thankful for that. The Bills should be thankful they have a fun football team again with several nice pieces in place. But not you, fantasy slayer (CJ Spiller). BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills -3.5

Rams at 49ers
At 5-6, the surging Rams would need at least four wins to even sniff the playoffs. With the 49ers, Cardinals, Saints, and Seahawks left on the schedule, three wins would be a miracle. At least the Rams have a plethora of young players to build around (and be thankful for). Though the 49ers are struggling of late, they’re the last team you want marching into your building on Wildcard Weekend. San Francisco will be thankful for their playoff experience when they’ll need three road wins to reach the Super Bowl. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +9

Broncos at Chiefs
Uh oh, Andy Reid. Uh oh. Those cracks in your coaching (game management) are starting to creep through. Two consecutive losses tend to shine light on shortcomings that are ignored after 9-0 starts. Regardless, the Chiefs should be thankful for Reid. He’s made them a contender overnight. Furthermore, the Chiefs are built for this type of late season game, perhaps even more so than Denver. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, winning without two of their defensive stars will be near impossible. Denver should be thankful Knowshon Moreno came to play in 2013. He may be the key cog in their Super Bowl or bust run. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -4.5

Bengals at Chargers
A loss to the Chargers would bring Cincinnati’s division lead to a very uncomfortable single game. I can’t decide if I believe in the depleted Bengals or not. If anything can get Andy Dalton and the offense on track, it’s the 29th ranked San Diego defense. Be thankful for this opportunity, Cincinnati. Philip Rivers has had a tremendous season, and the Chargers should be grateful for his resurgence, but when the Chargers miss the playoffs they’re going to have nightmares about blowing winnable games in D.C. and Miami. Also, note to Chargers coach Mike McCoy; you can’t use, “How bout them Chargers?!” That’s the Cowboys stupid slogan. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +1

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Giants at Redskins
Good call by the NFL not to flex this one out of the national game of the week spot. Teams that combine for a 7-15 record and a .00484% chance at the postseason usually make for great football. Why not let Robert Griffin III and Eli Manning continue to disgrace the quarterback position in front of a national audience? These guys combine for a 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio. I can’t wait. If you’re the Giants, you’re thankful you have those two recent titles to hide under during times like these. If you’re the Redskins, you’re thankful RG3 and Mike Shanahan haven’t come to blows… yet. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +1.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Saints at Seahawks
Game of the week/month/year. These are the two best teams in the NFL, in my humble opinion. Let’s get this ridiculously stupid thankful thing out of the way now. The Seahawks are thankful for PEDs. (ZING!) The Saints are thankful for Rob Ryan’s defense. (Never thought you’d hear that, huh?) Now to the game… I think we know everything there is to know about the Seahawks: Big, physical defense. Pounding running game. Electric, game-changing quarterback. The Seahawks are built for the postseason. They’re the hands down favorite in the NFC. Buuuuttt I think we’re sleeping on the Saints a little. It feels like they have more to prove Monday than the Seahawks. Furthermore, when you take into consideration the remaining schedule for each team, the Saints (CAR, @STL, @CAR, TB) need this game a little more than Seattle (@SF, @NY, AZ, STL). Besides, even with a Saints win, it’s still likely the NFC road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle. Drew Brees and the Saints need a win or something darn near close to prove to the Seahawks and themselves that traveling to Seattle in late January isn’t a death sentence. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints +5.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Last Week: 8 – 6 – 0
Season:    84 – 84 – 7

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