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Week 14 NFL Picks

The battle for the NFC East kicks off in Dallas on Sunday night, the Broncos look to pad their lead in the AFC West with a win and some help from the undefeated Packers, and the Texans, Saints, and Patriots aim to extend winning streaks. Oh yeah, Michael Vick is back. 

Last Week:  9 – 7 – 0
Season:      118 – 74 – 0

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Browns at Steelers
I’ve given the Baltimore Ravens a good amount of grief for their lousy showings against bad teams. It’s time the Steelers get the same treatment. Against the Colts, Jaguars, Chiefs, and Browns (four of the worst teams in the NFL), the Steelers have scored more than 17 points only once. Their greatest margin of victory was 11 (Thursday vs. the Browns), and wins over the other three teams were never by more than four points. You could blame Ben Roethlisberger’s scary knee injury for Thursday’s struggles if you’d like, but the Steelers were sloppy offensively regardless. Still, a win is a win is a win. And that makes ten for the Steelers.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Chiefs at Jets
In the last two weeks, the Chiefs have hung with the Steelers and Bears, both playoff teams in their respective conferences. In other words, Kansas City is due to get blown out. The Jets will deliver. Before I forget, can someone please help me with Shonn Greene. Is the guy underused or is he simply not very good? For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. Considering his size and nimbleness, he should average over 100 yards a game. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -10.5

Buccaneers at Jaguars
The battle of Florida football teams possibly on the move. If the NFL wants anyone outside of Florida to pay attention to this game, they’ll raise the stakes. Winner stays put. Loser is at the mercy of the league. Hold on, that may not work. Jacksonville might forfeit. Forget it. No one is watching this one. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -2

Patriots at Redskins
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Tom Brady throws a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Just a hunch. PATROITS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -8

Falcons at Panthers
If the NFL came to me tomorrow and said I could have anything for Christmas, I would seriously consider asking them to mic Smith Steve for every game. Smith is a roller coaster of emotions. Last week, in the midst of blowing out the Buccaneers, Cam Newton under threw Smith on what probably would have been a touchdown. Smith erupted. Not at Newton, but at the Panthers sideline. Considering DeSean Jackson doesn’t give a crap at any point of any game, it’s nice to see a superstar care regardless of what the scoreboard shows. I still think the Falcons are the best of the Bears/Lions Wildcard bunch. However, I’d be willing to abandon that position with another Atlanta loss this week. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -3

Colts at Ravens
Why do we still care what Archie Manning has to say about his ADULT kids? I’m okay if I never see another shot of him in a stadium suite or hear another Sportscenter segment dedicated to his opinions.  RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts +16.5

Eagles at Dolphins
Certain things in this world just don’t make sense: The NBA vetoing a reasonable trade. Needing night vision goggles to shop at Hollister. Naming a career offensive line coach a defensive coordinator with no transition period. Did it cost the Eagles their season? Probably, but not entirely. The offense still stunk, Michael Vick was half the player he was in 2010, and the defense never gelled. Currently locked into the 6th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, I’m not sure I want Vick to return this season. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +3

Vikings at Lions
The immature and shorthanded Lions might catch a big break this week if Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson don’t suit up for the Vikings. Let’s talk about Matthew Stafford. Has he been struggling of late because he’s fatigued (never played more than 10 games in his NFL career), we overrated him after a hot start, or because defenses have figured out that taking away Calvin Johnson cripples Stafford and the Detroit offense? I’ll take options C and B, in that order. After surpassing a QB Rating of 105 in four of his first five starts this season, Stafford has failed to surpass 100 in five of his next seven. It’s no coincidence that Johnson’s numbers have fallen off considerably as well. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions -10

Saints at Titans
New Orleans’ road wins this season; Jaguars, Panthers, Falcons (thanks to Mike Smith’s 4th down debacle). In other words, take the Saints out of the dome and they’re not the same team. If the Chris Johnson revival tour is legit, this will be the week to confirm it. It’ll be up to Johnson and the Titans offensive line to keep Drew Brees and his record setting pace sidelined. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +4

Texans at Bengals
T.J Yates makes his second start for the Texans against fellow rookie and Offensive rookie of the year contender, Andy Dalton. While Yates played admirably last week at home against Atlanta, I’m expecting a poor outing with at least two turnovers. If Houston hopes to win they’ll need a strong day (150 yards) from Arian Foster and another suffocating performance from Wade Philips’ stout defense. Something is different about the Texans this year. They’re gritty, resilient, and haven’t blinked even while things have come crumbling down around them. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +3

Game to Watch: Texans at Bengals
Game on Call: Saints at Titans

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Bears at Broncos
Big, big, big game for the Denver Broncos. HUGE. I know what you’re thinking; Really? “Huge?” With capital letters and everything? Absolutely. Here’s why. The Bears are tied in the win/loss column with the Oakland Raiders but own the tiebreaker. The Raiders visit Lambeau Field and the undefeated Packers this week. The Broncos host the New England Patriots next week. Still with me? (You should be. This isn’t complicated.) A one game cushion over Oakland is critical heading into Week 15. It ensures that regardless of what happens against the Patriots, the Broncos still approach the final two weeks of the regular season in control of their own destiny in the AFC West. It’s also worth noting the Bears have the speed and athleticism at linebacker and defensive end to slow down the Broncos’ option. On the other hand, Tim Tebow rushed for less than 15 yards last week in Minnesota and still won. I think Chicago’s chances improve drastically if they just punt on 1st down and control the field possession battle. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -3

49ers at Cardinals
The Cardinals are winners of four of five and building momentum toward next season. Kevin Kolb needs the final month to prove he’s Arizona’s future at quarterback. Arizona must use the final month to figure out if Kolb is indeed their future. A win against the division champs would be a nice boost for the Cardinals. Unfortunately for them, the 49ers still need this game. Even on a bad day, the San Francisco defense is good enough to defeat the Cardinals. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -4

Bills at Chargers
The Superbowl of “hey, look at us. We’re on top of our division! Who cares if it’s only October,” teams. Combined, they’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games. That’s not struggling. That’s completely falling off a cliff. The Chargers can blame injuries, Philip Rivers’ off year, and red zone turnovers/failures. The Bills can blame Ryan Fitzpatrick’s new contract. Since Buffalo locked up the Harvard quarterback, they’ve gone 1-5 with their lone win over the John Beck-led Washington Redskins. While six games are hardly definitive, it’s safe to say Bills fans aren’t feeling so fuzzy about Fitzpatrick’s fat contract. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -7

Raiders at Packers
Nope. Not happening. Not at home. However, if we use the 2007 Patriots season as a reference, games in December against lesser opponents will be closer than expected. Teams were gunning for the Patriots in 2007, wanting to be the ones to knock off the undefeated darlings. I expect the same thing with the Packers. In fantasy football news I’m 100% positive no one wants to hear; I have a bye this week for the first round of playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is my quarterback. The thought of him getting a concussion and missing next week haunts my dreams. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders +11.5

Game to Watch: Bears at Broncos
Game on Call: Raiders at Packers

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Giants at Cowboys
If I told you how excited I was about this game, you wouldn’t believe me. Here’s why I think the Giants will prevail and ultimately win the division. 1. Eli Manning has been fantastic this season and his play has gone mostly unnoticed because Rodgers, Brees, and Brady have been torching record books. 2. The Giants front office does such a great job of putting a team together. Every year, an unheralded player pops up to contribute in a big way. This year, it’s Victor Cruz. New York’s players step up. Dallas’ players often underachieve. 3. Rob Ryan is the most overrated coordinator in NFL history. I’m not even sure he’s better than Juan Castillo at this point. 4. Outside of DeMarcus Ware (who’s flat out unbelievable), the Cowboys lack big time players on defense. The secondary is especially vulnerable. 4. The Cowboys and Tony Romo can’t close. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +3.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Rams at Seahawks
I’ve already said it about seven times, but I’ll say it again; it’s been a tough season for Monday Night Football. You can’t completely blame them for this one, though. Many expected the Rams to compete for and even win the NFC West title. Plus, Sam Bradford looked like a rising star after a stellar rookie season. It makes sense why this division battle was chosen. Too bad ESPN doesn’t have a flex option. If they could, they’d flex this game for a continuous loop of Sportscenter. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks –no line yet

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 10 – 6 – 0
Season:     94 – 91 – 7

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