Week 14 NFL Picks

If Johnny Manziel studied history, he’d  know Cleveland may not be the place for success. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Last Week: 10 – 6 – 0
Season: 119 – 73 – 0

Thursday Recap

Vikings 20 at Cardinals 23
Three weeks ago I offered the following in regards to the Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have a little of that “we pummel bad teams but can’t quite hang with good teams” stench to them. The Vikings have faced a current playoff team in three of the last four weeks. They’re 1-3 during that stretch. I’ll give you 20 cents if you can guess which game they won. There’s nothing to be ashamed of when losing to good teams, especially for such a young (and now injury depleted) team like the Vikings. However, losing due to failed execution as Minnesota did Thursday night is not a good sign. That was poor coaching over the final minute and even poorer game sense by Teddy Bridgewater.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bills at Eagles
My son is 5 and a huge Eagles fan. It’s all he talks about. When the Eagles are getting crushed 45 to whatever and score a garbage TD or field goal, my son celebrates like it won the game. My wife asked why I didn’t buy him a jersey for Christmas. I told her I didn’t know whose jersey to buy. Fletcher Cox was the obvious choice. However, I’m not convinced Cox will be an Eagle for the next five years. That’s where we find ourselves in the Chip Kelly era. The threat of him moving the franchise’s best player is real enough that I’m afraid to buy a jersey for my son. If you think I’m overreacting, please tell me where DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin call home this season. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +1

49ers at Browns
The Cleveland Browns have had a top 10 pick in four of the last six drafts. In three of the last four drafts, Cleveland has had TWO 1st round picks. In that time, the Browns have posted a dazzling 27-65 record and zero winning seasons. If I’m Johnny Manziel, do I sandbag it these last few weeks just so I can get as far away from the Browns as possible? 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers +1.5

Lions at Rams
The Rams are another example of a team struggling to convert high draft picks into winning. Since 2008, the Rams have picked in the top 10 six times, including a top two pick three years in a row from 2008-2010. In two of the last three drafts, St. Louis has picked twice in the 1st round. Unlike Cleveland, the Rams have drafted some highly talented players, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, they’ve still failed to make the playoffs in the last decade haven’t posted a winning season since 2003. Jeff Fisher is the Rams 3rd head coach since 2008. I think it’s time to try a fourth, because there’s too much talent in St. Louis and not enough wins. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +3

Saints at Buccaneers
It’s nice to see Tampa Bay playing well. I was worried about Lovie Smith. His tenure as Buccaneers head coach began with a 4-18 record before the team’s recent 4-2 surge. In fact, had Tampa not blown a 24-0 lead to the Redskins in Week 7, the Buccaneers would actually own the NFC’s final Wildcard spot right now and not the Seattle Seahawks. How’s that for a worthless piece of information? BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints +4.5

Titans at Jets
Brandon Marshall wins for quote of the week after going after Cullen Jenkins for trash talking Marshall’s “girl.” Marshall’s quote to reporters after the game: “I’m happily married. To one woman. Love my wife… and will fight to the end for her. So there you go, baby. He’s 500 pounds, and I went after him.” Chivalry is not dead. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +7.5

Steelers at Bengals
Last time these AFC North rivals met, Ben Roethlisberger was returning from injury and played his worst game of the season. To date, I can’t think of a single big game Andy Dalton has won. Sunday won’t be his first. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers +3

Colts at Jaguars
The Colts offense needs Andrew Luck to compete in a shootout. As we witnessed last week, Matt Hasselbeck isn’t lighting up scoreboards these days. You know who is? Blake Bortles. Bortles is 3rd in the NFL in TD passes with 27. He’s ranked ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Eli Manning, to name a few. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +1

Chargers at Chiefs
Andy Reid and the Chiefs are winners of 6 in a row and could finish the season on a 10-0 run if they don’t blow it. Kansas City’s remaining schedule features four teams with losing records and only 14 combined wins. On the other hand, it would totally be an Andy Reid team thing to do if the Chiefs blew one or two of these gimmes down the stretch. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -10.5

Redskins at Bears
Kudos to the Redskins for allowing every obnoxious Cowboys fan to remain obnoxious for at least another week. Also, how are Washington fans excited about Kirk Cousins? He’s not quite as bad as Sam Bradford, but I wouldn’t be happy if the Eagles flipped Bradford for Cousins tomorrow. Do me a favor, if you watch the Redskins this week just watch DeSean Jackson. There isn’t a football player on earth that avoids contact like Jackson. It’s an art form. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +3.5

Falcons at Panthers
One of these weeks Matt Ryan will be so fed up with his 2015 season that he’s going to have a breakout day and throw TWO touchdowns to go along with his backbreaking turnover(s). Look out, Carolina Sunday may be that day. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -8.5

Seahawks at Ravens
The Seahawks should win. Matt Schaub should throw another pick-six. The Ravens should hold open tryouts before they run out of healthy bodies this season. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -11.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Raiders at Broncos
The Denver Broncos have an offensive problem. After 12 weeks, it hasn’t come back to bite them too often as the Denver defense has been spectacular. However, if you compare Denver’s 2015 offensive stats to their 2013 season, the drop off is jarring. By season’s end, the Broncos will likely have 2,000 yards less of total offense and average close to 15 points less per game. It’s nothing short of a miracle that Denver is 11-2 and in prime position for a playoff bye and possibly the top seed overall. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -7

Cowboys at Packers
Jason Garrett deserves a ton of credit for Monday night. It only took him 55 minutes before he finally thought throwing deep to Dez Bryant was a good idea. Well done, Jason. Speaking of talented wide receivers, I sure hope the Packers are working on some sort of contingency plan for next season. Without Jordy Nelson this year, the Packers offense has been stuck in mud and not at all fun to watch. Nelson will be 31 by next season. While some of the greats have excelled in their 30s (see Randy Moss, Terrell Owens), the majority have tailed off (see Calvin Johnson, Chad Johnson, etc…). PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -7

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Patriots at Texans
It’s kind of amazing how the outcome of a game changes the narrative. After losing to the Eagles, there’s been endless talk about the Patriots falling out of Super Bowl contention and how they could struggle in the playoffs. Did we forget that Danny Amendola was Tom Brady’s top receiving target Sunday? Or that Brady still dropped 28 points on the Eagles? Sure, Brady had some bad turnovers, but when you’re shorthanded taking chances becomes more necessary. The Patriots are and will continue to be fine. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -3.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Giants at Dolphins
The last time New York ranked in the top half of the NFL in rushing offense was 2012. In the three seasons since, they’ve ranked 29th twice and 23rd once. In fairness to the Giants, they tried to set up their ground game for the future by drafting David Wilson in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Wilson suffered a career-ending neck injury early in his 2nd season. Even until that point, Wilson was by no means an outstanding back. Free agent fixes like Peyton Hillis, Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen haven’t done much to fix the Giants rushing attack. Mid-round draft picks like Andre Williams have had little to no impact. Eli Manning takes too much of the blame when the Giants struggle offensively. He and the passing game have been carrying that offense alone since Ahmad Bradshaw left. Imagine what Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. could accomplish if the opposition had to worry about a running game? GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -1.5


If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 10 – 6 – 0
Season: 97 – 91 – 4

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