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Week 15 NFL Picks

Thanks to the struggling NFC South, 14 of this week’s 16 contests feature at least one playoff contender. Also, here’s Johnny!!!! (AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Harry Scull Jr.)

Season:       138 – 69 – 1
Last Week:  9 – 7 – 0

Thursday Recap

Cardinals 12 at Rams 6
So…. yeah, that went about how I expected. Again, I blame America for the Rams losing that game. Too much faith was being placed in a losing football team and a 10-3 team got angry. At least I won money to ease the pain.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Steelers at Falcons
It’s hard to make a prediction here with the playing status of Julio Jones up in the air. Without Jones, the Falcons offense is mediocre and toothless. Pittsburgh has proven itself incapable against a formidable passing attack this season, ranking 23rd in the league after finishing 9th a year ago and 1st in both 2012 and 2011. Talk about falling off a cliff. Anyway, both teams control their own playoff destiny so this should be an enjoyable watch. I’m expecting plenty of points. Unless Jones is unable to go, I’m taking the Falcons. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons +2.5

Redskins at Giants
I do not pity either squad for the rough patch they’ve hit in recent years. I must say, however, the NFC East is a lot more fun when the whole division is competitive. While I’m not guaranteeing victories for the Eagles in Weeks 16 and 17 against Washington, and New York, respectively, I do wish there was more intrigue and anticipation similar to this week with Dallas. Anyway, suck on, Redskins and Giants. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -7

Dolphins at Patriots
I’ve been trying to think of something to say about this game for the last 24 hours. So far I have: “The Dolphins are a bore to watch.” “The Patriots appear to be coasting.” And finally, “I’m looking like a genius for my preseason Dolphins prediction.” You’re welcome for such riveting analysis. (For the record, my preseason Miami prediction: I like Miami’s team. Not so much a fan of Joe Philbin. Miami wins 7-9 games, replaces Philbin in the offseason and finally makes the playoffs in 2015 for the first time since 2008.) PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +8

Raiders at Chiefs
Poor Kansas City. They fall asleep at the wheel against the then winless Raiders and followed that up two weeks later with a clunker against a depleted Cardinals team. Instead of 9-4 and in the AFC Wildcard driver’s seat, the Chiefs are hanging by a thread and in need of a ton of help. I’ll make this gameplan easy for you, Andy. You have Jamaal Charles, one of the most potent offensive players in the NFL. Instead of dropping your middling quarterback back to pass 39 times, why not give the ball to Charles 25 times this week? The ten handoffs he received a week ago were certainly not enough. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -10.5

Texans at Colts
I don’t think I have anything left to say about the Colts. They continue to pull wins from losses because Andrew Luck is some sort of quarterbacking wizard. With that said, Luck was under heavy pressure last week and it resulted in a sub 50% completion percentage and three turnovers. I know Luck is always better at home but JJ Watt is on a tear right now. Furthermore, the Texans are more apt to milking the clock and keeping Luck on the sideline than Cleveland’s inept offense. Finally, I’m not giving up hope that Houston can win the AFC South. So ignore this pick. It’s 73% biased and 27% moronic. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +7

Jaguars at Ravens
I’m full of opinions. I also like to be fair. Thus, I should admit how wrong I was about the Eagles 2013 coaching search. I never wanted Chip Kelly. Not the first time his name came up and certainly not when he was named head coach the 2nd time around. I wanted Gus Bradley. Granted, Bradley took over an unquestionably poorer roster, but he’s struggled to show any improvement in Jacksonville over two seasons while Kelly has the Eagles on the verge of contending for conference titles. That’s what’s great about having a blog. You have proof that you’re a moron. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -14

Packers at Bills
Such a tough stretch for Buffalo. Three of their final four games come against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and Tom Brady and the Patriots. While technically still alive in the playoff hunt, the Bills are dead men walking. They’ve lost head-to-head matchups with four of the six teams ahead of them in the AFC Wildcard standings. Their remaining schedule is brutal. Don’t fear, though, Bills fans; Kyle Orton is still your starting quarterback because he’s clearly the long-term answer. There’s absolutely no point in kicking the tires on EJ Manuel. (Can you feel the sarcasm?) Anyway, I like the Bills defense. The Packers need a loss. While no one would ever admit it, no coach wants to enter the playoffs on an eight game winning streak. This is a convenient game for Green Bay to lose. On the other hand, the Packers are still chasing the zombie Cardinals and must remain a game up on the Seahawks to avoid losing the NFC’s top seed on a tiebreaker if it were to come to that. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -5

Buccaneers at Panthers
Was Carolina’s surprising beat down of New Orleans a fluke or are the Panthers legitimately back to playing competent football? I don’t know. I thought Carolina turned a corner after their tie in Cincinnati. Then I thought they’d come out of the bye with renewed energy and focus with the division still in reach. I was dead wrong both times. Anyway, I think the Panthers beat Tampa Bay with Derek Anderson, again. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -3

Bengals at Browns
Count me as one of the millions of fans who consider this AFC North match up must-see TV. Am I a Johnny Manziel fan? Nope. Do I like the Browns? Not particularly. Do I hate Manziel? No. I just want to see Manziel play. Is he rookie-season Robert Griffin III? Is he 2014 Griffin III? Geno Smith? I want to know. Sunday is the first piece to the puzzle. Also, he’ll lose his debut. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +1

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Jets at Titans
No one is watching this game outside of Geno Smith’s parents. I wonder, since it’s fantasy football playoff time, is there a single team in a fantasy football playoff starting any player in this contest? Delanie Walker is likely the only possibility and not a very strong one either. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans +2.5

Broncos at Chargers
Too many people are panicking over Peyton Manning’s lackluster (by his standards) performances of late. Chill, people. Dating back to their Week 11 loss to the Rams, Denver has faced the 10th, 3rd, 2nd, and 5th ranked pass defenses. Manning and the Bronco offense still managed to score at least 24 points in three of those contests. Things won’t get easier this week. San Diego owns the 8th ranked pass defense. Expect another big day from C.J. Anderson. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -4.5

Vikings at Lions
The Lions defense is vastly underrated despite surrendering the fewest points in the NFL. Regardless of which defensive ranking system or equation you use, the Lions rank in the top three. On top of Detroit’s stellar defense, Matthew Stafford and the offense have started to find a groove, too. Arizona’s win Thursday pretty much relegated the Lions to the 6th seed if they’re unable to overtake Green Bay for the NFC North crown. That’s bad news for whomever wins the NFC East. Obviously, a lot can change over the next three games, but the Lions haven’t lost to a losing team all season (Carolina was 2-0 at the time). I’m not expecting them to start now. 11-5 will get Detroit into the postseason. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions -7.5

49ers at Seahawks
If there’s anything to bring the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick back to life, it’d be a date with their hated division riv… yeah you’re right. San Francisco is toast. Still, 10.5 points feels like a big spread for a limited Seattle offense. As bad as the 49ers have been, their defense has remained at an elite level for most of the season. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers +10.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Cowboys at Eagles
I can’t get Mark Sanchez’s stink off of me. Every time I think the Eagles will be ok I remember Sanchez is the starting quarterback and anxiety attacks ensue. Also, I know Jason Garrett is a horrendous coach, but I doubt even he’s dumb enough to go with a passive offensive approach again. Bradley Fletcher is the worst cornerback I’ve seen all year. At least 72% of deep balls thrown his way end in completions or pass interference penalties. (That number is slightly exaggerated.) I expect the Cowboys (and anyone playing the Eagles) to target Fletcher often.

On the plus side, Dallas’ defense is bad. The Eagles should have success on the ground as they did two weeks ago. That’ll be the key. Sanchez needs a potent ground game so he doesn’t have to throw in tight spaces, or as some would say, do things required of an NFL quarterback. Also, the Eagles defense has been great at home. They’ve surrendered a fair amount of points but most of those points have come in garbage time. I said if the Eagles lost to Seattle they’d lose to Dallas. I still felt that way until two minutes ago. Dallas sucks. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -3

Public Service Announcement:

This man sleeps with another man’s wife:

DeMarco Murray

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Saints at Bears
If things break their way Sunday, the Saints could be playing for 1st place in the NFC South. On the other side of the ball, Jay Cutler will absolutely be distracted by the fact he’s just two weeks from a six month vacation. On a serious note, Cutler is undeniably talented, so why does he have the same disappointing season over and over again? What kind of coach will it take to get Cutler to the next level? Is there a coach capable of such a feat? I’m no psychologist, but Cutler and Andy Reid would work well. Reid has his flaws, but players always loved playing for him. Cutler needs to be handled with kid gloves. Reid rarely, if ever, rattles the cages of his players. It’ll never happen, but Reid and Cutler would make a nice team. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -3

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Season:        114 – 91 – 2
Last Week:   8 – 7 – 1

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