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Week 15 NFL Picks

I previously thought Eli Manning and the Giants would down the undefeated Panthers. Um, nope. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Last Week: 11 – 5 – 0
Season: 130 – 78 – 0

Thursday Recap

Buccaneers 23 at Rams 31
I only watched the 4th quarter, so I won’t pretend I have any idea what went on Thursday night. However, I do know those St. Louis uniforms (below) were amazing.

Tavon Austin 12.17.15

Saturday (8:25PM ET)

Jets at Cowboys
Ryan Fitzpatrick is on pace for career highs in touchdowns, yards and QBR. The Jets deserve a ton of credit for seeing Fitzpatrick as a capable starter while many laughed in their faces (including me). Fitzpatrick’s averages last year were almost identical to his numbers this season. Add Fitzpatrick to the list of quarterbacks who’s had his best season in his 30s. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -3.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Bears at Vikings
The biggest threat to the Vikings playoff spot is the New York Giants. The Giants currently sit two games behind the Vikings and will meet Minnesota in Week 16. The Vikings then travel to Green Bay in Week 17. That could be two straight losses for a Minnesota team that has struggled to beat good teams this season. Of course, if the Giants are in a position to knock the Vikings from the playoffs they’re probably in position to win the NFC East, too. The Vikings can eliminate all the aforementioned nonsense if they win this week and the Giants lose. In fact, I think the Vikings could even clinch this week with a victory and losses by both the Giants and Eagles. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears +5.5

Falcons at Jaguars
Jacksonville started the season 1-5. The Falcons stormed out of the gates to a 5-0 record. Here we are in Week 15 and it’s the Jaguars with a real shot at the postseason. I can’t get over how things collapsed for Atlanta this season. Other than Devonta Freeman’s absence for two weeks, the Falcons have been relatively healthy. It’s been a constant barrage of turnovers and red zone failures that have doomed an offense that averaged 32 points per game through Week 5 and only 14 points per game since. That’s amazing. Matt Ryan is truly Matty Ice, as in Ice Cold. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars -3

Texans at Colts
People love to complain about how bad the NFL has been this year. I don’t really buy that. Sure, there are no great teams this season, and certainly fewer really good teams than normal, but the mediocrity has been exciting in itself. The Jaguars and Texans stumbled to start the season. Houston was once 1-4. As mentioned above, the Jaguars had one win in their first six games. After rallying to respectability – and with some help from a horrible division – there’s a very real chance the Texans and Jaguars are playing for the division in Week 17. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +1

Panthers at Giants
My apologies to the Panthers and their fans for not qualifying them as a “great” team. The Panthers are a really, really good team, and I’m still open to calling them a great team. I just need to see them reach the Super Bowl first. I previously believed this is where the Panthers would fall. While they still might, I don’t see the Giants pathetic defense having much success in stopping Carolina. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -4.5

Titans at Patriots
The Titans were surprisingly awful last week. I’m sure the Patriots wouldn’t mind if they were equally awful this week. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -14.5

Bills at Redskins
The Bills are still alive in the AFC Playoff hunt, but they’ll absolutely need a victory against a surprisingly resilient Redskins team. A Buffalo loss paired with a Jets win Saturday night would end Buffalo’s season. However, a Bills win would keep Buffalo within striking distance. The Jets host New England next week and then travel to Buffalo to close the season. The Bills host Dallas in Week 16. I’m not counting out the Bills just yet. In fact, I think they end up with the AFC’s final Wildcard spot. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills -1.5

Chiefs at Ravens
The Chiefs schedule is too easy over the next three weeks. They’re going to screw this up. I just know it. This isn’t me trying to prove I’m smart by predicting something. I’m just trying to prepare myself for the disappointment. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -7.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Browns at Seahawks
Russell Wilson has had his struggles this season, but you can’t find a better quarterback over the past month. Not even Cam Newton, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers has been as lights out as Wilson. Some speculate Wilson will struggle due to the loss of Thomas Rawls. I’m not convinced. Something turned for Wilson. I’ve never seen him read defenses and throw with as much as confidence as he does right now. He’s must-see TV. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -16

Packers at Raiders
Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting enough MVP consideration. I don’t think he deserves the award, but what he’s accomplished with what’s turned out to be one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps is somewhat remarkable. Rodgers will once again throw for 30 touchdowns and single digit interceptions. He may even surpass the 4,000 yard mark depending on how the final three weeks go. More importantly, the Packers will win 10+ games just as they have in five of the seven years Rodgers has been starting. (His first season as starting QB the Packers went 10-6. In 2013 Rodgers missed 7 games and the Packers finished 8-7-1, but were 6-3 in Rodgers’ starts.) Rodgers has done all this without a reliable running game, zero talent on the outside, a no-name tight end, a leaky and oft-injured offensive line, and a slot receiver that’s been double covered all season. He’s numbers don’t scream “MVP” like they have in the past, but this has been perhaps his most impressive season as he’s singlehandedly carried the Packers. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -3.5

Broncos at Steelers
There’s too much love floating around the Steelers, and that Broncos defense is really, really good. If the Broncos can muster that running game that comes and goes like the wind, they’ll be fine in Pittsburgh. If the running game is absent, Denver will lose by 20. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos +6.5

Dolphins at Chargers
Here are the conditions under which I’d switch my TV to this game. 1. The other four late games were either at halftime or over. 2. It’s a close game late in the 3rd quarter and the scoreboard displays no fewer than 70 combined points. 3. Ndamukong Suh and Dan Campbell fight on the sideline. (My money would be on Campbell.) CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -2

Bengals at 49ers
This is by no means an easy victory for the Bengals. They just lost their starting quarterback. A division rival blew them out last week. They’ve dropped three of their last five, including two at home. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Bengals lose here. Cincinnati doesn’t strike me as the most mentally and emotionally stable team in the NFL. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers +6

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Cardinals at Eagles
The Cardinals LOVE throwing deep. They average a higher yards per attempt than any other team. Arizona is also 3rd in the NFL in passing yards and 2nd in passing touchdowns. The Eagles, meanwhile, allow the 2nd most touchdown passes. If Fletcher Cox is whispering sweet nothings into Carson Palmer’s earhole all night, I suppose the Eagles have a shot. I just don’t see it happening. Smells like a blowout out to me, complete with a pick-six and multiple Eagle turnovers. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -3.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Lions at Saints
I don’t understand why ESPN doesn’t limit the Monday Night Football franchise to division games. While there’s no way to eliminate the threat of a matchup between two awful teams, you can at least count on an intense game between division foes. The Ravens-Browns and Cowboys-Redskins were both perfect examples of bad teams playing intense football because of the opponent. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -3

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 10 – 6 – 0
Season: 107 – 97 – 4

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