Week 16 NFL Picks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the most important week of the NFL’s season. Playoff lives can be sealed, divisions won, and seasons full of hope and expectations destroyed. The spiked eggnog will flow in Philly tonight. Whether it’s to celebrate or mourn remains to be seen.

Last Week:  8 – 8 – 0
Season:      139 – 85 – 0

I’m not going to kid myself. It’s Christmas Eve. No one is reading this unless they hate their family, hate Christmas, got stuck in traffic, or need something to do while using the facilities. Therefore, we’re going to keep it short it and sweet. Some games don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Others do, and fewer mean a lot. Let’s get to it before I catch Santa eating the snacks my wife left out for me.

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Colts at Texans
For the past two months I’ve done nothing but praise the resiliency of the Houston Texans. After the Texans dropped two in a row to teams with a combined seven wins, I’d like to acknowledge I could be wrong. Maybe the Texans aren’t resilient, or good for that matter. At least we know this: Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Mario Williams were not critical to Houston’s success. Wade Philips apparently is. Since his leave, the Texans are 0-2. A playoff team needing Philips. You can’t make this stuff up.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Raiders at Chiefs
Really matters. The Chiefs need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Raiders need a win to keep their less but still pretty slim playoff hopes alive. In other words, someone goes crying home to mommy after this one. I honestly have no idea who. The Raiders may not bounce back from last week’s collapse to Detroit. However, the Chiefs could be feeling a little too high after taking down the champion Packers. I’ll take the home team, I guess. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -1

Jaguars at Titans
Barely matters, and only for three reasons. 1. The Titans are still technically in the hunt for the last AFC Wildcard spot. 2. Many fantasy leagues have their championship rounds this week. While I doubt that any Chris Johnson owners made the finals, I’m sure someone out there is hoping he doesn’t suck. 3. The Jaguars still must figure out if Blaine Gabbert is a starting NFL quarterback or a spokesman for Selsun Blue. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -7

Dolphins at Patriots
Matters. The Patriots need to keep winning to hold on to that top spot in the AFC. The Dolphins have played well of late. Reggie Bush has proven he can handle the workload of an every down back and Matt Moore has moved the offense effectively. Regardless, the Patriots at home late in the regular season with home field advantage on the line is too much for Miami to overcome. Plus, Tom Brady is pretty good. If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -9.5

Cardinals at Bengals
Definitely matters. The Cardinals need to keeping winning and hope the Falcons and Lions fall apart in order to miraculously make the postseason. The Bengals need a win to stay in contention for the 6th spot in the AFC. Poor Kevin Kolb got benched in favor of Michael Vick in 2010 after suffering an injury.  In 2011, Kolb has again been benched after an injury. This time, Kolb has been benched so that Tim Tebow NFC style – John Skelton can play. Also, a U.S. Senator is apparently upset that the NFL still blacks out games in local markets if the stadium doesn’t sell out. Really? Our country is collapsing and this dope cares about NFL blackouts? BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals -4.5

Broncos at Bills
Matters a lot. The Broncos can’t let a deflating loss to New England turn into a multi-game slide. A win eliminates the Chiefs from contention and could secure the AFC West if Oakland were to lose. That shouldn’t matter, though. Denver needs to get its defense back on track. Without a solid defense buying Tim Tebow and the offense as much time as possible, the Broncos will be an easy out come playoff time. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -3

Rams at Steelers
Doesn’t really matter. Yes, if the Ravens find a way to lose to Cleveland, then this one matters. Otherwise, Pittsburgh is locked into that 5th seed and is obviously focused on getting Ben Roethlisberger healthy for another playoff run. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -12.5

Giants at Jets
Matters a whole lot. It’s not totally do-or-die, but it might as well be. The Jets can’t afford another loss. At 8-6, they’re holding onto a playoff spot over the Bengals thanks to a tiebreaker. A loss would put the Jets in danger of missing the playoffs. The same is true for the Giants. However, a loss wouldn’t completely end their season unless Dallas also won. Let’s go Jets. Do it for the Eagles. If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -3

Vikings at Redskins
Nothing matters. Move along. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins -7

Buccaneers at Panthers
Ditto. Funny, the Buccaneers entered 2011 as a team on the rise with a bright future while the Panthers entered in disarray and lacking hope. A few months later, the tables have turned. The Bucs are a mess with no certain future, and the Panthers have a franchise cornerstone and something to build upon. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers +7.5

Browns at Ravens
Matters to Baltimore. The Ravens dodged a HUGE bullet last week when Pittsburgh fell to the 49ers. With the AFC North still in its possession, the Ravens can clinch the conference’s 2nd seed by winning out. Please, Joe Flacco, all I want for Christmas is for you to shave that freaky mustache. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -12.5

Game to Watch: Giants at Jets
Game on Call: Raiders at Chiefs

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chargers at Lions
Matters. The Chargers can still somehow win the AFC West and even the last Wildcard berth with a ton of help. The Lions can clinch their first playoff berth since the Model-T Ford with a win. A Lions collapse was on my Christmas wish list right below an Eagles division title and above an automatic diaper-changing device. The Lions don’t beat superior passing teams. They just don’t. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +2

Eagles at Cowboys
Possibly matters. Depends on the outcome of the battle for New York. A Jets win makes this a heart attack game for me. A Giants win means the Eagles are done. Either way, I think the Eagles pull it out. What better way to end a season than to make Dallas suffer through another disappointing collapse? It’ll be a tough game for the Eagles, but not as tough as the unavoidable discussion between me and my wife when I tell her I’ll be late to the Christmas Eve party. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +1.5

49ers at Seahawks
Ok, it matters. Why? The 49ers are still alive for the NFC’s top seed until either they lose or the Packers win. The Seahawks are still fighting for a Wildcard berth but would need Atlanta and Detroit to crash and burn. So really, this is simply an opportunity for Pete Carrol and Jim Harbaugh to resume their pissing match from their days in the Pac 12. The 49ers looked spectacular defensively in Monday’s win over Pittsburgh. However, that offense won’t get it done in the playoffs. You can’t convince me otherwise. I like the Seahawks at home. Since the Lions and Falcons don’t play earlier in the day, Seattle will still have something to play for. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks +2

Game to Watch: Eagles at Cowboys
Game on Call: Chargers at Lions

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Bears at Packers
Matters slightly… but only if San Francisco wins on Sunday. Caleb Hanie played the Bears right out of the playoffs, so it’s just another division game for Chicago. Meanwhile, the Packers can clinch the NFC’s top seed with a win or 49ers loss. Unfortunately for the Bears, Aaron Rodgers had an off day last week. I wouldn’t expect two in a row. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -12

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Falcons at Saints
Still Matters. At two games back, the Falcons would need to win their last two games and hope New Orleans drops its final two in order to leapfrog the Saints for the NFC South title. I wouldn’t rule it out. The Panthers are certainly capable of beating any team on any given Sunday. Next week’s season finale between the Saints and Panthers would be intriguing if it were to decide the division. However, that game only matters if Atlanta finds a way to win on Monday night. Not going for it on 4th and inches at your own 30 in overtime would be a nice start. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons +7


If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 7 – 8 – 1
Season:     110 – 105 – 9

[Programming Alert: Since the day after Week 16 is Christmas Day, I probably won’t have a recap. Not that you would read it anyway, because, you know, it’s Christmas.]

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