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Week 16 NFL Picks

I didn’t post my picks on Friday because I thought the world was ending. Well, the world didn’t end, so I had to scramble Saturday morning to catch up. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Not as many playoff matchups in Week 16 as we saw in Week 15. On the other hand, most of those Week 15 playoff matchups ended in blowouts so perhaps we’ll get a more competitive weekend of football this time around.

Last Week:  10 – 6 – 0
Season:     140 – 83 – 1

Saturday Night (8:30PM ET)

Falcons at Lions
This one certainly looked more intriguing in September than it does now. The Falcons can clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs and a two week vacation with a win, so I expect close to their best effort. As for the Lions, at least based on their Week 15 performance, I would guess they hate their coach, hate each other, and hate football. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -4

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Saints at Cowboys
Ok, Drew Brees, this is your shot. We all know you hate the commish and would do whatever you could to make his life miserable. Obviously, the NFL wants the Cowboys and Redskins (two of the league’s most popular franchises) in the playoff chase heading into Week 17. While a Dallas loss wouldn’t eliminate the Cowboys, it would certainly hurt their playoff chances. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints +3

Titans at Packers
I already picked the Packers to win the NFC earlier this week, so I should probably move on before I declare them Super Bowl champs. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -13

Colts at Chiefs
When the phrases “clinch a playoff berth” and “against the Chiefs” are paired in the same sentence, you know it’s Christmas time. After Peyton Manning got the Colts to the postseason in 1999 (his 2nd season), he returned them and every team he’s played for to the playoffs each year except for one (2001). That’s 12 playoff appearances in 13 years. (I’m not including 2011.) Wouldn’t surprise me if Andrew Luck did the same. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -7

Bills at Dolphins
The Bills face an offseason full of questions. Perhaps the most interesting is what they do with their crowded backfield. CJ Spiller is the more explosive playmaker. I like Buffalo’s offense more when he’s involved. Then again, Buffalo just extended Fred Jackson in the offseason. Look around the NFL; teams that try the two-headed backfield monster without an elite quarterback rarely succeed anymore. Carolina made it work for a couple of years, but it’s been a disaster since. The Cowboys (Barber, Jones), Raiders (McFadden, Jones), and Chiefs (Charles, Hillis) are other examples. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills +4.5

Chargers at Jets
The Jets are funny. Over the summer the Jets gladly welcomed the increased media coverage that came with acquiring Tim Tebow. Now, they’re trying to hide from it and sell themselves as victims of it. 99.9% of us knew Tebow to the Jets made no sense, especially if he wasn’t going to play quarterback. Sitting him on the bench and ignoring his uncanny ability to rally a lost team made even less sense. The nonsense about the Jets keeping Tebow sidelined due to fears of him succeeding and fans clamoring for another season of Tebow is just that; nonsense. Clearly, the Jets front office doesn’t care what fans think. Besides, if Tebow played well, he’d have some trade value. Instead, the Jets will likely cut Tebow, live another year with Sanchez or bring in a proven veteran like Michael Vick. And by proven veteran I mean an older quarterback that’s never accomplished much of anything. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +2.5

Redskins at Eagles
Let’s rewind the clock to 2008. The Eagles, having won three straight, sat at 8-5-1. Donovan McNabb led the Eagles into the nation’s capital to take on the 7-7 Redskins, who were eliminated from playoff contention. With a win, the Eagles would control their own playoff destiny. A loss would drop the Eagles behind the Cowboys and Buccaneers and all but eliminate their playoff hopes. Well, Reggie Brown was stopped three feet short of the game-tying touchdown as time expired and the Eagles lost 10-3. It was an ugly, unexpected loss that many believed ended the Eagles season. Even Andy Reid thought the Eagles were done. “We’re still alive?” Reid asked when someone mentioned the Eagles still had a shot. (The Eagles did, and they made the postseason by crushing the Cowboys after the Raiders SHOCKED the Buccaneers earlier in the day. Good times.) Sunday will likely be Reid’s final home game. Eagles players still love and respect Reid. They’ll send him out on a high note. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +6.5

Bengals at Steelers
I don’t trust the Bengals in big games. In 2011, Cincinnati didn’t beat a single playoff team. In the playoffs following the 2011 season, a Texans team sporting a backup rookie quarterback dominated the Bengals. Not much has changed in 2012. Against teams currently in competition for playoff spots, the Bengals are 2-4. One of those victories came against the Redskins in Week 3. The other was a thrashing of the multiple personality disorder New York Giants. Furthermore, the Bengals haven’t defeated the Steelers since November 15, 2009. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -3

Rams at Buccaneers
The Rams have some really nice wins to build on for 2013. If they can beat the Seahawks in Week 17, they’ll finish with an undefeated division record of 5-0-1. I know that’s not equivalent to making the playoffs, but it’s a great consolation prize for a franchise that hasn’t had much of anything to celebrate since the Kurt Warner days. Unfortunately for Jeff Fisher and St. Louis, they’ll have to live with trading away Robert Griffin III for as long as they live or as long as it takes for Sam Bradford to develop into a franchise quarterback and lead the Rams to a Super Bowl. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -3

Raiders at Panthers
Write it down: The Carolina Panthers will be a playoff team in 2013. It only took 22 months for Ron Rivera and his coaching staff to figure out how to run the offense. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -8.5

Patriots at Jaguars
Denver’s not losing over the next two weeks and Houston won’t finish 0-2, especially because the Colts will have nothing to play for in Week 17 after clinching this week. Therefore, the Patriots should be wary of serious injuries like the one that cost them Wes Welker a few seasons ago and the one that took out Rob Gronkowski last year. The Patriots could beat the Jaguars with a shorthanded lineup anyway. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +14.5

Vikings at Texans
The Texan defense struggles against teams that can throw the football. The Vikings are not one of those teams. Adrian Peterson is indeed the most unstoppable man in football right now, but he can’t beat the Texans by himself. Besides, I really believe the Texans found their offensive groove in that second half against the Colts. Look for Arian Foster to steal the attention from AP. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -7.5

Late Games (4:25PM ET)

Bears at Cardinals
I’m interested to see if the Bears have shut it down for the season or if they’ll fight. Brandon Marshall is a fighter. The Bears defense is made up of fighters (well, minus Julius Peppers). Jay Cutler is not a fighter. The minute things go south, Cutler folds up his chair and goes home. If Chicago’s offense doesn’t start fast, the Bears season will come crumbling down. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -6

Browns at Broncos
Jason Weeden vs. Peyton Manning. Need I say more? BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -13.5

Giants at Ravens
I think the Giants are done. I really do. Injuries have killed the Giants this season. There’s no denying that. The secondary has been ravaged by injuries for what feels like the 4th season in a row, Hakeem Nicks hasn’t been right and Ahmad Bradshaw can’t stay healthy. Defensively, the Giants front four hasn’t been anywhere near as dominant as expected. Even Eli Manning has been unstable, resorting to his turnover-happy ways. I know the Ravens are equally as lousy and overrated, but… never mind… I just realized I was about to pick Joe Flacco over Eli Manning in what equates to a playoff game. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -2.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

49ers at Seahawks
I trust the Seahawks offense more than I trust San Francisco’s. In a game between two great defenses, the offense with the better ground game and more reliable quarterback win more often than not. Although he’s only a rookie, I trust Russell Wilson in big games. He won me over in Chicago last month. I don’t trust Colin Kaepernick just yet. His throwing motion scares me. It has an unusual windup aspect to it that delays the release ever so slightly. If you noticed, the Patriots defensive secondary was so inept Kaerpernick never needed to squeeze a ball into tight coverage. Against Seattle, he will, and that extra second will give the Seahawks’ ball-hawking defense plenty of turnover opportunities. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -0.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 10 – 6 – 0
Season:  114 – 103 – 7

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