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Week 17 NFL Picks

The saddest time of the year is upon us. Christmas is over, the work grind goes until Memorial Day, and the NFL season comes to a close. Let’s say goodbye to the 2011 season by recalling the fondest moment for each team. Weekly picks are included, too. Feliz ano nuevo.

Last Week:  8 – 8 – 0
Season:      147 – 93 – 0

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Panthers at Saints
Sean Payton claims his team will go full bore on Sunday. I’m not buying. Unless the Rams miraculously bring in Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Torry Holt; there is no way they beat the 49ers. Therefore, the Saints are pretty much locked in at #3. Besides, the Panthers are playing so well right now that I wouldn’t blink if they toppled the mighty Saints in a shootout. That reminds me, if Carolina can smoothly transition from Steve Smith to another top wide receiver within the next two seasons, the Carolina offense could be the best in the loaded NFC South for the foreseeable future. To no one’s surprise, the Panthers best moment came on opening weekend when Cam Newton threw for over 400 yards. He only got better as the season went along, but to know their investment would paid off in Week 1 was a big deal. As for the Saints, it was Drew Brees breaking the passing record. Whether newer, more offensive-friendly rules impacted Brees’ stats will be debated endlessly (they did, by the way), but you can’t argue the award could go to a better person. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +9

Bills at Patriots
I’ve been away from my home since December 15th. I don’t control the TV clicker, I have limited time to read various websites, and I can’t watch PTI via my DVR. In other words, my knowledge of the sports world is lacking right now. I have no idea what’s going on with Tom Brady. I just know something about “missing practice” and “shoulder” continually flash across Twitter. Unless he can’t throw or his arm is literally falling off, I expect Brady to play with the AFC’s top seed on the line. After such a successful season, you may be surprised that cutting Albert Haynesworth was the Patriots best moment, but considering they’re 7-0 since the move, it makes sense. The Bills best moment of the season came the day before they inked Ryan Fitzpatrick to his new deal. I have no clue what they did that day, but it’s significantly better than what happened the next day. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -10.5

Bears at Vikings
What a discouraging season for the Bears. Up until the Jay Cutler injury, Chicago was considered a legitimate contender in the NFC. Now, they’re coming off five straight losses and face losing Matt Forte in the offseason. However, with Mike Martz most likely out at season’s end, I’d expect the Bears offense to improve in 2012, if only slightly. As for the Vikings, the offense appears set for the long haul assuming two things: 1. Adrian Peterson’s recent knee injury doesn’t ruin his career. 2. Christian Ponder (or maybe Joe Webb) develops into an adequate NFL quarterback. Memorable moments: Bears – Cutting self-proclaimed drug lord Sam Hurd. Vikings – Cutting a lazy, overweight Donovan McNabb. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -1

Jets at Dolphins
If the Jets aren’t in the AFC playoff picture at 8PM ET on Sunday, I think we’ll all be better off. Unfortunately, the absence of Reggie Bush will only improve the Jets’ chances. Miami’s most significant contribution to the 2011 NFL season came when they allowed the legend of Tim Tebow to be born when they surrendered a double digit lead in the final five minutes of the 4th quarter. The Jets haven’t had a really good moment since coming from behind to defeat the Cowboys back in Week 1. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets +3

49ers at Rams
I just want to know: Do the Rams take Andrew Luck if they land the top overall pick? Speaking of the Rams, I’m not sure they had a great moment this season… oh wait, they beat the Saints. As for the 49ers, getting back to the playoffs and hiring Jim Harbaugh are one and two in some order. I’ll let you decide. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -10.5

Lions at Packers
The Packers have nothing to play for and have openly stated they’ll sit their stars early. Therefore, the Lions win and hold onto that 5th spot in the NFC. I’m not sure what exactly the Packers best moment of the season was. They’ve had a lot. As for the Lions, clinching a playoff berth was a really big deal. Like, super huge. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions -3

Redskins at Eagles
I’m still not over the funeral from last week. I will say this, though: I like the Eagles as is. A few changes here and there; and they’re contenders, if not favorites next season. And you know what? I’m not convinced I want Jaun Castillo gone anymore, either. Yep, I said it. The Eagles greatest moment was Vince Young’s 18 play, 8 minute and 51 second go-ahead drive against the Giants. Too bad it was all for naught. The Redskins best moment was London Fletcher crushing Tom Brady and then nearly tackling the official for throwing a flag. Ok, so maybe that was my favorite Redskins moment. Sorry. By the way, I think throwing this game for a better picks is beyond stupid. Winning is the only way to get better. Period. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -8.5

Colts at Jaguars
The Colts need a loss to secure the top overall pick. When your team’s best moment is inserting Dan Orlovsky into the starting role, you know you’ve had a rough year. However, knowing Blaine Gabbert is your franchise’s future may be even worse. The Jaguars season highlight was dominating the Baltimore offense in front of national audience. Thankfully, we won’t see Jacksonville in front of a national audience next season. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars -3.5

Titans at Texans
The Texans can’t improve their playoff positioning. They’re locked in at the third spot in the AFC. The Titans, on the other hand, still have a fighting chance at sneaking into the playoff field. Obviously, the Titans must first win. Then, Tennessee must hope for a Bengals loss later in the day. Speaking of the Titans, their season highlight was doubling up the Ravens way back in Week 2. Similarly, the Texans win over the Steelers was their signature moment. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -1

Game to Watch: Jets at Dolphins
Game on Call: Titans at Texans

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Seahawks at Cardinals
Neither team can reach the postseason. Essentially, they’re fighting over 2nd place in the NFC West or a higher draft pick. The Seahawks have played well this year, but no one expected them to beat the Ravens or the Giants in New York. As for the Cardinals, despite a disappointing season from Kevin Kolb, they can take solace is their 4th quarter comeback in Philadelphia and their surprising victory over Dallas in overtime. (It was a good year to pick on the NFC East.) SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks +3

Chiefs at Broncos
The magic has abandoned Tim Tebow. The past two weeks have forced him to win football games on skill and precision rather than grit and guts. Obviously, he’s come up short. This is his final shot at redemption. Win, and Denver rejoices with Tebow as they head to the playoffs. Lose, and Tebow may find himself competing for a job heading into 2012. The Chiefs are feisty and inspired under Romeo Crennel. Also, this is Kyle Orton’s chance to stick it to the team that dumped him midseason for Tebow. Obviously, there are plenty of juicy stories here. Tebow unquestionably provided Denver’s fondest moments. The win over the Jets probably takes the cake. The Chiefs should remember the firing of Todd Haley as the most positive moment of their 2011 season. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley; Broncos -3

Buccaneers at Falcons
The Falcons need a lot of help to avoid the Saints in the Wildcard round of the NFC Playoffs. Here are Atlanta’s best options: 1. Win and hope the Lions lose to Green Bay. Considering the Packers are expected to rest players, this is doubtful. 2. Hope the Saints win and the 49ers lose, pushing the Saints into the 2nd seed and dropping San Francisco to 3rd. The 49ers are hosting the Rams, so, again, doubtful. On a positive note, it’s hard to defeat a team three times in the same season. At least that’s what I kept telling myself before the Cowboys throttled my Eagles in the playoffs following the 2009 season. When it’s over for the Falcons, they’ll remember failing on 4th and inches from their own 30 in overtime, and surrendering the NFL passing record to Drew Brees. Ok, so those aren’t positive, but both define Atlanta’s season quite accurately (at least to this point). The Buccaneers can dwell on their 2nd half comeback over Minnesota way back in September and defeating New Orleans before losing nine straight. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -11.5

Ravens at Bengals
A lot is riding on this game for both teams. Baltimore maintains the AFC North crown and a first round bye with a win. A loss paired with a Pittsburgh victory drops the Ravens to 5th. For the Bengals, a win gives the franchise an unexpected playoff berth while a loss sinks them into a tiebreaker minefield with the Raiders, Jets, and Titans (depending on who wins on Sunday). That’s bad news for Cincinnati, because at 6-6 in the AFC, they’d be sunk unless the Titans were the only 8-7 AFC team to win this week. For the Bengals, the entire season has been a success. A playoff berth would be their finest moment. As they’ve made clear, the Ravens’ best moments were beating the hated Steelers. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -2

Steelers at Browns
Only matters if the Ravens lose, so expect the Steelers to be scoreboard watching. A blowout in Cincinnati would result in Pittsburgh pulling the plug and resting up for a daunting run at another Superbowl that would most likely require three road victories in the AFC Playoffs. The Steelers proudest moment was dominating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Browns’ was watching Rob Ryan’s defense struggle in Dallas. I’m going with Pittsburgh because I expect a tight game in Cincy. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -7

Chargers at Raiders
Tune in if you want to catch Norv Turner’s swan song. Or, if you want to watch the Raiders squander a shot at the playoffs. Even if Denver defeats the Chiefs to win the AFC West, Oakland has a real shot at the final Wildcard spot if the Bengals were to lose to Baltimore. The Raiders own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets, and assuming the Titans win and Bengals lose, the determining tiebreaker would be strength of victory where Oakland has the upper hand. (Or so I think.) Either way, the Raiders best moment was trading for Carson Palmer… at least that’s what the organization would want you to believe. The Chargers can hang their hat on crushing the Ravens and hoping we all ignore their embarrassing defeats throughout the season. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +3

Game to Watch: Chiefs at Bronocs
Game on Call: Ravens at Bengals

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Cowboys at Giants
I’m unbelievably excited and unbelievably devastated to watch the win-and-in finale. Obviously, a winner-take-all matchup is always entertaining and, unlike last season’s Rams-Seahawks showcase, the Cowboys and Giants actually have talent to make it an exciting game. It’s sad, though, to think the Eagles could clinch the NFC East with a win on Sunday had Alex Henery converted just one of two 36 yard field goals in the 4th quarter against San Francisco. I’m still haunted. Regardless, I like the Giants. This will be the best moment of the winning team’s season. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -2.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley
Last Week: 4 – 11 – 1
Season:     114 – 116 – 10

One Comment

  1. Hey Ryan,

    I’m happy for Tim Tebow and the broncos because even though they lost to the Chiefs they’re still in the playoffs thanks to the Chargers beating the Raiders. This is suppose to end the Broncos 6 year playoff drought, however I don’t think they’ll make it pass the first round since they’ll be playing the steelers.

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