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Week 6 NFL Picks

Dallas’ rookies have taken the NFL by storm. Ezekiel Elliott is steamrolling opponents and Dak Prescott appears unflappable. Are the Cowboys really this good? (Photo from USA Today)

Last Week:  7 – 7 – 0
Season:    44 – 33 – 0

Thursday Recap

Broncos 13 at Chargers 21
Midway through the 3rd quarter Thursday night I found myself rooting against the Chargers. I can’t remember the last time a team tried so hard not to lose instead of actually trying to win. The Chargers had three 1st downs the entire 2nd half, one of which came via Denver penalty. After throwing for 130 yards in the 1st quarter, Philip Rivers threw for only 48 yards the rest of the game. Rivers’ last pass attempt came at the 4:07 mark in the 3rd quarter. At one point, CBS’s Phil Simms stated, “If they want a 1st down, they’re going to have to throw it.” Sorry, Phil, the Chargers didn’t want 1st downs in the 2nd half. They just wanted to survive. And they barely did that.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

49ers at Bills
Starting Colin Kaepernick is an interesting twist in San Francisco. If you could’ve pick one quarterback in the NFL to run Chip Kelly’s offense at the start of the 2013 NFL season, you likely would have selected Kaepernick. Unfortunately, Kaepernick’s career derailed in 2014 and he’s been mostly watching from the sidelines since. Here’s his shot, in an offense that should maximize his talents. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers won by 20 Sunday in Buffalo. I also wouldn’t think twice if they received a beat down by 20. I do know Kelly made the right choice in giving Kaepernick a shot. Blaine Gabbert was a dead end. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Bills -9

Eagles at Redskins
I didn’t like last week’s game for the Eagles. I really hate this one. The Jay Gruden Redskins have tormented the Eagles. In 2014, the Eagles went into FedEx Field with their playoff lives on the line. Favored over the 3-11 Redskins by 8 points, the Eagles overcame a 10 point 4th quarter deficit to tie the game before Kai Forbath kicked the game winner with only seconds left. Last season the Eagles were officially eliminated from playoff contention when they surrendered the NFC East to the Redskins in Philadelphia. It ended up being Chip Kelly’s last game with the Eagles. This rivalry is weird and the Eagles have been favored in each of their last three meetings. The Eagles are 0-3 over that stretch. They’re also favored Sunday. Act accordingly. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +3

Browns at Titans
The Titans are the least terrible AFC South team at the moment. DeMarco Murray has escaped the Chip Kelly stench and reverted back to his 2014 form. The defense ranks as a top ten unit in nearly every defensive category. Playing the Browns should bump Tennessee back to .500. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -7

Ravens at Giants
The Giants started the season 2-0 before dropping three straight. Baltimore has let victories slip away the last two weeks following a 3-0 start. Whether they like it or not, someone will have to win this game. (I guess they could tie, but whatever.) After firing their offensive coordinator, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Ravens offense actually scores some points. Baltimore has reached the 30 point plateau only three times in their last 21 outings. They’re 1-2 in those games. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens +3

Panthers at Saints
I would have bet my mortgage on the Panthers winning last week. If not for Derek Anderson, Carolina would likely be 2-3 and the world would not be ending in Charlotte. It’s hard to blame a backup QB for making backup mistakes, but Anderson has been around long enough to know a few things. Like, protect the football when you’re running downfield. Or, don’t throw short on the corner fade in the red zone. In fairness to Anderson, calling for your backup QB to throw a corner fade on 1st and goal from the one with your season on the line is a fireable offense. I guess I’ll keep picking the Panthers, but my confidence level at this point is at an all time low. Cam Newton better be Superman again or Carolina’s season will officially be caput. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers No Line Yet

Jaguars at Bears
The Texans and Bill O’Brien look like fools right now. Houston paid Brock Osweiler $72 million ($37 guaranteed) to throw the football to DeAndre Hopkins. Through five games, Osweiler is doing a horrendous job of getting Hopkins the ball… and quarterbacking in general. Per game, Hopkins is averaging 8 targets, 4.4 receptions, 56.6 yards and .60 touchdowns. With Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and TJ Yates throwing him the football last season, Hopkins averaged 12 targets, 7 receptions, 95 yards, and .69 touchdowns. Hopkins was limited to less than 60 receiving yards five times last season. He’s had less than 60 in four of the Texans five games in 2016. What does this have to do with the Bears or Jaguars? Well, Brian Hoyer is now in Chicago playing on a one-year contract making only $2 million. In only 3.5 games, Hoyer has thrown for 1,094 yards, 6 touchdowns, zero interceptions and completed 71% of his attempts. In five starts, Osweiler has thrown 1,133 yards, 6 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and completed only 58% of his attempts. To recap, the Texans are paying $70 million more for a quarterback with lesser stats in more games and managed to negatively impact the offensive production of their best player. Well done, Houston! BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -2

Rams at Lions
Every week I pick a game no one cares about and rant about something completely unrelated. This week it’s “locker room talk.” Locker room talk is everywhere. It doesn’t just happen in locker rooms. It happens whenever and wherever men gather in numbers larger than three. The whole self-righteous persecution of Donald Trump’s “grab her by the bleep” video leak is nauseating. Let me be clear, I’m in no way defending what Trump said or the environment excuse he used to justify his words. I’m not even defending Trump in any way, shape or form. I’m blasting phony people like LeBron James, Bill Clinton and a plethora of athletes who claim that’s not what is talked about in locker rooms. Please. I’ve been in locker rooms since I was a kid. I went to college. I still occasionally go to bars. The things men talk about in these settings are alarmingly similar to what Trump said to Billy Bush. Sure, I’ve never actually heard anyone say, “Grab them by the p****,” but the message is the same: Men believing they have uninhibited rights to women whenever and however they please. Only Aqib Talib of the Broncos was honest enough to admit Trump’s words actually fit the locker room. Am I really supposed to believe LeBron’s locker room in Cleveland doesn’t belittle women and discuss them as sexual objects? Wasn’t it JR Smith who posted an image of a woman’s butt for the entire world to see? Didn’t the Minnesota Vikings arrange a small cruise full of strippers and prostitutes for a drug filled orgy? “Locker room talk” or whatever you want to call it exists everywhere. Pretending you’re immune to its existence or have never taken part in it’s message of misogyny is ignorant and quite frankly, a flat out lie. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +3

Steelers at Dolphins
Ken Bone went from America’s most beloved to repulsive in record time. The Steelers went from most overrated after being drubbed by the Eagles to AFC favorite after outscoring the Chiefs and Jets 74-27. Life comes at you fast. Stay woke. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -7.5

Bengals at Patriots
Tom Brady is back. That is all. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +10

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chiefs at Raiders
The AFC West is football’s best division this year. I’m not sure that’s up for debate. No one was surprised when the 1-4 Chargers defeated the 4-1 Broncos Thursday night. Nor do I believe anyone will be surprised when the 2-2 Chiefs topple the 4-1 Raiders Sunday afternoon. The Raiders are good. However, they’ve been fortunate to escape with victories the last two weeks. I like Andy Reid teams out of the bye. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs +1

Falcons at Seahawks
After Sunday, the Falcons will have played four of their first six games away from the Georgia Dome. Their road victories have been most impressive, too; at Oakland, at New Orleans, at Denver. A win Sunday in Seattle would certainly make the Falcons the NFC team to beat outside of Minnesota, but a loss would do little to the probability of them making the playoffs. Of Atlanta’s final ten games, six will be at home and only three of their final ten will be against teams currently above .500. Barring another collapse, the Falcons appear a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. I’m confident the outcome in Seattle won’t change my mind. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -6

Cowboys at Packers
Let me preface what I’m about to say with this; The Cowboys offense is really good. Ezekiel Elliot is a throwback runner, capable of going through you or by you. He’s honestly a joy to watch. (Man, it hurts to admit that.) Dak Prescott has proven himself more than capable. Everything that’s been thrown at him he’s handled with the poise and skill of a proven veteran. Add in Dallas’ offensive line, and the Cowboys are a real threat because of their ability to control the clock and move the football. With that said, I’m still not convinced the Cowboys (or Eagles for that matter) are all that good. Look at their opponents thus far. Dallas opponents have posted a 9-16 record (.36 win percentage) with a point differential of -114. Philadelphia’s opponents haven’t been much better. They’re 7-13 (.35 win percentage) with a point differential of -62. Dallas’ most impressive win came last week over a Bengals team I thought to be a good team. The Eagles best win came against a high powered Pittsburgh offense that looks flukier by the week. The NFC East isn’t great, so both teams should remain in the playoff hunt for the duration of the season, but I’m not ready to declare either one a playoff threat outside of the division. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -4

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Colts at Texans
Dating back to the 2011 NFL Draft, two AFC South teams have picked in the top 10 in every draft. Just in case you don’t understand, that means two top 10 talents have been added to the division each year for the last six years. Five quarterbacks have been drafted with those picks, two by both the Jaguars and Titans. The Colts, Jaguars and Titans all start quarterbacks drafted with a top three pick. The other AFC South team just signed a 25 year-old quarterback to a $72 million deal. My question is this: WHY IS THE AFC SOUTH STILL THIS BAD?!?!?! HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?!?!!? Can President Obama bailout the AFC South much like he did the American auto companies? TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -3

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Jets at Cardinals
Last week the 1-3 Buccaneers and the 1-3 Panthers battled on Monday Night Football. I went into the game expecting a fun, highly executed battle. Both teams were desperate. You could argue their respective seasons were on the line. It should have been a great game with playoff intensity. But nope. We were treated to a dumpster fire instead. The Jets are 1-4 and can pretty much write off their 2016 season with a loss. The Cardinals are in a slightly better position, but the uncertain play of Carson Palmer through the first quarter of the season can’t be comforting. I thought the Jets were a playoff team heading into the season and I still believed that to be true two weeks ago. Now I have no idea what to think about either team. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets +7.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 5 – 9 – 0
Season:    37 – 38 – 2

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