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Week 7 NFL Picks

Superman is real. Too bad Superman can’t play cornerback. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Season:       59 – 31 – 1
Last Week: 10 – 4 – 1

Thursday Recap

Jets 25 at Patriots 27
Geno Smith played his steadiest game of the season. He wasn’t great but he didn’t do anything to hurt the Jets. That’s a positive sign for Smith and the Jets. If he could string a couple of consistent outings together, that’d be nice for Rex Ryan and the Jets, too. The Jets aren’t making the playoffs. We know that. We also know they’re better than their 1-6 record. Despite a wildly unpredictable quarterback and a mostly stagnant offense, the Jets respectably battled the Packers, Lions, Broncos and Patriots. Wins are all that count in this league, and coming close against top teams won’t protect Rex Ryan’s job, but it’s not like the Jets are the worst team in the NFL. The combined record of their opponents after Week 1 is 25-11. Expect the Jets to finish around .500 over the next ten weeks.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Falcons at Ravens
There isn’t a single respectable defense in the NFC South right now. Even Carolina’s top ranked defense from 2013 is in shambles. The NFC South is the only division in football where all four teams have a negative point differential. Good luck winning on the road without defense. Also, Steve Smith would like to share his words of wisdom for the week: “Internet courage is like a Cover 2 corner.” Once again, Steve Smith is the best. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley: Ravens -6.5

Titans at Redskins
The Redskins find themselves in a difficult position. In addition to outplaying the opponent, the Redskins must outlast their own quarterback. Kirk Cousins was simply awful last week in Arizona. The epic meltdown on Thursday night a few weeks ago was worse, but most young quarterbacks have at least one of those games. It’s the second meltdown that’s inexcusable. With Cousins under center, I feel I should never pick the Redskins again. Yet, after last week’s performance against Jacksonville, I couldn’t possibly pick the Titans. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley: Redskins -6

Seahawks at Rams
The Percy Harvin trade is a head-scratcher. As I wrote earlier in the week, the Seattle offense looked lost without an effective Harvin against the Cowboys. There was no apparent reason for Seattle to bail on Harvin for a conditional mid-round pick after they surrendered multiple picks (including a 1st rounder) to get him just 18 months ago. Percy has remained mostly healthy this season. The only explanation is problems in the locker room. Was Harvin a headache? Did Russell Wilson want him gone? (It seems worth noting that Wilson’s Twitter feed didn’t lament the loss of Harvin. Hmmmm.) Or did Pete Carroll just abandon what he considered a failed experiment before the situation was totally unsalvageable? We may never know, but the situation has a funky smell to it. [UPDATE: By the time I got around to post this week’s picks, multiple sources reported Harvin was indeed a locker room cancer. Read those reports here and here.] SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley: Seahawks -7

Browns at Jaguars
Cleveland is riding high right now behind the 3-2 Browns. Only a LeBron James injury or an embarrassing defeat to the winless Jaguars could suck the wind from Cleveland’s sails. On a different note, is anyone else slightly disappointed the Browns have performed well this season? I have nothing against the Browns, but I’m very interested to see what Johnny Manziel looks like as an NFL quarterback. As long as the Browns and Brian Hoyer keep winning, Manziel will remain a mystery… on the field, that is. I’m pretty sure he’s a douche otherwise. BROWNS If I were Charles Barkley: Browns -6

Bengals at Colts
It may be time to add the 2014 Cincinnati defense to the Missing In Action list, joining Carolina, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and New Orleans. (All finished in the top ten in 2013. Cincinnati is currently 14th, KC 18th and the other three sit no higher than 28th.) Aside from Vontaze Burfict’s head issues (concussions, bone-headed penalties), the defense has remained mostly healthy, so the drop off is perplexing. This much is true, though, if the defense isn’t right Sunday, the Bengals can only hope and pray for another tie. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley: Bengals +3.5

Vikings at Bills
Buffalo’s offense is so hard to watch. After the 2014 season, I hope we can all agree that CJ Spiller’s “explosive athleticism” translates to nothing on the football field. At this point, I’d make sure I threw the ball in Sammy Watkins’ direction at least 15 times per game. He’s bound to make something happen at least 40% of the time. Buffalo’s defense is too good at home to lose this one. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley: Bills -6

Dolphins at Bears
Chicago is 0-2 at home and 3-1 on the road. At home, the Bears have yet to surpass 20 points. On the road, the Bears have yet to score less than 24. The Bears finish the season with five of their last seven at home. Right now, I’m not sure that’s a positive. Miami is getting close to a must win situation if they have any hopes of winning the division. They need this win Sunday. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley: Dolphins +3.5

Saints at Lions
Only three teams have allowed fewer than 100 points through six weeks. The Ravens, Chargers and… the Lions. Go ahead, take some time. Pick your face up off the keyboard. I’ll wait. … Yes, the Lions are currently leading the NFL in points against, only allowing an impressive 82 points. If it weren’t for a miserable kicking situation, Detroit would be 5-1 and alone atop the NFC North. However, before you buy stock in the Lion defense, consider this: Three of Detroit’s six opponents rank 27th or lower in offensive efficiency. Of the other three opponents, only the Packers rank in the top ten. Translation: I’m taking another week or two to decide how I feel about Detroit’s defense. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley: Saints +2

Panthers at Packers
Aaron Rodgers is baaaad news for the Panthers. Carolina’s defense is really bad right now. The “non-suspension” suspension of Greg Hardy decimated Carolina’s pass rush, exposing a talent-deprived secondary. To compensate, Carolina is asking more of its versatile linebackers, which in turn is hurting the run defense. Cam Newton has bailed out the Panthers many times this year but even he won’t be enough if the defense can’t muster up some sort of pass rush to harass Rodgers. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley: Packers -7

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chiefs at Chargers
The Chargers flirted with disaster last week before outlasting the Raiders. The Chiefs are better than people think. I’m taking the Chiefs to pull the upset. Andy Reid’s teams are generally very tough after the bye. Also, the Chargers battle the Broncos on Thursday night in Week 8. Maybe they’re looking past the Chiefs here. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley: Chiefs +3.5

Cardinals at Raiders
The Raiders might win a game this season. It just won’t be Sunday. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley: Cardinals -4

Giants at Cowboys
I’m picking this game purely as an Eagles fan. I have no logical explanation for picking the Giants. However, the Giants have long been the thorn in Dallas’ side. New York spoiled the opening of Jerry Jones’ playhouse. At the close of the 2011 season, with the division and a playoff berth on the line, the Giants blew out the Cowboys in Dallas. The Cowboys are finally getting praise and attention for being one of the NFL’s top teams. They’re riding high. The Giants need this win. It’s a perfect storm. A loss Sunday to the Giants would epitomize the Tony Romo era Cowboys. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley: Giants +6.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

49ers at Broncos
This is the toughest stretch of Denver’s schedule. After hosting the 49ers, Denver hosts San Diego before traveling to New England. I think San Francisco’s defense has been spectacular this season despite all the injuries. The statistics don’t back that up, but outside of that 2nd half against Chicago, they really haven’t had a bad game. If I had even the slightest bit of trust in San Francisco’s running game, I’d pick the 49ers. Unfortunately, the 49ers can’t and don’t run the football anymore. That means I’d have to pick Colin Kaepernick to beat Peyton Manning. No thanks. BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley: Broncos -6.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Texans at Steelers
The Steelers need this win badly. In the last three weeks, Pittsburgh blew a victory to Tampa Bay, squeaked by the lowly Jaguars, and got humiliated by the Browns. Meanwhile, the Texans fell in overtime to the 5-1 Cowboys and nearly pulled off a spectacular comeback against the Colts. The Texans are simply a better team, assuming of course, they don’t sleepwalk to a 24 point deficit again. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley: Texans +3

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Season:        49 – 41 – 1
Last Week:   8 – 7 – 0

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