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Week 7 NFL Picks

There’s no one better than Russell Wilson right now. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Last Week:   9 – 5 – 0
Season:       49 – 42 – 1

Thursday Recap

Chiefs 30 at Broncos 6
The rest of the NFL season without Patrick Mahomes would have been dreary, especially in the AFC. Thankfully, it appears he’ll miss about four games and return following Kansas City’s Week 12 bye. Good news for everyone. Though, the Chiefs have their work cut out for them. Denver’s offense did nothing to threaten Kansas City Thursday night so there was no real pressure on Matt Moore and the Chiefs offense to deliver. Outside of a 57 yard TD to Tyreek Hill, the offense did little. Kansas City’s run game is a also kind of a mess. With the Packers, Vikings, Titans (away) and Chargers on deck, the Chiefs have some obstacles ahead.

Threatening Your Tax Exempt Status (Bye Week)

Browns
The Browns are sloppy. They commit way too many penalties and kill themselves with way too many turnovers. The defense needs its secondary to get healthy and Freddie Kitchens needs to be shown the exit. I know it’s only been six games, but no coach looks more lost than Kitchens.

Steelers
If Pittsburgh can get a healthy quarterback for consecutive weeks they’ll make a playoff run. That defense is immensely talented and only needs a modest 17-20 points from the offense to win games. The worst part of their schedule is also behind them. The combined record of their remaining schedule is 17-30-1 compared to 22-13 the last six weeks.

Buccaneers
Not a great week for the 2015 Quarterback class. Marcus Mariota, the 2nd overall pick of the draft, was benched and now replaced as starter by Ryan Tannehill. The 1st overall pick in that draft, Jameis Winston, threw five interceptions and fumbled twice in a division loss to the Panthers. Winston likely won’t be benched, but this is a make-or-break year for Winston in Tampa.

Panthers
There are some questions about whether Cam Newton will be healthy after the bye. If the Panthers are smart, it shouldn’t matter. This isn’t a “Kyle Allen should remain the starter” take. This is a, “please protect Cam Newton” take. Three of Carolina’s next three opponents rank among the top 7 in adjusted sack rate. The 49ers, next week’s opponent, rank first and boast the league’s top defense. Don’t bring Newton back for that entire gauntlet. Give him one more week of rest.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Rams at Falcons
The Jalen Ramsey trade didn’t make sense to me for the Rams. I don’t see them making the playoffs for three reasons. 1. Their division is the strongest in the NFL and they’ve already dropped head-to-head matchups with the two teams ahead of them. This is the least significant reason, in my opinion. 2. Todd Gurley isn’t right. The Rams offense was unstoppable the last two seasons because everything they did revolved around Gurley. He was great. Now he appears to be chronically injured. 3. Jared Goff just isn’t very good when asked to carry the offense. The stats show as much. Essentially, the Rams’ season boils down to whether or not Sean McVay can come up with a rushing attack without Gurley. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons +3

Dolphins at Bills
Miami going back to Ryan Fitzpatrick can only mean they’ve seen enough of Josh Rosen to write him off as any kind of future asset. As for the tanking, I think NFL teams need to be careful about this method. In the NBA it’s a lot easier to know when a stud prospect is going to be great. Everyone knew LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan, and Zion Williamson would be great. And they were. Even to a lesser extent, Ben Simmons and Karl Anthony Towns were no brainers at number one. They’ve delivered. And I’m not talking about all top picks. I’m only talking about the no-brainer, can’t miss guys that everyone knew would be the top pick without discussion or consideration. NFL top overall picks aren’t such a sure thing. Going back to the year 2000, only three “can’t miss” guys actually delivered; Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. What’s worse, a top pick flameout could land you in no man’s land and paying an average quarterback record money. This is the dangerous road the Rams are staring down now with Goff. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +17

Jaguars at Bengals
The Jaguars must beat the Bengals and Jets the next two weeks to stay in playoff contention. If they don’t, they should sniff around selling Nick Foles to a contender with a QB problem/injury. There’s no point in hanging on to aging talent if your long-term plans trend more to a rebuild than competing. Cincinnati is already at this point and their reluctance to move AJ Green is confusing. Perhaps they’re just posturing or maybe Green doesn’t want to leave. If he’s open to leaving, getting a 3rd round pick is probably the wisest move at this point. JAGUARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +4

Vikings at Lions
Trey Flowers must be a great man. I’m not sure how he didn’t lose his mind after two phantom hands-to-the-face flags on Monday night extended Green Bay’s final drive. I was yelling at him to Orlando Brown the official. I feel awful for Detroit and angry that the NFL allows their officials to play such a determining role in the outcome of these games. It’s absurd. Roger Goodell needs to drop this 17 game idea and fix the officiating above all else. As for the game, I have no idea what to think of the Vikings. Are they really rolling or is the NFC East the tide that floats all boats? I’m leaning toward the latter. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions +2

Raiders at Packers
I have no facts, no inside sources, and no first hand experience on this, but man it can’t be fun to play with Aaron Rodgers right now. All he does is stink eye his receivers. Granted, there are plenty of times it’s hard to blame him. That collection of Green Bay receivers just isn’t very good without Davante Adams. Can we also discuss the Packers 3rd down conversion rate? They currently rank 26th at just 30.99%, by far their lowest in the last 15 years. Can you say, washed? PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -4.5

Texans at Colts
As an Eagles fan, I’ve been thinking a lot about Frank Reich and the Atlanta Falcons. How are the two related? Well, in 2016 the Falcons lit the world on fire and appeared destined to win a Super Bowl before a 28-3 lead evaporated in the 2nd half of Super Bowl LI. Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left for San Francisco to be their head coach and Dan Quinn has essentially been drowning ever since. The team steadily gets worse and weirder every game. The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII and a few months later Reich left to coach the Colts. Saying Doug Pederson has been drowning is a stretch, but the team has been mostly mediocre and the offense has been a confusing mess for the better part of 18 months. This is my nightmare. Thank you for listening. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +1

Cardinals at Giants
Kyler Murray gets better every week and Kliff Kingsbury may actually live up to the “offensive genius” title bestowed on him by his many adoring, albeit, irrational fans. Arizona still isn’t any good from a playoff contention standpoint, but they are an enjoyable watch. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants -3

49ers at Redskins
Apparently the Washington franchise is the Los Angeles Clippers of the NFL. Someway, somehow, the NFL must pry the team from the incompetent fingers of Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen. Any chance either of them is overtly racist? 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; 49ers -10.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chargers at Titans
This is just an opinion I have and it’s probably a stupid opinion but it’s mine and I love it and will continue to adhere to it. What they say about quarterbacks should be applied to running backs… if you have three, you have none. With the exception of New England, running back by committee is just stupid. I hate it. If you ever played or talked to someone that played running back, it’s very much a rhythm position. You need reps to excel. Good running backs shouldn’t share touches to the extremes they are today. It’s like asking Kevin Durant if he’d shave off a half dozen shots so Wilson Chandler can jack up a few more. The Los Angeles Chargers need to commit to Melvin Gordon if they want to save their season. Sorry, Austin Ekeler. You’re fine and all, but it’s time to cut your touches by 60%. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +2

Saints at Bears
I know very little of how the NFL cap works, so let me get that out there before I start. Here we go… I know the Bears already mortgaged some of their future in the Khalil Mack trade. What some forget is that Chicago also got back a 2020 2nd round pick in that deal. If the Bears drop to the Saints on Sunday, do they dangle that additional 2nd round pick out there for a quarterback? This is probably asinine thinking on my part, but it shouldn’t take a godfather offer to get Atlanta to consider saying goodbye to Matt Ryan. He’s going to be 35 next year. His contract is long and expensive. His cap hit doubles in 2020. Atlanta doesn’t appear close to relevancy as a playoff team. Without knowing cap numbers, could the Bears talk themselves into Matt Ryan? He’ll be great for the next two years and probably better than what they have now for the two years after that. Chicago can then bail prior to the 2023 season for a reasonable cap hit. The Bears with Ryan are a title threat for sure. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -4

Ravens at Seahawks
Russell Wilson has reached the “he’s so good we stopped noticing” portion of his career. He leads the NFL in completion percentage and average yards per attempt (no small feat), is 2nd in touchdowns while posting zero interceptions, and is doing all this while still being sacked at an alarming rate. The most impressive thing about Wilson right now is this: As I watched the Browns score to take an early 20-6 lead over Seattle, I shrugged. Never once doubting Wilson would get Seattle back into the game and probably win it, too. Who else do we process game scores like that with? Rodgers? Mahomes? The list is small and Wilson sits atop it right now. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -3

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Eagles at Cowboys
I’m at a loss for what’s happening around the Eagles. I already spotlighted the defensive issues earlier this week. It’s time to address the anonymous sourcing in Philadelphia. First, we all know it was Alshon Jeffrey. Second, hey, Alshon, try running in a straight line before running your mouth about the offense and Carson Wentz. It’s not hard, I promise. Even my two year old can run from one spot to another in a straight line. Maybe get in some extra practice running along those white lines on the field? Third, Alshon isn’t in the Eagles secondary, so he isn’t among the top three most disappointing Eagles since the Super Bowl, but he’s absolutely right after them. He’s no longer an impact receiver. He no longer brings down contested balls. He’s undoubtedly the slowest wide receiver in the NFL or at least looks like it. Fourth, Wentz has been the least of the Eagles problems. He hasn’t been perfect but if there are 20 reasons the Eagles stink, Wentz is number 19 or 20. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +2.5

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Patriots at Jets
I really like the Jets defense. This past week I heard a lot of, “Why didn’t the Jets defense play this well the whole time Sam Darnold was out?” Sometimes we forget to apply human characteristics to professional athletes. The moment Trevor Siemian went down against the Browns in Week 2, any chance of the Jets surviving without Darnold went down too. You knew it. I knew it. The Jets defense absolutely knew it. It makes sense that the defense brought it last week with the return of Darnold and the Cowboys in town. While that may have felt like the Jets Super Bowl, I’d encourage everyone to slow down on burying New York. The Jets schedule after the undefeated Patriots is ripe for a Wildcard push. Stop laughing. It could happen. Look at this… @JAC, @MIA, NYG, @WASH, OAK, @CINC, MIA. At worst that’s 4-3. If the Jets play like they did last week, 5-2 or 6-1 is absolutely doable. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets +10

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 9 – 5 – 0
Season:     40 – 51 – 1

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