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Week 8 NFL Picks

Though it’s too early for the Saints to panic, there’s plenty to worry about in New Orleans, and for the first time in forever, that includes Drew Brees. (Photo credit: www.theadvocate.com)

Season:       68 – 37 – 1
Last Week:  9 – 6 – 0

Thursday Recap

Chargers 21 at Broncos 35
The Broncos look really, really good right about now. It’d be easy to call them the class of the NFL. I’ll refrain. Not because Denver isn’t deserving, but because three weeks ago I thought the Seahawks looked unbeatable. Now, Seattle may not rank among the top five in the NFC. I’m going to let the season play out some more before I crown the Broncos and Peyton Manning the “team to beat.” Though, that was a convincing win over a fellow AFC contender. Moving on… Did anyone else question the Philip Rivers heave downfield to Malcolm Floyd in double coverage as if the game was in its final seconds? It reeked of panic and desperation. The situation called for neither. Urgency? Yes, but not panic or desperation. At the time, San Diego trailed by two touchdowns with close to five minutes remaining and the football at Denver’s 45. Why roll the dice on throwing in double coverage on 2nd and 7? I didn’t get it.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Lions at Falcons (9:30AM ET)
I’m all for the NFL fanning out its Sunday start times. Though, 9:30 is a little too early. How about one game at 11AM and then another at 10PM? While my wife would absolutely hate it, I could use more game times that allow me to devote all my attention to one game. Thanks, NFL. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; Lions -4

Rams at Chiefs
Andy Reid is once again making something out of nothing. Andy Reid is once again making horrible game-management decisions. I feel safe and secure in the world when these things are happening. It brings me back to my childhood. After a decade plus with Reid, this game raises red flags. Reid’s Eagles always seemed to struggle against AFC teams in the middle or end of the season. Or maybe that’s just what it felt like. Either way, I’m not feeling great about taking the Chiefs butCHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -7

Texans at Titans
You should be able to bet at which point in the game Houston’s collapse will occur. Luckily for the Texans, they’re facing a rookie quarterback. JJ Watt likely hasn’t slept all week. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -3

Vikings at Buccaneers
So many things would have to go wrong across the NFL on Sunday for me to spend more than 30 seconds watching this one. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -2.5

Seahawks at Panthers
These teams met in Week 1 last season and put on a defensive clinic in a 12-7 Seattle victory. They finished the season ranked 1 and 2 in total defense. You could say things are different this year. Neither defense is what it once was. The Seahawks defense has been surprisingly poor at times, especially in the secondary. Carolina’s defense has fallen off a cliff, ranking as one of the NFL’s worst. Cam Newton has bailed out the Panthers a few times already this season but Seattle’s defense is still a capable unit. Carolina’s is not. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -5.5

Ravens at Bengals
I like this Ravens team. Joe Flacco has rebounded from his horrific Super Bowl hangover. The defense is once again “Raven-worthy,” and the resurgent Steve Smith brings a toughness and tenacity to the offense that was lacking last season. With that said, I think Baltimore may be slightly overvalued. Most experts like Baltimore’s record and point differential. At 5-2, Baltimore deserves credit, especially for overcoming the Ray Rice disaster. The Ravens also own the NFL’s best point differential at +89. However, that point differential, and to a lesser degree, Baltimore’s record, have been inflated by the NFC South. The Ravens are 3-0 against the NFL’s most impotent division with win margins of 28, 31, and 22. Outside the NFC South, Baltimore is 2-2 with a point differential of +9. Again, I like the Ravens. I think they’ll earn a playoff spot in the AFC. I just don’t think they’re as good as everyone else. Also, I think Cincinnati is desperate enough to win this game at home. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Bengals +2.5

Dolphins at Jaguars
An epic Florida civil war for the ages. Just kidding. I need a convincing win from Miami in order to consider them playoff contenders. Good teams beat bad teams, even without their best stuff. Ryan Tannehill looked really good the last two weeks. He’s probably due for a clunker. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins -6

Bears at Patriots
The Patriots looked disinterested last week against the lowly Jets. After a short week and the loss of two key players, I thought New England’s play was somewhat expected. And that better be the case because the Bears will be in desperation mode. They need a win to keep pace in the NFC North and the road is where all of Chicago’s wins have come this season. Then again, given the nonchalant swagger of Jay Cutler, it’s possible the Bears look past the Patriots to the bye week. I can’t figure this team out. Maybe it’s time to trade for Josh McCown. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -6

Bills at Jets
On Sunday nights I go and play basketball with a bunch of Bills fans. They didn’t seem too concerned with the injuries to Buffalo’s top two running backs. I think that tells you all you need to know about the Bills’ lackluster ground game. Anyway, the Jets are due. JETS If I were Charles Barkley; Jets -3

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Eagles at Cardinals
As an Eagles’ fan, there are few teams I dread more than the Arizona Cardinals. It’s not the hateful dread that I feel for the Cowboys, Redskins or Giants. It’s a fearful dread, more along the lines of, “we have to play them again?” Even as a kid the Eagles would travel to the desert and get beat by inferior Cardinals teams. Every loss to Arizona always feels worse because the Eagles are usually the favored team. For whatever reason, this feels different. I’m overly confident the Eagles win on Sunday. I think Arizona is overrated. I think the Eagles haven’t played to 80% of what they’re capable. Even better, Philadelphia is the underdog. (Please note: I’m totally prepared to be inconsolable Sunday evening.) EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +1.5

Raiders at Browns
I know it’s popular to complain about the wildly unbalanced NFL schedule on Sundays. Eight or nine games early and only three or four late games is confusing. However, I’ve grown to appreciate the late afternoon more. It’s too hard to follow nine games at once. If I could opt out of the score tracker at the bottom of the screen and follow three games at a time all day until two in the morning I would absolutely do it. BROWNS If I were Charles Barkley; Browns -7

Colts at Steelers
Few things bother me more this season than the Colts continuing to win. I have no problem with the Colts. Andrew Luck is fun to watch. I simply don’t understand how one guy keeps winning football games on his own. Of course, we’ve seen great quarterbacks win games on their own before, but I’ve never seen one do so with such consistency this early in a career. Luck has no running game, no elite receivers, and a good-but-not-great defense. How are they doing this and when will it stop? Obviously, Luck is really, really good, but is he really this good? At some point Luck and the Colts will lose again. Thus, I will continue to pick against them until I’m right. I hate being this stupid. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers +3.5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Packers at Saints
I think we all expect New Orleans to flip the switch at some point. However, with Drew Brees having a less-than-stellar season and the defense in disarray, I’m not sure that switch will flip in 2014. It isn’t all Brees’ fault, though. He gets hit too often. Blame can be pointed directly at Sean Payton. He refuses to run the football, giving opposing defenses the opportunity to pin their ears back and attack on nearly every down. Brees needs help more now than ever. If you recall, Philip Rivers struggled after the Chargers opted not to bring back Darren Sproles. Brees is having similar struggles now that Sproles was traded away. Sproles is the ultimate outlet for a pass heavy offense. He’s always available for a quick dump-off and more importantly, capable of turning a negative play into a scoring one. The NFC South is a mess, so it’s way too early to count out the Saints even if I don’t think they’re very good. Regardless, I think desperation and the home crowd gets the Saints a win. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -1.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Redskins at Cowboys
Robert Griffin III may play. He may not. He’s definitely quoting Winston Churchill, though. What does that mean? I have no idea, but if I had to guess, it means Griffin isn’t interested in killing himself for a franchise that essentially blew out his knee 20 months ago. Regardless of who starts under center for the Redskins, they’ll get the victory Monday night. Jay Gruden is a great coach. Alfred Morris is the best back on the field. Washington’s receivers are unstoppable. Even the Redskins defense is a force this season. (Sadly, we don’t live in a world where any of this is true.) COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Redskins +10

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Season:        57 – 48 – 1
Last Week:   8 – 7 – 0

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