As injuries to key players mount, the Packers continue to win. Will they make it five straight Monday? (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Last Week: 10 – 3 – 0
Season: 77 – 43 – 0
Still Trick-or-Treating (Bye Week)
I said after Week 1 that Peyton Manning was throwing with a noodle arm. His arm doesn’t look better half a season later. If Denver can’t stretch the field, defenses are going to start crowding receivers at the line, limiting Denver’s big play ability.
If it weren’t for Jason Garrett’s magic, the Lions would be 4-4 and licking their wounds. Instead, they’re in the drivers seat for that final NFC Wildcard berth.
There’s no way the Giants finish the season better than 8-8. Lucky for them, 8-8 might be good enough to win the division.
Andre Ellington is the key to Arizona’s season. If he can inject life into the Cardinals putrid running game, the Cardinals might sneak into the playoffs.
San Francisco has outscored its last five opponents by 113 points. 113 POINTS!
Jacksonville isn’t winning this season unless Carson Palmer has one of his patented breakdowns in Week 11. Congrats, Detroit, you’re off the hook.
Bengals 20 at Dolphins 22
Here’s what I offered when I picked the game yesterday:
The most significant difference is at quarterback, more specifically, turnovers from the quarterback position. Dalton has committed ten turnovers this season but only three in Cincinnati’s last four games (all wins). Ryan Tannehill has 17 turnovers this year and ten in Miami’s last four games (all losses).
I pretty much nailed it but I missed a minor detail. I forgot the script flips on Thursday night. Andy Dalton… not Ryan Tannehill… committed four turnovers, including a 94 yard pick six. In his defense, Dalton got little help from his receivers. They dropped several passes for 1st downs and one drop in particular led to a crucial interception late in the 4th with Cincinnati in field goal range. The Bengals are in real trouble now as their defense continues to lose key players. First it was Leon Hall. Then Rey Maualuga went down. Thursday night it was Geno Atkins. Andy Dalton and the offense’s role just got a whole lot bigger.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Chiefs at Bills
The Bills are one of the feistiest teams in the league. At home, they’re nearly impossible to beat, beating both the Panthers and Ravens, and losing in the final seconds to the Patriots and in OT to the Bengals. I would pick the Bills with 99.9% confidence if EJ Manuel or even Thad Lewis were starting. Oh well. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -3.5
Vikings at Cowboys
Last week was a tale of two halves for the Cowboys. Dallas’ defense dominated the 1st half while the offense struggled for the third game in a row. In the 2nd half, the defense was ripped to shreds and the offense put up 17 4th quarter points. Hosting the lousy Vikings should right the Cowboys ship and heal last week’s devastating wounds. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -10
Titans at Rams
Monday night was the Ram’s Super Bowl. Though they outplayed Seattle, the St. Louis coaching staff let the team down. Why they were throwing the ball inside the ten with a chance to win was beyond me. There’s a reason Kellen Clemens is 30 and never been a franchise starting quarterback. It’s all down hill from here for the Rams. The Titans, on the other hand, are in the thick of the AFC Wildcard race with a healthy Jake Locker back at the helm. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Titans -3
Saints at Jets
The Jets are weird. At home they battle like a playoff team. On the road they fold like poodles. The Jets can’t beat the Saints but Rex Ryan LOVES playing elite quarterbacks at home. I think he lives for beating pretty boy QBS. This game will be closer than it should be for 3 ½ quarters until the Saints finally pull away late. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; -6.5
Chargers at Redskins
The Redskins are downright comical at times. Alfred Morris leads all NFL running backs in yards per carry at 5.2. The next back checks in at 4.8. On top of that, the Redskins are nursing Robert Griffin III and his bum knee back to full strength. It makes perfect sense to run the football, right? Not to Mike Shanahan. The Redskins blew last week’s game against Denver when they started chucking the football all over the field in the 4th quarter. With the score tied at 21, Washington threw the football on three consecutive plays for an easy three-and-out. On the next possession (now down seven), Morris rushed for a 1st down. The very next play Griffin fumbled. Game over. If Shanahan rode his running game through the first eight weeks the Redskins would be .500. I hate that I’m picking the Redskins here. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley; Pick
Falcons at Panthers
A must win for the Panthers as they have San Francisco and New England on deck. It’s been a while since the Panthers were the favorites in this division battle, so let’s hope they don’t think too highly of themselves after winning three straight. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -7.5
Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)
Eagles at Raiders
Nick Foles will be starting this week for the Eagles. If the game isn’t played in Tampa Bay I’m not picking Nick Foles. Just kidding. I actually think the Eagles can win this one because their defense has figured something out over the past two weeks. Though the Raiders knocked off the Steelers a week ago, they did so mostly with bigs plays in the 1st half and barely held on for the win. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +2.5
Buccaneers at Seahawks
Seattle’s offensive line issues are a major concern. Russell Wilson is as athletic as they come but even he can’t operate behind the current play of his line. The Seahawks are another team that’s starting to lose so many key players that I worry about their title chances moving forward. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; -16.5
Ravens at Browns
With all of Cincinnati’s injuries, it’s not impossible for the Ravens to climb back and win the AFC North. Obviously, they’ll need Ray Rice to come back to the land of the living and Joe Flacco to regain his 2012 playoff mojo, but I’m not counting out the Ravens just yet. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -3
Steelers at Patriots
1. Shane Vereen is back in two weeks. He was New England’s best offensive player in Week 1. 2. Tom Brady can’t struggle for a whole season. 3. I’m more afraid of the Patriots when they’re underdogs than when they’re a juggernaut. The Patriots will steal the second seed in the AFC and host the AFC title game after the Chiefs bow out early. It’s coming. I just know it. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -7
Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)
Colts at Texans
I need someone to talk me out of the Texans here. Both teams are coming out of a bye. This is essentially Houston’s season, a loss here and they’re officially playing out the season for kicks and giggles. I like Case Keenum and think he can beat the division leading Colts with a solid defensive outing a 130 yard pounding from Arian Foster. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +3
Monday Night (8:30PM ET)
Bears at Packers
Jay Cutler may or may not play. It won’t matter. The Packers are rolling with back ups, practice “squaders,” and stadium vendors. If the Packers ever get healthy (and that’s a very big “if”), it’ll be interesting to see just how good that Packers offense can be now that they field one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -10.5
If I were Charles Barkley…
Last Week: 9 – 3 – 0
Season: 56 – 59 – 4