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Week 9 NFL Picks

Chicago’s defense has been keeping the Bears afloat while Nick Foles and the offense struggle. How long can they hang on in the NFC Playoff Race?  (Photo by AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Congratulations to                        for winning the 2020 Presidential Election. I’m positive citizens, criminals, ghosts and illegals chose the right man for the job.  

I’ve been super hot the last two weeks. Very excited for the correction. 

Last Week:     10 – 4 – 0
Season:          76 – 42 – 1

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Packers 34 at 49ers 17
How does Davante Adams keep torching defenses? You can’t stop great players, but the guy has double-digit receptions and over 150 yards in half his games this season. Last week against the Vikings he scored three touchdowns, which sounds awful for Minnesota, but holding him to just 53 yards may be an accomplishment worth bragging about at this point.

Calling It A Day Before Noon b/c Counting Votes Is Too Much (Bye Week)

Bengals
Since getting trounced by the Ravens in Week 5, Cincinnati choked away a victory against the Colts, choked away another victory against the Browns, and finally held onto a lead against the Titans in Week 8. I know “almost” doesn’t matter in sports, but for a young team, “almost” going 3-0 against teams with a combined 15-7 record must be encouraging.

Browns
Cleveland’s loss Sunday was a weird one. Baker Mayfield and the Browns only had 6 possessions. Six! Everyone wants to talk about Mayfield when the Browns lose, but that loss wasn’t on him. It was impossible to throw the ball due to the wind. Nick Chubb should return after the bye and that shoot boost a Cleveland ground game that hasn’t been nearly as unstoppable in his absence.

Rams
Does anyone want to discuss the Rams win/loss discrepancy or do we want to just keep talking about how great Aaron Donald is and ignore that the team just isn’t that good. The Rams have 1 win against a winning team; the 5-3 Bears. Their 3 losses have all come against teams with a .500 record or better. And let’s not kid ourselves; the Bills, 49ers and Dolphins aren’t exactly the crème de la crème of the league. Anyway, the Rams other 4 wins? All against the NFC East. Wait, you mean the worst division in football with a combined 8-22-1 record? Yeh, them. The Rams stink. You’ve been warned.

Eagles
I know the Eagles stink. I know the NFC East is worse. But please stop complaining about the division getting an automatic playoff spot. As of Thursday afternoon, the 3-4 Lions and 4-4 49ers are in the thick of the NFC Playoff hunt. It’s likely that final playoff berth goes to an 8-8 or 9-7 team, so the Eagles winning their division at 8-7-1 or 7-8-1 isn’t a huge difference. If the division winner happens to win only 6 games, then by all means, throw a fit.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Broncos at Falcons
By now I’m sure everyone has seen Drew Lock’s various dance routines in the 2nd half of Denver’s come-from-behind victory over the Chargers. They were great. I enjoy players that don’t take themselves too seriously. It also made me think that Lock played cornerback at some point in his football career. Only defensive backs have memories so short they can celebrate a minor accomplishment one play after a massive failure. Lock’s first 8 drives were ugly. He went 9/17 for 58 yards. He was sacked 3 times, got two 1st downs and the offense was gifted a field goal by its defense. Yet there Lock was, dancing after those final 2 touchdown passes like he was a star for all 60 minutes. Yup, definitely a corner back in the day. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -4

Seahawks at Bills
Buffalo is 2-2 over their last four games, but if you asked a Bills fan, it probably feels more like 1-3 or 0-4. Buffalo was manhandled by both the Titans and Chiefs. The offense struggled mightily against the lowly Jets. It took a careless Cam Newton fumble inside the Buffalo 15 to finish off the hapless 2-5 Patriots. So what gives? Perhaps the biggest reason for the Bills recent struggles is Josh Allen is no longer playing like an MVP candidate and is instead performing like, well, Josh Allen. Through 4 weeks, Allen threw for 1,326 yards at a 71% clip and 12 TDs to only 1 interception. In the 4 weeks since, his numbers have dropped to 846 yards, 63%, 4 TDs, 4 interceptions. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -3

Bears at Titans
The Titans are another team trending in the wrong direction. The Tennessee defense has been a bit of a mess all season and it may finally be catching up to the Titans. Let’s look at some of the bad situations the defense has put the Titans in thus far. In Week 2 against Jacksonville, the defense surrendered a 13 point 4th quarter lead. The offense was able to rebound for a 3-point victory. In Week 3, the Titans were down 12 late in the 3rd before rallying for a win. Against the Texans in Week 6, an 11 point halftime lead evaporated to a 7 point 4th quarter deficit. Again, Ryan Tannehill and the offense pulled out a victory. The magic has run out for Tannehill and the offense the last two weeks. A 10 point 4th quarter deficit to the Steelers in Week 7 and a 17 point 4th quarter deficit against the Bengals last week were too much to overcome. Both outings were also Tannehill and the offense’s worst outputs of the season. The good news here is that the Bears offense is so bad it won’t be running away from anyone. While we’re here, I don’t see the Nick Foles appeal to Matt Nagy. The offense is as bad with Foles as it was with Mitch Trubisky, only without the explosive plays. So it some ways it’s worse. The Chicago defense has been great, but they’re not perfect. They dropped an easy interception in OT last week that likely would’ve swung the game. The best news for Chicago is their remaining schedule. After this game, only two of their remaining games are against winning teams, and both are against Green Bay.  TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears +6.5

Ravens at Colts
The Lamar Jackson is bad in big games crowd is growing exponentially. Every generation needs this type of disappointment. Tony Romo owned this corner for nearly a decade. Now it’s Jackson’s turn to wear the crown. Congrats? While this wouldn’t qualify as a “big game” in my book, I don’t expect Jackson to perform much better than he did against the Steelers or Chiefs. The Colts defense is really, really good and great against the run. When Baltimore can’t run the football, it bogs down the offense because Jackson isn’t an elite passer. However, the Raven defense should force some turnovers against Philip Rivers. It’ll be up to Jackson and the offense to convert them into points. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts +1.5

Panthers at Chiefs
The return of Christian McCaffrey couldn’t have come at a better time for the Panthers. The Panther offense performed respectably in his absence, but defenses have caught on and dared Teddy Bridgewater to beat them over the last three weeks. Bridgewater just wasn’t very good against the Bears and Falcons. He had his lowest outputs of the season, threw a couple of bad interceptions and was too indecisive with the football. Sandwiched between those two losses was a loss to New Orleans in which Bridgewater played well but took a huge sack late that ultimately cost Carolina tying the game. McCaffrey takes much of that pressure to carry the offense off Bridgewater. I don’t think it will change the outcome against the Chiefs, but it will boost the Panthers chances of remaining competitive in the NFC. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers +10.5

Lions at Vikings
Detroit is good enough to beat bad teams and bad enough to lose to good ones. Unfortunately, I have no idea which category the Vikings fall into. Their schedule has been brutally tough and their quarterback has been simply brutal at times. Minnesota clearly figured out that the football in Dalvin Cook’s hands was a much safer and more effective way to move the offense than in Cousins’ hands. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet

Giants at Football Team
The Giants aren’t 1-7 awful. They’re not good, but they’re better than 1-7. I think that’s all I have to say about this matchup. FOOTBALL TEAM If I were Charles Barkley; Football Team -2.5

Texans at Jaguars
JJ Watt is already moving on from the Texans, apparently. I have no problem with Watt wanting to compete for championships instead of hanging around for a rebuild. It’s just weird to drop this bit of info halfway through the current season. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -7

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Raiders at Chargers
Jon Gruden is a good coach. He apparently sucks at following Covid protocols, but he’s been effective in coaching an average roster to 5 wins through 8 games. He’s doing it with ball control and well timed shots downfield. Heading into Week 8, Las Vegas was already a top five time of possession team, controlling the ball for nearly 32 minutes per game. With dreadful weather in Cleveland, Gruden doubled down on a pounding ground attack and nearly doubled the Browns in the possession battle. I hate to say this, but the Chargers are due for a game where the wheels just completely fall off. You can only blow so many leads before it steals your mojo. RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders Pick ‘Em

Steelers at Cowboys
I think the Steelers will win and I think Mike McCarthy may be the worst coach in the NFL. Allow me a question… Is Trevor Noah funny? I don’t watch his or any other political show. I do, however, watch The Office reruns on Comedy Central. Promos for Noah’s show appear multiple times throughout each episode of The Office and in six months I don’t think I’ve laughed once. I assume they’re using some of his top material in these brief clips to entice viewers, but man is his stuff weak and unfunny. I LOVE a good Trump impression too, but Noah’s isn’t remotely close, or funny. Thank you for listening to my rant about a comedian that isn’t funny. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -14

Dolphins at Cardinals
Based on what we’ve seen this season… If a GM approached you and said, “Give me the top 3 quarterbacks you’d want to build your team around for the next 7 years,” your answer would obviously start with Patrick Mahomes. But who’s next? Two months ago I think Lamar Jackson would’ve been a unanimous choice. I’m not so sure anymore. Instead, I think Kyler Murray would be that 2nd choice followed by Justin Herbert (Russell Wilson would likely be too old in 5 years). Is there some recency bias there? Yes, probably, but Murray is already a better passer than Jackson and he’s every bit as talented as a runner. Herbert isn’t anywhere near the runner Mahomes, Murray or Jackson are, but he’s already torching NFL defenses with an elite arm. Elite arms last a lot longer than quick feet. If you’re a Dolphins fan, you obviously hope Tua will supplant one of the four aforementioned guys, but that’s already a daunting uphill climb. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +4.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Saints at Buccaneers
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this matchup will be broadcasted on NBC. They only mentioned it once or twice during the Cowboys/Eagles game in Week 8. As of right now, it appears Michael Thomas will make his return to the Saints lineup. Drew Brees needs him badly. Alvin Kamara has been awesome, but Brees needs a downfield target he can trust to win contested throws if the Saints want to contend with Tampa’s pass rush. Speaking of injured star receivers, have we had a recent season where so many of the league’s top 10ish receivers have missed extended time? Thomas has been out since Week 1. Davante Adams missed two games, Kenny Golladay can’t stay healthy, Julio Jones missed two games, Odell Beckham Jr. is lost for the season, and Chris Godwin has boomeranged back to the injury tent every time he gets back to the field. Aside from quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray, explosive receivers are what make football so exciting. So please, stay healthy. Thanks. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints +4.5

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Patriots at Jets
Tough draw for Monday Night Football. This is the 4th dreadful division matchup of Week 9 and it may be the least interesting. Which is saying something when the 1-7 Giants matchup with the 2-5 No Names. Maybe one could argue the 1-6 Texans vs. the 1-6 Jaguars is worse, but at least the Texan offense is exciting. The Jets average less than 1 offensive TD per game. That’s good enough for dead last in the league. The Patriots average one full touchdown more (1.9) and are ranked 30th. That’s how bad the Jets are; they’re a full touchdown lower than the team two spots above them. While the Jets are a mess, New England may have found a reliable running attack with Damien Harris in the lead role. Or maybe he’s cut two months from now like the guy who scored 4 touchdowns and rushed for 200 yards a handful of years ago (Jonas Gray). PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Patriots -7.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week:   10 – 4 – 0
Season:        66 – 49 – 4

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