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[As always, Donny Osmond is fending off the ladies]

Race for the Nerf: Celebrity/Media NFL Picks Week 15

Barber the Bear’s performance vs. Broncos was truly out of bounds

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Tebow does his thing.
Photo: Joe Mahoney / AP Photo
Sal DeFilippo

There are many people who think Tim Tebow is using some divine intervention in helping orchestrate the Denver Broncos’ six-game winning streak that has them atop the AFC West at 8-5.

I’m not ready to go that far—at least not just yet—but I do know one thing is certain after watching the Broncos’ latest improbable triumph last week over the Chicago Bears.

Marion Barber needs an intervention.

Barber, who became the Bears’ primary running back when Matt Forte was injured, is known as a bruising runner who routinely tries to run through tacklers rather than go around them.

That fact alone makes last week’s crucial mental mistake on his part even more unfathomable.

The Bears led 10-0 midway through the fourth quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by Barber and a field goal when Tebow began his weekly resurrection, leading Denver to a touchdown with a little more than 2 minutes remaining to close within three points.

Denver’s onsides kick attempt failed, however, and with no time outs remaining, the Bears’ path to victory should have been a simple one.

A short first-down run took the clock to the two-minute warning. Had the Bears simply taken a knee on second and third down, and punted on fourth down, Denver would likely be facing a situation where they had to drive into field goal range from deep in their own end with less than 20 seconds to do it.

The only way the Broncos could have more time to work with would be if the Bears did something stupid, like throw an incomplete pass, or, oh, I don’t know, run out of bounds for some reason.

Enter Barber. On second down, he ran around left end and inexplicably went out of bounds, stopping the clock. After a third-down run up the middle, the Bears punted and Denver had 56 seconds to try to work into position to tie the score.

Had Barber stayed in the field of play, 40 of those 56 seconds would have been gone, virtually clinching victory for Chicago.

Instead, Tebow moved Denver to the Chicago 41-yard line, and Matt Prater drilled a 59-yard field goal to force overtime.

Barber compounded the mental mistake with a physical one, fumbling in overtime as the Bears were approaching field-goal range. Denver eventually won 13-10 on another Prater kick.

It doesn’t end there. Barber is facing potential league fines for refusing to talk to media in the aftermath of the incident. So for Barber, the ordeal isn’t over—even though the Bears’ playoff hopes might be.

***

Donny Osmond continues to try to hold off all challenges in the race for the Golden Nerf.

The Flamingo headliner is 23-18-1 mark in our celebrity contest, a game ahead of Planet Hollywood comedy hypnotist Marc Savard and two games ahead of all three female contestants: Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Vegas! The Show performer Tara Palsha and Fantasy vocalist Lorena Peril. Las Vegas ambassador and former mayor Oscar Goodman is a game behind his better half and making a late charge with three weeks remaining.

Sal’s picks:A 2-1 week was marred only by a half-point loss on the Bills-Chargers total. Still, I’ll take it as the season ledger moves to 23-14-2 against the number. This week, I’ll take the Panthers +6½ at the Texans, the Saints-Vikings over 51 and the Giants -7 vs. the Redskins.

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The media/celebrity picks:

Anthony Crivello, star of Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular (18-21-3)

Titans -6½ at Colts

Cardinals -6½ vs. Browns

Ravens -2½ at Chargers

****

Carrot Top, Luxor headliner (17-24-1)

Titans -6½ at Colts

Packers -13½ at Chiefs

Ravens -2½ at Chargers

****

Terry Fator, Mirage headline (19-22-1)

Cowboys -6½ at Buccaneers

Steelers +2½ at 49ers

Packers -13½ at Chiefs

****

Carolyn Goodman, Mayor of Las Vegas (21-20-1)

Bears -4 vs. Seahawks

Patriots -6 at Broncos

Eagles -2½ vs. Jets

****

Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas ambassador (20-21-1)

Giants -7 vs. Redskins

Saints -7 at Vikings

Bengals -6 at Rams

****

Kevin Janison, KVBC meteorologist (15-25-2)

Saints-Vikings over 51

Packers -13½ at Chiefs

Lions -1 at Raiders

****

Wayne Newton, "Mr. Las Vegas" (17-24-1)

Cardinals -6 1/2 vs. Browns

Patriots –6 at Broncos

Redskins +7 at Giants

****

Donny Osmond, Flamingo Las Vegas headliner (23-18-1)

Bengals -6 at Rams

Packers -13½ at Chiefs

Saints -7 at Vikings

****

Lorena Peril, Vocalist, Fantasy at Luxor (21-20-1)

Giants -7 vs. Redskins

49ers -2½ vs. Steelers

Lions -1 at Raiders

****

Tara Palsha, principal dancer, Vegas! The Show at V Theater (21-20-1)

Cowboys -6½ at Buccaneers

Packers -13½ at Chiefs

Patriots -6 at Broncos

****

Marc Savard, Comedy Hypnotist, V Theater at Planet Hollywood (22-19-1)

Giants -7 vs. Redskins

Packers -13½ at Chiefs

Bengals -6 at Rams

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