According to online sports book Bovada.lv, the odds against the Carolina Panthers winning the Super Bowl are 1,500-1.
The odds of my dog, Taz, picking his third straight Lock of the Week are considerably better. He’s two for two. I was one for seven.
The last three weeks I created a card for each team playing Sunday and Monday, randomly divided them into groups of four and five, put them face down and stuck a treat on each. This week I used cinnamon bread. He’d pluck a piece, I’d pluck the card beneath.
Six lucky teams advanced to the semifinals, and I divided them into groups of three. The finalists were Detroit, a 31/2-point underdog at home against Green Bay, and Oakland, a 41/2-point underdog at home against New Orleans.
Last week: 9-5 (I count the San Francisco-St. Louis tie as a loss).
Lock: 1-0. Taz picked Minnesota to cover against the Lions.
Upset: 1-0 (Houston upset Chicago).
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:
CAROLINA (+1) 26, Tampa Bay 23
I was in Tampa, Fla., for Carolina’s season-opening loss to the Buccaneers. The Bucs sent quantities of defenders into the line to shut off the Panther rush and the visitors failed to adjust. Tampa Bay won 16-10. The game was so long ago Carolina was favored on the road.
The Bucs run beautifully and their run defense is the best in the league. But why would you run against them? They give up more net passing yards per game than any team in the league and are 30th in net passing yards per play.
After the debacle at home against Denver, nobody expects anything from the Panthers. Only Jacksonville and Kansas City have longer odds of winning the Super Bowl.
Why pick Carolina against Tampa Bay? I need an Upset of the Week, and this was the most attractive candidate. Also, I’ve picked three straight upsets, and my dog didn’t help.
ST. LOUIS 20, New York Jets 13
I feel bad for back-up/wildcat quarterback Tim Tebow. Last season he was leading Denver to inexplicable comeback victories and the playoffs. This season he’s trapped in a gossipy locker room with teammates that apparently don’t respect him and a coach who has no idea how to use him or anybody else. Tebow is an honorable guy playing for a Jersey Shore squad.
Baltimore 24, PITTSBURGH 20
Ben Roethlisberger is the league’s most underrated quarterback. He’s so adept at moving and waiting for a receiver to break free, and he paid for it last week, injuring his shoulder and ribs. He won’t play. Rivalry isn’t the same without him.
ATLANTA 27, Arizona 21
Cincinnati 23, KANSAS CITY 19
DALLAS 30, Cleveland 21
NEW ENGLAND 33, Indianapolis 26
HOUSTON 37, Jacksonville 17
WASHINGTON 23, Philadelphia 21
DENVER 35, San Diego 21
SAN FRANCISCO 19, Chicago 14
New Orleans 37, OAKLAND 34
Lock of the week: DETROIT (+31/2) 27, Green Bay 26
The Packers are coming off a bye and have won four in a row. The Lions are among the NFL’s most disappointing teams and proved it last week by losing a game they needed. But the dog picked the Lions. Who am I to quibble (‘n Bits)?