Last week I fired my dog because he missed two straight Locks. If I miss my Lock of the Week I will fire myself. I’m not sure who I’ll get to replace me. But there are a lot of dogs out there that need a home. I think I’ll turn to one of them.
Last week: 10-6
Lock: I picked Chicago to cover against Seattle, which until Sunday was terrible on the road. I lost.
Upset: Picked Cleveland to upset Oakland. My Browns did.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:
Atlanta 27, CAROLINA 23: I once thought all the stuff professional football players said about their opponent didn’t matter. You get paid to play; how much difference could a few perceived insults make?
Then I went with the Panthers to Arizona in 2009. The Cardinals had hammered Carolina in the playoffs the previous season. The Panthers thought the Cardinals were condescending and disrespectful – the usual stuff.
The Panthers were 2-4 when they arrived in Glendale, Ariz., and had lost at home the previous week to Buffalo. Against Arizona, they were suburb. They started fast and never let the Cardinals compete. They beat Kurt Warner and the fellows 34-21, and said publicly after the game what they had been talking about privately all week: Revenge.
Not sure who the aggrieved party will be at Bank of America Stadium today. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan told the Panthers to get off his field, adding a bad word, after Atlanta’s close victory 10 weeks ago.
Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy said this week that, despite trailing the Falcons by eight games in the win column, as well as eight games in the all-important loss column, the Panthers were the better team.
I do know that when the Panthers have to make a play they fail. Maybe Ryan will inspire them. The Falcons, however, are 6-1 in games determined by seven or fewer points. They know how to win.
JACKSONVILLE 10, New York Jets 9: This game is like a thrill ride, a roller coaster. It’s like the roller coaster at Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe, which was Camp Snoopy when I tamed it.
CINCINNATI 31, Dallas 29: The game is almost a must-win for the Cowboys. That’s why they won’t.
CLEVELAND 27, Kansas City 19: The Chiefs were masterful in their upset of the Panthers last week, especially quarterback Brady Quinn. I’ll always remember being in Kansas City Saturday and at the game Sunday and wanting to be there. This was much more than sports. I’ll also remember, when the game ended, how desperately I wanted to leave.
Baltimore 23, WASHINGTON 21
Chicago 26, MINNESOTA 24
PITTSBURGH 28, San Diego 24
St. Louis 20, BUFFALO 19
INDIANAPOLIS 29, Tennessee 24
SAN FRANCISCO 24, Miami 17
SEATTLE 27, Arizona 16
NEW YORK GIANTS 33, New Orleans 24
GREEN BAY 33, Detroit 28
Upset of the week
Houston (+3 1/2) 30, NEW ENGLAND 29: Picking against the Patriots in New England on a Monday night is not terribly astute. But I said before the season the Texans were the league’s best team. Don’t want to abandon them now.
Lock of the week
TAMPA BAY (-9) 30, Philadelphia 17: Sorry, Tampa Bay.