My Lock of the Week is having a worse season than the Carolina Panthers. I get notes on my windshield, helpful advice from neighbors who stand on their balcony with or without a megaphone and, of course, email.
One reader pointed out that picking half the games correctly last week was not good. First, I appreciate the insight. Secondly, I went 7-9. Even though the wrong teams won, I’m a good counter.
I believe in my Lock, and if I don’t get it right this week that L will be demoted to lower case. There have been seasons in which, if you had bet mythical money on my Lock, you would be mythically wealthy.
This isn’t one of them. I picked Carolina in week one, New England in week two and Detroit in week three. What do these teams have in common? Not only did they fail to cover, they failed to win.
Since I don’t pick preseason games, the last three weeks have been my preseason. Sunday is opening day.
Last week: 7-9
Lock of the Week: 0-3
Upset of the Week: 1-3. I picked Atlanta, an underdog in San Diego last week, to beat the Chargers.
This week’s games, with the home team in CAPS:
ATLANTA 33, Carolina 24
The Panthers believe they’re the team that beat New Orleans, not the team that was handled by the New York Giants. They’ll play better because there’s no way they could not. I think Cam Newton has a big game in his hometown. But the Falcons are very good, and they’re playing in the Georgia Dome, where the Panthers last won in 2007. Although the Panthers have had 10 days to prepare, teams that play the Thursday night (or Wednesday night) game are 2-2 the following week.
The keys are simple: the offensive line has to give Newton time to throw and runners room to move, and the defensive line has to get to Matt Ryan, who has a fine tight end and perhaps the best one-two wide receiver combination in football.
One other key: The Panthers are a much better team when Jonathan Stewart plays. It’s more than his running. They perform better.
I’ll be shocked if the Panthers again are comatose. I’ll be surprised if they win.
New England 26, BUFFALO 24
Although the Bills were pounded by the New York Jets in their opener, they’ve played well the last two weeks. This is a good team, regardless of their lack of healthy running backs. It’s like old money versus new money. But the Patriots don’t really age. They change and adapt and keep looking until they find what works. You really think they lose three in a row?
DENVER 24, Oakland 20
If I collected all the money the Broncos have been fined this season, and bet it on my Locks, I’d yell at me, too. The Broncos lead the league in fines, which is not John Fox’s style. I suspect Oakland is jealous.
GREEN BAY 37, New Orleans 23
DETROIT 26, Minnesota 20
KANSAS CITY 23, San Diego 20
Seattle 17, ST. LOUIS 16
San Francisco 17, NEW YORK JETS 13
Cincinnati 20, JACKSONVILLE 16
ARIZONA 31, Miami 17
TAMPA BAY 24, Washington 20
DALLAS 30, Chicago 23
Upset of the Week: New York Giants (+1) 29, Philadelphia 27
Lock of the Week: HOUSTON (-12) 33, Tennessee 17