If I miss my Lock of the Week, Im going to make a paw-sized card for every team playing in week nine. Ill put two on the floor at a time, and the one the greyhound steps on advances to the next round.
Ill arrange the winners in a circle and put a treat on each. Whichever winner he goes for first is my Lock of the Week. Ill know hell favor teams that can run. But we all have our biases. I, for example, pick Locks that lose.
Last week: 9-3
Lock of the Week: Lost; I picked Buffalo to cover against Tennessee, but the Titans scored a touchdown with 63 seconds remaining. Matt Hasselbeck threw the winning touchdown pass. I always liked Matt. But now hes 50 years old, I figured Buffalo might hang on.
Upset of the Week: It lost.
Ill summarize my season like this. My overall picks have been good. My boutique picks have been offensive.
This weeks games, with the home team in CAPS:
CHICAGO 28, Carolina 17: I dont know if the Panthers will come out and play with fire or purpose because general manager Marty Hurney was fired and because several other Carolina employees, coaches and players and administrators could also be canned. The Bears are very good. The pressure the defense exerts is tremendous. Jay Cutler, meanwhile, has always been a talent. Now he looks like a quarterback. If the Panthers cant run, they dont have a chance.
New England 31, St. Louis 24: This game is being played in London. Perhaps there will come a day when the NFL attains popularity in England. Wonder if it will happen before soccer attains popularity in the U.S.?
Atlanta 28, PHILADELPHIA 27: The Falcons are 3-0 on the road and 3-0 at home, which helps explain why theyre the leagues only undefeated team. Theyve won their home games by a total of 11 points. Theyve won their road games by 47.
DENVER 39, New Orleans 33: The Charlotte Bobcats would break 100 if they played New Orleans. The fellows you fling the ball around with on the field next to the school? Theyd score three touchdowns. The Saints cant stop anybody. But they sure are entertaining. Love to see two great quarterbacks share the field.
N.Y. Giants 27, DALLAS 24: The Cowboys have nice parts. They have lots of interesting pieces. The pieces dont fit.
PITTSBURGH 28, Washington 24: Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III moves like a pinball, frenzied and fast. Hes poised, too. But Pittsburghs Ben Roethlisberger also can move in a old school fashion. Hes good for eight yards here, for a first down there. He does most of his running behind the line, which enables him to sustain so many plays. As big as he is, and as many hits as he takes, he keeps getting better. This is an average Pittsburgh team. But Roethlisberger is a talent.
TENNESSEE 24, Indianapolis 23
NEW YORK JETS 23, Miami 21
San Diego 20, CLEVELAND 17
DETROIT 26, Seattle 24
San Francisco 20, ARIZONA 16
Upset of the week
Oakland (+1) 23, KANSAS CITY 20: If your quarterback is Brady Quinn, you probably dont win.
Lock of the week
GREEN BAY (-15 ½) 47, Jacksonville 13: If I had guts, Id pick the Packers big.