I used to think the Lock-ness Monster was mythical. I changed my mind. He visits me every time I write this column.
I cant pick a lock. I had hoped to go to an animal shelter this week, find a dog that could use a home and let her or him make the pick. Unfortunately I ran out of time. But as long as were on the subject: Weve rescued two dogs, both greyhounds, and theyve enhanced our lives enormously. If youre willing to commit, a rescue dog of any breed would be a great gift for the animal and for you.
I have picked three Locks correctly, and Taz the greyhound picked two of them. Last week I made the pick all by myself. I picked New England to cover against San Francisco. In December the Patriots always win and almost cover. I walked into a San Diego restaurant and saw the score on a bar TV. The 49ers were clinging to a 28-point lead.
But on the red-eye back to Charlotte I finally figured what I was doing wrong. It was so obvious. Go with me this week. My Lock is so certain it should be wrapped in bright paper and placed beneath a tree.
Last week: 11-5
Lock: Lost New England
Upset of the week: New York Giants didnt quite pull it off
This weeks picks, with the home team in CAPS:
CAROLINA 33, Oakland 26: The Panthers are a nine-point favorite. This is the sixth time theyve been favored this season. They were favored by: 21/2 points at Tampa Bay; 21/2 at home against the New York Giants; 1 at home against Seattle; 3 at Philadelphia; 5 at Kansas City. Their record as a favorite is 1-4. Beware.
St. Louis 23, TAMPA BAY 20: The Rams are better than you think. The Buccaneers have become the team they should be.
San Diego 6, NEW YORK JETS 3: The Jets are almost as bad as my Lock. What was coach Rex Ryan doing last week? Every time quarterback Mark Sanchez established momentum, both times, Ryan yanked him. Weve seen Ryan loud, arrogant and interesting. Last week we saw him panic.
HOUSTON 30, Minnesota 21: I like this one. I like to watch the great running backs. Best I ever saw was Gale Sayers. The NFLs two best will play in this game.
New York Giants 29, BALTIMORE 27: I cant give up on the Giants. I like their defense, their coach and their quarterback.
Atlanta 27, DETROIT 23
MIAMI 26, Buffalo 21
Indianapolis 26, KANSAS CITY 20
New England 37, Jacksonville 6
GREEN BAY 29, Tennessee 20
Washington 26, PHILADELPHIA 20
DENVER 31, Cleveland 20
Chicago 19, ARIZONA 17
SEATTLE 31, San Francisco 30
Upset of the week
Cincinnati (-4) 30, Pittsburgh 28: The Steelers are one of the great franchises in sports. Theyre not a good team.
Lock of the week
New Orleans (+3) 33, DALLAS 30: For the first time all season, the Cowboys have won three straight. Winning breeds winning. So I think they cover. Because I think they cover, they wont cover. Therefore Im picking against me. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 12 times since September, shame on the Lockness Monster.