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Tom Sorensen’s NFL picks: Panthers could blow out Jets, but ...

I read that the Carolina Panthers control their own destiny. If I win the lottery – I went in with five co-workers – I will put a bounty on anybody who writes, says or thinks that a team controls its own destiny. And I’m not really a bounty guy, unless you’re talking about paper towels. But I did spend five days last week in New Orleans.

The New York Jets some weeks look like the worst team in the NFL and other weeks look like they possess youth, a plan and a future.

So much depends on the play of their quarterback, rookie Geno Smith. The Panthers are 2-1 against rookie quarterbacks; they beat Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon twice and were beaten by Buffalo’s EJ Manuel.

Carolina could blow out the Jets, but I don’t see it. Think this one ought to be closer than the 11-point spread.

Look for Cam Newton and Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell or Ted Ginn Jr., to have a big day. That will be enough.

CAROLINA 20, New York Jets 14

Last week: 11-5

Season: 137-71

Upset of the week: Picked Oakland (plus 3) to beat the Jets. The Raiders betrayed me. New York won by 10.

Season: 9-5

Lock of the week: Picked Dallas (plus 1 1/2) to beat Chicago. Dumb. Bears scored the first 11 times they had the ball and won by 17.

Season: 7-6-1

This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:

PITTSBURGH 24, Cincinnati 23: I know that the Bengals are better. I know that the Bengals are favored. I know that the Steelers aren’t the Steelers this season. But the game is in prime time and in Pittsburgh, the teams are rivals and the low in Pittsburgh Sunday night is expected to be in the mid-teens. I think Ben and the fellows muck this one up and do enough to win.

ATLANTA 23, Washington 14: When Ron Rivera’s job was in jeopardy, readers repeatedly lobbied for Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher to replace Carolina’s head coach. Hiring celebrity coaches is foolish. Why not hire the next good coach instead of somebody who used to be good? If you’re hung up on celebrity coaches, look at the Redskins. Only famous coaches need apply. When Daniel Snyder fires the current one, who will he make a run at? Gruden? Cowher? John Madden? Don Shula?

The rest

Philadelphia 33, MINNESOTA 28

San Francisco 26, TAMPA BAY 21

Seattle 20, NEW YORK GIANTS 13

Chicago 31, CLEVELAND 29

INDIANAPOLIS 24, Houston 17

New England 30, MIAMI 27

Arizona 20, TENNESSEE 17

New Orleans 29, ST. LOUIS 23

DALLAS 30, Green Bay 27

DETROIT 28, Baltimore 24

Upset of the week

JACKSONVILLE (plus 2) 23, Buffalo 21: After losing their first eight games, the Jaguars have won three straight and four of five. Gus Bradley, the team’s first-year head coach, has done a superb job, although few will notice. Why pick against them at home?

Lock of the week

Kansas City (minus 4 1/2) 27, OAKLAND 17: Throw out the record books when these teams get together. Throw it at people who say the Panthers control their destiny. This game concludes my two-week Lock slump.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; Twitter: @tomsorensen
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