I’ve spent more time assessing the Carolina-New Orleans game than I have any game this season.
I don’t like to do that. I don’t look at the picks other people make until after I make mine. I don’t look at trends. I look at numbers, but dismiss most of them.
The Saints are 6-0 at home this season and have won by an average of more than 17 points. Three of the teams they’ve beaten currently have winning records – Arizona, Dallas and San Francisco.
I believe in instinct. You feel it or you don’t. The Panthers have won eight straight and I’ve picked them to win all eight. They were underdogs in only two of the games – at Minnesota and at San Francisco.
They’re underdogs again Sunday. If I pick the Panthers, it’s not because I think a victory by the visitors is a better story. I’m not going to sacrifice my record to placate anybody.
New Orleans is a tough place for a visitor to win. I’ve seen most of the games the Panthers have played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Fans dress coolly and crazily, invoke secret voodoo stuff, and the players feed off the crowd and the crowd off the players.
But Saints did play Monday night. And their airplane broke and they didn’t return until Tuesday. And they were beaten up a little by Seattle. And the Panthers are doing whatever is required to win. And they will get to quarterback Drew Brees. And rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is having a fine season and he is going to have a fine, and difference making, game.
There’s one guy from USA Today who is a half-game ahead of me. He counted the Minnesota-Green Bay game as a tie. I took it as a loss. I hate ethics.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:
Upset of the week
Lock of the week