You can read about the Carolina-New Orleans game in one of my other columns in Sunday’s Observer. If you want to, I mean. There’s no pressure. It’s not as if you’re obligated. Sure, I wrote two football columns and one basketball column. But it’s no big deal. The business of America is business, and professional journalism is mine.
Last week: 9-7
Upset of the week: Jacksonville (plus 2) to upset Buffalo. The Bills won by seven, so technically I lost.
Lock of the week: Kansas City (minus 4 1/2) to cover against Oakland. The Chiefs won by 25, so justice prevailed.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS.
CAROLINA 26, New Orleans 23
Dallas 35, WASHINGTON 27: Retailers regularly promote holiday giveaways, but the Cowboys’ giveaway against Green Bay last week beats them all. Dallas’ head coach is taking heat and Dallas’ quarterback is taking heat and Dallas’ general manager is – the Cowboys don’t have a general manager. They have a master and a commander and a czar. He also owns the team. Yet, I like Jerry Jones. He will be the best owner at this game and he’ll have the best quarterback, the best coach and the best players. People talk about teams nobody wants to play. The Redskins are the team everybody wants to play.
SEATTLE 24, Arizona 17: Arizona is Carolina west, except the Cardinals are a game behind the Panthers and their quarterback is 52 years old. Panthers fans will be Seattle fans Sunday, since Arizona holds the tiebreaker with Carolina.
BALTIMORE 29, New England 27: The Ravens showed what they could do at Detroit Monday. Somebody is going to work up momentum going into the playoffs. If the Ravens slip in, it could be them.
Miami 26, BUFFALO 20: Despite the turmoil for which the Dolphins are wholely responsible they’ve won three straight since their loss to the Panthers. This is a good team.
KANSAS CITY 24, Indianapolis 19: Jamaal Charles caught four touchdown passes against Oakland last week, and they all looked the same. How’s it go? Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me four times, I must be Oakland.
ST. LOUIS 30, Tampa Bay 26
CINCINNATI 24, Minnesota 17
Tennessee 26, JACKSONVILLE 24
DETROIT 30, N.Y. Giants 23
SAN DIEGO 28, Oakland 20
GREEN BAY 31, Pittsburgh 29
PHILADELPHIA 34, Chicago 28
SAN FRANCISCO 26, Atlanta 14
Upset of the week
Cleveland (plus 2 1/2) 23, N.Y. JETS: Couldn’t find an upset I like. I don’t dislike this one. The Browns rarely have a great game, but they have great moments. That ought to be enough.
Lock of the week
Denver (minus 10 1/2) 33, HOUSTON 17: The Broncos finish the regular season with two road games – at Houston and at Oakland. Win both and home field advantage is theirs. Dangerous Lock; although the Texans have lost 12 straight, eight have come by seven or fewer points and five have come by three or fewer. But after Denver’s loss to San Diego last week, I don’t see the Broncos allowing Houston to hang in.