I know what you’re thinking. Is that young writer going to replace Tom Sorensen?
“This is the second week in a row for this Jones character,” you’re thinking. “We want Tom!”
Before you picket the Observer, rest easy. Tom will be back. I’d like to say I’m back because of my amazing success last week, but really he just needs a little more time off.
My picks were gold last week, except the ones that weren’t. You can ignore those, though. This week, I’m aiming for perfection.
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Last week: 11-3
Lock: Miserable. I thought coming off a bye that the Bengals (minus-1) would be able to sink the Patriots. I don’t want to talk about it.
Upset: Less miserable. The Chiefs (plus-5) probably would have won the game if Colin Kaepernick was endorsed by Bose headphones instead of Beats by Dre.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS.
BENGALS 23, Panthers 17: I’ve struggled with this game as the week has gone on, but I have to stick with my original pick. The Bengals have been dreadful against tight ends, and they’re without A.J. Green this week. But Cincinnati has other weapons on offense, and the addition of linebacker Vontaze Burfict back into the starting lineup should cure their rush defense ills. It’ll be a close one in the Jungle.
Chargers 42, RAIDERS 10: In the “One of Us Will Be in Los Angeles Within Two Years” Bowl, the Chargers will handle the hapless Raiders. Philip Rivers has been dynamite this season, and the triumvirate of Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon has turned N.C. State into QB U in the NFL.
FALCONS 24, Bears 21: Marc Trestman won’t make the same mistake Lovie Smith made when the Bucs went to Atlanta. He won’t punt to Devin Hester.
Broncos 52, JETS 20
VIKINGS 28, Lions 27
Patriots 30, BILLS 22
Steelers 22, BROWNS 17
Packers 32, DOLPHINS 14
SEAHAWKS 28, Cowboys 17
Washington 20, CARDINALS 10
EAGLES 31, Giants 24
49ers 34, RAMS 20
Upset of the week
Jaguars (plus-4) 24, TITANS 7: At their core, the Jaguars aren’t really that bad. They can’t be.
I spent several days in Mobile, Ala., with the coaching staffs of Atlanta and Jacksonville at the Senior Bowl. I can’t believe these Jacksonville coaches captain a 0-5 team.
I have zero faith in the Titans, and their roster is filled with a bunch of names I either 1) don’t know or 2) didn’t know they were still in the league. I may have disagreed with Jacksonville taking Blake Bortles at No. 3 overall in May, but they aren’t nearly as bad as their record suggests.
Lock of the week
Ravens (minus-3) 35, BUCCANEERS 24: Glennon isn’t that bad even though Lovie Smith said from the jump he isn’t the quarterback of the present, or the future. He’s getting the job done. After a forgettable game with 34 receiving yards and a fumble lost, Steve Smith will get back on track and have another big day against an NFC South opponent he once terrorized. The Ravens will be halfway to an NFC South sweep and the Bucs will continue down the path of a top-5 draft pick next year.