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NFL picks: The return of NostraThomas

I’m going to bring this up before you do.

Two weeks ago I picked Carolina to beat San Francisco, a six-point favorite, by one. The Panthers did.

Last week I picked the Panthers, a three-point favorite by kickoff, to beat New England by four. They did.

Yeah, I know. NostraThomas.

So if I pick Miami to beat the Panthers, what happens?

Most of us think we influence outcomes. When we sit in an old leather chair, with a glass in our right hand and a sip of a beverage in our mouth, and our team does something wonderful, what do we do?

The next time we need a result we sit in the old leather chair, with a glass in our right hand and a sip of a beverage in our mouth. But we can’t do it every play. If we do, we mock Good Fortune. Friends, Good Fortune does not like to be mocked.

I pick the team I think will win. Carolina’s advantage will be its tough defensive line against a soft Miami offensive line. Carolina’s disadvantage is that it has a short week and a road trip.

The Panthers are coming off two big victories and the next two weeks they play NFC South rivals. This makes Miami a trap game.

But how can a game be a trap if everybody is aware of the trap? I don’t know if Carolina’s defense will play as well as it did against the 49ers or if Carolina’s offense will play as well as it did against the Patriots.

I’ll be shocked, however, if the Panthers don’t play as hard. Carolina 23, MIAMI 21

Last week: 11-4

Season: 107-55

Upset of the week: Picked Tampa Bay (plus 21/2) to beat Atlanta. The Buccaneers won by 13.

Season: 7-4

Lock of the week: Picked New Orleans (minus 3) to cover against the 49ers. New Orleans won by 3, so the game is a wash.

Season: 6-4-1

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

Denver 33, NEW ENGLAND 30: Love Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. And love New England’s humor. My sides still hurt from New England coach Bill Belichick’s post-Panther one-liners. Come on, Bill. No more jokes. I have to write. The Patriots, at home, after a loss, are formidable. But the Broncos have more offense and more defense.

The rest

GREEN BAY 24, Minnesota 17

HOUSTON 24, Jacksonville 16

KANSAS CITY 20, San Diego 14

ST. LOUIS 23, Chicago 21

Pittsburgh 29, CLEVELAND 27

DETROIT 27, Tampa Bay 20

OAKLAND 20, Tennessee 19

Indianapolis 21, ARIZONA 19

San Francisco 33, WASHINGTON 28

Upset of the week

Dallas (plus 21/2) 31, N.Y. GIANTS 28: Yes, Dallas linebacker Sean Lee is out. And when you expect the Cowboys to be good, they’re terrible, and when you expect them to be terrible, they’re good. But I like their offense more than I like New York’s. That’s enough.

Lock of the week

BALTIMORE (minus 31/2) 20, New York Jets 9: New York coach Rex Ryan and new acquisition Ed Reed will be pumped to go against their former employers. But neither plays offense. The Ravens, meanwhile, rediscovered their offense – running back Ray Rice – last week.

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