Carolina Panthers

NFL picks: Manning will top Brady

What will you do with a Panthers-less Sunday?

Will you do work around the house? Go to the mountains? Spend a little extra time catching up with fellow members of the congregation rather than speeding out?

This Sunday is the first one of the season without Panthers football, and that’ll be the case for most of November.

After an embarrassing 28-10 loss to the Saints on Thursday Night Football where a number of fans in the upper level dressed as plastic blue chairs for Halloween, the Panthers have off this Sunday, next Sunday and Sunday, Nov. 23.

With a Monday night contest at Philadelphia and a bye week, the Panthers have just a home game against Atlanta and a road game at Minnesota on the docket for Sundays in November.

Perhaps this Sunday you’ll take in a Broncos victory over the Patriots if you aren’t coming back down the mountain from your trip to see the foliage. Maybe you’ll watch the Cardinals beat the Cowboys after you’ve dodged the way-too-early Christmas decorations and Christmas-themed craft beer at your local grocery.

Last week: 9-5

Season: 73-42-1

Lock: Always betting against the Titans usually works out well.

Season: 4-4

Upset: It was a gutsy call, but it paid off. Ben Roethlisberger had the biggest game of any quarterback all season and led the Steelers to the win. Andrew Luck was due for a loss anyway.

Season: 4-4

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

Broncos 36, PATRIOTS 34

Everything tells me to pick against Peyton Manning in this game. It’s on the road in Foxboro. It’s against Tom Brady. It’s a big game.

If this were in January, I’d absolutely take the Pats. But Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback of all-time. Realizing how backhanded that compliment is, I am picking the Broncos.

They’re playing the most consistent football of any team in the league, and the Patriots have shown they can melt down in a big game this season. A win this week and you can go ahead and start engraving Manning’s name on his sixth NFL MVP award.

The rest

BROWNS 14, Buccaneers 13

CHIEFS 27, Jets 14

BENGALS 42, Jaguars 9

Chargers 24, DOLPHINS 20

Washington 24, VIKINGS 10

49ERS 35, Rams 17

SEAHAWKS 34, Raiders 17

STEELERS, Ravens

Colts 38, GIANTS 21

Upset of the week

Cardinals (plus-3) 24, COWBOYS 17

Insert joke about Jerry Jones meddling with Tony Romo’s back injury here. Brandon Weeden looked good last week against Washington, but he’s no Romo. The Cardinals are the best team no one is talking about, and Bruce Arians has locked up the Coach of the Year trophy many thought should have gone to him last year.

Lock of the week

Eagles (minus-1) 28, TEXANS 17

Last week, the Texans were my lock. This week, they’re on the other side of it. J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL, but he can’t do it alone. The Eagles will tune up the Texans and Ryan Fitzpatrick a week before they get to host Carolina on Monday Night Football.

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