Opening week is often painful. The NFL’s power structure annually changes, and some of us insist on remembering teams as they were. Some of us forget teams as they were. Buffalo, for example, plays good defense.
I did all right. After going 1-0 on Thursday and 10-3 on Sunday I went 0-2 on Monday. Some of you hate Mondays. I was never that kind of guy. But it could change.
My Lock was Indianapolis (minus 2 1/2) over Buffalo. I overestimated Andrew Luck and his array of potential playmakers, and I underestimated Buffalo’s defense, Buffalo’s quarterback and Buffalo’s crowd. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is in his fifth season, and last week was his first start. Man, was he good. The Bills beat the Colts, who ought to be one of the best teams in the AFC, 27-14.
Did you know people move from Buffalo to Charlotte and they all have access to email? Several thought that by picking the Colts I was attacking their town. I like their town. I’m not the one who left.
Last week: 11-5
Lock of the week: 0-1
This week, with the home team in CAPS:
Any team that features J.J. Watt is scary. And, let’s be honest, many fans of the Carolina Panthers get out of bed looking for a reason to be scared. In a loss to Kansas City last week Watt had nine tackles and two sacks, his sixth straight game with a sack.
Many of us saw Houston outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who had four tackles last week, when he was at South Carolina. One of these days Clowney ought to become the disruptive force he was in the SEC. I don’t mean that he’ll supplant Watt. I mean that he’ll join him. Maybe it happens Sunday against the Panthers.
But Carolina plays defense, too. Can you envision Houston scoring big? Houston quarterback Ryan Mallett played well last week; the Texans trained 27-9 in the fourth quarter when he entered, and he led the Texans to 11 points.
The start will be only Mallett’s third in the NFL. Is he a genuine NFL quarterback who can lead the Texans to first downs and touchdowns and victory?
The Panthers neither entertained nor blew anybody out in their road victory against Jacksonville last week. But when the plays that determine the outcome were made, Carolina made them.
The Panthers might fail to look good again Sunday. They’ll win anyway. CAROLINA 20, Houston 13
Lock of the week
St. Louis (minus 3 1/2) 27, WASHINGTON 21: The Rams have too much. They had six sacks last week against Seattle. Working against an offensive line that might be as bad as Carolina’s was early last season, St. Louis should dominate. New Rams quarterback Nick Foles had a 115.8 rating. He won’t have to match that to win.
MINNESOTA 23, Detroit 21
Arizona 24, CHICAGO 20
Tennessee 9, CLEVELAND 7
New England 30, BUFFALO 24
PITTSBURGH 24, San Francisco 17
CINCINNATI 30, San Diego 27
N.Y. GIANTS 29, Atlanta 27
NEW ORLEANS 27, Tampa Bay 16
Baltimore 16, OAKLAND 10
Miami 23, JACKSONVILLE 17
PHILADELPHIA 33, Dallas 31
GREEN BAY 24, Seattle 20
INDIANAPOLIS 23, N.Y. Jets 14