Last week was rough for members of survivor pools. You make the safest pick of the week, and if your team advances you survive.
New Orleans looked like a safe pick. The Saints were at home against Tampa Bay, and Tampa Bay had been pounded in Week 1 by Tennessee. The Buccaneers beat New Orleans anyway, 26-19.
Baltimore looked like a safe pick. The Ravens were playing Oakland on the road. Does really matter where you play the silver and black? It did Sunday. The Raiders outscored the Ravens 37-33.
Indianapolis looked like a safe pick. The Colts were upset by Buffalo in Week 1, and here they were on national television, on Monday Night Football, against the perpetually challenged New York Jets. The Colts managed only seven points. The Jets won 20-7.
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Even Jacksonville won. The Jaguars beat Miami 23-20.
I missed those games, and five others, too.
Last week: 7-9
Lock: I picked St. Louis (minus-3½) to cover against Washington. The Rams elected not to. They lost to Washington – Washington! – 24-10.
Locks for the season: 0-2.
I’m so frustrated that this week I’m offering the rare and almost unprecedented Double Lock.
Lock No. 1: CAROLINA (minus-3) 27, New Orleans 13
The line undoubtedly is up from minus-3 but it lingered at minus-3 through the week and if you choose to wait it’s nobody’s fault but yours. A damaged Drew Brees is better than a healthy Luke McCown. McCown will start. The Saints defense is damaged, tight end Jimmy Graham is still in Seattle and memories from last October linger in sections of Bank of America Stadium. The Saints came to Charlotte last season and, on Thursday night, on national TV, handled the Panthers 28-10.
Like shoes, like cars and like knees, success in the NFL wears out. Brees is a fantastic quarterback and Sean Payton a superior coach. From 2009 to 2013 they had one losing season. They also had seasons in which they won 13, 13, 11 and 11 games. It was an entertaining run. Their time feels over.
Other games, with the home teams in CAPS:
Atlanta 30, DALLAS 27
Indianapolis 20, TENNESSEE 14
Oakland 23, CLEVELAND 21
BALTIMORE 24, Cincinnati 21
NEW ENGLAND 30, Jacksonville 19
NEW YORK JETS 21, Philadelphia 20
HOUSTON 24, Tampa Bay 14
MINNESOTA 24, San Diego 23
Pittsburgh 26, ST. LOUIS 23
ARIZONA 21, San Francisco 14
MIAMI 27, Buffalo 26
SEATTLE 30, Chicago 17
GREEN BAY 29, Kansas City 21
Rare and almost unprecedented Double Lock: Denver (minus-3) 31, DETROIT 24
The Lions allowed Minnesota to push them around last week. Matthew Stafford threw 53 passes, none of them for longer than 19 yards. He averaged 9 yards a completion. It was as if the Lions wore out.
Peyton Manning is not getting the protection to which he’s become accustomed, and if he wants to avoid the rush, he needs to leave the pocket now. But you saw his big finish last week in the victory at Kansas City.