Since the Carolina Panthers, like most of us, don’t have to work Sunday, I’ll look at their next opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.
But first I’ll look back.
Last Week: 10-5
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Lock of the Week: Arizona (minus-6½) lost at home to St. Louis 24-22. I picked Arizona, and I guarantee the Cardinals cover if not for the coming out of the amazing Todd Gurley. The rookie rushed for 146 yards, and had four runs of 20 or more yards against one of the NFL’s better run defenses. The man was out almost 10 months after injuring his knee, and one senses he’s healthy. The Rams tried to pull him from the game for a short break. He said he didn’t need one.
Season Lock: 2-3.
This week’s games; the home teams are in CAPS.
CINCINNATI 24, Seattle 20: If the rules were enforced, the Seahawks are 1-3. Instead they are 2-2. This is a good team, well coached, with a defense among the league’s best. But their offensive line looks like the Carolina Panthers’ did the middle of last season. If Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson weren’t so tough to run down, the Seahawks would struggle to complete a forward pass.
When I think of Seattle I think of a beautiful city with light rain and a superior football team. The latter isn’t true, not yet. The Seahawks will attempt to fix their line the way the Panthers fixed theirs in 2014.
The Bengals are undefeated, but they have yet to contend with a defense such as Seattle’s. They’ve beaten Oakland, San Diego, Baltimore and Kansas City. They beat Oakland by 10 and the others by an average of 4.6 points.
I won’t be surprised if Cincinnati loses at home. But if the Bengals could sack Kansas City’s Alex Smith five times last week, they ought to be able to apply consistent pressure against Wilson.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton is playing better than he ever has, moving around and completing deep passes on the run.
So the Panthers should get a 2-3 team when they head west late next week.
Lock of the Week
ATLANTA (minus-8) 30, Washington 20: There are several potential Locks I like – Baltimore and New England, for example – but none that I love. Washington scares me. The team is supposed to be bad; Daniel Snyder owns them. But Washington comes out fast, outscoring opponents 24 points this season in the first half. Their defense is playing well.
Under head coach Jay Gruden, however, they’re 1-8 on the road. For the Falcons to win by more than eight their offense, among the league’s best, will have to atone for their pass defense, among the league’s worst. I’ll take that bet.
KANSAS CITY 23, Chicago 14
TAMPA BAY 23, Jacksonville 21
PHILADELPHIA 31, New Orleans 25
BALTIMORE 24, Cleveland 16
GREEN BAY 30, St. Louis 20
Buffalo 24, TENNESSEE 21
Arizona 28, DETROIT 24
New England 30, DALLAS 17
Denver 23, OAKLAND 21
N.Y. GIANTS 29, San Francisco 21
SAN DIEGO 29, Pittsburgh 23