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Week 8 NFL picks: If it weren’t for LaDrop ...

Brandon LaFell (19) and the New England Patriots were looking like a lock to cover an 8 1/2-point spread, but LaFell forgot how to catch.
Brandon LaFell (19) and the New England Patriots were looking like a lock to cover an 8 1/2-point spread, but LaFell forgot how to catch. Getty Images

My Lock last week was flashing. The teams were behaving. They were doing what they were supposed to do. New England was going to cover and I was going to win.

And then Brandon LaFell, the former Carolina Panther, dropped approximately 11 passes. The New England Patriots were favored by 8 1/2. Because of LaDrop, and because of an erratic defense, the Patriots, who were up late by 10, won by seven.

Last Week: 11-3

Season: 72-33.

I’m proud of 72-33. The Carolina Panthers have been good to me. They’ve had tough games the past two weeks. But I have yet to pick against them.

Lock: Missed it.

Season: 4-5.

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

CAROLINA 27, Indianapolis 23: I keep waiting for Andrew Luck to become Andrew Luck. Had Luck left Stanford in 2011 he and not Cam Newton would have been the No. 1 pick in the draft. He and not Newton would be the Panthers’ quarterback.

Luck has had the better career. Newton is having the better season. Newton’s passing numbers rarely will be pretty. But whatever the Panthers have required, Newton has provided. When I wrote that the Panthers should pay Newton franchise quarterback money I was ripped by readers. They sent some of the nastiest emails I’ve ever received. Some of the comments were racist. I wonder if fans have accepted that Newton indeed is a franchise quarterback. Whether the people who sent the nasty emails have changed their minds is not important. I have a Do Not Read list that’s comparable to a Do Not Fly list. I see a certain name or, on Twitter, icon, and I move on. There’s no reason to waste my time. They are the people for which message boards are designed.

I think Luck and the Colts will play well. I think the Carolina defense, and the Carolina quarterback, will do enough to win a second straight prime time game.

Reluctant Lock of the Week

HOUSTON (minus-4) 23, Tennessee 16: I couldn’t find a game that appealed to me this week. The way do it is I make my picks and then check the line. I often pick the game in which the line’s numbers vary the most from mine. This week my picks varied no more than three points from the line in any of the 14 games. I considered Kansas City. I considered Arizona. I considered San Francisco. I considered the Panthers, who as Locks have twice come through for me. I reluctantly went with Houston. This game is so bad it should be played in London.

The rest

Kansas City 24, Detroit 20 (in London)

Minnesota 26, CHICAGO 24

Arizona 26, CLEVELAND 21

BALTIMORE 26, San Diego 23

ATLANTA 30, Tampa Bay 23

NEW ORLEANS 29, New York Giants 27

PITTSBURGH 28, Cincinnati 27

ST. LOUIS 24, San Francisco 21

New York Jets 23, OAKLAND 20

Seattle 24, DALLAS 17

Green Bay 29, DENVER 26

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