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Week 9 NFL picks: Was Colts’ Monday rally just luck?

Did the Indianapolis Colts find a flaw in the Carolina Panthers defense, or was it just (Andrew) Luck?
Did the Indianapolis Colts find a flaw in the Carolina Panthers defense, or was it just (Andrew) Luck? AP

I feel good about my picks. This is among the best seasons I’ve had not for picking against the line but for picking winners. Need to get my Locks up. I started terribly and have picked three of the last four.

Last week: 10-4

Season: 82-37

Locks: Picked Houston (minus-4) over Tennessee. Houston won 20-6.

Season: 5-5

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

CAROLINA 29, Green Bay 27: The Packers are the best team the Panthers have played this season. I’m picking the Panthers because I’m reasonably superstitious when it comes to picking winners and I’ve yet to pick against them. I almost picked them to lose to Seattle but at that juncture they had yet to put together a game in which everything clicked, and they seemed poised to.

I love the game of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But his offense has not been as efficient as we remember it. Denver absolutely shut him down in its 19-point victory last week. Rodgers, who is the best quarterback in football, was knocked around all night. Always so smooth that he makes his complex position look easy, Rodgers looked perplexed.

For Rodgers, the Denver game constitutes a slump. He has won his past 14 games after a loss.

So there’s that. And there’s this. The Panthers had one fewer day to prepare for Green Bay than they usually do. The Panthers played Monday night, and when they couldn’t finish Indianapolis in regulation, they went to overtime and played until Tuesday morning.

Did the Colts, who came back strong in the fourth quarter, uncover a flaw in Carolina nobody else had? Or did quarterback Andrew Luck suddenly remember who he is and start playing like it? And if the flaw was so apparent that the sluggish Colts could exploit it, why hasn’t anybody else?

The Panthers have been good to me and I struggle to find a reason to pick against them now. I think the game comes down to a play and, as is their custom, I think the Panthers make it.

Lock of the week

NEW ORLEANS (minus-8) 33, Tennessee 20: The Saints again look like the Saints, with Drew Brees exploiting defenses with quick decisions and accurate passes. Tennessee, meanwhile, looks like a team with a new coach. Good organizations don’t fire a coach in mid-season. When they do, I’m not sure that good teams hire Mike Mularkey as replacement. Mularkey’s record as a head coach is 16-32. The Saints again are confident. The Titans, meanwhile, are still the Titans.

The rest

MINNESOTA 26, St. Louis 24

NEW ENGLAND 30, Washington 23

BUFFALO 20, Miami 19

NEW YORK JETS 23, Jacksonville 16

Oakland 29, PITTSBURGH 28

Atlanta 20, SAN FRANCISCO 16

New York Giants 27, TAMPA BAY 26

Denver 23, INDIANAPOLIS 16

Philadelphia 26, DALLAS 24

SAN DIEGO 29, Chicago 26

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