I received more email the last two weeks asking when my picks would be posted, printed and broadcast than I did at any time last season. I can’t tell if you like me or you’re in one of your sarcastic moods and can’t find a fat guy to call Slim.
Last week: 10-6.
Lock of the Week: Chicago. Not only did the Bears fail to cover at home against Buffalo, but they also failed to win. So: 0-1.
Upset of the Week: Carolina was a 2 1/2 point underdog at Tampa Bay. I picked the Panthers to win, and they did anyway.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS.
Upset of the Week: Detroit (+3) 23, CAROLINA 20.
If the teams revert to 2013 form, this is a foolish pick. After losing their opener at home last season, the Panthers won seven straight. The Lions, meanwhile, lost their past three on the road.
The Lions lose at home, too. If, under former coach Jim Schwartz, they played on a neutral site, they would have lost there, too.
Detroit has long had talent. The Lions are loaded on offense and play decent defense. But they were chippy, sloppy and dirty. If there was a late hit to deliver, they delivered it. It was as if, along with studying the playbook, they studied tape of the Oakland Raiders when the Raiders collected penalties but not victories.
The Lions have talent and, under new coach (formerly of Wake Forest) Jim Caldwell, they have a new trick – discipline.
They are a playoff team.
New England 31, MINNESOTA 26
The Vikings were good against a dispirited St. Louis team on the road last week. The Patriots, meanwhile, faded late, fell back into the ropes and allowed Miami to hammer them.
The last time the Patriots started a season 0-2 under Bill Belichick, however, was 2001, and Drew Bledsoe started both games at quarterback. Bledsoe’s replacement that season, Tom Brady, will lead them Sunday.
DENVER 34, Kansas City 20
The Chiefs controlled the pace last season, which is the reason the games were relatively close. They lost twice to Denver by a total of 17 points. Last week the Broncos led Indianapolis 24-0, let up and won 31-24. This week they’ll want to show that they can finish, and they will. This one will be easy.
TENNESSEE 29, Dallas 23
Miami 23, BUFFALO 20
WASHINGTON 6, Jacksonville 3
Arizona 20, NEW YORK GIANTS 16
New Orleans 26, CLEVELAND 20
CINCINNATI 24, Atlanta 20
Seattle 27, SAN DIEGO 23
TAMPA BAY 23, St. Louis 17
Houston 20, OAKLAND 17
GREEN BAY 33, New York Jets 19
INDIANAPOLIS 35, Philadelphia 33
Lock of the Week: SAN FRANCISCO (-7) 34, Chicago 17
True, the Bears are due. They last won in San Francisco in 1985. To put 1985 in perspective, the Masters’ winner that April was Bernhard Langer.
The Bears are flawed. Buffalo rushed 33 times last week (to Chicago’s 18) for 193 yards, an average of 5.8 yards a carry. The 49ers will come at the Bears with running backs Frank Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde, who in his NFL debut last week picked up 50 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Colin Kaepernick has an array of receivers, especially if Michael Crabtree is healthy. This is a good Lock. I promise.