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Tom Sorensen’s NFL picks: I’m not there yet, but I’m simmering

There are times when, like a driver in the Chase, I’m dialed in. My picks hug the track, handle beautifully in the corners and sail down the straightaways.

Alas, I’m not there yet. We’re simmering. But we feel it. We finally picked a Lock. It’s on.

Last week: 10-6

Season: 28-20

Lock: Owned it. New Orleans (minus-9 1/2) destroyed Minnesota by 11.

Season: 1-2

Upset: Was owned by it. St. Louis (plus-1) over Dallas. The Rams were up by, like, 30. They lost by more than one.

Season: 1-2

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

Lock of the week

BALTIMORE (minus-3 1/2) 26, Carolina 17: Will Cam Newton have time to pass, and when he doesn’t, can he run? Those of you who believe Cam should turn into Bart Starr or Tom Brady and become a pocket passer are wrong. He doesn’t have to run as frequently as he has. He can run like Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers, moving, always moving, and giving his receivers time to break free. Or he can run like Cam – when he becomes healthy.

The defense’s work against Pittsburgh was not indicative of what it does. But if linebacker Thomas Davis doesn’t play, the defense will be significantly less effective. Luke Kuechly gets attention, and he should. But he and Davis play off each other beautifully. That partnership ends if one of them can’t play.

The Steelers destroyed the Panthers last week and the Ravens destroyed the Steelers the week before that. I think Baltimore goes 3-1 for the fifth time in six seasons.

And ...

SAN FRANCISCO 33, Philadelphia 30: I love the way the Eagles play. Washington treated quarterback Nick Foles like a sparring partner last week. After getting pounded, Foles would quietly get up and deftly do what was necessary to win. The 49ers are 1-2 but they’re at home, and they are the 49ers, and that should be enough.

Miami 23, Oakland 20: The game will be played in London. Hope fans of the silver & black make the trip. We need to share.

CHICAGO 26, Green Bay 23: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has always been capable of magic. But Green Bay’s offense is ranked 28th. And the Packers scored only 7 points last week in a loss to Detroit. Rodgers and his offense have too much talent to simply shut down. But after an opening day home loss to Buffalo, the Bears have won twice on the road – by 8 against the 49ers and the New York Jets. They ought to sustain the streak at home.

The rest:

HOUSTON 24, Buffalo 20

INDIANAPOLIS 28, Tennessee 19

Detroit 23, NEW YORK JETS 20

PITTSBURGH 27, Tampa Bay 17

SAN DIEGO 24, Jacksonville 14

Atlanta 26, MINNESOTA 20

New England 20, KANSAS CITY 16

Upset of the week

DALLAS (plus-3) 37, New Orleans 34: This pick would go against all my standards, if I had standards. The Saints aren’t the same team on the road because Drew Brees isn’t the same quarterback on the road. They’re 0-2 away from Louisiana, losing to Atlanta and Cleveland. True, if they had made one more play in either game they’d be undefeated. But they didn’t.

The new New Orleans’ defense has not come together. No matter what happens, this one will be fun. Last team to score wins.

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