A trend ought to end when a season does. But the Carolina Panthers opened the season by losing a close game. And I lost my Lock of the Week.
St. Louis was a 4 1/2-point favorite at home against Arizona. The Rams failed me, winning by a mere three.
I also lost my upset. I had Atlanta beating New Orleans in New Orleans. The Falcons were driving for the winning touchdown but didn’t quite score it. The Saints, a three-point favorite, hung on to win by six.
Last Week: 11-5
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:
Carolina 24, BUFFALO 21: Carolina’s front seven was impressive against Seattle. Buffalo rookie quarterback EJ Manuel was impressive in his NFL debut against New England. Manuel, however, lacks the experience and savvy Seattle’s Russell Wilson offers. Panthers should get to Manuel. Meanwhile, the Panthers gave Cam Newton last week the keys to a van, sturdy and reliable and restricted to the right lane. Hope offensive coordinator Mike Shula gives him something faster and sleeker to run against the Bills.
ATLANTA 26, St. Louis 17: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was knocked around by New Orleans defense, and the St. Louis rush is better than the Saints’. Watch the Falcons give the ball to Steven Jackson. Watch Jackson take off against his former team.
PHILADELPHIA 33, San Diego 26: The Eagles are must-watch TV. They’re quick-twitch and full speed ahead, less an offense than a perpetual fast break. They could be the next New Big Thing, and the NFL ought to be thrilled if they continue to win.
OAKLAND 23, Jacksonville 14: The Jaguars are so bad that the Raiders are a six-point favorite. They are so bad they might not win as many games as they did in 2012. They won two.
Denver 37, N.Y. GIANTS 35: Don’t think Peyton Manning will throw seven TD passes. Think the Giants’ defense will hold him to five. Not sure about that New York secondary. But Denver can stop Eli Manning. The Giants turned the ball over six times against Dallas but still scored 31. This one should be fast and entertaining, and the elder Manning should prevail.
HOUSTON 24, Tennessee 17
INDIANAPOLIS 23, Miami 16
KANSAS CITY 28, Dallas 27
CHICAGO 24, Minnesota 20
GREEN BAY 34, Washington 26
New Orleans 27, TAMPA BAY 24
Detroit 23, ARIZONA 21
CINCINNATI 26, Pittsburgh 14
Upset of the Week
San Francisco (+3) 29, SEATTLE 27: I love the Seahawks, their quarterback, their style, their poise, their defense, their stadium and their city. The 49ers, however, are the best team in football, and are the only team I’d pick to beat the Seahawks on the road. San Francisco watched Carolina dominate Seattle’s offensive line and asked, “When is it our turn?”
Lock of the Week
BALTIMORE (+7) 27, Cleveland 14: The Browns would not have scored a second touchdown in their loss to Miami last week if they had been on the field by themselves and had access to Segways. Baltimore is better than it looked in the Week 1 beat-down against Denver, and it has had 10 days to prepare for the Browns. A bonus pick: Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden will not throw seven touchdown passes against Baltimore, but he might throw seven this season.\