Fans have had two weeks to savor Carolina’s dismantling of the New York Giants. Now they find out what the victory is worth.
Does the 38-0 shutout imply that the Panthers have figured out how to apply their talent and will prove it Sunday against Arizona?
Did they merely play well against a bad team?
Or is head coach Ron Rivera undefeated and invincible in games he has to win to keep his job? A source says Rivera didn’t have to beat New York to retain his job. But Rivera probably had to win some or all of the final four games the Panthers played last season.
I believe the Panthers win again today. If so, the winning streak will be Rivera’s longest in September or October in his three seasons with Carolina.
The Panthers have a decided edge in talent. Arizona has been good against the run. But unless the Panthers turn Cam Newton into Bart Starr again he should generate yards on the ground as well as in the air. If the Cardinals skew their defense to stop Steve Smith somebody else will beat them, as the Giants will attest.
Also, Carolina’s front seven will get to immobile Carson Palmer. And, like the Giants, the Cardinals have little running game to save them. Their offense is 25th in scoring and 26th in total yards. My pick: Carolina 27, ARIZONA 20.
Last Week: 10-5
Upset: I picked San Diego (plus 11/2) to beat Dallas. The Chargers won by nine.
Lock: I moronically picked against New England. I picked Atlanta (minus 11/2) to cover against the Patriots. The Falcons couldn’t cover Armanti Edwards. New England beat the depleted Falcons by seven.
This week’s games, with the home team in CAPS:
Denver 33, DALLAS 27: The Cowboys are 2-0 at home, and the Broncos will lose someday. This is not the day. Peyton Manning versus Dallas’ Cover 2? I vote for Manning.
New England 26, CINCINNATI 24: Like, how dumb do you have to be to pick against the Patriots, even if the Bengals are favored?
ST. LOUIS 29, Jacksonville 17: The Jaguars get Justin Blackmon back. He missed the previous four games because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Blackmon is a talent. He will be one of the best receivers in the league. He instantly makes the Jaguars less worse.
GREEN BAY 33, Detroit 26
MIAMI 23, Baltimore 20
New Orleans 31, CHICAGO 28
Kansas City 21, TENNESSEE 20
SAN FRANCISCO 29, Houston 23
San Diego 27, OAKLAND 23
ATLANTA 24, New York Jets 16
Upset of the Week
INDIANAPOLIS (+21/2) 24, Seattle 21: I don’t trust Seahawks on the road. They trailed Carolina and Houston but parlayed mistakes by their opponents into a victory. Don’t think that happens against the Colts, especially in Lucas Oil Stadium. I like Russell Wilson. I like Andrew Luck more.
Lock of the Week
Philadelphia (+2) 33, N.Y. GIANTS 30: Why would you pick the winless Giants? Would you pick them because they’re due? There is no due. They’re terrible on offense and terrible on defense. Philadelphia’s defense is abysmal. But if Michael Vick doesn’t turn the ball over, the Eagles win. They probably win if he does.