Last week Carolina was going to beat Minnesota in Minneapolis. I felt it. Many of us did.
This week, even though the Panthers are at home against St. Louis, I’m less certain.
I kind of like the Rams. Lots of teams beat Houston. But they don’t beat the Texans 38-13. Last week the Rams did.
Still, the idea of the Panthers winning two straight, before they’re eliminated from the playoffs and before Halloween, is as intriguing as it is rare.
I’ve written all season that the Panthers have talent, and last week they applied it beautifully. The offensive and defensive calls kept the Vikings guessing and grasping. St. Louis is too well coached to be similarly fooled.
The difference in this game, however, is defense. Carolina’s is superior. And if the Panthers are going to succeed this season, they will win at home.
CAROLINA 27, St. Louis 23
Last week: 11-4
Upset of the week: Picked Carolina (+21/2) to beat Minnesota. The courageous Panthers won by 25.
Lock of the week: Picked Dallas (-51/2) to cover against Washington. The heroic Cowboys won by 15.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:
Denver 37, INDIANAPOLIS 31
Why would Jim Irsay criticize Peyton Manning? Because he inherited a football team but not class? To, oh, no, undermine Manning? To attract attention? Manning, who returns to Indianapolis, will be outstanding. But Andrew Luck, who was burned by dropped passes in a loss last week to San Diego, will be good, too. Irsay ought to be embarrassed. But he can’t admit it now.
NEW YORK GIANTS 21, Minnesota 20
Good teams aren’t required to produce a good game. But they do make it easier to stay awake.
PHILADELPHIA 35, Dallas 31
The Cowboys will be without their best defender, DeMarcus Ware, and their best running back, DeMarco Murray. The onus will be on Tony Romo to outscore the Eagles. He’ll try, and he’ll amass nice numbers doing it. But he won’t be enough.
Chicago 23, WASHINGTON 20
The Redskins opened as a 1-point favorite. Why? Robert Griffith III is starting to play like RG3 again. But unless he plays defense, the Bears will score as many as they have to.
ATLANTA 24, Tampa Bay 17
When somebody is sick, you send a card, drop off some food or schedule the Buccaneers. This is a get-well game for the 1-4, Julio-less, Falcons.
New England 27, NEW YORK JETS 20
MIAMI 27, Buffalo 19
San Diego 26, JACKSONVILLE 19
DETROIT 27, Cincinnati 23
San Francisco 23, TENNESSEE 17
GREEN BAY 31, Cleveland 23
Upset of the week: Baltimore (+11/2) 23, PITTSBURGH 21
The Ravens can’t win unless Ray Rice runs. So I guess I’m saying that Ray Rice will run. If he does, the Ravens have a decided edge on offense. So for justice to prevail, and me to be right, Rice must run.
Lock of the week: KANSAS CITY (-61/2) 27, Houston 17
Kansas City is undefeated and confident and playing in Arrowhead Stadium. It’s like old times there. The stadium is again among the toughest places in the league for a visitor to play.
Sorensen: 704-358-5119; Twitter: @tomsorensen