AP’s Pro Picks has work to do

Pro Picks has been keeping company with the dregs of the NFL, and it’s time that stopped.

Coming off the best weekend of football this season, we need to ramp up our game. We’ll start with what shapes up as a shootout in Charlotte, the Panthers (3-6) hosting the Saints (4-5).

Both teams figure they should have won on Sunday, but they fell painfully. Carolina blew a big lead against Kansas City, turned over the ball in the dying moments and was beaten by a Chiefs field goal.

Even worse, in what might be the play of the year so far, New Orleans had a late extra point kick blocked and run back by Denver for a defensive 2-point conversion. All those points did was win the game.

“As fast as we can get on the field, the better, as far as you want another crack at it,” says the Saints’ Drew Brees, who is having another spectacular season. “We let that one go. Usually it’s a 24-hour rule. That one would have to be let go after you woke up Monday morning because the preparation began on Carolina.”

At least the Panthers didn’t also have to deal with traveling for the Thursday nighter.

No. 20 New Orleans is a 4¢-point underdog at No. 25 Carolina. That’s too many points in what should be a nail-biter.

PANTHERS, 31-30

KNOCKOUT LEAGUE

Arizona had to go down to the wire last week. Seems to happen all the time. Maybe GIANTS can provide a breather.

No. 3 New England (minus 14) at No. 31 San Francisco

Just what the 49ers need, a bunch of ticked-off Patriots coming to town.

BEST BET: PATRIOTS 37-20

No. 16 Tennessee (plus 3 1-2) at No. 24 Indianapolis

Time for a statement win on the road for Titans.

UPSET SPECIAL: TITANS, 33-31

No. 29 Chicago (plus 5 1-2) at No. 7 New York Giants

Thought about this for Best Bet.

GIANTS, 27-13

No. 11 Houston (plus 3) vs. No. 5 Oakland at Mexico City, Monday night

Considered this one for Best Bet, too.

RAIDERS, 30-20

No. 14 Miami (pick-em) at No. 27 Los Angeles

Top overall pick Jared Goff gets his first shot at QB. And first loss.

DOLPHINS, 20-13

No. 10 Philadelphia

(plus 6) at No. 2 Seattle

Seahawks hitting their stride, but Eagles will test them.

SEAHAWKS, 20-17

No. 13 Baltimore (plus 5 1-2)

at No. 1 Dallas

Cowboys wins seem inevitable these days.

COWBOYS, 28-13

No. 18 Pittsburgh (minus 7 1-2) at No. 32 Cleveland

Browns losses are inevitable these days, even though Steelers are struggling.

STEELERS, 33-23

No. 23 Buffalo (plus 4)

at No. 21 (tie) Cincinnati

Bengals’ season is at stake; they remain alive in weak AFC North with win.

BENGALS, 21-20

No. 30 Jacksonville (plus 6)

at No. 12 Detroit

Lions in good shape in another bad North division, the NFC version.

LIONS, 34-19

No. 17 Arizona (minus 1)

at No. 15 Minnesota

Can’t say same for slumping Vikings, but Cardinals are vulnerable.

VIKINGS, 16-14

No. 19 Green Bay (plus 2 1-2)

at No. 9 Washington

Just can’t pick the Packers right now.

REDSKINS, 26-23

No. 26 Tampa Bay (plus 7 1-2) at No. 4 Kansas City

Chiefs quietly stating case for top AFC spot.

CHIEFS, 23-21

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Last Week: Against spread (3-10). Straight up: (6-8)

Season Totals: Against spread (63-75-6). Straight up: (81-63-2)

Best Bet: 5-5 against spread, 6-4 straight up.

Upset special: 5-4-1 against spread, 5-5 straight up

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