- Associated Press - Thursday, September 15, 2011

Call it lockout brain lock.

That’s what Pro Picks suffered from in a wild, totally unpredictable first weekend of the season. Yes, six road teams won. Unfortunately, we had only two of them.

And six underdogs were winners. Unfortunately, the four favorites we had losing were victorious.

Things didn’t go any better with the Best Bet or the Upset Special. Looks like Pro Picks was about as prepared for the openers as the Colts, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons.

That makes it critical to find a solid choice this week to get on track, and the spotlight falls on one of those teams that got routed last weekend: Pittsburgh.

There’s just no way the Steelers can play so poorly again, and they’re fortunate to get another club that struggled mightily in its first game, Seattle. Pittsburgh is a 13 1/2-point favorite, a huge spread, by far the biggest of the NFL’s second week.

But the Steelers were embarrassed at Baltimore, and their frame of mind will be to re-establish themselves as a powerhouse. A nasty powerhouse.

“I think that people that know and compete in this league understand there’s a fine line between drinking wine and squashing grapes,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Obviously last weekend we were grape squashers.”

Having the retooling Seahawks, out of the league’s weakest division, coming to Heinz Field is the right tonic.


San Diego (plus 6 1/2) at New England

Until otherwise notified, the Patriots will be the choice to cover, whatever the spread. San Diego was fortunate to win at home against Minnesota, which in no way resembles New England.


Philadelphia (minus 2 1/2) at Atlanta

Hard to imagine the Falcons, with all that offensive talent in particular, coming out flat again, especially at home, where they usually perform well _ at least in the regular season. We like home underdogs.


Chicago (plus 6 1/2) at New Orleans

Bears looked so good in victory, Saints looked pretty good in defeat, but need a better performance from the defense. It will come at the Superdome.

SAINTS, 27-21

Green Bay (minus 10 1/2) at Carolina

Cam Newton sustained his first loss since junior college when Panthers went down in Arizona. Make that two Ls in the NFL.

PACKERS, 30-14

Baltimore (minus 6) at Tennessee

Ravens must avoid letdown after big win against Steelers. With Titans star RB Chris Johnson just getting in shape after long holdout, that’s doable.

RAVENS, 20-10

St. Louis (plus 3 1/2) at New York Giants (Monday night)

Bruised and battered Rams against bruised and battered Giants, in prime time, no less. OUCH!

GIANTS, 21-16

Kansas City (plus 8 1/2) at Detroit

Can’t figure out if the Chiefs are really that bad, or the Lions are really that good. One thing for sure: KC is banged-up.

LIONS, 28-13

Jacksonville (plus 10) at New York Jets

Jets will need to get far stingier on defense to beat anybody by 10 points.

JETS, 20-16

Oakland (plus 4) at Buffalo

Toughest game on the board given these teams’ impressive road showings in Week 1. Bills look like they can shut down the run, which is secret to handling Raiders.

BILLS, 17-14

Arizona (plus 4 1/2) at Washington

Such trips traditionally are difficult for Cardinals. Let’s buck tradition.


Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Minnesota

If Bucs truly are playoff quality, they must win road games like this.


Cleveland (plus 3) at Indianapolis

Colts need to stop thinking Peyton is riding in to the rescue. They have enough talent left to win this one, or else their season could be doomed.

COLTS, 17-16

Dallas (minus 3) at San Francisco

Hey, Jason Garrett, just have Tony Romo hand off on every fourth-quarter play.

COWBOYS, 21-20

Houston (minus 3) at Miami

Dolphins can’t seem to cover anybody, and Texans WR Andre Johnson isn’t just anybody.

TEXANS, 30-21

Cincinnati (plus 6) at Denver

Last time they met, in 2009, Broncos won 12-7 on fluke play. Not enough defense on either side for a repeat of that score.

BRONCOS, 24-21



Against spread 6-9-1; straight up 6-10.

Best Bet: 0-1 against spread, 0-1 straight up.

Upset Special: 0-1 against spread, 0-1 straight up.

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