49ers Colts Football

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks a game-winning 51-yard field goal in overtime against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Indianapolis. Indianapolis won 26-23, as San Francisco fell to 0-5.

Never afraid to zig where everyone else zags, our trusty friend Kash has broken ranks with our human NFL "experts" on five of this week's contests. While it's a risky move, it's also the only chance the harbor seal from Miller Park Zoo has of climbing out of the cellar in the overall standings.

Kash has ventured on his own in taking Cleveland and San Francisco to earn their first wins, as well as Pittsburgh to hand Kansas City its first loss. He's also alone in selecting Miami and the Chargers.

Jim Benson is the only other predictor with solitary picks this week, as he likes Philadelphia to win at Carolina on Thursday night and Minnesota to knock off Green Bay at home. Everyone is taking New England over the Jets, Baltimore over the Bears and Denver over the winless Giants. The group split evenly on Tampa Bay at Arizona and the Rams at Jacksonville. 

Our panel excelled at mediocrity last week, with four of the six prognosticators going 8-6 and Randy Sharer checking in at 7-7. Only Randy Reinhardt did better, although just barely at 9-5. Joe Deacon, the first to reach 50 overall wins, maintains the slimmest overall lead on Randy Kindred, with the other three humans tied at 46-31. 

Want to play along? Click here to sign up and play in our Pro Football Challenge. And read below the chart for the Associated Press picks by Barry Wilner. 


Matchup 

   Kindred    

   Benson    

  Reinhardt   

   Sharer    

   Deacon    

     Kash      

PHI @ CAR CAR PHI CAR CAR CAR CAR 
GB @ MIN GB MIN GB GB GB GB 
CLE @ HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU CLE 
DET @ NO DET DET DET NO DET NO 
MIA @ ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL MIA 
NE @ NYJ NE NE NE NE NE NE 
CHI @ BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL 
SF @ WSH WSH WSH WSH WSH WSH SF 
TB @ ARZ ARZ TB ARZ TB ARZ TB 
LAR @ JAX LAR LAR JAX JAX JAX LAR 
LAC @ OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK LAC 
PIT @ KC KC KC KC KC KC PIT 
NYG @ DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN 
IND @ TEN TEN IND IND TEN TEN TEN 
Last week 8-6 8-6 9-5 7-7 8-6 8-6 
Season 49-28 46-31 46-31 46-31 50-27 44-33 

Just think: We get another enticing Thursday night matchup.

A week after the Patriots beat the Buccaneers in a tight prime-timer, division leaders Philadelphia and Carolina go at it in Charlotte.

These two are tied with the Packers for the best record in the NFC at 4-1. The Panthers have been particularly impressive with road wins at New England and Detroit, and the Eagles might be arriving a year ahead of schedule as they sit atop the NFC East.

Philadelphia ranks first in third-down efficiency (53.4 percent), with Carolina second (50 percent). The Eagles have scored at least 20 points in nine consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. (Hint on our pick, maybe: We think they will get to 20 again.)

Cam Newton might be struggling off the field with unwise comments, but behind center he has completed 77 percent of his passes for 671 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in the past two games, those wins at the Patriots and Lions. He also has both Carolina TDs rushing.

"We went through a rough patch early on with the quarterback because he was still working himself back into football shape," coach Ron Rivera said.

"He had to get that arm strength back. The shoulder was getting tired quickly because it hadn't been conditioned the way it needs to when you practice as little as he did at training camp. So now he's starting to feel better and better and stronger and stronger."

Carolina is ranked fifth in the AP Pro32 and is a 3½-point favorite over No. 3 Philadelphia. The winner must be considered a dangerous playoff contender. PANTHERS, 26-23

KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP: OK, the Steelers did us in, specifically Big Ben playing as he was colorblind and throwing all those picks. So if anyone still has faith in our choices here, go with BALTIMORE only because we've already picked New England and Denver.

New England  at New York Jets: We expect reality to settle in at the Meadowlands. If the NFL has any reality this year. BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 45-17

Tampa Bay at Arizona: Still not ready to trust Bucs on road. UPSET SPECIAL: CARDINALS, 21-20

New York Giants at Denver: Also were tempted to make this BEST BET with Giants so banged-up and inept. BRONCOS, 22-6

Pittsburgh at Kansas City: Afraid we didn't learn our lesson with Steelers' flop vs. Jaguars. STEELERS, 24-23

Green Bay at Minnesota: Packers look better away from Lambeau than at it. PACKERS, 29-13

Cleveland at Houston: Injuries probably will cost Texans shot at division title. Won't cost them much here. TEXANS, 23-10

Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville: Two teams that have surprised so far. JAGUARS, 21-16

Detroit at New Orleans: Rested Saints get enigmatic Lions. Spread seems high, shootout likely. SAINTS, 34-31

Miami at Atlanta: Another rested NFC South team ready to pounce. FALCONS, 27-13

San Francisco at Washington: Niners playing everyone tough, even if they can't get Ws. REDSKINS, 26-20

Chicago at Baltimore: Young man Trubisky, meet veteran sackmaster Terrell Suggs. OUCH! RAVENS, 20-3

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland: Derek Carr's return key to Raiders' chances Sunday and beyond. RAIDERS, 22-20

Indianapolis at Tennessee: No Luck? No Mariota? No way we're watching. TITANS, 20-13

2017 RECORD: Last week: 8-6; Season: 46-31; Best Bet: 3-2; Upset special: 5-0.

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Assistant Sports Editor

Assistant Sports Editor for The Pantagraph.

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