By Doug Halberstadt
The Chicago Bears are 4-1. Following the disappointing loss to the New York Giants, the Bears were able to rebound and get back into the win column against the Carolina Panthers. Before Bears fans start drinking the Super Bowl Kool-Aid, they should remember Carolina is not a good team.
Granted, the Bears put up 23 points in the game. They scored two touchdowns and a field goal on their first three possessions of the game. Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Israel Idonije all had big games for the defense. They helped hold the young Panthers team to a pair of field goals. That’s the good news.
The bad news is backup veteran quarterback Todd Collins threw four interceptions in 16 passes, and possibly himself out of the league with a 6.2 passer rating in less than three quarters of play. Third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie came into the game in relief of the incapable Collins. He was OK, at best.
Jay Cutler is expected to be back this week when the Bears host Seattle at Soldier Field Sunday, Oct. 17. Seattle is a much better team than the Panthers. Fortunately, Cutler is a much better quarterback than Collins and/or Hanie. The Bears will improve to 5-1.
Here are my picks for the rest of the games around the league. It’s the battle of the birds of prey in Philadelphia. The Falcons visit the Eagles. I like the Eagles at home. Sticking with the bird theme, the Ravens are in New England. Lately, the Patriots are almost always a sure thing at home, and I’m taking them.
Rack up another loss for the Cleveland Browns. They have to travel to Pittsburgh. The Cowboys will be in Minnesota. The Vikings should win this one on their home turf with future Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Randy Moss joining forces to try to make a run at the postseason.
Another team that usually takes full advantage of its home-field advantage is the Denver Broncos. They host the New York Jets. I think it’ll be a closer game than the Broncos would like, but they should still come out on top.
The lowly Lions of Detroit finally broke into the win column last Sunday, Oct. 10. They won’t stay there long. This week, they’ll make the short trip back to the loss column after traveling to New York to meet the Giants.
The Dolphins will be in Green Bay. I look for the Packers to bounce back from their loss last week to the Redskins.
The Houston Texans will prove that the Kansas City Chiefs’ hot start to the season was a fluke. The Chiefs will lose their second in a row.
I think the best matchup of the week is the Colts going to Washington. Donovan McNabb seems very comfortable in his new home. They are coming off an overtime victory over Green Bay. Can they keep the momentum going? I don’t think so. I like Peyton Manning and the Colts to prevail.
New Orleans is my surprise team of the season so far. I’m surprised they aren’t any better. I thought they would have had more success defending their championship title. This week, they are in Tampa Bay. Normally, I wouldn’t even consider it a contest. I’m not so sure after watching the Saints lose last week. I still think they are the better overall team, and should pull out the road win.
The Oakland Raiders looked impressive last week in their win over the San Diego Chargers. This week, they play their other in-state rival, the 49ers. That’s good news for them, and bad news for San Francisco. The Raiders should make it two in a row.
Both San Diego and St. Louis are coming off losses. They play one another this week. The Rams have the home-field advantage. It won’t be enough to help them get over the Chargers’ hump. I look for San Diego to get the rebound win.
The Monday-night game features the Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville. The Titans are fresh off a win over the Cowboys in Dallas. I look for them to continue their winning ways.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 13-19, 2010 issue