By Doug Halberstadt
Following last Sunday’s (Dec. 12) game between the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears, it’s evident the Patriots are one of the elite teams in the NFL and the Bears are not. New England outplayed Chicago in every category in their 36-7 victory in the cold and blowing snow in Soldier Field.
That doesn’t mean the Bears won’t win their division. I think they will. What it does mean is the Bears will have a tough time advancing in the playoffs.
Before we jump that far ahead, let’s get through this week’s Monday night game (Dec. 20) against division rival Minnesota. That game is supposed to be played at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis. That may or may not be the venue because of the collapse of the domed roof this past weekend. Regardless of where the game is played, I think Chicago will rebound and defeat the Vikings for the second time this season.
In tomorrow night’s NFL Network game, the 49ers are in San Diego. Both teams are coming off wins. The Chargers are a better home team than the 49ers are a road team. I’m taking San Diego at home.
In the Sunday games, St. Louis is at home against Kansas City. I like the Rams over the Chiefs in this one. New Orleans will be looking for a road win in Baltimore. They will get it. Detroit is fresh off an upset win over Green Bay. This week, they play another “bay” team—Tampa Bay. The Lions got lucky last week. It won’t happen two weeks in a row. The Buccaneers will get the win.
Carolina is the worst team in the league, and they host the Arizona Cardinals this week. Chalk up another loss for the Panthers. The Giants and Eagles square off in the New Meadowlands Stadium. This has the potential to be the game of the week. I’m taking the G-Men at home in a very close game.
The Cowboys are at home against their long-time rivals, the Washington Redskins. I look for the Cowboys to outlast the Redskins. The other team from Texas will be in Tennessee to face the Titans. Houston should pick up a much-needed road win.
Indianapolis will be at home against Jacksonville. The Colts are clearly the better team. If things go according to plan, Indy will dominate. Miami is at home against the Bills. Buffalo will welcome the opportunity to play in the warm weather, but they won’t welcome another loss. I like the Dolphins at home.
In the Ohio State Championship, Cleveland visits Cincinnati. Unfortunately for both of those teams, the best team in the state might be in Columbus, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Since someone has to win, I’ll go with the Browns.
The Falcons are one of the teams being talked about as Super Bowl contenders. To prove they are worthy of such talk, they’ll have to win on the road this week. They play at Seattle, and should live up to expectations by knocking off the Seahawks. Pittsburgh plays the Jets at home. The Steelers are tough to beat at home, and the Jets have lost their last two games. I’m taking the Steelers.
In an AFC matchup, Oakland hosts Denver. The Broncos are bad. Oakland isn’t that much better, but they are better. I like Oakland.
The bad news for Packers fans is Aaron Rodgers left last week’s game against the Lions with a concussion, and Green Bay lost. With or without Rodgers, things won’t get any easier this week. They have to travel to Gillette Stadium to play the best team in the league, the Patriots. Look for Green Bay to lose their second in a row.
Last week, I was 6-8 with the two Monday night games left to be decided. I took the Giants over the Vikings and the Ravens over the Texans. The best I can hope for is 8-8, not a proud week for me.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Dec. 15-21, 2010 issue