By Doug Halberstadt
Admittedly, this hasn’t been one of my best years for picking the winners in the NFL games. Mercifully, the regular season comes to a close this weekend. The big game for local fans is the Bears vs. Packers match-up at Lambeau Field. The Bears have already clinched the NFC North Division championship and a playoff berth. The Packers must win to be one of the two NFC’s wild card representatives. Green Bay has everything to play for, and the Bears’ only motivation is pride and a possible first-round bye.
Sorry, Packers backers, but I’m predicting your season will come to a disappointing close with a loss to your arch enemies. The Bears will win on the road to rub a little salt in the wounds of Green Bay.
The other two NFC North teams square off in a game that means absolutely nothing. The Vikings are in Detroit to play the Lions. If Brett Favre is capable of playing in this game, it will most likely be the final game of his lengthy career. Whether or not he plays, I’m saying the Vikings will win to close out their season.
Elsewhere around the league, the Patriots host the Dolphins and will easily win that game to close out their season with a 14-2 record. The Jets are at home to play the third team from New York, the Bills. The Jets are coming off a tough loss to Chicago. I look for them to rebound and beat the Bills.
The Ravens close out the season at home against the Bengals. The Ravens are 11-4. Cincinnati is the exact opposite at 4-11. Baltimore will win and finish the year at 12-4. The Bengals will drop to 4-12. The Steelers are on the road to face the Browns. The Steelers have only lost one game on the road this year. They won’t lose two. The Steelers will win big to finish the regular season with a 12-4 record.
The Jaguars will also try to close out the season with a road win. They will be in Houston to take on the Texans. I like Jacksonville. The Colts will be at home to finish up the year against the Titans. The Colts are riding a three-game win streak and looking to stay hot heading into the playoffs. That spells doom for the Titans. I look for Indy to make it four in a row.
Kansas City hosts the Raiders. The Chiefs are a surprise at 10-5 heading into this one. The Raiders are 7-8. I think the Chiefs will win and drop Oakland to 7-9. The Cowboys close out the regular season on the road in Philadelphia. Despite the short week for the Eagles, I think they will finish the season with a win against Dallas.
Following a tough loss two weeks ago against the Eagles and getting blown out by the Packers last week, the Giants will look to end the regular season with a win against the Redskins. The Giants looked awfully demoralized last week against Green Bay. I think you can stick a fork in them, they’re done. Look for the Redskins to prevail.
Atlanta may be the best team in the league. They finish the season at home against the worst team in the league, Carolina. That equals another loss for the Panthers, and another win for the Falcons.
Last year’s Super Bowl champs, the Saints, finish this season at home against Tampa Bay. The Saints will get the win, but don’t look for them to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
The Broncos are fresh off a win against the Texans. Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow has been a nice fit in the Broncos’ offense replacing former Chicago Bears quarterback Kyle Orton. I like Tebow and the Broncos at home against the Chargers to wrap up the 2010 season.
The Arizona Cardinals finish the year in San Francisco against the 49ers. Both teams have identical 5-10 records. I’m taking San Fran, only because they have the home-field advantage.
The final game of the final week of the season has Seattle hosting the St. Louis Rams for the NFC West Division title. Neither team deserves the title, but since someone has to win, once again I’ll take the home team.
That will do it for my regular-season weekly picks. Last week, I was 8-6 with the Monday night and Tuesday night games remaining. In the Monday night game, I went with Atlanta over New Orleans. In the game moved to Tuesday night because of the East Coast snowstorm, I took Philadelphia over the Vikings.
Next week, look for my first-round playoff predictions. See you next year! Happy New Year, football fans!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2010 issue