By Doug Halberstadt
As a Chicago Bears fan, I am delighted they went out and took care of business last Sunday, Sept. 11, by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 30-12. As a pigskin prognosticator, I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t pick that game (or many others, for that matter) correctly last week.
The Bears looked good in all aspects of the game. Their offense was clicking, both the passing game and the running game. The defense created multiple turnovers and even scored a touchdown. The special teams played decently and didn’t make any mistakes. All in all, I’d say a great start to the season for the Bears.
This week, they take on the New Orleans Saints in the Big Easy. Although the Saints scored 34 points in their opening loss to Green Bay, I think the Bears’ defense will be able to keep Drew Brees in check and surprise the league for the second time in two weeks. I’m wising up and taking the Bears this week.
Green Bay looked like the world champions they are in their win against the Saints. Aaron Rodgers looked superhuman, and so did his receivers. This week, they have to hit the road and take on the Panthers in Carolina. I look for the Pack to join the Bears at 2-0.
Elsewhere around the NFC North, I like the Lions to make it to 2-0 also. They play the Chiefs at home. The Vikings will welcome the Buccaneers to Minneapolis. Both teams lost their openers. Vikings’ newly-acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb will be better in his second game. I’m taking Minnesota to win at home.
The Seahawks have the bad fortune of heading into Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. The Steelers had it handed to them last week by their biggest rival, the Ravens, 35-7. That should spell trouble for Seattle; I think Big Ben and his teammates will come out firing. They’ll have a huge chip on their shoulder that the Seahawks won’t be able to knock off. I’ll say Pittsburgh by at least a touchdown.
The Buffalo Bills surprised a few people around the league in week one when they trounced the Chiefs 41-7. The Raiders will play them closer, but I think the Bills will climb to 2-0. The Ravens are also headed for a 2-0 record. They will take care of the Titans this week in much the same manner they handled the Steelers last week. The Ravens are at home, and that should translate to at least a 14-point margin of victory.
In what would normally be a sure bet, the Colts are at home against the Browns. Now, without Peyton Manning behind center, it’s not so sure any longer. The Colts looked lost last week against the Texans. The Browns didn’t look much better in their game against the Bengals. I’m going with the Colts, only because they are at home. They won’t get lost there, will they?
Another surprise to me was the Washington Redskins. They disposed of the New York Giants rather handedly. This week, they’re home again. This time, the Arizona Cardinals come calling. The Cardinals are 1-0 also. I don’t believe any Rex Grossman-led team is for real. I look for their bubble to burst and drop back to reality and lose to the visiting Cardinals.
In the battle of the “J” teams, I’m taking the home team Jets over the visiting Jaguars. The Cowboys are on the road to face the 49ers. The 49ers looked strong in their win over the Seahawks. I think the jury is still out on this year’s version of the Cowboys. I’m going with San Fran at home.
In a battle of two tough AFC teams, the Chargers will visit the Patriots. Despite the Chargers’ win against the Vikings, I don’t think they have enough gas in the tank to make it two in a row, especially against the Pats. I’m going with New England.
The Broncos will be at home in Mile High to welcome the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are coming off the high from beating their instate rivals, the Browns. I look for the Bengals to stumble in the thin air and drop a close one to the Broncos.
The Texans will be looking to make it to 2-0 when they invade Miami. It won’t be as easy as it was last week against the Colts, but I do believe they will get the job done. I’m taking the Texans.
Which bird will reign supreme in week two — the Eagles or the Falcons? Atlanta will have the home nest advantage, but I don’t think that will be enough to keep them from laying another egg and falling to 0-2. The Eagles should soar to 2-0.
Next Monday night’s game features the Rams at the Giants. This is another matchup of two teams looking for their first win this year. I’m not sure why Eli Manning and his teammates misfired so badly in week one against the Redskins, but I can’t see it happening two weeks in a row. I think they’ll bounce back and redeem themselves. The Rams will drop to 0-2 following their perfect 4-0 preseason.
In the WNTA “Fearless NFL Picks” contest, I really stunk it up in week one. With only the two Monday night games left to be played at press time, I was a pitiful 5-9. Midday host Ken DeCoster got off on the right foot with an 11-3 record. Morning man Doug McDuff was next at 9-5. Producer Howard Bailey-Murray had a better week than I; Bailey-Murray was 8-6. Only morning producer Tim Edwards got off to a worse start than I; Edwards went 4-10.
All five of us picked the Patriots over the Dolphins in the first Monday night game.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 14-20, 2011, issue