By Doug Halberstadt
One quarter of the NFL season is over. Who would have thought that the only two undefeated teams remaining would be the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and another NFC North team, the Detroit Lions? Granted, some fans may have predicted Green Bay would be 4-0, but I highly doubt any of those same people thought the Lions would be right there with them.
That’s not good news if you are a Bears fan. If the Bears have any chance at all of defending their division title, both Green Bay and Detroit are going to have to take a complete nosedive. That seems highly unlikely. Even though the season is still young, it looks like the only way the Bears can make the playoffs may be as a wild card team.
They can improve their chances this week if they are able to knock off the Lions in Detroit in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football. The two division rivals will meet for the first time this season Monday, Oct. 10. Historically, the Bears have dominated the Lions. Chicago holds an overall 93-64 record against Detroit. They have also tied five times. The Bears beat them twice last season. The problem is, the Bears are only a .400 team (22-33) on Monday nights. Despite those numbers, I’m taking the Bears to hand Detroit their first loss of the season.
Meanwhile, Green Bay will also play a nationally-televised game this weekend. They are in Atlanta for the Sunday night game. The Falcons are 2-2 and, quite honestly, don’t stack up to the Packers on either side of the ball. That spells doom for them, and means the Pack should emerge from week five as the only undefeated team left in the league.
The Vikings (0-4) are a bit of a surprise at the other end of the spectrum. They have yet to win a game. This week, they host the Arizona Cardinals (1-3). I thought for sure they’d break into the win column last week against the Chiefs — they didn’t. I sincerely believe the Vikings are a better team than their record indicates. They should right the ship this week back in front of their home fans. I’m taking the Vikings over the Cardinals.
The Saints (3-1) travel to Carolina to face rookie quarterback phenom Cam Newton and his Panthers teammates. Despite the gaudy numbers Newton is putting up, his team is only 1-3. The Saints’ defense might not be able to totally shut him down, but with their Drew Brees-led offense, they won’t have to. I look for a fairly high-scoring game, with the Saints coming out on top.
The Eagles (1-3) are another team I think is better than their record. This week, they face the Bills (3-1) in Buffalo. The Bills might not be as strong as their record. They suffered their first loss last week against the Bengals. I think that may stick in their heads this week and cause them some fits. I’m taking the Eagles over the Bills in a bit of an upset special.
Speaking of the Bengals (2-2), they are on the road this week in Jacksonville. The Jags are 1-3 and really haven’t shown much since their week one win against Tennessee. I think the Bengals will carry some of the momentum gained from their big win over the Bills. I like the Bengals to make it two in a row.
The Giants (3-1) are at home against the Seahawks (1-3). The Seahawks haven’t won a road game this season and won’t get their first one in New York. The Giants should win easily and improve to 4-1.
Tennessee (3-1) has won three straight games and will be looking to make it four in a row this week in Pittsburgh. The Steelers (2-2) aren’t the same team that won the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Their age is starting to show. The Titans are a much younger team and on a bit of a roll. Despite the momentum being in their favor, experience still means something in football. I’m going with the old guys at home.
The Texans (3-1) are showing the league they are for real. This week, they face the Raiders (2-2) at home. The Texans haven’t lost a home game this year and are a perfect 3-0 against AFC opponents. I’m taking the Texans.
The Chiefs won their first game last week. They should make it two in a row when they visit the lowly Colts in Indianapolis. Another team looking to stay on a winning streak is the San Francisco 49ers (3-1). They are coming off a 1-point road win over the Eagles. This week, they are at home against Tampa Bay. Last week, I correctly predicted their upset over the Eagles, and this week I think they’ll win again, and this time it won’t be considered an upset.
The Packers crushed Denver last week in Green Bay. The Broncos (1-3) are usually a much better team at home. The problem is, this week they host the San Diego Chargers (3-1). The Chargers have won two in a row and will be looking to hold on to the top spot in the AFC West. I think the Chargers will have enough to overcome the thin air in Denver and come away with the win.
Finally, in an AFC East battle, the Jets (2-2) are at New England (3-1). Tom Brady is still head and shoulders above Mark Sanchez when it comes to quarterbacks. The Jets have lost two in a row, and as badly as they need this road win, it just won’t happen. I like the Patriots at home.
Going into the Monday night game, I was 12-3. I took the Buccaneers over the Colts in that game. Last week, I won the pool against my buddies at WNTA 1330 AM. Tune in this Friday morning (Oct. 7) at 7:35 to see if I made it two in a row over the radio boys.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 5-11, 2011, issue