By Doug Halberstadt
I’m happy the Bears beat the Buccaneers last Sunday (Oct. 23) in London. I’m not happy with how they did it. Their play was less than stellar on both sides of the ball. Had they played a tougher opponent, chances are they would not have been able to hold on to their lead and pick up their fourth win of the season. Thankfully, Tampa Bay’s quarterback kept throwing interceptions all the way up until the very end of the fourth quarter.
The good news is the Bears now have their bye week. This should give them some time to re-evaluate exactly where they are at and to decide where they may be going during the second half of the season. One thing is clearly evident from the first seven games: Matt Forte has never looked better in a Bears’ uniform. Chicago should show their appreciation for his effort and agree to pay him on a level with the other elite running backs in the league.
The other teams joining the Bears in their week off are Green Bay, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Oakland and the New York Jets.
After starting out the season with five straight wins, the Detroit Lions (5-2) have lost their last two in a row. This week, they should crawl back into the win column when they visit Denver (2-4). The Vikings (1-5) are the other NFC North team on the road this week. They travel to Carolina to play the Panthers (2-5). Even though they came up short, the Vikings played pretty decently against the Packers last week. I think that momentum will carry them to a victory over Carolina.
The Indianapolis Colts (0-7) are now officially playing for an early 2012 draft pick. This week, they will fall to 0-8 when they show up in Tennessee to take on the Titans (3-3). The team that may keep the Colts from getting the first pick is the St. Louis Rams (0-6); they, too, have yet to crack the win column. It won’t happen this week. The Saints (5-2) will make it back-to-back wins over the doormats of the league, last week the Colts and this week the Rams.
The other team that will be battling the Rams and the Colts for the first pick in the 2012 draft is the Miami Dolphins (0-6). They play the Giants in New York this week. That means they, too, will remain winless.
The Texans (4-3) are at home against the Jaguars (1-5). The Texans are an up-and-down team. I think they’ll be up this week and hand the Jags another loss. In the battle of the birds, the Ravens (4-1) will whip(poorwill) the Cardinals (1-5).
The Buffalo Bills (4-2) have the good fortune of being at home and facing the Redskins (3-3). The Bills are going to make it rough on the Redskins and hand them their third consecutive loss.
Possibly the surprise team of the league, the San Francisco 49ers (5-1), have a home game against the Cleveland Browns (3-3). The Browns won their last game, despite only scoring two field goals. They won’t be so lucky this week. I look for the 49ers to destroy the Browns.
In the “Who cares?” game of the week, it’s the Bengals (4-2) in Seattle to face the Seahawks (2-4). Cincinnati is riding a three-game win streak and should make Seattle their next victim.
The best game of the week matches up two AFC stalwarts. The Patriots (5-1) are on the road in Pittsburgh to meet the red-hot Steelers (5-2). Both teams have won their last three games. I flipped a coin and heads says Patriots.
In what used to be a pretty good divisional rivalry, the Cowboys (3-3) take on the Eagles (2-4) in Philadelphia. Both teams are shells of their former selves. I still think the Cowboys have the better all-around team, and will prove it against the Eagles.
In the Monday night game, the Chargers (4-2) are in Kansas City (3-3) to try to bounce back from a tough loss to the Jets. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are coming off a shut-out of the Raiders. This has the makings of a fairly decent Monday night game. I’m taking the visitors in a mild upset, Chargers 24, Chiefs 21.
Last week, I was 7-5 heading into the Monday night game. I took the Ravens over the Jaguars in that game. My overall record for the year so far is 66-36.
Tune in to WNTA 1330 AM this Friday morning, Oct. 28, at 7:35 a.m. for Fearless NFL Picks and hear how my record stacks up against Ken DeCoster, Doug McDuff, Howard Bailey-Murray and Tim Edwards.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2011, issue