By Doug Halberstadt
For my picks this week, I’m deciding to get the easy ones out of the way first. Let’s get things started with the no-brainers. The winless Colts have to travel to New England to face the Patriots. That’s really bad news for the Colts. They will fall to 0-12.
The other team that doesn’t stand much of a chance is the St. Louis Rams. They also have to go on the road. They are making a trip out West to meet up with the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams are 1-4 on the road and San Fran is 5-1 at home. The 49ers are coming off a tough Thanksgiving night loss to the Ravens and will be looking to get things back on the right track. I’m predicting a double-digit win for the 49ers.
Another easy pick for me is the Ravens over the Browns. Even though this game is in Cleveland, the Brownies won’t get it done against Baltimore. The Ravens sit atop the AFC North with an 8-3 record, and the Browns are at the bottom of that division at 4-7. The Ravens are 3-0 in the division, and the Browns are 0-2. This won’t be a contest.
The rest of the games require a little more scrutiny and could actually go to either team. I don’t think Green Bay will lose to the Giants in New York; however, they better make sure they show up fully prepared. I think Head Coach Mike McCarthy will be sure of that. This won’t be a cakewalk for the Packers, but I’m fairly confident they will get the job done and keep their unbeaten record intact.
The Bears are back in Chicago to host the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams are having quarterback issues. I look for Caleb Hanie to rebound from his less-than-stellar performance against the Raiders last week. I think he’ll come out a little more poised in front of the home crowd at Soldier Field and avoid many of the mistakes he made out in Oakland. I like the Bears over the Chiefs.
In tomorrow night’s game (Thursday, Dec. 1), the Seahawks host the Eagles. Usually, I would take the Eagles. For some unknown reason, my gut is telling me to go with Seattle at home. I’m going to listen to the intestines and hope the Seahawks can hold serve at home.
Another team that should be able to capitalize on playing at home is the Pittsburgh Steelers. They welcome Cincinnati to town. Both teams are trying to stay within a game of the division-leading Ravens. Pittsburgh is 4-1 at home this season. I’m taking the Steelers.
Tampa Bay is another team that seems to play better at home (3-3) than they do on the road (1-4). This week, they face division foe Carolina. The Panthers have only three wins all season. Granted, the Buccaneers aren’t much better, but I do like them at home. I’m saying Tampa Bay will climb to 5-7 and Carolina will drop to 3-9.
Mark Sanchez and his fellow New York Jets were able to keep their season alive by defeating the Buffalo Bills last week. This week, they are in Washington, D.C., to take on the Redskins. Each week is a must-win for the Jets. The Redskins aren’t going to make the postseason and are already reduced to playing “for pride.” I think the Jets will hurt the Redskins’ pride and come away with a road win.
I think one of the most intriguing match-ups of week No. 13 is the Falcons (7-4) at the Texans (8-3). Both teams are capable of winning this game. Atlanta has won their last two games. The Texans are riding a five-game winning streak. Once again, I’m assuming playing at home will make the difference in this game. I’m looking for the Texans to make it six in a row.
The Raiders travel across the country to visit the Dolphins. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Raiders in their victory over Chicago. However, I still believe they are a much better team than Miami and will prove it on Sunday.
As I see it, the Lions aren’t as good as their 7-4 record would indicate. I do believe Drew Brees and the Saints are the real deal. These two teams will face one another in New Orleans this week. The Lions will fall to 7-5, and Brees and the Saints will continue on their annual march to the postseason.
The Bills host the Titans. Tennessee is 6-5 and Buffalo is 5-6. The Bills have dropped their last four games. I think they’ll turn things around this week at home, and both teams will walk away with 6-6 records.
The Vikings are among the worst teams in the league at 2-9. They have a home game this week against the 6-5 Broncos. The resurgent Broncos have won their last four in a row. I think Denver will make it five straight and drop-hand the Vikings their 10th loss of the season.
I’m thinking I should have listed this game at the beginning of the column. I think it’s an easy pick. The Cowboys are in Arizona against the Cardinals. Dallas will be looking for its fifth-straight win and shouldn’t have any trouble finding it against the lowly Cardinals.
In the Monday night game, the Chargers (4-7) are in Jacksonville (3-8). Neither team has much of a shot at making the playoffs. The Chargers have a slightly better record and seem to play better under a national spotlight. I like them in this dog of a Monday night game.
Heading into this week’s Monday night game, I was a respectable 11-4. Unfortunately for me, Doug McDuff was 12-3. We both took the Saints over the Giants in the Monday night match-up. This is the first win of the season for McDuff. Tune into NTA 100.5 this Friday morning at 7:35 a.m. during the Mc Duff and Company show to hear the four radio guys try to outsmart me as we make our “Fearless NFL Picks” for week No. 13.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011, issue