By Doug Halberstadt
Week No. 2 of the NFL season starts tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept. 13) with a classic matchup between two long-time rivals, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. The Bears are coming off an impressive win (41-21) over the Indianapolis Colts. The Packers opened up their 2012 season with a loss (30-22) to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Bears showed they’ve made improvements from the team that finished 8-8 last season. The Packers showed they may not be as good as the team that went 15-1 during the regular season a year ago. Both teams will have something to prove tomorrow night, Thursday, Sept. 13.
The Bears are going to have to prove a few things. They have to show the league and their fans they are capable of beating a top-tier NFL opponent. They also need to show their offense is for real and that putting up 41 points in the opener wasn’t a fluke.
The Packers will have to prove that despite losing their opener, they are still one of the elite teams in the NFL. If they do start the year 0-2, that elite status will certainly be questionable.
The game is in Green Bay. Despite having the home-field advantage, I think the Packers are vulnerable.The Bears will have to play equal to, or better than, they did in week one to beat the Packers. I don’t think that’ll be an issue. I’m going with the Bears to win and drop Green Bay to 0-2.
In Sunday’s (Sept. 16) action, the first two games feature four winless teams. The Buffalo Bills are at home against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints visit the Carolina Panthers. I think the Chiefs and the Panthers are going to fall to 0-2, and the Saints and Bills will improve to 1-1.
The battle for supremacy in the state of Ohio takes place in Cincinnati Sunday when the Cleveland Browns call on the Bengals. Unless you’re a transplanted Browns or Bengals fan, I can’t imagine anyone living outside the Buckeye State gives a rip about this game. I’ll go with the home team Bengals to win.
The Vikings will be on the road in Indianapolis. The Colts are the doormat of the league, and I fully expect Minnesota to gladly wipe their feet on them and improve to 2-0.
In an AFC West Coast vs. East Coast matchup, the Oakland Raiders take on the Dolphins in Miami. The Raiders will look like road warriors, and the Dolphins will look like fish out of water. I predict Miami will fall to 0-2.
The New England Patriots host the Cardinals. I can’t pick against Tom Brady at home. The Pats should end up 2-0, and the Cardinals will have to fly back to the desert with a loss.
The New York Giants are winless and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are undefeated. Who would have “thunk” it? The two face one another this weekend in New York. When this game is over, look for both teams to come away with 1-1 records.
This week’s battle of the birds features the Baltimore Ravens at the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles squeaked out a 1-point win over the Browns in week one. I don’t think they’ll be that lucky against a more formidable opponent like the Ravens. I’m taking the visitors.
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on the road to begin their 2012 season. This week, they are on the road again. This time, they travel to the opposite coast to meet up with the Seattle Seahawks. In addition to racking up all those air miles, I think they’ll also rack up another win.
The Washington Redskins have found a quarterback in Robert Griffin III. The rookie led his team to an opening-week win over the New Orleans Saints. This week, “RG3” will be looking to start his professional career with two straight wins. I think he’s up to the challenge, and that means the Rams will sink to 0-2.
The Steelers will play their first home game of the year against the New York Jets. This game has the potential to be one of the best games of the week. The Jets scored 48 points in their opening win over the Bills. The Steelers lost their opener on the road to Denver. I don’t see the Steelers starting the year off 0-2. I like them in a mild upset over the Jets in the Steel City.
In San Diego, the Chargers host the Tennessee Titans. That’s bad news for the Titans. Last week, they lost huge (34-13) to the Patriots. It won’t be any easier this week. The Chargers may not beat them by three touchdowns, but I think they will win by at least 10 points.
Look out for the San Francisco 49ers this season. They beat the Packers at Lambeau Field last week. This week, they are at home. Their opponent is another NFC North team, the Detroit Lions. I think they’ll dispatch the Lions without much trouble. The 49ers will improve to 2-0, and the Lions will head back to the Motor City with their first loss of the new season.
The Monday night game should be another great one. Peyton Manning looks rejuvenated in his new Broncos orange after knocking off the Steelers (31-19) last Sunday night, Sept. 9. The Falcons are also 1-0 following their big win (40-24) over the Kansas City Chiefs. Something will have to give when these two face off in front of a national television audience in the city by the bay. I really like Manning and what he did against a tough Steelers’ defense. I’ll be looking for more of the same from him against the dirty birds. The Broncos will make it two straight.
I went 10-4 in week one with the two Monday night games still to be determined at press time. I took the Ravens and the Raiders in those games.
Once again this year, I will be representing The Rock River Times on the Doug McDuff and Friends radio program every Friday morning. Tune in to NTA 100.5 FM at 7:35 a.m. to hear McDuff, Ken DeCoster, Howard Bailey-Murray, Tim Edwards and myself make our “Fearless NFL Picks.” I am proud to report that I beat the radio guys last season with my overall record. It won’t be easy defending that title … those guys are tough!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 12-18, 2012, issue