By Doug Halberstadt
This is the season when many people enjoy picking raspberries, apples and pumpkins. It’s also the season when many sports fans like to try their hand at picking the National Football League games, yours truly included.
After last week’s results, I’m having second thoughts. The Cardinals weren’t supposed to beat the Patriots. The Panthers weren’t supposed to beat the Saints. Those two games were just the beginning of my woes. I finished the week 7-8, with only the Monday night game left to play at press time. I need the Broncos to win just so I can go .500 for the week.
I’ve determined the best method to handle a disappointing week like that is to emulate an NFL quarterback that has thrown multiple interceptions in a game (a la Jay Cutler versus the Packers). It’s best to have a short memory and keep firing away at it. So, here are my picks for week No. 3.
In tomorrow night’s (Thursday, Sept. 20) game, I like the matchup between the New York Giants at the Carolina Panthers. The game features two of the elite quarterbacks in the league, Eli Manning and Cam Newton. Both teams put up big offensive numbers last week. The Giants scored 41 points and amassed more than 600 yards of total offense in their victory over Tampa Bay. Newton and his mates put 35 points on the board in their upset win over the Saints. Manning has the experience. Newton has youthful exuberance. In what should turn out to be an entertaining game, I’m going with Manning’s experience and taking the Giants.
After getting thoroughly embarrassed by the Packers last Thursday, Sept. 13, I’m looking for the Bears to get back in the win column. I look for the Bears to pick up the slack created by the loss of injured star running back Matt Forte. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks with an ankle injury. I think the fans at Soldier Field will go home with a smile on their faces when the Bears defeat the Rams.
The Cleveland Browns are home taking on the Buffalo Bills. Not even home-field advantage will help the Brownies in this one. I like the visiting Bills.
The team that will benefit from playing in front of their home crowd is the Dallas Cowboys. They host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and shouldn’t have any problem winning their second game of the year.
No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck guided his Colts to their first victory of the year last week over the Vikings. I think he’ll add another “W” to his résumé this week when the Jaguars come to Indianapolis.
The Dolphins host the New York Jets this week. I don’t see them beating the Jets. The fish will drop to 1-2.
The 49ers haven’t lost a game this season. This week, they’re in Minnesota to take on the Vikings. I like what 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and his quarterback, Alex Smith, are doing. I think they are definitely for real and will easily improve to 3-0.
The New Orleans Saints are back at home this week. They welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to the Superdome. Both teams are winless this year. This should be the week the Saints pick up their initial win and saddle the Chiefs with another loss.
The Lions and the Washington Redskins won their openers and then lost in week two. This week, both teams should return to the win column. The Lions are on the road against the Titans, and the Redskins are at home against the Bengals.
In the bird vs. bird game this week, it’s the Cardinals at home against the Eagles. Both teams are coming off big wins. The Cardinals will undoubtedly be pumped up after knocking off the Patriots in New England. The Eagles escaped with a 1-point win over the Ravens in last week’s bird vs. bird game. I look for the Cardinals to build on their newfound momentum and defend their home nest in another close game.
The Chargers look like they are for real. This week, they’re at home against the Falcons. This could be one of the best games of the week. I’m looking for the Chargers to keep it real and stay undefeated.
Peyton Manning and his Broncos are back at Mile High Stadium this week. They host the Houston Texans in the thin air. The Broncos are coming off a short week after playing in the Monday night game. I don’t see that as an issue. I like the Broncos at home.
Another team without a win this year is the Oakland Raiders. I’ve picked them in each of the two previous weeks. I am not making that same mistake again this week. Even though they are at home, I don’t see them beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Look for the Raiders to fall to 0-3.
Two teams that probably spent most of this week licking their wounds following disappointing losses last week are the Patriots and the Ravens. As luck would have it, they get to take out their frustrations on one another in the Sunday night game. This should be another fun game for the fans to watch. I predict a lot of hard hitting from the defenses, and both offenses will be looking to make a statement while enduring those hits. I think it’ll come down to a Tom Brady-led offense versus the Joe Flacco-led offense. I think Brady will be the one left standing when the dust finally settles in this one.
Finally, we look at the Monday night game. The Packers will be well rested after having an extended layoff. They will have to travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks. Both teams are 1-1 heading into the game. Despite easily dispatching the Bears last week, I’m still not convinced the Packers are as good as they were last year. But, I do think they are good enough to pick up a road win over the Seahawks in front of the national audience. I look for the Packers to improve to 2-1.
Tune in each Friday morning at 7:35 a.m. to hear the original version of “Fearless NFL Picks” during the McDuff and Company show on NTA 100.5 FM. Each week, I match my picks against Doug McDuff and his colleagues, Ken DeCoster, Tim Edwards and Howard Bailey-Murray.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 19-25, 2012, issue