Week 7 NFL picks: Bears should top Lions following bye week

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

The previous two weeks, I was 24-5. Last week, I was 3-10 heading into the Monday night game. My 12-year-old daughter summed it up perfectly: “Dad, you bombed!”

That’s bad news for me, but good news for Packers and Browns fans. Cleveland finally got their first win of the year, and Green Bay came roaring back against the Texans. The Packers are now 3-3 and seem to have cured many of the ills that were previously ailing them.

This week, they have the Rams in St. Louis. The Rams have an identical 3-3 record. They are a perfect 3-0 at home so far this year. The Packers picked up their first road win of the season last week in Houston, and in doing so, have quieted many of their critics. Despite the Rams’ home-field advantage, I’m picking the Pack to make it two in a row on the road.

Tomorrow night (Thursday, Oct. 18), the Seattle Seahawks visit the 49ers in San Francisco. The 49ers will be trying to bounce back from a shellacking they suffered at the hands of the Giants, and Seattle will be looking for their third-straight win. This is another matchup of teams with identical records. Both clubs are 4-2. I’m going with San Fran to halt the Seahawks’ brief winning streak.

Another pair of 4-2 teams will face off in Minnesota. The Cardinals and the Vikings will be attempting to rebound from losses in week six. Like the Rams, the Vikings haven’t lost on their home turf this year. Unlike the Rams, I think the Vikings will be able to keep that record intact. I’m picking the Vikings.

The Carolina Panthers host the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams are in the middle of losing streaks. The Panthers have dropped three in a row, and Dallas has lost their last two. This week, I think the Cowboys will get back into the win column and make it four losses in a row for the Panthers.

Following their bye week, the New Orleans Saints (1-4) will be looking for their second win in a row when they travel to Tampa Bay (2-3). Both teams are chasing the perfect 6-0 Falcons in the NFC South. I don’t think either team will catch them, but I do think the Saints have things back on track following a big nationally televised win over the Chargers in week No. 5. I like the way Drew Brees has kept his cool and hasn’t panicked despite his team’s poor start and all of the adversity sustained by the Saints during the off-season. I’m looking for another cool Brees to blow through Tampa Bay this weekend. I’m going with the Saints.

In the NFC East, the New York Giants (4-2) will host their division rivals, the Washington Redskins (3-3). Last year, the Redskins won both times they met. I have a feeling things will be different this year. I’m going with the G-men.

The best game of the week might be the matchup between the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (5-1) and the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (5-1). The Ravens have beaten the Texans the last three times the teams have met. The most recent was back in January of this year when they outscored Houston 20-13 in the AFC playoffs. I think the Ravens will make it four straight over the Texans.

The Buffalo Bills (3-3) host the Tennessee Titans (2-4). Both teams are riding high following upset wins last week. I like the Bills’ chances of maintaining that momentum. I look for them to improve to 4-3 and drop the Titans to 2-5.

The “Who cares?” game this week pits the Cleveland Browns (1-5) against the Indianapolis Colts (2-3). Despite the Browns knocking off the Bengals last week and the Colts being manhandled by the Jets, I’m going with the home team Colts to beat the Browns this week.

I would not have guessed that the Patriots and the Jets would have identical 3-3 records heading into their week seven matchup. It’s a battle for the lead in the AFC East. All four teams in that division have 3-3 records. I think when the dust settles this week the Patriots will pick up the victory and have at least a piece of the lead in their division.

The battle of the bottom-dwellers this week has the Oakland Raiders (1-4) against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4). These two teams haven’t played one another since Dec. 12, 2010. The Jaguars won that game in a shootout 38-31. For some reason, I still think the Raiders are better than their record this year, and I’m taking them over the Jaguars.

The Sunday night game has the Steelers (2-3) taking on the Bengals (3-3) in Cincinnati. The Bengals haven’t scored more than 17 points in their previous three meetings with the Steelers. In those three games, the Steelers never scored less than 23 points. Look for that trend to continue on Sunday night. I’m taking Pittsburgh.

Finally, the game I’ve been waiting more than two weeks for. The NFC North division-leading Chicago Bears (4-1) will be back in action after their bye week. They host division foe Detroit. The Lions are 2-3 so far this season and are coming off an overtime victory over the Eagles last week. I hope the week off will have given the Bears time to rest and to get completely ready for anything the Lions might throw at them. I look for the Bears to hold on to that division lead and improve to 5-1.

This week, the Falcons, Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles and Chargers all have the week off.

It certainly would be nice this week if I could return to picking significantly more winners than losers. I’m really not a fan of having my daughter point out the obvious to me.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Oct. 17-23, 2012, issue

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