By Doug Halberstadt
Week eight of the NFL season kicks off tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 25). That means the regular season is already half over. Now is when teams have figured out what their strengths and weaknesses truly are. This is when things start to get really interesting. The cream starts to rise to the top, and those teams begin to get serious about making their push toward the playoffs.
One such team will be in action tomorrow night, Thursday, Oct. 25. The Minnesota Vikings are 5-2 and are in a strong position to compete for a wild card berth and possibly even a division championship. They host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) in the NFL Network Thursday night game. With their sights set on the postseason, I think the Vikings will maintain their perfect record at home and pick up their sixth victory of the year.
The Chicago Bears are another team looking to win the NFC North. The Bears welcome the Carolina Panthers into Soldier Field Sunday, Oct. 28. The Panthers are 1-5 and have lost four straight. These are the games the better team is clearly supposed to win. The Bears need to prove they are clearly the better team and deserve a shot at that division title. I’m taking the Bears.
Green Bay is starting to flex their muscles at the right time of the year as well. They’ve won two in a row, and improved to 4-3. This week, they are at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5). This is another one of those games featuring the haves versus the have nots. Barring a David vs. Goliath upset, Green Bay should make it three in a row.
The Cleveland Browns (1-6) have the worst record in the league. This week, they face the San Diego Chargers (3-3) in Cleveland. The Chargers will win, and Cleveland will remain at the bottom of the heap.
The Seattle Seahawks (4-3) are in the Motor City to take on the Lions. Despite being 3-0 at home and only 1-3 on the road, I’m looking for Seattle to pick up their second road win of the year.
In an AFC East battle, the Miami Dolphins (3-3) travel to the Big Apple to take on the Jets (3-4). Miami has won their last two games, and the Jets are coming off an overtime loss in week seven. I think the home field might be the difference in this game. I’m taking the Jets.
The battle of the birds this week pits the Atlanta Falcons (6-0) against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-3). The Eagles have lost their last two. The Falcons haven’t lost a game all year. I think they’ll stay perfect and make it seven straight.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a home game against the Washington Redskins. Both teams need the win to stay in the playoff hunt. If the Steelers lose, they could be out of the hunt. I think they’ll go into this one looking at it as a must-win. I’m taking the Steelers.
The New England Patriots always seem to win when they need to. This week, they are on the road in St. Louis. The Patriots may not be the powerhouse they’ve been in recent years, but they are still strong enough to get by the Rams.
The Tennessee Titans (3-4) and the Indianapolis Colts (3-3) are both coming off big wins last week. The Titans are at home this week. That’s good news for them because the Colts haven’t won a game away from Indy this year. I look for that trend to continue. I like the Titans.
Another team coming off a big win last week is the Oakland Raiders. They won in overtime against the Jaguars. The Chiefs were off last week. Despite being well rested, I think the Chiefs will fall to 1-6.
The New York Giants and Eli Manning are proving why they are the defending Super Bowl champions. They know how to win. This week, they take on division rival Dallas. The Giants have won three straight and should have little problem making it four in a row in the Big D.
The Sunday night game is a matchup of two Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks. Drew Brees and his Saints (2-4) go marching into Denver to face Peyton Manning and his Broncos (3-3). The Saints are struggling this year. Manning is still adjusting to his new surroundings. This one could go to either team. It depends on which QB will be the most comfortable. I think that edge will go to Manning in front of the home fans.
The San Francisco 49ers (5-2) will be looking to stay atop the NFC West division when they square off against their division foe. They’ll have a tough contest against the Cardinals in the Arizona desert on Monday Night Football. I look for San Fran to shine under the national spotlight and improve their position in the division.
This week, the bye teams are Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Houston.
With only the Monday night game’s results unavailable at press time, I was 10-2. If the Bears beat Detroit, I’ll pick up another win and finish 11-2. I hope that’ll give me another win against the radio guys. Listen to NTA 100.5 FM each Friday morning at 7:35 a.m. to hear our weekly picks and season updates on the Doug McDuff and Company show.
From the Oct. 24-30, 2012, issue