By Doug Halberstadt
The Chicago Bears’ loss in overtime to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, Dec. 2, cost them their lead in the NFC North Division. Green Bay has taken over the division lead. Both teams have 8-4 records, but the Packers have the edge based on their 3-0 record within the division. The Bears are 2-1 in the division. They lost to Green Bay 23-10 during Week 2 of the season.
Both teams face division opponents this Sunday (Dec. 9). The Bears go on the road to face the Vikings in Minnesota, and the Packers will welcome the Detroit Lions into Lambeau. Green Bay and Chicago should come away with wins and set up a showdown when they face one another at Soldier Field Dec. 16.
Tomorrow night’s game (Thursday, Dec. 6) features the hottest team in the league, the Denver Broncos (9-3), going for their eighth-straight win against the lowly Oakland Raiders (3-9). The Broncos have clinched the division title and should have no trouble picking up their 10th win of the season.
The Houston Texans (11-1) and the Atlanta Falcons (11-1) have also clinched their division titles. They both play away from home this week. The Falcons travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers (3-9). I don’t think that’ll be much of a challenge for Atlanta, and they should come away with their 12th win.
The Texans won’t have it quite so easy. They have to try to get by the Patriots (9-3) in Foxboro, Mass., Monday night, Dec. 10. Both teams have won six straight. This will most likely be the best game of the week. I’m going with New England, strictly because they have the home-field advantage and their quarterback, Tom Brady, always seems to find a way to pull out a victory when under the national spotlight.
The St. Louis Rams (5-6-1) and the Buffalo Bills (5-7) square off in Orchard Park, N.Y. Both teams are coming off wins last week. I’m going with St. Louis.
The Cleveland Browns (4-8) will be looking for their third straight win this week. They have a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs (2-10). The Chiefs picked up an emotional win last week. I’m giving the edge this week to the Browns.
The Indianapolis Colts (8-4) are another team playing with a ton of emotion. This week, they are at home against the Tennessee Titans (4-8). The Colts have won two in a row, and the Titans have lost their last two. I look for that trend to continue. They both should make it three straight.
There may be a quarterback controversy with the New York Jets. Last week, starter Mark Sanchez was benched in favor of Greg McElroy during the third quarter of their game. McElroy promptly threw a touchdown, and the Jets picked up the win. This week, they play the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10). It’s not sure whether Sanchez or McElroy will get the start. I don’t think it’ll matter. The Jets will prevail regardless of who’s taking the snaps.
Trying to rebound from four straight losses will be a tough chore for the San Diego Chargers (4-8) this week. They have to try to get back on track against the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5). The game is in the Steel City. I think that virtually assures a fifth-straight loss for the Chargers. I’m taking the Steelers.
The Miami Dolphins (5-7) and the San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) both suffered losses last week. This week, they face one another in the “City by the Bay.” I think the 49ers are more likely to rebound. I’m taking them.
After their overtime victory on the road against Chicago last week, the Seattle Seahawks (7-5) are at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks are a perfect 5-0 in their home games this season. The Cardinals have only won one of their six road games this year. That’s why I’m almost positive the Seahawks will be victorious and make it 6-0 in CenturyLink Field.
The Dallas Cowboys (6-6) will try to make it two in a row when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5). The Bengals will be going for their fifth in a row. The Cowboys know they have to keep winning if they are going to have any chance of making the playoffs. I think that’s the motivation they need. I’m going with Dallas to break the Bengals’ modest winning streak.
The Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) have lost eight games in a row. This week, they are in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers (6-6) have lost their last two games. I think the Eagles will finally get the monkey off their back this week and stop the losing streak. I’m taking Philly.
The Washington Redskins are hosting the Baltimore Ravens in our nation’s capital. Despite having home-field advantage and Rookie of the Year candidate Robert Griffin III at quarterback, I’m picking the Ravens.
The New York Giants are at home against the New Orleans Saints. This should be an entertaining game with Drew Brees and Eli Manning capable of putting up lots of points. I think the Giants’ defense stands a better chance at containing Brees than the Saints’ defense has at containing Manning. I’ll take the Giants.
At press time, I’m 10-5 with only the Monday night game yet to be determined. I took the Giants over the Redskins in that game.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Dec. 5-11, 2012, issue