By Doug Halberstadt
Last week, I took some heat from my fellow Bears fans for picking Green Bay over Chicago. I had hoped I would be wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. Until Chicago gets rid of Head Coach Lovie Smith and his entire coaching staff, I don’t see Chicago getting past the Packers in the division, let alone returning to the upper echelon of the NFL. Smith is the one who should be taking the heat from Bears fans, not I.
This Sunday (Dec. 23), both the Bears and the Packers should pick up wins. The Bears go to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Green Bay hosts the Tennessee Titans.
There is no Thursday night game this week. Instead, the Atlanta Falcons will be in Detroit facing the Lions Saturday night (Dec. 22). The Falcons shouldn’t have any trouble dispatching the Lions.
Back to the Sunday games …
After getting shut out last week, I look for the Giants to bounce back and pick up a win against the Ravens in Baltimore. The other team that should pick up a win this week after losing last week is the Indianapolis Colts. They are in Kansas City and will defeat the Chiefs.
The Carolina Panthers have a home game against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders kicked five field goals and failed to get a touchdown in their win last week. That won’t work against the Panthers. Look for Carolina to win by at least two touchdowns.
The Dallas Cowboys are on a modest three-game winning streak and face the New Orleans Saints in Dallas this week. I look for the Cowboys to make it four in a row and keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Minnesota Vikings are another team trying to stay in the playoff hunt. They have an uphill struggle this week when they have to take on the Texans in Houston. I’m taking the Texans. That should dash the Vikings’ playoff chances.
A team that has made the playoffs nine of the last 12 seasons is the New England Patriots. They are well on their way again this year. This week, they travel south to Florida and shouldn’t have any problem getting another win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Further south in the state of Florida, the Miami Dolphins will be hosting the Buffalo Bills. I’m taking the Dolphins. The other team from the Sunshine State also has a home game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the St. Louis Rams. I’m taking the visitors.
The Washington Redskins proved they could win even without rookie phenom quarterback Robert Griffin III last week. I’m not certain whether he’ll be healthy enough to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The game is in Philly. I don’t think it will matter who’s under center for the Redskins — they will come away victorious.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Normally, I would say this should go into the Steelers’ win column, but this season it’s not that simple. The Bengals are better than in the past, and the Steelers seem to be struggling to win the games they are supposed to. They may struggle, but I’m still taking the Steelers.
The hottest team in the league right now is the Denver Broncos. Their flame won’t even flicker this week when they welcome the Cleveland Browns into Mile High Stadium. Put another win in the record books for Peyton Manning and his fellow Broncos. That will make it 10 straight for them.
In their last two games, the Seattle Seahawks have outscored their opponents 108-17. This week, they are at home against the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks will be looking to stay undefeated at home this season. The 49ers will undoubtedly play them closer than their last two opponents have. I’m still picking the Seahawks in a lower-scoring, closer game.
The final game before Christmas features the San Diego Chargers visiting the New York Jets. I think the Chargers will be wishing for the Miracle on 34th Street. It’s not going to happen. The Jets will defend the home turf and get the win.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Dec. 19-25, 2012, issue