By Doug Halberstadt
It’s with a modicum of sadness that I write this column. It’s my final NFL football pick column of the regular season for this year. I always get a little sad knowing the regular season is over and there won’t be a full slate of games again until next September.
All 32 NFL teams wrap up their regular season with games Sunday, Dec. 30.
The Atlanta Falcons should end the year on a high note with a home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another home team looking for a win to end the year will be the Buffalo Bills. They have to contend with the New York Jets. The Jets are a team in total disarray. I’m going with the Bills.
The Ravens and the Bengals will face one another in Cincinnati. This has the potential to be a decent game. The Bengals have gotten stronger near the end of the year and the Ravens have dropped a couple of games in December. I’m predicting the Ravens will close out the year with the victory.
Chicago travels to the Motor City to face the Lions. I hope this is Lovie Smith’s last game as head coach. My wish might have a better chance of coming true if the Lions win. As much as I’d like to see Smith gone, I’m still pulling for and taking the Bears in this game.
In a repeat of a game played a couple of weeks ago, the Texans and the Colts will do battle again. This time, the game is in Indianapolis. I expect the outcome to be the same, though. The Texans will win again and defeat the Colts for the second time in three weeks.
The Green Bay Packers have clinched the NFC North championship and close out the season against division foe, Minnesota. The Vikings have picked up the pace recently behind the strong running of Adrian Peterson. The Packers are gearing up for a playoff run. I’m predicting Aaron Rodgers will have a strong game, the Packers’ defense will hold Peterson to under 100 yards, and Green Bay will come away with the win.
The Miami Dolphins are on the road to face the New England Patriots. That’s not good news for the fish. I’m predicting a blowout by Tom Brady and his teammates. I’m taking New England by three touchdowns.
The Saints end their woeful season at home in the Superdome. They should go out on a high note with a win over the Carolina Panthers.
Another team glad to see this year come to an end is the Philadelphia Eagles. They close out the season in New York against the Giants. This should be an easy one for Eli Manning and the rest of the “G” Men. I’m taking New York.
Steelers fans will get to see their team at home for the final game of the season. They host the Cleveland Browns. I’m saying those Steelers fans will leave the stadium happy celebrating a win.
The Tennessee Titans are at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams have had disappointing seasons. The Jaguars will continue that disappointment with yet another loss.
The Dallas Cowboys will be looking for some revenge for their Thanksgiving Day loss to their rivals, the Washington Redskins. They’ll have to avenge that defeat on the road. This should be another good game for the fans. The Redskins won in a high-scoring (38-31) game back in November. I think this game will go to Dallas, with only about half as many points scored. I’m thinking Dallas 24, Washington 17.
Peyton Manning has proven he’s still got what it takes to win in the NFL. The Broncos are playoff bound and may rest Manning in the final game of the season. Even if he doesn’t play, I think the Broncos will easily defeat one of the worst teams in the league, the Kansas City Chiefs. If Manning does play, I think they’ll slaughter KC in Mile High to end the regular season.
The two teams from California that haven’t had a good season are facing one another to close things out this year. The Oakland Raiders are in San Diego. Both of these teams have failed to live up to pre-season expectations and will undoubtedly be making changes during the off-season. I’ll take the Raiders in a mild road win upset.
The other team from California that has had a good year is the San Francisco 49ers. They close out the year at home against Arizona. That means another win for Head Coach Jim Harbaugh as he prepares his team for a long run in the playoffs.
The Seattle Seahawks get to finish their season at home in front of their vaunted “12th Man.” They host the St. Louis Rams. The Rams have had troubles on the road all year, and Seattle is no place to try to fix that issue. I’m taking Seattle.
That is a wrap on another NFL regular season. It’s been a tough year to try to predict the final outcome of the games. There’s been a fair share of upsets and even a game that ended in a tie. That’s a huge part of what makes professional football so great. As hard as I might try, the games truly are unpredictable.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, issue