By Doug Halberstadt
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler has led the Bears to two consecutive fourth-quarter comebacks to begin the 2013 NFL season 2-0. Chicago defeated division rival Minnesota on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds remaining in the game. Robbie Gould’s extra point secured a 1-point (31-30) win for Chicago last Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15.
This week, Chicago will be playing in front of a national television audience in the Sunday (Sept. 22) night prime-time game against the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Look for the Bears to build upon their momentum and pick up their third win of the season.
After suffering a road loss to the 49ers in week one, Green Bay bounced back with a convincing home win (38-20) over the Washington Redskins. This week, the Packers are back on the road when they face the Bengals at Lincoln Financial Field. Green Bay will improve to 2-1, and try to stay close to the Bears in the NFC North.
Tomorrow night’s game (Thursday, Sept. 19) features the return of Head Coach Andy Reid to Philadelphia. He’ll lead his undefeated Kansas City Chiefs into Lincoln Financial Field to take on his former team. I look for a high-scoring game with Alex Smith leading the Chiefs and Michael Vick calling the signals for the Eagles. I’ll take Smith and Reid to come away from the hostile environment with another win.
The Cowboys host the St. Louis Rams in Dallas. Both teams bring 1-1 records to the contest. The Cowboys will pick up their second home win of the young season.
The Chargers picked up a nice road win over the Eagles last weekend. They’re on the road again this Sunday. I think they’ll make it two in a row on the road when they face the Titans in Nashville, Tenn.
Even though they’ve started the year 0-2, I think Vikings are positioned for a big win in Minnesota this week. The Cleveland Browns will roll into Mall of America Field and will face a very hungry Vikings team. It’s a must win for them. They’ll get it.
Another team that hasn’t won a game this year is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Things won’t change for them this week. They have to travel to Gillette Stadium to face the 2-0 Patriots. When this one is over, the Pats will be 3-0 and the Bucs will be 0-3.
The Saints will also be looking to stay undefeated when the Arizona Cardinals come to the Crescent City. The Cardinals don’t have the talent to match up with Drew Brees and the Saints. Look for New Orleans to remain perfect so far this season.
One of the bigger surprises of the year so far is the fact that the Washington Redskins are 0-2, even though their quarterback, Robert Griffin III, is back from an injury. I don’t think he’s 100 percent yet, and isn’t capable of making the plays he’s come to be known for. I think the Detroit Lions will hand the Redskins their third-straight loss, and possibly send RGIII to the bench before this game is over.
Eli Manning and his New York Giants are still looking for their first win this year. They’ll get it this week when they visit the Carolina Panthers.
Last week, the Houston Texans had to go to overtime to pick up the win. I don’t think it’ll take them that long this week in Baltimore. The Ravens aren’t the same team that won the Super Bowl last year. Look for the Texans to improve to 3-0 and the Ravens to fall to 1-2.
The Miami Dolphins have surprised a few people by starting the year with two-straight wins on the road. This week, they play their first game of the year at home. They host the Atlanta Falcons. I think the Falcons will burst the Dolphins’ bubble and hand them their first loss.
In the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets have identical 1-1 records. This week, they face one another at MetLife Stadium. I think the Bills have the better team, and will pick up a road win.
Indianapolis travels out West to meet up with the San Francisco 49ers. The Colts are led by Andrew Luck. The problem for Luck is he doesn’t have much to lead. I like the 49ers at home in this one.
The last two games of the week are locks. I like both the Seahawks and Broncos at home. Seattle won’t have any problem dispatching the lowly Jaguars of Jacksonville. In the Monday night game, Peyton Manning and his Broncos welcome the Oakland Raiders into Mile High Stadium. The Broncos are averaging 45 points per game in their first two games this year. The Raiders are averaging 18 points per game. The Broncos have won 13-straight regular-season games. I think they’ll make it 14 in a row with a win over the Raiders in the Monday night game.
Last week, I went 11-4 with only the Monday game left undecided at press time. I took the Bengals over the Steelers in that one.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 18-24, 2013, issue