By Doug Halberstadt
The best game of the National Football League season so far is scheduled for this weekend. The undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) go on the road to take on the Denver Broncos. Denver has only lost one game this season (8-1) and it was by 6 points (39-33) to the Indianapolis Colts in week seven. This showdown features the two best teams in the AFC. I don’t see the Chiefs being able to match Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ prolific offense. I’m taking the Broncos, and I think they’ll win by at least 10 points.
The Chicago Bears welcome the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens to Soldier Field this week. The Bears lost a close game to the Lions last week. The Ravens won in overtime against the Bengals. Even with the uncertainty of Jay Cutler’s health status, I’m looking for the Bears to rebound and get back into the win column.
The Packers’ train has derailed with the loss of Aaron Rodgers to a collar bone injury and his replacement, Seneca Wallace, to a groin injury. They’ve lost two in a row, and have to go on the road to face the New York Giants in the nationally-televised Sunday night game. Recently, the Giants have turned things around despite a terrible start to the season. They won their third-straight game last week after dropping six in a row to start the year. I think they’ll make it four wins in a row and hand the Packers their third-straight loss.
Elsewhere in the state of New York, the Jets travel over to Buffalo to face the Bills. The Bills dropped their third straight last week while the Jets were off on their bye. I’m taking the well-rested Jets.
Another intra-state battle features the Cleveland Browns visiting the Cincinnati Bengals. This is a rematch of the week four game when the Browns beat the Bengals 17-6. I’m going with the Bengals to win the rematch.
The Thursday night game has the Colts going to Tennessee. Despite the Colts getting destroyed by the St. Louis Rams last week, I’m looking for them to fully rebound this week and take care of business against the Titans.
The disappointing Atlanta Falcons (2-7) are in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. This should be an opportunity for them to pick up their third win of the year. They have to seize it. I think they will.
The Jacksonville Jaguars picked up their first win of the season last week when they edged the Titans 29-27. This week, they host the Arizona Cardinals. That should conclude their modest win streak. I’m taking the Cardinals.
Houston has a home game against the Oakland Raiders. Neither team is doing very well this season. The Raiders are 3-6 and the Texans are 2-7. When this one’s over, I think they’ll both be 3-7. I’m taking the Texans at home.
In Florida, the Miami Dolphins host the San Diego Chargers. Both teams are mired near the bottom of their divisions and have little chance of making the playoffs. I’ll take the Chargers in a mild upset.
In my least favorite division to try to predict, the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles welcome the Washington Redskins to the “City of Brotherly Love.” There’s no love lost between these two rivals. The Eagles beat the Redskins in the opening week of the season 33-27 in the nation’s capital. I think the Eagles will take both games against the Redskins this season.
The Detroit Lions, fresh off of their road win against the Bears, are traveling again this week. They go to Pittsburgh. I think they’ll make it back-to-back road wins and beat the Steelers.
They haven’t lost a game at home this season and their 9-1 record is one of the best in the league — the Seattle Seahawks should improve to 10-1 and keep their spotless record at home intact when Minnesota comes calling this week.
The New Orleans Saints have a home game against the San Francisco 49ers. San Fran dropped a 1-point decision to the Panthers last week and failed to score a touchdown in that game. That definitely won’t get the job done against the Saints. I’m not predicting another game without a TD for the 49ers, but I don’t think they’ll outscore Drew Brees and his Saints. I’m taking the Saints.
The Monday night game should be pretty decent. The New England Patriots visit the Carolina Panthers. Carolina has won five in a row. The Patriots are back at full strength with all of their receivers healthy. With a full arsenal of targets, I’m going with Tom Brady and the Patriots to stop the Panthers’ win streak at five.
The two teams with a bye this week are the Dallas Cowboys and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Nov. 13-19, 2013, issue