By Doug Halberstadt
Obviously, the big game this week for professional football fans in this area is the Sunday night (Nov. 9) nationally televised prime-time game between the Green Bay Packers (5-3) and the Chicago Bears (3-5). It was a little more than a month ago (Sept.28) when Green Bay humiliated the Bears in Chicago 38-17. It pains me as a Bears fan to say this, but I expect a severe case of déjà vu this week. It could actually be worse. Green Bay will be playing in front of their fans at Lambeau and should have little or no trouble repeating their performance from week four and making it a clean sweep against Chicago this season.
The game tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov. 6) is for the Ohio state championship as the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1) host the Cleveland Browns (5-3). Their records indicate these two teams are pretty evenly matched. Don’t go by their records. The Bengals have more talent on both sides of the ball, and they are a perfect 4-0 at home this season. They should prevail and claim bragging rights in Ohio, for now. The two teams will face one another again Dec. 14 in Cleveland.
Two teams with identical 5-3 records go head to head this week in Buffalo. The Kansas City Chiefs face the Bills. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and running back Jamaal Charles will prove too much for the Bills’ defense. I look for K.C. to pick up win No. 6.
The Detroit Lions (6-2) are coming off a bye week. They host the Miami Dolphins (5-3) this week. The Dolphins blanked the San Diego Chargers last week 37-0. Both teams are riding three-game win streaks. I like the well-rested Lions to make it four in a row and knock off the Dolphins.
After losing to the Arizona Cardinals last week, the Dallas Cowboys (6-3) are almost assured a win this week. They face the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8). Even though the Jaguars will have home-field advantage, it won’t matter. Look for Dallas to come away with a double-digit win.
Two .500 teams meet in the Big Easy this week. The San Francisco 49ers (4-4) take on the Saints (4-4) in the Super Dome. Despite identical records, these two teams are headed in opposite directions. The Saints have won their last two games and the 49ers have lost their last two. Look for that streak to continue, and New Orleans should climb above .500 for the first time this season.
Atlanta (2-6) and Tampa Bay (1-7) have a long way to go to get to .500. The Falcons should get one game closer this week when they visit the Buccaneers. These two teams played one another in week three, and the Falcons won 56-14. I don’t think the margin of victory will be 42 points this time, but I do think the Falcons will come away with the win.
The Oakland Raiders (0-8) would have to win all of their remaining games to finish .500. The problem is, their next game is against the Denver Broncos (6-2). The Broncos will drop the Raiders to 0-9 and ruin any hopes Oakland may have had of salvaging a .500 season.
The Arizona Cardinals (7-1) are proving they are one of the best teams in the league this season. That’s bad news for the visiting St. Louis Rams (3-5). Arizona has won four in a row, and I look for them to keep rolling and improve to 8-1 and win their fifth straight by beating the Rams at home.
Another team that will take advantage of playing in front of their home fans is the Seattle Seahawks (5-3). They welcome the New York Giants (3-4 at press time) to town on Sunday. Seattle is a tough place for teams to win on the road. Strictly because of the “12th Man” advantage, I’m giving the edge to Russell Wilson and his Seahawks over Eli Manning and his Giants.
The Baltimore Ravens (5-4) are at home against the Tennessee Titans (2-6). The Ravens have dropped two in a row and need to stop the bleeding. The Titans should prove to be the bandage the doctor ordered. They’ve also lost two in a row and won’t match up well against the Ravens’ powerful defense. I look for Baltimore to get healthy again and return to the win column.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) are on the road against the New York Jets (1-8). Ben Roethlisberger is the hottest quarterback in the league right now. He’s led his team in back-to-back convincing wins and thrown 12 touchdown passes in those two games. I don’t see him cooling off anytime soon. Especially not against the Jets. The Steelers will win their third in a row and improve to 7-3.
The Monday night game is in Philadelphia, where the Eagles (6-2) will take on the Carolina Panthers (3-5-1). The unconfirmed word at press time is that Eagles quarterback Nick Foles suffered a season-ending injury in last week’s game against the Houston Texans. He was replaced by Mark Sanchez. Whether it’s Sanchez or Foles under center, I like the Eagles at home in this one.
The bye teams this week are Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego and Washington.
Last week, I was 6-6 heading into the Monday night game. I took the Colts over the Giants.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue