By Doug Halberstadt
All 32 NFL teams are back in action this week. Six teams will start the week playing in tomorrow’s (Thursday, Nov. 27) three Thanksgiving Day games. The Chicago Bears (5-6) and Detroit Lions (7-4) will open up things in the Motor City. The Bears were swept by the Lions in 2013. This is the first meeting between the two division rivals this season. The Bears have won their last two games, and the Lions have dropped two straight. In those back-to-back losses, the Lions have only scored a combined total of 15 points. The Bears have put up 21 points in each of their successive wins. The Lions have lost nine of their last 10 on Thanksgiving Day. Call me a turkey, but I think the Bears are going to make it three straight wins and hand the Lions another Turkey Day loss.
The Thanksgiving afternoon game is in Dallas. This game will be a battle for the top spot in the NFC East. The Eagles bring their 8-3 record to town. The Cowboys also have an 8-3 record. Dallas has won six of their last eight holiday clashes. With so much on the line and having the home-field advantage, I’m saying the Cowboys will be all alone atop the NFC East when the pumpkin pie is being served and this one is all over.
On Thursday night, the Seattle Seahawks (7-4) are in San Francisco to battle the 49ers (7-4). Barring any tryptophan side-effects, I think the home cooking will sit well with the 49ers and leave the Seahawks with the food coma and their fifth loss.
Sunday’s games (Nov. 30) begin with San Diego Chargers (7-4) coming to Baltimore to face the Ravens (6-4 at press time). The Chargers are 2-3 on the road this season. The Ravens are 4-1 in their home nest. I’m giving the edge to Baltimore.
Provided they can get all of the snow cleared out of Buffalo before the scheduled kickoff, the Bills (5-5 at press time) will host the Cleveland Browns (7-4). I look for the Browns to deliver a different type of winter storm and bury the Bills.
The Houston Texans (5-6) return home this week and should have Arian Foster back. When you add those two things together, it should equal a win over the Tennessee Titans (2-9).
The Washington Redskins (3-8) are arguably the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season. The only people they won’t disappoint this week will be the Indianapolis Colts’ fans. Indy (7-4) will have home-field advantage and shouldn’t have any trouble picking up win No. 8.
Last Sunday night, Odell Beckham Jr. may have made the greatest single-handed catch in the history of the league when his New York Giants (3-8) lost a heart-breaker to the Dallas Cowboys 31-28. This week, I don’t think he’ll have to be nearly as heroic when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10). This one will go in the win column for the Giants.
The other team with only one win so far this year is the Oakland Raiders (1-10). They will be looking to pick up win No. 2 when they visit the Rams (4-7) in St. Louis. They’ll keep the Jaguars company at the bottom of the heap and fall to 1-11.
They didn’t win at home last week, but they did play pretty well against a very good Green Bay Packers team. I’m referring to the Minnesota Vikings (4-7). This week, they’re at home again when the Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) come calling. If they play at the same level this week, I think they’ll get the win. I’m taking the Vikings.
Another team that’s been a disappointment this season is the New Orleans Saints (4-6 at press time). They’ll face the Steelers (7-4) in Pittsburgh on Sunday. I look for the disappointment to continue. The Steelers will improve to 8-4.
The final early start game should be a lopsided one. The Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1) line up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9). I look for the Cats to hand the Bucs their 10th loss of the year, and it should be by at least 10 points or more.
Later in the afternoon, Arizona (9-2) and Atlanta (4-7) will do battle in Georgia. The Cardinals had a six-game win streak snapped last Sunday, Nov. 23, at Seattle. Their only score was a field goal. I look for them to rebound and pick up win No. 10 against the Falcons.
The best game of the week features the New England Patriots (9-2) in Green Bay to take on the Packers (8-3). Not only are these two teams playing well, both quarterbacks will most likely end up in the Hall of Fame when their careers are over. This should be a fun one for football fans all across the country. The Pack are riding a three-game win streak. The Pats have won their last seven in a row. I think Green Bay wins their fourth in a row in a high-scoring nail-biter.
The second-best game of the week could be the Sunday night match-up between the Denver Broncos (8-3) at the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4). This has the potential to be another high-scoring shootout. I think that favors Peyton Manning and his Broncos.
The Monday night game showcases the Miami Dolphins (6-5) at the New York Jets (2-8 at press time). This one doesn’t seem worthy of a Monday night game. I don’t see the Jets even getting out of the hangar in this one, much less taking the Dolphins for a ride. I like the fish by at least a touchdown or more.
Last week, I was 8-5 with the two Monday night games awaiting to be played at press time. I took the Bills over the Jets and the Ravens over the Saints.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 2014, issue