By Doug Halberstadt
You might as well put a fork in ’em … the Chicago Bears are done.
Despite having three games remaining on their schedule, the Bears’ season, for all intents and purposes, is over. It’s pretty certain Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker won’t be back for the 2015 season. Quarterback Jay Cutler and Head Coach Marc Trestman are the subjects of public ridicule in almost every media outlet across Illinois on a daily basis. It’s not going to get any better anytime soon.
This week, the Bears (5-8) host one of the other teams in the NFL that has their fans wondering what is going on. The New Orleans Saints (5-8) will be in Soldier Field for a nationally televised game on Monday night (Dec. 15). Even though they have identical records, I think it’s clear the Saints are the better of the two. Saints quarterback Drew Brees will be headed to the Hall of Fame when his career is done. I think the only place Cutler may be headed is to the Hall of Shame.
Speaking of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will be in Buffalo to take on the Bills. Many experts are saying the Packers are the best team in the NFC. No one is saying anything remotely similar to that about the Bills in the AFC. This will be another win for the Pack.
The Detroit Lions are desperately trying to keep pace with Green Bay. This week, they face their division foe, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have been reduced to the role of spoiler. The game is in Detroit. I don’t see Minnesota spoiling anything for the Lions. Detroit will win and stay one game behind Green Bay.
In tomorrow night’s game (Thursday, Dec. 11) the Arizona Cardinals are attempting to hold on to their division lead. This week, they go on the road to face the much-improved St. Louis Rams. I’m not jumping on the Rams’ bandwagon as fast as many others have. I’m taking the Cardinals.
I never know which Pittsburgh Steelers team is going to show up from week to week — the good Steelers or the bad ones. This Sunday, they head south to Atlanta for a date with the Falcons. Let’s go with the good Steelers getting on the plane and give the win to them.
Good news for Baltimore Ravens fans this week: they get to see their team at home on Sunday. The other good news is they will win. That’s because they host the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last week, the Carolina Panthers destroyed the Saints in New Orleans. This week, their path of destruction will continue on their home turf. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be their next victim.
Round two of the Ohio state championship will take place in Cleveland this time. Back on Nov. 6, the Browns beat the Bengals in Cincinnati 24-3. I expect the game to be closer than the 21-point spread from last month. Look for the Browns to sweep the series by a touchdown or less.
Thanks to some last-second heroics from quarterback Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Browns 25-24 last week. This week, the Colts are at home against the Houston Texans. These two teams met one another back in October. The Colts won that game 33-28. I don’t think this one will come down to the final seconds. I look for Indy to sweep the Texans, and it should be evident by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.
The Oakland Raiders shocked the world last week with their win over the San Francisco 49ers. This week, the Raiders visit their long-time rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. No one will be shocked this week when the Chiefs get the win.
In week one, the Miami Dolphins upset the New England Patriots in Miami. This week, the re-match takes place in Foxborough, Massachusetts. There won’t be two upsets this season — the Patriots will win and split the series.
The New York Giants and the Washington Redskins are also poised for their second game of the year. The Giants won the first game 45-14 in September at Washington. This time, the home fans will see the Giants get their second win of the season against the Skins.
Keeping with the re-match theme, the Broncos and the Chargers renew their rivalry. Denver picked up the win 35-21 back in late October. Flash forward to mid-December, and I look for a repeat. The Chargers might make it a little closer than 14 points, but I still think the Broncos will win.
Usually, I’ll single out a really good match-up and call it the game of the week. I’m not sure there is a clear-cut favorite for that title this week. There is a clear-cut favorite for the garbage game of the week. Both teams are 2-11 and really are that bad. I’m referring to the New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans. They meet in Nashville in what I’m calling the “Ineptitude Bowl.” I’m giving the ineptitude title to the Titans as they fall to 2-12.
The team that is starting to peak at just the right time of the season is the Seattle Seahawks. They’ve won three straight and have a home game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. I look for them to make it four in a row and keep the momentum going.
I did save the best for last. On Sunday night, Dec. 14, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles are in the City of Brotherly Love for their second meeting in the last three weeks. The Eagles took round one convincingly (33-10) in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. This time, the lead in the NFC East is at stake. Both teams are 9-4, and the winner will claim the top spot in the division. The Cowboys are a perfect 6-0 on the road this year. I think they’ll keep their road record perfect and jump ahead of the Eagles in the division.
Last week, I was 11-4 with the Monday night game still to be played. I took Green Bay over Atlanta in that one.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Dec. 10-16, 2014, issue