If it happens, it’ll be because I’m hanging my hopes on the Chicago Bears to pull off an upset at Lambeau Field versus the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears are in their typical “No Cutler” slump after losing starting quarterback Jay Cutler to yet another midseason injury.
Green Packers currently holds a half-game lead over the Detroit Lions and a full-game lead over the Bears in a tight NFC North race. But the team also has injury concerns of their own with wide receiver Randall Cobb out until Week 15 and tight end Jermichael Finley out indefinitely.
The injuries to the Packers’ offense bring them down to a level the Bears’ defense, ranked 27th in yards allowed, may be able to stifle.
Chicago’s defense, led by cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs, must aggressively attack the Packers early by getting back to the physical style of play that made them one of the most feared defenses in 2012.
The Packers’ defense, despite being ranked 11th in yards allowed, could struggle against a Bears’ offense featuring a wide array of weapons.
Chicago running back Matt Forte, ranked eighth in NFL for rushing yards, must get going early to take the pressure off journeyman quarterback Josh McCown.
McCown will be leaning heavily on wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, as well as Forte catching passes out of the backfield.
Bears’ head coach must rally his team before the game and the team must will their way to victory because a win will create a three-way tie in the NFC North.
A 50+ yard field goal by Bears’ kicker Robbie Gould or dazzling return by Bears’ special teams ace Devin Hester may very well be the difference-maker in what should be an exciting, high-scoring Monday night game.
Final Score: Chicago 38, Green Bay 35
The Best of the Rest
Carolina Panthers 30, Atlanta Falcons 17
Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton should continue the most efficient streak of his career against an Atlanta team who has lost their identity.
Kansas City Chiefs 24, Buffalo Bills 17
How fortunate have the Chiefs’ defenders been to have faced five backup quarterbacks in a row?
Dallas Cowboys 28, Minnesota Vikings 17
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo better start throwing more passes to wide receiver Dez Bryant or his teammates might not like him on the sidelines if he’s angry.
Tennessee Titans 19, St. Louis Rams 16
Rams coach Jeff Fisher faces off against his former team with two of his former players, current Rams tight end Jared Cook and cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
New Orleans Saints 48, New York Jets 14
Jets’ players might start getting that déjà vu feeling being blown out in two consecutive weeks.
San Diego Chargers 31, Washington Redskins 24
Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan might want to start preparing his resume after this home loss.
Philadelphia Eagles 27, Oakland Raiders 20
Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy, currently the NFL’s leading rusher, should meet some resistance facing the Raiders’ sixth-ranked run defense, but not enough to matter.
Seattle Seahawks 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Tampa Bay has allowed 31 points in three straight games, and the trend should continue against one of the NFL’s best teams.
Cleveland Browns 24, Baltimore Ravens 20
Browns’ backup quarterback Jason Campbell faces a less-imposing defense in his second start of the season.
New England Patriots 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 23
Steelers’ running back may find some success against one of the league’s worst run defenses, but Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady will find a way to walk out of Gillette Stadium with a victory.
Indianapolis Colts 24, Houston Texans 23
The Colts play their first game of the season without Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who tore his ACL in Week 7.
Bye Week Breakdown:
The 4-4 Cardinals enter the mid-season bye week hanging on to a thread in the chase for an NFC playoff berth as a wild-card team. The wild card in their situation is the play of quarterback Carson Palmer, who has been erratic throughout much of the season. Head coach Bruce Arians must reign him in some and have him cut back on the costly interceptions that have kept the team from thriving. Arizona enters a three-game stretch versus AFC South opponents and they’ll need two wins to stay alive.
The 7-1 Broncos limp into the bye week not coming off a loss, but with quarterback Peyton Manning nursing an injured ankle. Despite putting up stellar numbers, the Broncos trail the Kansas City Chiefs by one game for the lead in the AFC West. Denver will have two chances to rectify the situation as they face the Chiefs twice in the next four weeks, with games against Oakland and New England on the docket as well.
The 5-3 Lions enter their bye coming off a last-gasp effort versus the Dallas Cowboys where quarterback Matthew Stafford made arguably one of the boldest calls of the season, faking a snap and sneaking the ball in for a victory. There’s no doubt the Lions will be watching Monday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers since a Bears victory will create a three-way logjam for the lead in the NFC North. The Lions have a chance to sweep the Bears Week 10 before a pair of games against the fledgling Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fans of the Jaguars must be thrilled the 0-8 Jaguars don’t face anyone this week so they can all know what it feels like not to be on the losing end for the first time in two months. First-year head coach Gus Bradley rolled into the bye week with trade rumors swirling about a number of his players, including wide receiver Justin Blackmon and running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars’ schedule might not feature any games versus opponents with a winning record in the next four weeks, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be pulling out a victory anytime soon.
New York Giants
The 2-6 Giants enter their bye week on a two-game win streak after starting the season 0-6. What’s even more impressive is even with the injuries and inconsistent play from quarterback Eli Manning is the fact they’re only two games back in the NFC East. Head coach Tom Coughlin is one of the best motivators in the business, and if he can rally the Giants to win their next three games against the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, all bets are off on him becoming the first coach to lead a team that started 0-6 into the playoffs. That possibility is a very big “if” though.
San Francisco 49ers
Head coach Jim Harbaugh takes his 6-2 squad into the bye week trailing the Seattle Seahawks by one game in the race for the NFC West crown. San Francisco may get some relief in the coming weeks as wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham get one week closer to possibly suiting up this season. Harbaugh will have to keep this team motivated as they come out of the bye facing two red-hot teams in the NFC South, the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
Picks record for the season: 64-48
Upset pick record: 3-5
Contact Shane Dunaway at email@example.com