Here’s this week’s TV map from The506.com. Who’s more angry, the Pats fans in Western Mass., or the millions of Jets fans in Connecticut?
This week’s picks
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 17, Bears 14. “It could be an awful weather day in the spaceship just off Lake Michigan, and what makes it worse for the Bears is a lightning bug named Danny Woodhead. He’ll be the Pats’ not-so-secret weapon, along with short stuff to the rookie tight ends.”
ESPN.com staff: Five out of eight pick the Patriots.
Globe staff: Patriots across the board (Pats by 3).
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Patriots 26, Bears 21.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 28, Bears 21. “This is the best game of the weekend. The Patriots looked dominant in blowing out the Jets on Monday night, but the Bears have been playing well. Jay Cutler hasn’t thrown a pick the past two weeks, but now he has to face Bill Belichick’s defense. The Patriots might be coming off a high, which could be in play here, but I think they are the better team. Belichick gets the better of Mike Martz and his offense.”
CBS Sports.com staff: Patriots across the board.
Sporting News staff: Five out of seven pick the Pats.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 28, Bears 20. “Several weeks ago, the Bears cooled off the red-hot Eagles in a game at Soldier Field. This time around, the opponent is much more formidable, with a quick-strike passing game that gladly will take what the Cover Two defense gives it. New England has rediscovered its 2007 vibe, without the pressure of having to remain unblemished.”
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 28, Bears 21. “On PFT Daily, I made the case this is a dangerous matchup for the Patriots. It’ a road game on a short week and the Bears’ defense is the rare group that can slow Tom Brady down. The Patriots don’t have the pass rush to truly expose Chicago?s offensive line. Then Florio put me on the spot to ask if I?d actually pick the Bears and I said no way. So there you go.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Bears 20, Patriots 17. ” “AAWWK!” bellows the Upset Bird. “Monster of the Midwaaawwwk!” The men of pretty-boy Tom Brady have scored 30-plus points with zero turnovers in four consecutive games — a first in NFL history. What better place for such a streak to end, though, than at The Soldier and against arguably the league’s best defense? Chitown will see this as their statement game to include the under-regarded Bears in the title contender talk, while Patriots won’t be able to match the emotion of their Monday dismantling of Jets. Teams have combined for nine wins in a row; this one ought to be in prime time. “Valid point,” notes U-Bird, the professorial pipe clamped in his beak juxtaposed with the serendipity of a Santa hat. “Time for these Bears to hit Brady so hard his toupee flies off. Toupaawwk! Tom Braawwk!””
Pete Schrager, Foxsports.com: Bears 30, Patriots 27. “Now 9-3 and winners of five straight games, the Bears would be safely headed to the playoffs, you’d think. Then you look at what’s left on their schedule and realize they should feel anything but comfortable. Sunday’s matchup with the red-hot Patriots is followed by a road trip to play the Vikings, an all-out slugfest with the Jets and a season finale at Green Bay. Could Chicago finish the year 0-4 and find itself out of the playoffs at 9-7? Absolutely. Will it? I don’t think so. Few pundits seem to believe in these Bears, but with five touchdowns and just one interception in his past three games, I like Mr. Cutler to get to the playoffs for the first time in his five-year NFL career. It starts on Sunday with a win over the Patriots, who’ll be coming into this one on just six days? rest after Monday night’s emotional win over the Jets. Belichick and Brady don’t tend to have many ‘letdown’ games, but the Bears are going to be tough to beat in their own building on a late Sunday afternoon in December. In the rare home upset, I’ll take Chicago on a last-second Robbie Gould field goal.”
Dave Goldberg, NFL FanHouse: Patriots 24, Bears 20. “What does the betting public think of the Patriots? Well, how many teams would be favorites on the road against a 9-3 team coming off a short week? Bill Belichick and Tom Brady demonstrate they can get ready in five days as well as they can in 10.
USA Today staff: Patriots across the board.
Yahoo! sports staff: Two out of three pick the Bears.
We like: Patriots 20, Bears 14. After the drama of Monday night, it’s conceivable that the Pats drop one in the snow, then win out the rest of the way. But go ahead, you pick against this team right now.