Thursday, November 18, 2004

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 11

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Arizona @ Carolina

The Cardinals are riding a two-game winning streak, and, at 4-5, are only one game back of the division leaders, St. Louis and Seattle. How are the Cardinals doing it?

"With smoke and mirrors?" coach Dennis Green answers with a question of his own.

No.

"Black magic and sorcery?" Green asks.

No.

"Then what?"

Well, Dennis, I think it's a combination of a good defense, some timely Emmitt Smith rushing, and the fact that the Rams and Seahawks are the two most underachieving teams in the league. And, if I keep giving reasons for another ten or fifteen minutes, I'll eventually mention something about your coaching.

"Okay, I'll wait," Green replies.

All right. While you do that, I'll talk about the Panthers. If you thought the Panthers' injury situation couldn't get any worse, you were wrong. Quarterback Jake Delhomme is listed as "questionable" with a thumb injury.

"It's nothing serious," Delhomme says. "Nothing that a few days of soaking in Palmolive dish soap won't handle."

Carolina coach John Fox is not taking all of the injuries lying down.

"Oh no," replies Fox. "I've just signed a contract with Milton Bradley, the board game company, not the Los Angeles Dodger, to endorse a Carolina Panthers version of the game 'Operation.' It will feature Stephen Davis' knee, Steve Smith's fibula, DeShaun Foster's collarbone, Delhomme's thumb, Dan Morgan's head, and various other players' ailing body parts. Instead of hearing the traditional 'buzz' when you err in extracting the injured body part, you will hear the Panther 'roar.' If we can get the same suckers to buy this who also bought season tickets after we made the Super Bowl, I'll be a rich man."

I'm sure the Parker Brothers are shaking in their boots.

Injuries continue to plague the Panthers. Delhomme plays despite the injury, but is ineffective against the tough Cardinal defense. Troy Hambrick scores one touchdown and Anquan Boldin gets his first touchdown catch of the year.

Arizona wins and moves to 5-5 with a 26-16 win.

Dallas @ Baltimore

"It sickens me to think that the Dallas defense used to be known fondly as the 'Doomsday Defense,'" laments a frustrated Bill Parcells. "Now, they might as well be known as the 'Doris Day Defense', or, better yet, we could just call them 'Alice.'"

Alice? What the hell?

"Let me explain, you simpleton," retorts Parcells. "We just gave up 49 points to the Eagles at home. That should tell you one thing: there is no 'D' in Dallas. Hence, 'Alice.'"

Hey, Bill, I think I found the "D." Go to the "Total Defense" rankings on NFL.com and look towards the bottom of the list. You should find it there.

"I can totally relate to what Bill's going through," adds Raven coach Brian Billick. "We've been searching for the 'O' in Baltimore for years now. I don't think we'll ever find it, but luckily, what little offense we do have compliments our fabulous defense very well."

Uh, Brian, do you mean "complement", defined as "to make complete", as opposed to compliment?

"No, I mean 'compliment', as in our offense often says to our defense 'Thanks for putting us in the position of only having to move the ball five yards to be in field goal range. Great job' or 'You're awesome, Ed Reed. You just returned an interception for a touchdown. Now, we don't have to score, so get back on the field'. That's the 'compliment' I'm talking about."

The Baltimore defense does its usual job: forcing turnovers that lead to easy scores, which allows the Ravens to dominate time of possession later with Jamal Lewis. Lewis scores one touchdown; Kyle Boller adds another to his favorite target, Clarence Moore.

Ravens win, 23-7.

Denver @ New Orleans

New Orleans coach Jim Haslett's ass has cooled considerably since last week's victory over the Chiefs, which moved the Saints to 4-5 and much a part of the NFC wildcard playoff picture, along with about nine other teams. Off of the hot seat temporarily, Haslett can surely keep his job by leading the Saints to a playoff berth.

"Yes, isn't it amazing?" jokes Haslett. "I can go from 'nearly on the verge of being fired' to 'slim to moderate job security', all by just beating the 3-5 Chiefs. Ain't life grand?"

Yes, it must be, Jim. It will be even grander if you beat the Broncos Sunday, then beat the Falcons in Atlanta the following Sunday, then beat them again in New Orleans on December 26. That may get you to the playoffs.

"That's asking quite a bit of my players," Haslett replies, "and, as you know, I ask almost nothing of them."

And they usually deliver.

Denver running back Reuben Droughns enjoyed a few days off during the Broncos bye week, but couldn't wait to get back to practice and ready himself for the Saints.

"And when I say 'ready myself for the Saints', I mean I'll go ahead and reserve myself at least two game balls," Droughns explains. "New Orleans has the worst rushing defense in the league. This game will be like a walk-through in practice for me. I think I'll stuff a couple of flags in my waistband, because I know these guys can't tackle me."

Indeed, the Saints rush defense is plain awful, surrendering an average of 149 yards per game, and they have also given up ten runs of twenty or more yards.

"Hey, let's give equal time where equal time is due," says Haslett. "My pass defense is also last in the league."

"It sounds like Haslett's defense is worse than the Iraqi military's," Shanahan jokes. "I think we'll begin with a ground assault, then open things up with deep bombs."

In other words, Droughns plows through the Saints early, then Jake Plummer connects deep with Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie later.

Broncos win, 34-21.

Detroit @ Minnesota

"The hamstring is almost healed," says Randy Moss while adjusting his do-rag and inserting a diamond stud into his left earlobe. "But I'll still need one more week off for Randy to be 100%. That will also give me one extra week to mourn the passing of Ol' Dirty Bastard. I mean, damn, how will Wu-Tang continue to produce karate rap without the services of Ol' Dirty? I know there's about 45 other members of the Wu, but the music just won't be the same. It'll be like the Vikings playing without me."

Yes, Randy. Consider yourself the ODB of the Vikings. And you're right. Since your injury, you haven't been at full strength, and the Vikings have lost their last three.

"Damn, dog," replies Moss. "No need to feed the ego anymore. It's a bitch carrying this thing around as it is. But I'll tell you what, player. I'll give my boys one more week to right the ship without me. Then next week, I make my much-anticipated return to the lineup and lead the Vikes to the playoffs. And that's all under the condition that I don't tweak my 'string somewhere along the way."

Like the Vikings, the Lions have lost three in a row, and while they are only one game out of first in the NFC North, they are not in the same class as Green Bay and Minnesota.

"We're not complaining," says head coach Steve Mariucci. "If we're only one game out with Joey Harrington posting stats like 11-33 and 121 yards, and with the majority of our scoring coming on punt returns, then we've got to be happy with our position. You know, I'm very close to pulling Harrington in favor of Mike McMahon. I know Mike's ready for the change. In fact, I noticed him on the sidelines last week wearing a white headband with black letters reading 'Mariucci.' I think that means he wants some playing time."

Harrington should be able to pass against the Vikings -- who can't? But the Vikings can pass on anyone, and can run the ball fairly well, too. Culpepper throws TD passes to Nate Burleson, Michael Bennett, and Marcus Robinson. Onterrio Smith adds a rushing TD. Vikings win, 31-20.

Moss reserves a section of the Metrodome for the surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan, in honor of Ol' Dirty Bastard. Not hip to the rap game, Vikings' crusty old owner Red McCombs goes the entire week thinking he's being referred to as an "Ol' Dirty Bastard."

Indianapolis @ Chicago

"I'm well aware that I'm ahead of pace to break Dan Marino's single-season touchdown pass record," says Peyton Manning, "but I don't think I've ever seen anything like Buddy Ryan's '46' defense in Chicago. And you've got to hand it to Bear quarterback Craig Krenzel. He's also well ahead of the pace for another Marino record: never winning a Super Bowl. Ha! I kill me! I am so funny! Hey, Marvin Harrison! Get over here and polish my sneakers and I might find the kindness in my heart to throw the pill your way a little more."

Harrison reluctantly agrees to buff his quarterback's Adidas, peeved that he has laid not one finger on any of Manning's nine TDs in the last two games.

"Man, it's all a conspiracy perpetrated by Colts' management," complains Harrison. "They've got Peyton throwing to those white boys Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark, keeping passes away from me so my value will be deflated when it comes to re-signing time. Then, I'll be undervalued and they can afford to keep me at a much cheaper price."

"Has Marvin lost his mind?" asks Manning. "He's citing conspiracies, economics, and racism? What is this? An Oliver Stone movie? Has Marvin forgot that Reggie Wayne has a few touchdown catches himself? He's not a white boy. He's a tricked-out, ghetto-fabulous Miami Hurricane. Marvin's not white, and he's certainly not a tricked-out, ghetto-fabulous Miami Hurricane. He played at Syracuse, for God's sake. He's a Yankee. I resent his accusations. He can not only forget about catching touchdowns; he can forget about passes altogether."

A disgusted Harrison takes matters into his own hands at game time. After a completion to Stokley in the first quarter, Harrison strips his teammate of the ball and waltzes in for the touchdown. On another play, Harrison runs Wayne's route and steals a TD pass intended for No. 87. On yet another play, Harrison lines up at tight end and catches a one-yard TD, which would normally go to Clark. The results of Harrison's shenanigans: one happy receiver, three pissed off receivers, and a 27-16 Indianapolis win.

N.Y. Jets @ Cleveland

The Jets suffered a devastating loss last Sunday, losing to the Ravens in overtime after blowing a 14-0 lead and failing to score the winning touchdown inside the Ravens' 10-yard line at the end of regulation. A few critical bad decisions by Herman Edwards left the Jets at 6-3, along with five other teams in the AFC with the identical records.

"Hey, pal," Edwards asks "what's the significance of six teams in the AFC with 6-3 records? And who are you to question my play-calling?"

Okay, Herm, first question first. With six teams at 6-3, there is the possibility that teams that finish 10-6 may not make the playoffs. If the Jets and Ravens both finish 10-6, then the first tiebreaker, head-to-head record, would favor the Ravens. So, the loss was critical.

Now, second question. Let's see. You called for a halfback pass from inside the Ravens' 20-yard line that was intercepted. Maybe you should have played it safe there and let your quarterback throw the ball, since that's his job. Then, with a first and goal situation with time running down, trailing 17-14, you run two plays, but kick on third down instead of going for the win. Wasted time, wasted opportunities. So, there. I'm just a nobody questioning your play calling; imagine what people who matter are saying, like your wife, your kids, your mailman, your proctologist, Jets fans, etc.

"Okay man, I guess you're right," Edwards concedes. "I had a bad week of clock management. I didn't set my alarm clock on Thursday, I forgot to wind the grandfather clock on Friday, and to top it all off, on Saturday, I microwaved my hot dog for 1000 seconds instead of 10. It was a Ball Park, so that thing just kept plumping and plumping until she finally blew. There was hot dog shrapnel all over the kitchen."

Well, Herm, don't feel so bad. Hot dog shrapnel is nothing compared to the state of Ohio sports. The Browns are dead last in the AFC North, getting their asses whipped on and off the field, and former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett is blaming his problems on the University. My solution? Woody Hayes. Sure, I know he's not alive, but if we could somehow find a way to re-animate him, he could straighten out Clarett and the Browns. He could give Gerard Warren a nice "head shot", teach William Green how to fight, and just plain slap the memory of any misconduct out of Clarett's head. Then he could go shoot hoops with LeBron James in the Chamber of Fear.

Since all that probably won't happen, we'll have to make do with the Jets/Browns game. Edwards improves his clock management skills, thanks to a gift of a giant stopwatch on a fat gold chain, courtesy of Public Enemy rapper and Surreal Life cast member Flava Flav. Curtis Martin rushes for one touchdown, and John Abraham adds 1.5 sacks to his league-leading total.

Jets win, 24-13.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

"I guarantee it."

Those are the words one would expect to hear from Bengals' wide receiver Chad Johnson, notorious guarantor.

"The only guarantees I place any stock in," comments Bill Cowher, "are death, taxes, not paying a lot for a suit at Men's Warehouse, and not paying a lot for a muffler at Meineke. If Chad Johnson says those words, then he better back them up. Just ask Gerard Warren of the Browns."

Cowher is referring to Gerard Warren of the Browns, who, before last week's Cleveland/Pittsburgh contest, warned of delivering a "head shot" to Roethlisberger. Although Roethlisberger and Warren spoke before the game to clear the air, fireworks still erupted later when Pittsburgh's Joey Porter and Cleveland's William Green exchanged punches at mid-field.

"I should have known something was up when I was talking to Warren," explains Roethlisberger. "All the time we were talking, I could hear AC/DC's 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap' playing in the background. Then, when Porter and and Green started scrapping, I was like 'Damn, take it to Jerry Springer.' And what do you know? We're going to Cincinnati, home of Springer."

Springer quickly acts on Roethlisberger's comments, inviting Porter and Green to the show to discuss their problems. Very little is resolved on the show, but we do learn that Porter and Green share a father, are married to the same woman, and are quite eager to go topless in front of a wildly ecstatic Springer audience. And what episode of Springer would be complete without someone shouting "You don't know me! You can't judge me!", which Green yells as he in escorted from the stage by Steve The Bouncer.

You're right, William. I don't know you, but I can judge you. And the judgment is: you're an idiot.

Now, onto the Bengals. You know Chad Johnson is dying to make that guarantee, much like he did last year when the undefeated Chiefs came to town. Johnson finally does make the guarantee, just not publicly. The Bengals are pumped up and race to a 10-0 lead. The Steelers don't panic and continue to pound Jerome Bettis. The comeback is complete when Roethlisberger finds Hines Ward for a fourth quarter touchdown.

The Steelers pull out a tough 23-17 win.

San Francisco @ Tampa Bay

"For the last time," Tampa coach Jon Gruden pleads, "I am not Chucky. I have not appeared in any of the Child's Play movies. I am first and foremost a football coach. I have no connection to the Child's Play empire. I did not appear in the most recent of the Chucky films, Seed of Chucky, and I have in no way endorsed the follow-up, Super Bowl Chucky, nor its sequel, Chucky Dissects the Cover 2 Defense. And, for the record, I turned down an offer to cameo in Seed of Chucky."

Dang, Jon. Maybe you didn't realize that Academy Award-nominated actress Jennifer Tilly stars in Seed of Chucky, and I'm almost certain she exposes her massive hooters. Now, what do you have to say for yourself?

"Well, that's very disheartening," replies Gruden. "But I'm a teenage heartthrob. I have women exposing themselves to me on a daily basis. And why are we having this discussion anyway? Let's talk football!"

It's the 1-8 49ers against the 3-6 Bucs. What's there to talk about?

"Well, we haven't been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. And we have an exciting rookie receiver in Michael Clayton."

How about you, Dennis Erickson? Anything new with you?

"Certainly no new wins," Erickson replies, "but what about the Giants' Barry Bonds? Fourth consecutive MVP award, and seventh overall."

Yeah, Barry's great. I think he had more walks this year than the 49ers have points. And just think. Barry did all that without the assistance of any steroids or banned substances.

Okay, I guess we'll talk football. Brian Griese throws two touchdown passes, and Michael Pittman scores one on the ground.

Tampa Bay wins, 34-28.

St. Louis @ Buffalo

If the Buffalo Bills were starring in their own reality show, you no doubt would have heard these words at the end of episode one: "Drew Bledsoe, you been voted off the island." If the members of the Bills appeared on a popular British quiz show hosted by Anne Robinson, you likely would hear these words at the end of round one: "Drew Bledsoe, you are the weakest link, goodbye." If Drew Bledsoe appeared on a popular 1970s amateur talent contest displaying his ability, you would certainly have seen him "gonged" by celebrity panelist Rex Reed.

If you were lucky, Bledsoe's rejected act would have been followed by the stand-up comedy of the greatest comedian of all-time, The Unknown Comic, who would have told the greatest joke of all-time: "What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhinoceros? Hell if I know." That's classic.

Speaking of trivia, Bledsoe just became the answer to the question "What quarterback has thrown a completed pass and an interception to the same player in his career?" Bledsoe became the answer in the midst of his horrendous game last Sunday night at New England by throwing an interception to Troy Brown, a Patriot wide receiver who has been filling in for the injury-depleted defensive backfield corps. Brown, of course, was the recipient of several Bledsoe offensive completions when Bledsoe was with New England.

Now, in St. Louis, several assistant coaches are desperately trying to talk Mike Martz out of playing Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce at defensive back. Is Martz listening? Of course not.

"Coach Martz spends most of his time convincing himself he's the reason we win," explains Bruce. "And the rest of the time blaming the players when we lose. He's a frontrunner who has no concept of credibility. I hate his guts."

I'm with you, Isaac. But let's give Martz credit for this: win or lose, he'll always say something stupid in his press conferences, then storm out when someone questions his judgment the least bit.

As far as the Buffalo/St. Louis game goes, St. Louis has too much offense for the Bills to handle. On offense, the Buffalo quarterback, whether it's Bledsoe or J.P. Losman, is too error-prone to lead anyone to victory.

Rams win, 27-13.

Tennessee @ Jacksonville

"Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher is somewhat in the same boat as myself, Jack Del Rio," explains Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio. "Like me, he's dealing with an injured starting quarterback. My man, Byron Leftwich, will probably miss one more game with a knee injury, while Fisher's man, Steve McNair, will probably return Sunday after missing two games with a bruised scrotum. Man, he should've worn his cup."

"Jack Del Rio," replies Fisher, "you are an idiot. McNair suffered a bruised sternum, not scrotum, you nut sack. And here me now and believe me later: I would never want to be in the same boat with Jack Del Rio, unless we were stranded in the Pacific in a lifeboat and I was starving, and the only food available to me and the ravenous sharks circling our boat was Jack Del Rio himself, then I would consider him my best chum."

Sounds like the makings of a rivalry, and were the Titans a better team, it would be. But injuries have robbed the Titans of any chance of competing for the AFC South crown. McNair may never be at full strength again, and running back Chris Brown is battling turf toe.

"Turf toe is a very aggravating injury," Brown says. "Almost as aggravating as rushing for 140 yards and still losing, which has happened this year. Anyway, how do I have turf toe when I play on natural grass?"

Good question, one I can't answer. But I can tell you this. David Garrard again proves himself an able backup to the injured Byron Leftwich, throwing two touchdown passes to lead the Jags to a victory over the Titans 19-14.

Miami @ Seattle

The Dolphins spent their bye week flushing the Dave Wannstedt from their systems, after Wannstedt tendered his resignation two weeks ago in the wake of the Dolphins' 1-8 start, which fell in the wake of Ricky Williams retirement, which fell in the wake of hundreds of bong hits and ashen doobies.

"The Wannstedt is very difficult to cleanse the body of," notes defensive end Jason Taylor. "It tends to linger like acid indigestion. It's like a grass stain on the knee of your favorite white, silk pants. It's like when you go to a bar and come out smelling like cigarette smoke. It's like that. The Wannstedt is very resilient."

Interim coach Norman Bates leaves the position of night manager at the Bates Motel ... I'm sorry? ... Oh, it's Jim Bates. Anyway, Bates job is to remove all traces of the Wannstedt and hopefully turn around a season that is currently in the midst of a complete tailspin. Bates' first coaching decision was giving A.J. Feeley the start. I must say, that's a brilliant move, and very Wannstedtian.

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren also has a tough task at hand: convincing the Seahawks that they are a playoff-caliber team.

"That's the easy part," adds Holmgren. "The hard part is convincing Matt Hasselbeck that his receivers can catch the ball, and are not high as a kite. Also, we need to give Shaun Alexander, the NFL's leading rusher, a reason to re-sign and return next year as a Seahawk."

The good news, Mike, is that you are playing the Dolphins, so the convincing should be easy. Holmgren succeeds, and lights a fire under the Seahawk team. They come out blazing, and Hasselbeck hits Darrell Jackson and Alexander for two quick scores. Miami never recovers. Seahawks win 23-9. Somewhere at an Australian campground, Dave Wannstedt cackles maniacally as he tokes on a cigar-sized joint.

"Damn, you're pretty high for a white guy," notes Ricky Williams.

San Diego @ Oakland

"With a bye week and two weeks to prepare," says Raider coach Norv Turner, "I think it's safe to say we are as ready for this game as we can possibly be. Those two weeks, plus home field advantage, should give us the edge over the Chargers."

That's great, Norv. But guess what? The Chargers had a bye week, as well, and they don't suck. And playing in Oakland no longer strikes fear into anyone, unless you are an attractive female and your kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, offers to buy you a drink. That's something to be afraid of.

"Come on, give Sebastian a break," says Turner. "He's really cleaned up his act. He's been in therapy and has gained some self-esteem; he no longer feels that a woman has to be stumbling drunk to like him. He's confident with himself. Now, he still does go a little overboard drinking the alcohol. It probably wasn't the best decision to have Sebastian and Kerry Collins on the same team."

I'll drink to that. Salud. Cheers.

Talk all you want, Norv. The fact is: the Chargers are good. The Raiders are bad. And I don't mean 'bad' as in evil, spitting, cheap shot artists; I mean 'bad' as in 3-6 bad. And 'bad' as in lacking the personnel to stop the league's second-best scoring offense. And the Raiders, like most teams, have no answer for Charger tight end and former Ken State basketball player Antonio Gates.

"Wait just a minute," shouts Turner. "We got this Gates guy figured out. We'll start with a box and one, with safety Ray Buchanan man-to-man on Gates. If that doesn't work, we'll go to the 2-3 zone, and we'll mix that win a 1-3-1 zone press. Well need to get a hand in his face as much as possible."

Gosh, Norv. It sounds like you would be a good fit coaching your Bay Area NBA mates the Golden State Warriors.

"Aren't they the worst team in the league?"

My point exactly.

The Chargers just have too much for the Raiders in all aspects of the game. You can't run on the Chargers, so the impetus to move the offense will fall on Kerry Collins, which usually means interceptions. And the Raiders can't stop anyone, so Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell, and Gates should all have solid games.

Chargers win, 34-17.

Atlanta @ N.Y. Giants

Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin opened practice on Tuesday by leading his team to a nearby elementary school playground, gathering them around the sliding board to explain their future. Coughlin climbed the ladder to the top of the slide, and, with a wave and a smile, descended the slippery spiral slide and landed on his butt in the mud below.

"Now, can anyone tell me the symbolism of my act?" Coughlin asks.

Kurt Warner raises his hand and answers.

"Coach, I think what you're saying is we were on top, and lately, we've taken a slide to the bottom."

"Exactly. Now, can anyone tell me the symbolism of the following act?

Out of nowhere, a burgundy dodgeball slams into the side of Kurt Warner's head, knocking him unconscious.

"I'll answer that, Coach," replies Eli Manning, the originator of the lethal projectile. "It means I'm the starter and Kurt's out, cold."

The other Giants erupt in laughter and congratulate their new quarterback.

"Silence!" yells Coughlin. "Back to work! Now, everybody! Fifteen reps apiece on the monkey bars, then give me 50 reps on the see-saws, you jackasses!"

Yes, it was time for a change in New York.

Yes. The change being Manning suffering five or more sacks instead of Warner. The Giants continue their November swoon, as Michael Vick and the Biggie Smalls running back duo of Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett run around and though the Giants' defense.

Falcons win, 31-10.

Washington @ Philadelphia

"Where, oh where," Joe Gibbs pleads, "is Doug Williams when you need him?"

Well, Joe, I think he's working for Tampa Bay as a personnel executive, whatever that means.

"No, I don't mean the Doug Williams," Gibbs explains. "I mean any Doug Williams. Anyone named Doug Williams would be better at quarterback than Mark Brunell or Patrick Ramsey. Those guys are like the Dick Trickles of quarterbacking. Check these stats out from last week's game: Brunell had one completion in eight attempts. Ramsey threw two interceptions. That's awful. Incidentally, fans can send their questions and comments to Brunell and Ramsey in care of the Redskins at FedEx Field. Just make sure you address it to N. Completion and N. Terception."

Well Joe, I would send my questions and comments, but, like many a Brunell and Ramsey pass, I'm sure my letter would not reach its intended destination.

"Touche," Gibbs replies.

At the opposite end of the quarterback spectrum inhabited by the likes of Brunell, Ramsey, and Drew Brees version 2003 is Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb's 18 touchdown passes trail only Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper, and his four interceptions are fewest among quarterbacks with 2,000 yards passing.

"I can throw four touchdowns in a single game just like Manning, Culpepper, and Brett Favre," McNabb comments. "So you can categorize me with those guys in that respect. However, I stand alone in this category: we have only one loss. Those guys can throw four TDs in a game and not win the game; when I throw for four in a game, you know we win, pretty decisively, I might add."

The McNabb/Terrell Owens connection was reignited last Monday in Dallas after not tasting the end zone two weeks ago in Pittsburgh. Washington, like the Giants and Cowboys before them, finally gets a taste of the McNabb-Owens phenomenon, along with the familiar taste of an NFC East whipping by the Eagles. Owens celebrates the win by hooking up with a desperate housewife.

Philadelphia wins, 38-17.

Green Bay @ Houston

Brett Favre torched the Vikings last week with four touchdown passes, his 18th game with four or more TD passes, second only to Dan Marino's 21.

"Yeah, I amaze myself on a daily basis," Favre adds, "usually by just being able to get out of bed and remember what I did the previous day. I have no problem throwing with my sprained hand, but I can't pack my dip with it. I have to go lefty with the Copenhagen. There's a lot of spillage there. Now, if you're asking about Houston, I have to give props to my man Roger Clemens on his seventh Cy Young Award. That's awesome. And what can you say about Texan quarterback David Carr. That kid has a beautiful head of hair."

Riding on the arm of Favre, the Packers have reeled off four-straight victories to take over first place in the NFC North. The Favre/Javon Walker connection has become one of the most feared in the game, and Ahman Green is back in early season form.

"I'm very excited about where this season is headed," Green explains. "But I'm even more excited about the upcoming reality show starring Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee matriculating at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska. Tommy could really pound the skins in the Crüe; now he gets his chance in the marching band. And here's the best part. He's going to class. I think he's taking some of the same classes I did: Leisure Studies 101, Sports Psychology 101, and Baking 201. I'm also looking forward any bootleg movies he may put out. He's quite the actor."

The Packers and Texans put on a show at Reliant Field. Favre and Walker hook up on a long TD bomb, as do Carr and Andre Johnson. In the end, the hot Packers have too much firepower for Houston. Green adds 121 yards and a touchdown.

Packers win, 35-27.

New England @ Kansas City

After receiving thousands of complaints about last Monday night's opening to its Monday Night Football broadcast starring Terrell Owens and Nicolette Sheridan, ABC decides to play it safe for the intro to the Patriots/Chiefs tilt. In the opening, we see Patriot quarterback Tom Brady sitting at his kitchen table, enjoying a bowl of tomato soap, a glass of milk, and a few vanilla wafers, while browsing through the November issue of National Geographic, as the sweet sounds of children playing outside waft into earshot. Brady raises his head from his soap and blandly says, "Are you ready for some football?"

Well, frankly, after that introduction, no, I'm not ready for football. I'm ready to vomit. Now, the sight of Owens embracing a naked Sheridan; that really gets me pumped up, because it features my two favorite things: football and naked women.

If you are reading this and were one of the many people to call ABC to complain about their opening, take your hand or a friend's and slap the daylights out of yourself. Is it the black man/white woman thing that bothers you, or just a bare back? In case you've forgotten, it's 2004, the information age, and, if you're reading this, you are on the internet, and just a few clicks away from things much more offensive (to you) than the Owens/Sheridan embrace.

Sorry for the rant. Now, to football. Don't you think the Chiefs' offense is pretty upset with the defense? Even without Priest Holmes, backup Derrick Blaylock rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown.

"And that's still not enough to win," complains Tony Gonzalez. "Damn the defense!"

"Damn the defense?” says Chief lineman Ryan Simms. "Last week, we held the Saints to 27 points. That's awesome for us. Yet, our offense can only manage 20 against the worst defense in the league? Damn the offense!"

"All this bickering brings me to tears," whines Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil, "as does pretty much everything, including that saucy Monday Night intro last Monday. I would like to have seen Nicolette and Terrell date for a few months before engaging in such a personal embrace, but who am I to say? I'm not their daddy."

The simple fact is the Chiefs cannot stop the Patriot offense. The Pats can slow the Chiefs' offense. Corey Dillon rushes for 140 yards, and Tom Brady throws two TD passes. Troy Brown doesn't have an interception, but does throw one on an option pass, just to add another line to his stat page.

New England wins, 33-20.

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