NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 5

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Arizona @ St. Louis (+2½)

It's the current Cardinals versus the ex-Cardinals in the NFL Network's Thursday night matchup. Arizona remained undefeated with a comeback 24-21 win over the Dolphins, despite giving up 431 yards passing to Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill.

"Obviously," Ken Whisenhunt said, "Tannehill is not who we thought he was. But he let us off the hook with an overtime interception. By the way, if you took former Cardinals' coach Dennis Green, shaved him, shrunk him, dressed him in some Elvis Pressley hand-me-downs, and gave him one hit song, you'd have Cee Lo Green.

"We know the Rams will be pumped up. The city of St. Louis is still pissed that the Cardinals left St. Louis. And, since we're division rivals, they have to relive that pain once a year, when the St. Louis team leaves for Arizona."

The Rams shocked the Seahawks 19-13 last week, and are 2-2 in the suddenly competitive NFC West. Thursday night's game in the Edward Jones Dome is the biggest in St. Louis in years.

"I wouldn't call us 'The Greatest Show on Turf' just yet," Jeff Fisher said, "but we're moving in that direction. At best, we're mediocre. For now, just call us 'Half-Ass on Fake Grass.'

"Our two wins match our total from last season. Our two losses match our total from last year, after two games."

The Rams bust out of the gate with a quick score when Cortland Finnegan returns an interception for pay dirt. St. Louis builds a 10-0 lead, but Patrick Peterson strikes back for the Cardinals with a punt return in the second quarter.

Kevin Kolb's touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald clinches it for the Cards. Arizona wins, 23-13.

Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh (-2½)

After a Week 4 bye, the Steelers return to action at Heinz Field against their Pennsylvania neighbors from the east. At 1-2, Pittsburgh desperately needs a win, or they will likely face a three-game hole in the AFC North.

"We'll likely have Troy Polamalu and James Harrison back," Mike Tomlin said. "We desperately need playmakers on defense. Harrison is useless on the sideline. We all know James can't do damage unless he's wearing his helmet.

"Polamalu will be called upon to monitor Michael Vick. Sure, Troy may be injury-prone, and the only thing well-conditioned about him is his hair, but he makes plays."

The Eagles head to Heinz Field with a 3-1 record after a 19-17 win over the Giants last Sunday night. For the first time this season, Philly did not commit a single turnover.

"I was worried we'd forgotten how to win games without turnovers," Vick said. "We'll have to play mistake-free to win in Pittsburgh. Of course, with Ben Roethlisberger and I in the same stadium, you likely won't hear the words 'mistake-free.'"

Pittsburgh wins, 20-19.

Green Bay @ Indianapolis (+7½)

The Packers bounced back from the debacle in Seattle with a narrow 28-27 win over the Saints. Defensive issues continue to be an issue for the Packers, as the Saints piled up 446 yards through the air.

"I can't blame our opponents for passing the ball," Mike McCarthy said. "They should. Just throw it up, and chances are, we, nor the officials, will offer any interference.

"Two weeks ago in Seattle, we were victimized with the home run of screw jobs, now famously known as the 'Golden Tate-r.' Last week, we faced the next worst thing, a 'Triplette' from referee Jeff Triplette. Luckily, there's only one of him, but he makes bad calls in three's."

The Colts are fresh off a bye week, and Andrew Luck is anxious to measure himself against one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers.

"I welcome the challenge," Luck said. "I've always wanted to be Rodgers. Not just because he's a great quarterback, but because he gets to practice against the Green Bay pass defense."

Prior to kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts present the referees a token of their appreciation, with each receiving a quart of Lucas Oil. McCarthy then makes NFL history, becoming the first coach to throw a challenge flag before the game starts, and the officiating crew's "greased palms" are overturned. The Packers get the calls, and Rodgers throws for 298 yards and 3 scores.

Green Bay wins, 33-27.

Cleveland @ NY Giants (-13)

The Giants' comeback attempt at Lincoln Financial Field ended in defeat when Lawrence Tynes' 54-yard field goal fell short with 15 seconds left. New York fell to 2-2 and now will look to rebound against the 1-3 Browns.

"Apparently," Tom Coughlin said, "second Tynes is not the charm. It was indeed a painful loss, but the Eagles have dominated us as of late. In fact, the Eagles call themselves 'John Mara,' because they 'own' us."

Cleveland's Brandon Weeden will face the Giants' talented front four, a group which sacked Michael Vick twice and pressured him on numerous other occasions.

"Unlike Vick," Weeden said, "I'm not known for my speed or elusiveness. Much like a 'changeup,' I'm slow and white."

The G-Men pass rush puts a hurting on Weeden, sacking him five times and leaving a "Brown" stain on the MetLife Stadium turf, which just happens to cover the stain of the Jets quarterback left from the previous week. No more Dirty Sanchez.

Eli Manning throws for 314 yards and 3 scores, and the Giants roll to a 34-16 win.

Atlanta @ Washington (+3)

The Falcons remained undefeated, overcoming the Panthers behind 369 yards passing from Matt Ryan and a game-winning field goal from Matt Bryant. At 4-0, the Falcons lead the Panthers and Bucs by three games, and the Saints by four.

"It's much too early to start thinking about division titles and what not," Mike Smith said. "Usually, we save our 'clinching' for later in the year, when our a-holes start tightening come playoff time.

"We've got something to prove on Sunday. The last time we played an NFC team on the road, we scored two points. Things will be different this time. We've taken the 'safety' off of our offense."

Mike Shanahan's Redskins are 2-2, and Robert Griffin III has renewed excitement in the nation's capitol with his unique blend of athleticism and leadership.

"He really knows how to toss the pill," Shanahan said. "No, I'm not talking about Joe Thiesman shilling for Super Beta Prostate pills. I'm talking about RG3's arm. It's John Elway-like. Because of RG3, pride in the Redskins, like a diseased prostate, is swelling."

The Atlanta offense sputters on its first two series, but clicks thereafter, and the Falcons pile up so much yardage in Washington, they're forced to pay Capitol gains taxes.

Atlanta wins, 34-27.

Miami @ Cincinnati (-4)

The Dolphins have lost consecutive overtime games to drop to 1-3, but could easily be 3-1 and atop the AFC East had Dan Carpenter converted potentially game-winning kicks in both of those OT losses.

"We've got to try and put that behind us," Joe Philbin said, "but it's not easy. If I could say one thing to Carpenter, I would tell him to keep his head up. If I could tell him two things, I would add 'Shanks for the memories' to that.

"Say what you will, but both of these teams are moving in the right direction. By that, I mean both teams have unloaded Chad Johnson."

Marvin Lewis' Bengals are 3-1, winners of three in a row following a week 1 blowout loss to the Ravens. Andy Dalton is the league's fifth-rated passer and has tossed 8 touchdowns this year.

"Dalton is showing why we got rid of Carson Palmer," Lewis said. "Not only with his play, but also by showing video of Raiders' games."

Cincinnati wins, 27-21.

Baltimore @ Kansas City (+7)

The 1-3 Chiefs are struggling, tied with the Raiders for last in the AFC West. Kansas City has fallen by at least 16 points in each of their three losses this year, and quarterback Matt Cassel has thrown 7 interceptions to jeopardize his starting position.

"Just to clarify," Romeo Crenel said, "it's 'Cassel' with one 'L,' not three. Matt is still my starter until I say otherwise. When Brady Quinn is number two on your depth chart, you think long and hard before going to your bench.

"I feel like we can move the ball on the Ravens' defense. They're not the feared Baltimore defense of a decade ago. Sure, their defensive coordinator is Dean Pees, but they don't scare the piss out of anyone."

The Ravens battled to a hard-fought 24-17 win over the Browns last Thursday, and now face a Chiefs' team in desperation mode.

"It's always tough to play in Arrowhead Stadium," Ray Lewis said. "That crowd really spearheads the Chiefs' effort. Hopefully, my use of the word 'spearhead' won't ruffle any feathers. If it does, I promise to make reparations."

See, the Ravens defense is so bad, even it's become "offensive." And that usually means an Ed Reed turnover recovery for a touchdown.

Baltimore wins, 30-24.

Seattle @ Carolina (-2)

The 2-2 Seahawks face a cross-country flight prior to their game in Charlotte, and look to rebound from their 19-13 loss in St. Louis last week.

"We've lost a couple of close games," Pete Carrol said. "We're 1-2 in games decided by six points or less, and 1-0 in games decided by incompetent referees. That was in the infamous Monday night game now known as the 'Puget Sounds Like B.S.'

"Russell Wilson is struggling. He's only 5'10," and I think his lack of height is hurting him. Maybe naming him starter so early was a bit 'shortsighted' on my part."

The Panthers are 1-3 after blowing a late lead in a 30-28 loss in Atlanta last week. Carolina failed to pick up a first down on their last possession, allowing the Falcons time to drive for the winning field goal.

"As one would expect from the Panthers," Ron Rivera, "we 'licked' ourselves. That's become a habit in the Panther organization. Just ask our cheerleaders."

The forecast calls for sunshine and pleasant temperatures in Charlotte on Sunday, which is good news for the Panthers, because Newton's a "fair weather" quarterback.

Carolina wins, 22-21.

Chicago @ Jacksonville (+4½)

Blaine Gabbert will face a fierce Bears' defense when the 3-1 Bears invade EverBank Field, a place that is perpetually a point of contention between pessimists and optimists, who can never decide if the stadium is half-empty or half-full.

"Blaine may be playing himself out of a starting job," Mike Mularkey said. "In his defense, he has played others into a job. Like Jack Del Rio."

The Bears defense dominated in a 34-18 win over the Cowboys on Monday night, picking off Tony Romo five times and returning two for touchdowns. Chicago, 3-1, owns a share of the lead in the NFC North.

"Hopefully," Lovie Smith said, "defense will carry this team. Lance Briggs played a heck of a game. His defensive intensity reminded me of Chicago great Dick Butkus. Offensively, Jay Cutler also reminded me of a 'dick.'"

Cutler gives the Bears and early 14-0 cushion with two scoring passes. Maurice Jones-Drew tries to put the Jags on his back, but tweaks his knee and has to sit out. Cutler then displays some of his best "offense" of the day, when he takes to Twitter from the sideline and calls MJD a "hypoquit," which is half hypocrite, half quitter.

Chicago wins, 24-13.

Denver @ New England (-7)

The Broncos tuned up for their trip to New England with a dominating 37-6 win over the Raiders. Peyton Manning was 30-of-38 for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"Finally," Manning said, "it feels like the offense is on the same page with me. And that's understandable after a year with Tim Tebow. I'm not sure which page the Denver offense made it to last year, but I'm sure it had a chapter and a verse. In my book, scripture doesn't end with 'Amen;' it ends with a touchdown.

"I'm thrilled to return to Foxborough. I'm praying there's no precipitation in the forecast, and so are the Patriots. The wet paper sack that is their defense is already wet enough."

The Patriots dropped 52 points on the hapless Bills last week in their 52-28 romp in Buffalo. Tom Brady passed for 340 yards and the Pats rushed for 247 yards as a team.

"Two weeks ago," Bill Belichick said, "I put a hand on an official. That's one more than the Bills put on us.

"Of course, who am I to be critical of another team's defense? We surrendered 438 yards and 4 passing touchdowns to the Bills, utilizing our 'Bend and All But Break' defense."

Denver wins, 30-28.

Buffalo @ San Francisco (-8)

The 49ers waxed the Jets 34-0 at MetLife Stadium, as San Fran forced 4 Jets' turnovers and limited the Mark Sanchez-led offense to 145 total yards.

Up next for the 49ers are the 2-2 Bills, who turned the ball over 6 times in a 52-28 loss to the Patriots last week.

"We turned the tables on the Jets," Jim Harbaugh said. "We ran our own 'wildcat' offense with Colin Kapernick. He can do lots of things Tim Tebow can't, like contribute.

The Bills will need a stellar effort from their defense to hang with the 3-1 49ers. That means Mario Williams will need to anchor the Buffalo pass rush and create pressure in the backfield.

"Mario's got 1½ sacks so far this year," Chan Gailey said. "Apparently, that's enough to hold $100 million, and not enough to prevent comparisons to Albert Haynesworth."

The 49ers have five Super Bowl wins. The Bills have four Super Bowl losses. It's amazing that it's taken a regular-season game for them to meet.

San Fran wins, 34-21.

Tennessee @ Minnesota (-5½)

The Vikings are arguably the league's biggest surprise, holding a share of the NFC North lead at 3-1 after a 20-13 win over the Lions. The Vikes scored two special teams touchdowns, one on a kickoff return by Percy Harvin and the other a punt return by Marcus Sherels.

"It's amazing," Leslie Frazier said. "Not since Brett Favre has there been this much talk of 'returns' in Minnesota.

"This team is taking shape as a solid contender in the North. Adrian Peterson is back in form, Christian Ponder is showing great leadership, and Jerome Simpson, back from a drug suspension, adds another weapon to the offense. Simpson scored our only offensive touchdown of the day. Jerome hates for me to bring up sore subjects, but he again 'delivered one to the house.'"

The Titans were smashed by the Texans 38-14 and lost Jake Locker to a shoulder injury. Lost in the wreckage of defeat was an encouraging effort from Chris Johnson, who rushed for 141 yards.

"Let's not get too happy about Chris," Mike Munchak said. "He rushed for 141 yards in a blowout defeat. Still, he's yet to rush for any 'meaningful' yards."

Minnesota wins, 28-17.

San Diego @ New Orleans (-3½)

The Chargers are on top of the AFC West standings after manhandling the Chiefs 37-20 in Kansas City last week. The Chargers are 3-1 for the second straight year.

"Hopefully," Norv Turner said, "this 3-1 start will portend something other than a 5-7 finish. You know people are skeptical of a 3-1 start when they say 'We'll see what they're made of' when you're playing a winless team."

The Saints are 0-4 for the first time since brown paper bags were de rigueur in the Big Easy.

"It hasn't been a good 2012 for the Saints," Drew Brees said. "But I can make that a distant memory if I throw for a touchdown pass and break Johnny Unitas' record of 57 consecutive games with a scoring pass. I just wish Roger Goodell could be there to see it. There's no evidence to support him being there.

"The Chargers haven't played in the Superdome since 2008. That was on October 26th. So the Chargers are 0-1 in October games in the Superdome. More importantly, they're 0-0 in January and February games in the Superdome."

Brees snaps Unitas' record on his first pass of the game, a 68-yard strike to Lance Moore. The Chargers are in it for a half, but the fired-up Saints pull away for a 37-26 win.

Houston @ NY Jets (+7½)

New York suffered the indignation of a 34-0 shutout loss to the 49ers at MetLife Stadium. The Jets managed a paltry 145 yards of total offense and 8 first downs and were dominated in all phases of the game.

"Unfortunately for the Jets," said Houston defensive tackle J.J. Watts, "that's the good news. The bad news is the Texans are coming to town, and we have the NFL's best defense, and possibly the AFC's only defense.

"But we know the Jets' offense will be fired up at home to prove something. That's understandable, because the New York offense does some of its best work in their 'own territory.'"

Despite their pathetic showing last Sunday, the Jets are 2-2 and tied with Bills and Patriots atop the AFC East.

"I'd be surprised if we don't play better," Rex Ryan said, "but only because we can't play worse. And speaking of 'surprises,' this is a game between first place teams. We still share the lead in the AFC East, plus we've already got two division wins. As you can see, I like my outlook just as I like my feet — sugar-coated."

Arian Foster scores 2 touchdowns and the Texans' defense stifles the overmatched Jets' offense.

Houston wins, 31-17.

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