Thursday, October 25, 2012
NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 8
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Tampa Bay @ Minnesota (-5½)
Adrian Peterson rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings' 21-14 win over the Cardinals last week. At 5-2, Minnesota is second in the NFC North to the Bears 6-1 Bears.
"If the playoffs started today," Leslie Frazier said, "we'd be 'In.' If you're talking 'OUT,' you're obviously referring to punter Chris Kluwe, who posed in that magazine. Chris may be the manliest man in the NFL for showing his support for tolerance.
"And speaking of 'all man,' Peterson is exactly that. And he doesn't discriminate, either. With a repaired left knee, you'd expect him to lean one way. But he doesn't. He doesn't favor his right knee or his left. Adrian is superhuman, and he's a super human."
The Buccaneers have scored 66 points in their last two games, and Josh Freeman has thrown for 748 yards in those games.
"I've finally has a big-time receiver in Vincent Jackson," Freeman said. "At $55 million, he didn't come cheaply. That's why he's nicknamed 'Vincent Price.' Vincent grew tired of life in San Diego. There, he didn't know he wasn't going to the playoffs until January. Here, he knows by October."
Peterson will find the end zone, and Percy Harvin is a threat to score from anywhere, twice if on a Lake Minnetonka sex cruise.
Minnesota wins, 22-20.
Miami @ NY Jets (-3)
Former Miami head coach Tony Sparano will face his former team when the 3-3 Dolphins visit the 3-4 Jets. Sparano was fired as head coach of Miami last year and soon thereafter became the Jets' offensive coordinator.
"Sparano should feel right at home," Rex Ryan said. "As was the case last year, he's finding ways to beat the Dolphins.
"I was encouraged by our effort in New England. We went toe-to-toe with the Patriots, which sounds really sexy in my book. I'll tell you what's not sexy — shooting yourself in the foot. I love a good turn-on; what I hate is a turn-over."
Miami is alone in second in the AFC East with a 3-3 record, hot on the tails of the 4-3 Patriots.
"This game is sure to be hard-hitting," Joe Philbin said, "and even more 'Hard Knock-ing.'
"History has shown that there's often some funny business on the sidelines during Dolphins-Jets game. Personally, I long for the good old days, when the only 'tripping' on the sidelines was a sauced Joe Namath jonesing for a kiss from Suzy Kolber."
Miami wins, 20-17.
San Diego @ Cleveland (+2½)
San Diego blew a 24-0 halftime lead in a devastating 35-24 loss to the Broncos and Peyton Manning in Week 6, leaving the Chargers at 3-3. They'll try to regroup in the Cleveland after a bye week.
"This team is no stranger to second-half collapses," Norv Turner said. "In seasons, as well as in games. In offensive circles, I've been called a 'visionary.' Does that mean I have the ability to look into the future? It must, because I saw this coming.
"To compound our issues, the NFL is investigating us for using a Stickum-like substance in our Monday night loss to Denver on October 15th. I would swear, with Lester Hayes' hand on the Bible, that I knew nothing about this. I try my best to adhere to the rules."
The Browns have the NFL's worst record at 1-6 after a 17-13 loss in Indianapolis last week.
"I imagine the Chargers expect to bounce back strong," Pat Shurmur said. "Whatever's wrong, expect them to have it 'fixed' at the Dawg Pound."
The game starts in controversial fashion when a Cleveland fan is ejected after tossing a bone on the field that is covered in an unknown sticky substance. As the fan is led away, an enraged George Brett storms the field and confronts the referee, who ejects Brett and his wad of chewing tobacco.
Chargers race to an early 10-point lead, and it sticks.
San Diego wins, 27-17.
Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-2½)
Chris Johnson exploded for 195 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans won for the second week in a row, outlasting the Bills 35-34 in Buffalo last week. Johnson will try to carry the load again as the Titans host the Colts and Andrew Luck.
"I love running against the Bills," Johnson said. "The Buffalo defense is a lot like their defensive coordinator position — there going to be an 'opening' soon.
"We, along with the Colts, realize we're probably playing for second in the South. Personally, I'm not conceding anything, except fourth place to the Jaguars."
The Colts are second in the AFC South with a 3-3 record, 2½ games behind the 6-1 Texans. Andrew Luck ran for two score last week in the Colts 17-13 win over the Browns.
"That's something Peyton Manning's never done," Luck said. "That's most likely because he didn't need or want to. The only thing Peyton 'ran' in Indy was the offense.
The winner of Sunday's contest at LP Field takes over sole possession of second place in the South. So, the winner is rewarded with "little consolation."
Indianapolis wins, 23-20.
New England @ St. Louis (+6)
It's a rematch of Super Bowl 36, when upstart Tom Brady led the Patriots to a stunning 20-17 win over the heavily-favored Rams. This time, the game is in London, not the Superdome, and the Patriots are favored, while the Rams are gunning for the upset.
"I remember those days well," Brady said. "That's when Kurt Warner was the man, and his wife Brenda looked like a man. Oh, how times have changed. Now, I'm the man, and my wife, Giselle Bundchen, wears the pants.
"I think the win over the Jets sent a message to the rest of the AFC East. The Patriots are in first place, so the writing is on the wall. And it's written in pencil."
The Rams dropped a 30-20 loss to the Packers in St. Louis, the Rams' first home loss of the year. St. Louis will try to rebound against the Patriots, who are 0-2 against the NFC West.
"At least for a day," Sam Bradford said, "we can call our offense 'The Greatest Show on Foreign Turf.'"
Patriots win, 27-24.
Jacksonville @ Green Bay (-13)
The Packers improved to 4-3 after a 30-20 win in St. Louis last week, led by 342 yards passing and three touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers. In his last two games, Rodgers has thrown for 762 yards and nine TD's.
"Our passing game is clicking on all cylinders," Mike McCarthy said. "Rodgers is completing almost 70% of his passes; Blaine Gabbert's percentage is only 55.7. Much like Rodgers, he's got a lot of 'zip' on his throws.
"And speaking of a lot of 'zip,' our running game may be our biggest weakness. Basically, our running game has one use: keeping the defense honest. Sometimes, honesty is enough to stop our running game. We've played a lot of 'honest' defenses this year."
The Jaguars lost Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert early in last week's 26-23 overtime loss in Oakland. Jones-Drew's foot injury will keep him out of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field, while Gabbert will start.
"Blaine injured his non-throwing shoulder," Mike Mularkey said. "As his rating of 32nd among passers in the NFL would suggest, that must be his right shoulder.
"If Blaine can't play, Chad Henne will fill in. If that's the case, Gabbert will set a Guinness World Record for having the tiniest pair of shoes to fill."
Rodgers throws for three scores, and the Packers defense, without the injured Charles Woodson (in a Heisman repose), stymies the Jacksonville offense.
Green Bay wins, 31-13.
Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-2½ )
It's been a turbulent two weeks in Philadelphia. In week 6, the Eagles blew a fourth quarter lead before falling 26-23 to the Lions in overtime at home. The following day, Andy Reid fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
"I just invented a new party game," Reid said. "It's called 'Pin The Blame On The Goat.' When I told Juan the news, just as I had suspected, he didn't get defensive.
"But this is the perfect opportunity to turn our season around. We've had a bye week to get healthy, and I know Michael Vick wants to play well against his old team.
The Falcons are the NFL's last remaining unbeaten, and are fully rested after a Week 7 bye.
"Vick has had his troubles," Matt Ryan said, "in life and in football. What does he have more of, fumbles or foibles.
"I admire Vick's commitment in becoming a dog owner again. I admire the dog's even more."
Philadelphia wins, 26-23.
Washington @ Pittsburgh (-4)
Robert Griffin III and the 3-4 Redskins travel to Heinz Field to face the 3-3 Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, who is fifth in the league in passer rating.
"RG3 and Big Ben are quite similar in some respects," Mike Shanahan said. "First and foremost, both have an uncanny ability to extricate themselves from seemingly inescapable predicaments. Griffin just does it without legal representation.
"We'll need our offense to keep Roethlisberger off the field. In conjunction with the Steelers' defense, I think we should be able to do that."
After their 24-17 win in Cincinnati last Sunday, the Steelers are 3-3 and trail the Ravens by only one game in the loss column. Mike Tomlin knows he'll have his hands full with RG3.
"RG3 has taken the nation's capitol by storm," Mike Tomlin said. "There hasn't been anything this slick and black in D.C. since Marion Barry. Like Barry, Griffin's been caught on film doing unbelievable things, as well."
Griffin and the 'Skins nearly spring the upset, but Roethlisberger leads a late game-winning drive. Larry Foote recovers a fumble to clinch the win.
Pittsburgh wins, 28-24.
Seattle @ Detroit (-2½)
The Seahawks have had ten days to digest last Thursday's 13-6 loss in San Francisco, a painful defeat that knocked the Seahawks out of tie for first in the division. They'll try to win the battle in the trenches against a Detroit offense that struggled in Monday night's 13-7 loss to the Bears.
"Marshawn Lynch is the cornerstone of our offense," Pete Carroll said. "Our offense will be in 'Beast Mode; against our defense, the Lions' offense will be in 'Least Mode.'
"I hear that Jim Harbaugh is whining about our defensive backs' treatment of his receivers in their Thursday night win. I of all people know that you can't expect everyone to follow rules to the letter."
The Lions are 2-4 and fading in the NFC North race, dead last and 0-2 in the division.
"Is there a panic button in Detroit?" Jim Schwartz said. "Indeed there is. It's on my back.
"Is my job in trouble? It very well could be. As you know, I don't like unexpected pats on the back. And, I don't like unexpected taps on the shoulder."
Seattle wins, 23-17.
Carolina @ Chicago (-7½)
The 5-1 Bears, leaders in the NFC North, host the 1-5 Panthers, last in the NFC South. Chicago's defense, the NFL's top-ranked unit, faces the struggling Panthers, who average only 17 points per game.
"Cam Newton has a great arm," Lance Briggs said. "He throws blame better than anyone. Obviously, Newton doesn't own a mirror. He definitely has a place for one — on his 'vanity.'
"Newton has made little or no progress since his impressive rookie year. He thinks he's Superman; I think 'Man of Still' is more like it."
The Panthers lost a close 19-14 decision to the visiting Cowboys last week in Charlotte, as Carolina failed again to make plays at crucial times. On Monday, the team fired general manager Marty Hurney.
"Just call us the 'carolina panthers,'" Ron Rivera said, "because we can't capitalize on anything.
"We're hoping Hurney's firing is the change that will turn this team around. In essence, we hope to make Marty a martyr."
Newton is taunted unmercifully by the Soldier Field faithful. Of course, he doesn't understand why, and says to teammate Steve Smith, "Boo who?"
"Exactly, you baby," Smith replies. "Now hitch up your diaper and play like a man."
The Carolina defense will be limited without linebacker Jon Beason, who's on the IR, which apparently stands for "increasing regularity." Newton, for his part, throws an early TD pass, but goes missing after that, leading to more Vince Young comparisons.
Chicago wins, 30-10.
Oakland @ Kansas City (-1)
The Raiders and Chiefs face off in a battle of the bottom half of the AFC West. The Chiefs are 1-5, while the Raiders are 2-4.
"We are bad," Dennis Allen said. "The Chiefs are worse. So, when the Raiders travel to Arrowhead, it's a textbook example of things going 'from bad to worse.'
Despite their 1-5 record, the Chiefs are only two games out of the AFC West lead. Romeo Crenel named Brady Quinn the starter over Matt Cassel.
"It was a tough decision," Crenel said. "I put two names in a hat; the tough decision was pulling one out. Quinn is getting the nod. That can only mean a lot of head-shaking is forthcoming."
The Kansas City defense steps up, forcing two early turnovers that the Chiefs' offense cashes in for 10 points.
Kansas City wins, 24-16.
NY Giants @ Dallas (+2)
The Cowboys rebounded from last week's 31-29 loss in Baltimore with a tough 19-14 win over the Panthers in Charlotte. Dan Bailey kicked four field goals to pace the Cowboys, who are 3-3, tied for second in the NFC East behind the 5-2 Giants.
"I love it when our kicking game carries us," Jason Garrett said. "As opposed to 'kicking ourselves,' we'd rather be 'ourselves kicking.' When we're kicking, there's only one thing that can go wrong.
"These are the kind of games in which a team finds out what it's made of. On paper, we're a Super Bowl-quality team. On the field, we're paper tigers."
The Giants will be out to avenge their Week 1 24-17 loss to the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. The G-Men responded by winning five of their next six games. With a win, New York would have a commanding 2 ½ game lead on the 'Boys in the East.
"Revenge is on our minds," Eli Manning said. "The Cowboys rained on our parade, on a night when we received our Super Bowl rings. It was a veritable golden shower.
"It will be different at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys always find ways to lose. We always find ways to win. This time, it all happens in the same place."
New York wins, 26-23.
New Orleans @ Denver (-4½)
Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, two future Hall Of Famers, will take center stage when the Broncos host the Saints. It's a dream game for NBC's Sunday Night Football, as well as for that unique population of consumers who drink NyQuil while driving Buicks.
"Roger Goodell can shove it," Drew Brees said. "There will be a Peyton at the game. As you would expect, this is the hottest ticket in the NFL this week. Ironically, tickets are going for $10,000 a head."
Manning led the Broncos to 35 second-half points that erased a 24-0 halftime deficit at San Diego in Week 6. Manning is second in the league with a 105.0 quarterback rating.
"The Saints are giving up a whopping 465 yards per game," Manning said. "That's the worst in the league. I'll have to side with Goodell on this issue — it seems the Saints defense is still offering up a 'bounty.'"
Manning and Brees duel to a near standstill, throwing for a combined 768 yards. Champ Bailey's interception seals the win for Denver.
Broncos win, 31-27.
San Francisco @ Arizona (+4)
The 49ers lead the NFC West after a punishing 13-6 over the Seahawks in week 7. Coupled with Arizona's 21-14 loss to the Vikings last week, San Francisco is alone atop the NFC West with a 5-2 record.
"They're calling me 'the bookie' in the betting world," Jim Harbaugh said, "because it's nothing for me to give up two points."
With a win, the Cardinals could force a tie in the West. John Skelton will start his second consecutive game in place of the injured Kevin Kolb.
"We're not asking Skelton to do much," Ken Whisenhunt said. "We just want him to hold his own and play within himself. As far as being charged with indecent exposure, that's a chance I'm willing to take."
The Cards will be pumped up; unfortunately for Arizona, Skelton is not their 'ace in the hole,' but he is the 'ace that puts them in the hole.'"
San Francisco wins 20-11.