Thursday, November 1, 2012
NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 9
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Kansas City @ San Diego (-7½)
The Chargers fell to 3-4 after a 7-6 loss to the Browns in Cleveland last week. In a defensive struggle, San Diego managed only 265 yards of offense on a cold and rainy day in the Dawg Pound.
"There was a song made famous by Milli Vanilli called 'Blame it on the Rain," Phillip Rivers said. "It's certainly fitting, because they're 'pretenders.'
"Our playoff chances are slipping, as is my chance to win a Super Bowl. That doesn't mean I can't still try to be like Peyton Manning. Manning may have bought in to Papa John's pizza franchises, but I can one-up him. I'm purchasing a stake in a few Uncle Frank's hot dog franchises. My restaurants will serve hot dogs in every way imaginable, except 'all the way.'"
The Chiefs are playing like the NFL's worst team, and are 1-6 after losing 26-16 to the Raiders last week. Brady Quinn suffered a head injury early in the defeat and was replaced by Matt Cassel.
"Although our team hasn't improved," Romeo Crenel said, "our fans have — they cheered Cassel's entry into the game. It's appalling that anyone would applaud a player's injury; on the other hand, it's nice to give our fans something to cheer about.'"
Crenel has a decision to make, choosing between two quarterbacks who have suffered recent head injuries. That makes Crenel the "head case."
Two coaches whose jobs may be in jeopardy desperately need a win. There's no "hot seat" in San Diego. Oh no, a "seat" would not afford room for Turner and Crenel. But a "hot sofa" would.
Cassel gets the start, and third-stringer Ricky Stanzi gets the finish.
Chargers win, 31-17.
Denver @ Cincinnati (+3½)
The Broncos were nearly flawless in their 34-14 win over the Saints last Sunday night, as Denver piled up 530 yards of total offense and limited Drew Brees to 216 yards passing. At 4-3, Denver leads the AFC West.
"Roger Goodell would be proud," Manning said. "We dismantled the Saints almost as well as he did. Thankfully, Gregg Williams is not the Saints' defensive coordinator anymore. I'm not comfortable with anyone putting a bounty on my head except John Elway.
"As you may have heard, I'm the proud new owner of 21 Papa John's restaurants. I call them 'my babies.' Now, I've got more babies than Antonio Cromartie. But just barely."
The Bengals have lost three straight after a 3-1 start. They'll try to snap that streak against the Broncos, as Andy Dalton faces Peyton Manning for the first time.
"Manning comes from a family of quarterbacks," Dalton said. "Quarterbacking is in his genes. I don't have that luxury. There's no long line of quarterbacks in my family tree, just a long line of redheads. That's why they call me the 'Ginger-bred Man.'"
Manning shakes off a slow start, and the Broncos, as has become their norm, pour it on in the fourth quarter.
Denver wins, 27-21.
Baltimore @ Cleveland (+3½)
The Ravens have regrouped after Week 7's 43-13 loss in Houston, a loss that proved how much the Baltimore defense missed injured veteran Ray Lewis and rising star Lardarius Webb.
"Ray and Lardarius were with us in spirit," John Harbaugh said, "which was way more of a presence than any of their teammates.
"We can only use the loss as a learning experience. That's usually the case when you get schooled."
The Browns knocked off the Chargers 7-6 in Cleveland last week, led by 126 yards rushing and a score from rookie Trent Richardson, who shook off sore ribs to power the Browns to their second win of the year.
"We made Trent the No. 3 pick in the draft for a reason," Pat Shurmur said. "And that reason was because Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III had already been taken.
"We'll need Trent to plow his way through the Ravens' defense. In the Dawg Pound, he's the 'Dawg Pounder.' Sometimes, Trent may need a kick in the butt to 'get going.' And so does Mike Holmgren."
Baltimore bounces back with a 26-20 win.
Arizona @ Green Bay (-10½)
The Packers overcame an inspired effort from the Jaguars last week, outlasting Blaine Gabbert and crew in a 24-15 win. At 5-3, Green Bay trails the NFC North-leading Bears by 1½ games.
"This is a game between two of the worst running teams in the league," Aaron Rodgers said. "Our running backs don't pick up yardage, they pick up blitzes. Usually, the first team to abandon the run ends up losing. Not in this case."
The Cardinals were outmanned 24-3 by the 49ers on Monday night, and Arizona is now two games behind San Francisco in the NFC West. The Cards have now lost four straight.
"Despite our troubles," Larry Fitzgerald said, "I'm going to enjoy this trip to Green Bay. I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I made the trip before the trade deadline. I'm not sure what I'd rather seek in Green Bay — the end zone, or asylum."
Green Bay wins, 33-14.
Chicago @ Tennessee (+4½)
The Bears nipped the Panthers 23-22 last week, erasing a 12-point fourth quarter deficit on Robbie Gould's 41-yard field goal on the game's final play. Chicago is now 6-1, 1½ games up on the Packers in the NFC North.
"The Panthers are a better team than their 1-6 record indicates," Jay Cutler said. "We know what that's all about. The Packers are a better team than our 6-1 record indicates. The Panthers just won't go away, until it matters, then they go away.
"I can certainly understand Cam Newton's frustration. Nothing deflates a quarterback more than losing, except maybe Ndamukong Suh. Newton needs to check his attitude, and when I tell you that, you really need to check it."
The Titans fell to 3-5 after a 19-13 overtime loss to the Colts last week. Chris Johnson, who has rushed for 255 yards in his last two games, faces a Bears' defense ranked No. 1 against the run.
"It will be interesting to see what the 'immovable object' will be," Johnson said. "The Bears' run defense, or me."
Tennessee springs the upset, 23-20.
Miami @ Indianapolis (+3)
The Dolphins pummeled the Jets last week at MetLife Stadium to improve to 4-3, a game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. Despite losing Ryan Tannehill to a leg injury early, the Dolphins' offense didn't miss a beat, as Matt Moore threw for 119 yards and a score in relief.
"We're thinking playoffs in Miami," Reggie Bush said. "But that won't be until May, when the Heat host a first-round NBA series. As for the Dolphins, we're taking our talents to Indianapolis this weekend."
Andrew Luck's 16-yard touchdown pass to Vick Ballard gave the Colts a 19-13 overtime win over the Titans last week. The Colts are now 4-3 and 3-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Why is everyone so surprised that Peyton Manning is playing so well?" Luck said. "I knew as soon as he signed with Denver he'd be playing at a 'high level.'"
Miami wins, 20-17.
Carolina @ Washington (-3½)
The Panthers blew a 19-7 fourth quarter lead in Chicago, eventually losing 23-22 to fall to 1-6 on the year. It was another heartbreaking loss for the Panthers, who have lost five games by a total of 18 points.
"Unlike our former general manager Marty Hurney," Steve Smith said, "we don't know how to 'close the deal.' If there's a way to lose a game, we'll not only find it, we'll put it to use. Who says we waste our talent?"
This year's rookie quarterback sensation, Robert Griffin III, takes on last year's, Cam Newton, who has struggled this year.
"I hear I'm often compared to Newton," Robert Griffin III said. "Hopefully, not in the same breath. Truthfully, Newton and I are a lot alike. We're both big, strong quarterbacks. We're also different. I sell subs. Cam needs one."
Griffin throws for two scores and runs for another, out-dueling Newton, who throws a costly late interception.
Washington wins, 34-27.
Detroit @ Jacksonville (+4)
Matthew Stafford passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning scoring strike to Titus Young on fourth down with 20 seconds left to beat the Seahawks 28-24. Despite the win, Detroit is still last in the NFC North win a 3-4 record.
"It's nice to see Matthew display the form he showed from last year," Jim Schwartz said. "Finally. If he were an actor, that would be called a 'cameo.' And speaking of someone making an appearance on the 'big screen,' we need 'Megatron,' Calvin Johnson, to take the lead role for once this year. One would expect 'difference-makers' to 'make a difference.'"
Jacksonville hung tough in Green Bay before losing 24-15. Blaine Gabbert passed for 303 yards and a touchdown, while Aaron Rodgers led the Packers with 186 yards and 2 scores.
"We just traded Mike Thomas to the Lions," Mike Mularkey said. "We finally got out of Thomas what we had hoped for all along — value."
Lions win, 28-21.
Buffalo @ Houston (-11)
The Texans' 43-13 win over the Ravens clearly established them as the class of the AFC. Now, after a bye week, Gary Kubiak's team is anxious to prove they are the NFL's best.
"We've had two weeks to prepare for the Bills," Gary Kubiak said. "Usually, when a team is given two weeks to prepare for the Bills, they beat them in the Super Bowl. But we're not overconfident. You never know what can happen in this league. If we played the Bills 10 times, we'd probably win 10.
"It will be nice to see Mario Williams return to Houston. While he was a Texan, they called him 'Super Mario;' as a Bill, they call him 'Subpar Mario.' J.J. Watt is the NFL's current sack master and he definitely is not being paid $100 million. In fact, his pay is measured in the thousands. That's why he's called 'J.J. Kilo-Watt.'"
The Bills also enjoyed a bye week following a week 7 win. During the off-week, defensive end Mario Williams had surgery on his ailing left wrist. Williams says he'll be ready to play against his former team.
"The wrist feels better," Williams said. "I have better range of motion now. The Bills know what it's like to be 'stiffed;' now I do, too."
Williams gets to Matt Schaub twice on the day, once to say "hello" before the game, and again to congratulate him afterwards. Arian Foster rushes for 135 yards and two scores and takes the fourth quarter off.
Houston wins, 41-13.
Tampa Bay @ Oakland (-1½)
The Bucs manhandled the Vikings 36-17 in Minnesota last Thursday, improving their record to 3-4, still well behind the 7-0 Falcons. Rookie Doug Martin ran for 135 yards and a score, and added 79 yards receiving and a touchdown.
"Martin is a threat to win the NFC's offensive rookie of the year," Schiano said. "Unfortunately, voting was completed before the season started.
"I'm proud of our team. We're playing like a professional team, although we sometimes resort to college tactics. In fact, we're the only team that hazes our opponents."
The Raiders whipped the Chiefs 26-16 in Kansas City last week. The Raiders are now 3-4 and trail the division-leading Broncos by one game.
"The Bucs have always tried to be like the Raiders," Dennis Allen said, "right down to their mascot, which, like a Raider, is a marauding invader. So what you'll likely see from Tampa is a game plan they call the 'ape and pillage.'"
Tampa wins, 23-20.
Minnesota @ Seattle (-5)
Christian Ponder struggled in Minnesota's 36-17 Thursday night loss to the Buccaneers, completing only 19-of-35 passes with one TD and an interception. Seattle's defense will likely gear their defense to stop the run and force Ponder to beat them.
"We'd like to get Percy Harvin the ball more often," Leslie Frazier said. "He may the best player in the NFL, and likely the best quarterback in Minnesota."
Ponder will face a Seahawks defense that has been tough at home, with wins already over the Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots.
"For opposing quarterbacks," cornerback Richard Sherman said, "CenturyLink Stadium has been a 'Sea' of despair. I'm sure Ponder would like to add his name to the list of QB's who have won in Seattle. It's a short list. Only Aaron Rodgers is on it."
The Seahawks load the box on defense, shutting down Adrian Peterson early, and daring Ponder to beat them. Ponder opts for "truth," which is that he's not a very good quarterback.
Seattle wins, 27-16.
Pittsburgh @ NY Giants (-4½)
The Steelers shut down Robert Griffin III last week in a 27-12 Pittsburgh win over the Redskins. The Steelers have defeated two NFC East teams already this year and will look to make it three against the Giants in MetLife Stadium.
"Keep in mind," Mike Tomlin said. "We limited RG3 without Troy Polamalu, our best defender. As you know, Pittsburgh is known for its safety. New York, however, is not, neither on the field, or on Plaxico Burress' gun."
The Giants avenged their week 1 loss to the Cowboys with a 29-24 win in Dallas, holding on after racing to a 23-0 lead. While Eli Manning and the Giants' offense struggled, the New York defense forced 6 turnovers and sacked Tony Romo 4 times.
"Victor Cruz may lead the team in receptions," Manning said, "but the best 'receiver' on this team is the defense. When I fall back into bad habits, they're always there to catch me.
"We'll have to be ready for the Steelers. Dick LaBeau will certainly have something special to disrupt our offense. LaBeau is probably the NFL's most knowledgeable defensive coordinator. He remembers when defense actually did win championships. I'm surprised Nike hasn't tapped Dick for the 'LaBeau Knows' advertising campaign."
Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have four Super Bowl rings between them. They've seen it all, Big Ben more so in bathrooms. As such, Roethlisberger has the edge in "experience."
Pittsburgh wins, 27-23.
Dallas @ Atlanta (-3)
The Falcons improved to 7-0 with an impressive 30-17 win in Philadelphia last week, led by 262 yards passing and 3 touchdowns from Matt Ryan. Atlanta's closest pursuer in the NFC South race is the 3-4 Buccaneers.
"We could conceivably clinch the division in week 11," Mike Smith said. "After that, we want to clinch home-field advantage. Only then will we start worrying about the 1972 Dolphins and their undefeated season. That undefeated record has 'stood' for 40 years, which is more than can be said for the team's surviving members."
Dallas dug themselves a 23-0 hole against the Giants from which they could not escape, losing 29-24 to drop to 3-4.
"We nearly had the game won," Romo said, "but Dez Bryant's hand came down out of bounds. Usually, when Dez's hand comes down 'out of bounds,' it hits his mother's face.
"Of course, if Dez isn't making a spectacular catch out of bounds, he's making a routine drop in bounds. He's had a problem with drops all year. It could get worse in Atlanta, because it's nothing for Dez to go to a strip club and drop $5,000."
Bryant is disappointed when he realizes his "escort service" in Atlanta isn't quite what he expected. He recovers, and leads the Cowboys to an early 7-0 lead a first-quarter TD reception. However, Bryant is "put to bed early," not by his curfew, but by a big hit from free safety Thomas DeCoud in the second quarter.
In the end, the Falcons have too much offense, while Dallas has too much Jerry Jones.
Atlanta wins, 27-23.
Philadelphia @ New Orleans (-1½)
The Eagles fell into an early hole last week against the undefeated Falcons, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 24-7 at the half. At 3-4, Philly trails the 6-2 Giants in the NFC East.
"We didn't know what hit us," Andy Reid said. "Neither did the Falcons, because nothing did. The moved the ball on us at will. I'm not sure who this 'Will' guy is, but Atlanta targeted him all day.
"I had a tough decision to make at quarterback. However, I decided not to bench Michael Vick. Even though I've already taught this team to roll over and play dead, I felt it unnecessary to teach Vick to 'sit.'"
The Saints' defense was carved up for 530 totals yards in a 34-14 loss in Denver last Sunday night. New Orleans ranks last in the league in total defense, and will certainly need a spark against the Eagles.
"How bad is our defense?" interim coach Joe Vitt said. "It's so bad, we're offering incentives for tackles. The brown paper sacks are back in New Orleans, but only when the Saints are on defense."
"Paul Tagliabue has been approved to hear our appeals in the 'bounty' case. We can only hope Tagliabue 'hears' better than Roger Goodell 'sees.'"
LeSean McCoy rushes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns and the Eagles give Reid a very early going away present with a 38-27 win.