Thursday, November 8, 2012

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 10

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville (+3)

Andrew Luck set a rookie passing record with 433 yards in last week's 23-20 win over the Dolphins. The Colts are 5-3 in the AFC South, two games behind the Texans.

"No one thought I would make an impact this fast," Luck said. "It's no wonder people say 'I'm ahead of myself' when I say we're in the playoff conversation and I'm in the MVP conversation."

The Jaguars are 1-7, tied with the Chiefs for the NFL's worst record, after last week's 31-14 home loss to the Lions. The Jags will try to please the home crowd this time as the NFL Network comes to town for Thursday Night Football.

"Ask Jacksonville's former coach," Mike Mularkey said. "Home-field advantage in Jacksonville doesn't mean 'Jack.' The Jaguar is our mascot, but the mascot should be the empty seat. Cee Lo Green should change his TNF promo song to 'Hey, Ho, Let's Not Go.'

"Steve Spurrier said the Alabama Crimson Tide could beat the Jags. That's ludicrous. They could out-coach us, not beat us."

Like the Colts, the Jaguars need "Luck" to win; they just need way more "Luck" than Andrew. Luck fires two touchdown scores, one to Reggie Wayne, formerly of the "U," and the Colts win 22-17, which presently gives the Jags the "L."

NY Giants @ Cincinnati (+6)

For the second week in a row, the Bengals welcome a Manning to "The Jungle." Last week, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 31-23 win over Cincinnati. This week, Eli and the 6-3 Giants pay a visit.

"We're already 0-1 against the Manning brothers," Marvin Lewis said. "If we lose to the Giants, we'll be 0-2, which would be a case of 'brotherly love.'

"It's certainly a must-win game for us. We're 3-5. In other words, we're 'Uh oh, Cinco.' It's been awhile since I've kissed a player, or anyone, for that matter. But if we lose, I might just be kissing my ass goodbye."

The Giants dropped a 24-20 home decision to the Steelers last week, as Pittsburgh rallied from a 20-10 fourth quarter deficit. The Steelers' defense stymied Eli Manning, holding him to 125 yards.

"The Steelers did what doctors did to my brother Peyton," Eli Manning said. "They shut me down completely. Of course, I was man enough to take the blame for the loss.

"But don't be alarmed by my poor play. It's November. It's the time of year when people say 'thanks;' it's also that time of year when people say, 'How the heck do you have two rings?'"

Giants win, 31-27.

Tennessee @ Miami (-4½)

Miami's playoff fortunes took a hit last week in a 23-20 loss in Indianapolis. The Dolphins gave up 516 yards of total offense in the loss, and are now 4-4 and trail the Patriots by a game in the AFC East.

"The Colts handed us a big, fat 'L,'" Joe Philbin said. "In the days of Ricky Williams, one was likely to be handed a big, fat, 'J.'

"Now that Ricky's gone, Cameron Wake's taken on his celebrity, and his morning talk show, 'Wake and Bake With Cameron.' Wake is fifth in the league in sacks with 8½. When he was a Dolphin, Ricky was first in the league in 'bags.'"

The Titans fell to the Bears 51-20 last week, falling behind 31-2 early in the second quarter. It was Tennessee's worst defeat of the year and left them 3-6 in the AFC South.

"Team owner Bud Adams was so disappointed in our effort," Mike Munchak, "he left in the third quarter. But at least he showed up. Bud's given the visiting team the middle finger before, and caught hell about it. This is one instance when the home team deserved the finger."

Miami wins, 28-20.

Detroit @ Minnesota (+2½)

The 5-4 Vikings host the 4-4 Lions in a pivotal NFC North game. The loser of Sunday's contest at Mall Of America Stadium falls into the North cellar, while the winner improves it standing for a potential wild card playoff berth.

"We're slowly working our way back into the playoff race," Jim Schwartz said. "But, for Christ's sake, it's no time for a pat on the back."

In a losing effort, the Vikings got 182 yards and 2 touchdowns from Adrian Peterson. Minnesota dropped a 30-23 decision to Seattle, as Christian Ponder struggled, going 11-for-22 for only 63 yards.

"This team is loaded," Leslie Frazier said. "What other team in the NFL can say they have two 'one man wrecking crews?'

"If we are to make a playoff run, we'll do it on the back of Adrian. It certainly won't be on the arm of Christian Ponder. Christian texted me a picture of his right arm; I was way more offended by that picture than any one Brett Favre's ever sent."

It's a big game for both teams, and to the winner goes the spoils — the inside track to third place in the NFC North, and the 18th pick in next year's draft.

Matthew Stafford shakes off an early slow start, and Calvin Johnson finally remembers what it's like to catch a pass in the end zone.

Detroit wins, 27-24.

Buffalo @ New England (-9)

The last time the Patriots faced the Bills, New England blew out Buffalo 52-28, embarrassing the home team at Rich Stadium, as the Pats scored 6 straight touchdowns in the second half.

"Our offense is just fine," Bill Belichick said. "What we need is more consistency on defense. That's why we acquired cornerback Aqib Talib in a trade from the Buccaneers. There's no shortage of playmakers on our offense; now, with Talib, we can say we have 'weapons' on defense.

"I can't see the Bills putting up more of a fight than they did back in September. If they think the outcome will be any different, I expect the final score will indicate that they have been 're-Buff-ed.'"

The Bills hung tough in a 21-9 loss at Houston last week, eventually succumbing to Houston's No. 2-ranked defense. Former Texan Mario Williams made an impact with a sack and 5 tackles in the loss.

"First of all," Chan Gailey said, "my first name is not 'Jackie.' Second of all, we're pleased by what we saw from Mario. He finally put his stamp on this team. He's been 'Billed,' and at $100 million dollars, so have we."

With two weeks to prepare for the Bills, one thing is certain for the Patriots: they had a lot a spare time.

New England wins, 41-23.

Atlanta @ New Orleans (+2½)

The Falcons, 19-13 winners over the Cowboys last week, put their undefeated record on the line against the 3-6 Saints, who whipped the Eagles 28-13 on Monday night.

"There are still people who don't believe in us," Matt Ryan said. "Judging by Mike Smith's 0-3 playoff record, those 'people' would be our opponent in our first playoff game."

The Saints looked like a playoff-caliber team in their Monday night win over the Eagles. To continue rolling, they'll have to beat the 8-0 Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"This is much like the situation in the Big Easy seven years ago," Drew Brees said. "We need to give the people of the city something to believe in. This time, however, it's not Katrina that blows; it's us.

"This team has finally come to its senses about what's important this year: winning. Of course, we've been more concerned with beating Roger Gooddell than opponents."

Garrett Hartley kicks a 45-yard field goal as time expires, giving the Saints a 37-34 win.

San Diego @ Tampa Bay (-2½)

The Chargers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 31-13 win over the Chiefs last Thursday night, evening their record to 4-4. They trail the Broncos by one game in the AFC West.

"We're a lot like the lightning bolt on our helmet," Phillip Rivers said. "We often strike at random, but in most cases we leave without doing any harm.

"Norv Turner has this team pointed in the right direction. Unfortunately, it's his direction."

The Bucs are playing like the NFC South's second-best team, looking solid at 4-4 after last week's 42-34 win in Oakland. Rookie Doug Martin rushed for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns to power Tampa.

"For a place called the 'Black Hole,'" Martin said, "there sure was a lot of daylight.

"To be honest, I don't mind the nickname of the 'Muscle Hamster.' However, I do take issue with being called 'Richard Gere's favorite football player.'"

San Diego wins, 26-21.

Denver @ Carolina (+6)

John Fox makes his return to Charlotte as the Panthers host the surging Broncos at Bank Of America Stadium. At 5-3, Denver leads the AFC West, while the 2-6 Panthers bring up the rear in the NFC South.

"Cam Newton calls himself 'Superman,'" John Fox said. "Newton's bared his soul in the last few weeks, but what he really needs to 'get off his chest' is the 'S,' because he's no Superman.

"Manning is still nursing a sore thumb, but the Panthers have an even bigger injury situation — Newton is a pain. Don't get me wrong — Newton has some positive characteristics. I hear he's quite a hit on the dance floor, because he knows how to really 'get down.'"

Newton out-dueled Robert Griffin III as the Panthers ended a four-game slide with a 21-13 win in Washington. Newton had a passing score and a rushing TD and no turnovers.

"Cam finally did what we've all been asking," Ron Rivera said. "He put up and shut up.

"But beating RG3 is one thing; beating Manning is another. Manning is the master at recognizing a defense and audibling into the correct play. Newton? Well, the only audible he knows is calling his own number, because he's always looking out for 'No. 1.'"

Manning throws for 278 yards and 3 scores, and the Denver defense keeps Newton in front of them.

Denver wins, 30-23.

Oakland @ Baltimore (-7½)

The Ravens are 6-2 after a hard-fought 25-15 win over the Browns last week, despite being out-gained by Cleveland. Baltimore leads the AFC North by one game over the charging Steelers.

"Trust me," John Harbaugh said, "we didn't scare anyone with that performance, except me. Of course, no one has anything good to say about us now. We want to change that. It's our responsibility to put the 'rave' in 'Raven.'"

Despite 414 yards passing and 4 touchdowns from Carson Palmer, the Raiders lost at home to the Buccaneers, 42-32. That's mainly because the Raider defense surrendered 515 yards, while the Oakland offense committed three turnovers.

"We've got a long flight across the country ahead of us," Dennis Allen said. "If Raiders fans have their way, I'll have a long trip ahead of me, as well, when I take a long walk off a short pier."

Baltimore wins, 34-19.

NY Jets @ Seattle (-6½)

After a bye week, the Jets travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks in CenturyLink Stadium, where the home team is 4-0. Seattle beat the Vikings 30-20 last week, while the Jets enjoyed a bye week after a dismal loss to the Dolphins in Week 8.

"We are so close to becoming a good football team," Rex Ryan said. "Football is a game of inches. For me, it's a game of 'feet.'

"We're 3-5, on the wrong side of a .500 record. That's not Jets' football. But I know how to turn things around. For what it's worth, Denzel Washington isn't the only one that knows how to fly a plane upside down."

The Jets' defense will likely see heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch, who is second in the NFL in rushing.

"When we're on offense," Pete Carroll said, "I'm asking our fans to litter the field with Skittles. Preferably green ones. If we're lucky, and take it from the Packers, we have been, Antonio Cromartie will mistake those green Skittles for green M&M's. Ultimately, we may have the answer as to why that guy is so darn horny. Ah, me so corny."

Jets win, 24-21.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-2)

With a chance to gain ground on the Giants in the NFC East, the Cowboys dropped a 19-13 decision to the undefeated Falcons. Dallas remains 2½ games behind the Giants.

"Most people say Jason Garrett is to blame for our problems," Dez Bryant said. "I dismiss those charges.

"Make no mistake, though. Garrett is not entirely free from fault. In fact, I think he should be at the mercy of a curfew, just as I am. In Garrett's case, he should be required to be off the field from 1:00 to 7:00 on Sundays."

Much like Garrett, Andy Reid's leadership is in question. Despite a win on Monday night over the Saints, the Eagles have performed well below expectations.

"Michael Vick is a lot like our coaching situation," LeSean McCoy said. "He's a 'turnover waiting to happen.'"

With 2 sacks of Michael Vick, DeMarcus Ware shows up, only this time, he's not left wondering where the rest of the Cowboys are.

Dallas wins, 23-20.

St. Louis @ San Francisco (-8)

The 49ers lead the NFC West and enjoyed a week 9 bye. They'll host the 3-5 Rams, who are last in the division.

"We're right where we need to be," Jim Harbaugh said. "We're 6-2 and leading the division. Much like Ronnie Lott's left pinkie finger, we're halfway there.

"We've won eleven consecutive games against NFC West opponents. On Sunday at Candlestick, we'll say what I'm sure Antonio Cromartie said before the birth of his latest child: 'Let's make it 12.'"

The Rams lost to the Patriots 45-7 in London in Week 8, as the New England offense ran roughshod over the Rams in Wembley Stadium.

"The Pats treated the line of scrimmage like time zones," Jeff Fisher said. "They flew right through it."

The 49ers force 3 turnovers, and Alex Smith completes his first four passes, again not setting an NFL record.

San Francisco wins, 27-12.

Houston @ Chicago (-1)

Two of the NFL's best defenses face off in Chicago when the 7-1 Texans take on the 7-1 Bears. The Texans shut down the Bills 21-9 last week, while the Bears whipped the Titans 51-20.

"I think turnovers will be the difference," Lovie Smith said. "We forced 6 turnovers against the Titans, and we've recovered 11 fumbles on the year. We've made ripping the ball away from the offense a point of emphasis this year, and Charles Tillman has really taken to it. Surprisingly, Tillman is the NFL's only in-house 'stripper.'"

The Texans will try to confuse Jay Cutler with defensive schemes devised by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

"Despite the presence of egocentric players like Cutler and Brandon Marshall on the field Sunday," Gary Kubiak said, "Wade will still have the 'biggest head.' To Wade, '10-gallon hat' is not a fashion statement, it's a size.

"We hope to frustrate Cutler. If things go as planned, we'll succeed at that better than his own team."

Illinois was a battleground state on Tuesday. It will be again on Sunday night at Soldier Field, when the state will not only be "blue," but 'black and blue.'"

The Texans' defense makes life miserable for Cutler, sacking him 4 times. Cutler, in a uncharacteristic show of generosity, pays it forward, and makes life miserable for his offensive line.

Houston wins, 18-17.

Kansas City @ Pittsburgh (-11½)

The Steelers earned a huge road win with a 24-20 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium. At 5-3, Pittsburgh trails the Ravens by a single game in the AFC North with a date against the Ravens looming in Week 11.

"We have to try really hard not underestimate the Chiefs," Ben Roethlisberger. "If the other option is overestimating them, then we should have no problem.

"I think we have the advantage over the Chiefs in every aspect of the game. We especially have a huge advantage in the little-used statistic called 'hap.' Why? Because the Chiefs are hapless."

The reeling Chiefs are 1-7 after last Thursday's 31-13 loss in San Diego. Romeo Crenel relinquished his duties as defensive coordinator on Tuesday.

"Compared to deciding on a quarterback," Crenel said, "that was an easy decision.

"There are two coin tosses before every Chiefs game. One to determine the kickoff, and the other to determine our quarterback."

Pittsburgh wins, 31-9.

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