Thursday, September 12, 2013

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 2

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

NY Jets @ New England (-13)

The NFL Network's first Thursday night game gives viewers and intriguing matchup. It's the Jets against the Patriots. Bill Belichick versus Rex Ryan. Tom Brady versus Geno Smith. "White GQ" versus "Black QB."

"Let's not make this a racial issue," Brady said. "I don't judge on the basis of skin color. Oh no, I love tan lines on a woman.

"But if you want to talk about 'white power,' forget Riley Cooper. My 'white receiver bias' lies with Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. Those two have college degrees in pattern-running. The school? The 'Mighty Whites Of U.'"

The Jets beat the visiting Buccaneers on Nick Folk's field goal with two seconds left, made possible by an unnecessary roughness call on Tampa's Lavonte David.

"The fans loved it," Rex Ryan said. "Just like with Mark Sanchez, they applauded a big hit on our quarterback.

"This may be the turnaround our season needs. Things have been pretty bad in the last few weeks. Heck, we were sending the Patriots video of our practices, because we sure as hell didn't want to watch it."

Despite being 13-point underdogs, let's not count Geno and the Jets out. After all, Geno is undefeated head-to-head against Brady. And the Pats will be without Amendola and Shane Vereen. But this is Brady, a three-time Super Bowl champion, against Geno, a rookie, who's only starting because Sanchez, a man who wears a hair band better than most women, is out.

New England wins, 27-19.

St. Louis @ Atlanta (-7)

The Falcons look to bounce back after last week's 23-17 loss to New Orleans, in which a 1st-and-goal stand by the Saints' defense sealed the win in Sean Payton's return.

"We really didn't expect the Saints to field such a good defense," Matt Ryan said. "The Saints are familiar with overwhelming evidence, and there was overwhelming evidence that their defense would suck.

"But the Saints had over 7,042 reasons to make a stand. That's not the amount of cash in their bounty pool that doesn't exist, but the yards they gave up last year."

Sam Bradford will look to attack a Falcons defense that surrendered 357 yards in the air to Drew Brees last week. Bradford passed for 299 and 2 touchdowns in a performance that even Bernie Kosar would commend.

"General William Tecumseh Sherman torched Atlanta," Bradford said, "and he wasn't even that good of a quarterback. So why shouldn't I be able to do the same? A lot of people say I can't do it. My fat contract says I should do it."

It's a shootout, but Ryan outguns Bradford, and Steven Jackson cashes in with two short scoring bursts.

Atlanta wins, 34-31.

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-6½)

The Ravens have had ten days to digest last Thursday's 49-27 debacle in Denver, especially Terrell Suggs, whose undergraduate degree from Ball So Hard University was upgraded to a master's degree from Balled So Hard University, courtesy of Professor Peyton Manning.

"Peyton fizzled my Sizzle," Suggs said. "Fo' shizzle.

"But Brandon Weeden is no Peyton Manning. When Weeden calls an audible, it's in the form of a question. And the defense always has an answer for it. But let's not discount his wide receivers. Greg Little and Josh Long are more than capable. See what I just did there? I made like a traffic cop and 'cited' them."

The Ravens' defense will likely come hard at Weeden, who was sacked six times and threw three interceptions last week against Miami.

"Brandon simply has to play better," Rob Chudzinski said. "This city demands it. A lot of people want to see him gone, but right now, he's our only option at quarterback. So fans need to understand that the more likely scenario is me making lemonade out of a lemon than Brandon making a noose out of a bed sheet."

Baltimore wins, 31-17.

Carolina @ Buffalo (+3)

Hey, what happened when Rae Carruth placed a suitcase full of worthless O.J. Simpson memorabilia in his getaway car?

"Let me guess," said Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone. "He had some 'junk in the trunk?' Anyway, forget O.J. Buffalo's new hero is E.J., E.J. Manuel. He's already got a cult following to rival that of the Goo Goo Dolls. His No. 3 jerseys are selling like 'Buffalo: AFC Champions 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993' t-shirts in the Sudan."

The Panthers head to upstate New York burdened by a tough 12-7 loss to the Seahawks in Charlotte last week. Cam Newton managed only 163 yards of total offense, but expects much more out of himself come Sunday.

"This is a must win game for us. We cannot afford to go 0-2. If that happens, that 'S' on my chest will be replaced by an 'Oh S!' on my chest. And Ron Rivera surely can't afford to go 0-2. 0-2 is that much closer to 0-3, and 0-3 means Ron can say 'Au revoir.' That's also known as a trip to the 'French Rivera.'"

Newton passes for 257 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the Panthers' defense forces 3 turnovers.

Carolina wins, 27-23.

Minnesota @ Chicago (-6½)

Adrian Peterson's first touch last week resulted in a 78-yard touchdown run for the league's reigning MVP. Just to put that into perspective, Chicago running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush combined for 65 yards rushing in the Bears 24-21 win over the Bengals last week.

"Well," Peterson said. "That just took the wind out of my sails. And speaking of sails, they are always at full mast out on Lake Minnetonka, especially when it's on the SS Services Rendered, where the attendants always make sure you get where you want to go.

"On another note, I'm teaming with TNT and ESPN to pitch an idea for a new show to the NFL Network. It's about me, a detective, a medical examiner, and two ESPN radio hosts. It's called 'MVP & Russillo & Isles.'"

Mark Trestman's debut as Chicago coach was a success, as a late comeback fueled the Bears' 24-21 win over the Bengals.

"I'm beginning to grasp the nuances of Trestman's offensive scheme," Jay Cutler said. "As you would expect, he's fed it to me like a baby. Coach is a great teacher, mostly because he looks like one."

Matt Forte posts a rushing and receiving touchdown, and the Bears' defense holds Peterson to 95 yards and only 1 touchdown, and Christian Ponder to the same.

Chicago wins, 28-20.

Washington @ Green Bay (-7½)

The 1-0 Redskins head to Green Bay, where the nickname "Packers" causes no resentment, just civic pride from the NFL's only publicly-owned team.

"Indeed," Rodgers said, "we are publicly-owned. And most members of our defense are new shareholders. How can you not 'take stock' after giving up almost 500 yards of total offense to the 49ers? That's awful.

"Now, I hear Jim Harbaugh called out Clay Matthews for his slap of Joe Staley. I can assure you that it wasn't a dirty play. How do I know? Because my good buddy Ryan Braun took a look at the replay and said, 'It's clean.'"

After a terrible start against the Eagles, the Redskins roared back in the second half to make a game of it before falling 33-27. Robert Griffin III and company know a good start is imperative in Green Bay.

"The Eagles shut me down for three quarters," RG3 said. "That's 13 less than Mike Shanahan did this preseason."

Green Bay wins, 30-27.

Tennessee @ Houston (-9½)

The Titans whipped the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week, sacking Ben Roethlisberger five times and generally abusing him. It was a satisfying result for senior assistant defensive coach Gregg Williams, who was hired to instill a killer instinct in a defensive that was pushed around all too often last year.

"Big Ben's felt better after motorcycle wrecks," Williams said.

The Texans rallied for 17 fourth-quarter points to pull out a 31-28 win in San Diego on Monday night, fueled by Brian Cushing's interception return for a touchdown that knotted the score.

"It's great to have Cushing back," Gary Kubiak said. "Obviously, he makes this team better. He is what we like to call a 'Performance-Enhancing Defender,' or 'PED.'"

In a game in Houston between the Titans and Texans, you can expect fans to be nothing less than well-oiled. A liquored-up and capacity Reliant Stadium crowd of 71,000, which includes Bum Phillips, Earl Campbell, and Mike Renfro, witness a 27-13 Houston win.

Miami @ Indianapolis (-3)

Just one week into the season, and Mike Wallace, Miami's $60 million wide receiver, is unhappy after a registering only one reception for 15 yards in the Dolphins' 23-10 win at Cleveland last week.

"If Calvin Johnson is 'Megatron,'" said Miami's Joe Philbin, "then Wallace must be 'Mini-skirt.'

"We'll have to be better on the ground as well to beat the Colts. Last week, we rushed 23 times for 20 yards. As they say, football is a game of inches."

The Colts rode a heroic effort from Andrew Luck to repel the visiting Raiders last week, 21-17.

"As the great Ric Flair said," Luck said, "'To be the man, you've got to replace the man.' Woooo!'"

The Dolphins come after Luck, and amidst a third quarter pileup, he suffers a shin injury courtesy of a Figure Four Leglock administered by Cameron Wake, who was taught the move by Richie Incognito, the dirtiest player in the game. Miami gets their rushing attack in gear, and Caleb Sturgis boots the game-winning field goal.

Miami wins, 23-20.

Dallas @ Kansas City (-1)

If you think the Washington Redskins' nickname is offensive, than you must be absolutely appalled by the Cowboys/Chiefs matchup, in Arrowhead Stadium of all places.

"That's not the case here," Andy Reid said. "The natives are restless, but only because the Chiefs went 2-14 last year. But you can bet that there's not a person here that finds that offensive. And if you really want to bet on it, you can do so at an Indian casino."

The Cowboys forced 6 turnovers last week, and needed every one of them to secure a 36-31 win over the hated Giants in Dallas last Sunday night.

"I sense that the Chiefs plan to pressure me come Sunday," Tony Romo said. "Call it a gut feeling, or maybe that's just a rib pushing on a lung.

"Now, is Kansas City in Missouri or Kansas? Never mind. I can find the answer under my flip-top wrist band."

Alex Smith and the Chiefs move to 2-0 with a 30-24 win.

San Diego @ Philadelphia (-7½)

The Chip Kelly offense debuted to rave reviews, as the Eagles raced to a 33-7 lead in Washington and held on for a 33-27 win over the Redskins.

"We're excited to be playing our first game at Lincoln Financial Field," Michael Vick said. "And no one's more excited than Riley Cooper. Why? Because he really fond of his home whites.

"And speaking of 'shady' characters, LeSean McCoy was awesome against the Redskins. He actually hurdled one Washington defender. Obviously, LeSean shows no regard for the Redskins name, either."

The Chargers blew a 28-7 lead in the third quarter, eventually losing 31-28 in Mike McCoy's debut as head coach. Now, after a grueling cross-country flight, the Bolts must now prepare for the Eagles' up-tempo offense.

"It's time to bring an offense to a screeching halt," Philip Rivers said. "Where's Norv Turner when you need him?"

Philadelphia wins, 31-20.

Detroit @ Arizona (pick)

Larry Fitzgerald finally has a quarterback he can count on in Carson Palmer. The two hooked up for two scores in last week's 27-24 loss in St. Louis.

"Now all I need is a nickname," Fitzgerald said. "How about 'Larry the Able Guy?'"

The Lions high-powered offense was on full display in Detroit's 34-24 win over the Vikings last week, as Reggie Bush amassed 191 yards rushing and receiving to go along with two scores.

"The Minnesota defense is a lot like Kim Kardashian," Bush said. "There's always an opening. And she's a lot like Ndamukong Suh — her film's been reviewed almost as much as his.

"Now, Suh was fined $100,000 by the league for his low block on Minnesota's John Sullivan. That's no slap on the wrist, which would probably get Suh $25,000. But he did apologize. As they say, it takes a big man to apologize. And that's probably the only reason Suh did, because he's 6'4," 307 pounds."

Arizona wins, 26-24.

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (+3)

Is there a defense in New Orleans? Last week's 23-17 win over Atlanta would seem to suggest that. The Saints' defense, built by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, shut down the vaunted Falcons' offense, giving New Orleans an early lead in the NFC South.

"You might know that Rex Ryan is my twin brother," Ryan said. "Boy, how times have changed for us. Now, I'm the fat one."

The Bucs embark on a tough two-game stretch, with a date at New England following Sunday's contest.

"Speaking of stretches," Greg Schiano said, "it is a stretch to consider Josh Freeman an elite quarterback. He was once team captain. Not anymore. His teammates didn't select him as captain this year. Josh is close to getting my no-confidence vote, as well."

New Orleans wins, 31-24.

Denver @ NY Giants (+4½)

The Giants' defense has the difficult task of scheming to slow Peyton Manning, who seems better than ever with a full season under his belt after several neck surgeries.

"Peyton looks stronger than ever," Justin Tuck said. "His doctors have said that his nerves are regenerating at a good pace. That means come playoff time, he should be plenty 'nervous.'

"Offensively, we have to get more out of our running game. Brandon Jacobs just rejoined the team. Jacobs is a beast from anywhere inside the one-yard line. Like many of the Giants, he's prone to taking a dive."

Fresh off a career-high 7 touchdowns in the Broncos' 49-22 win over Baltimore, Peyton Manning heads to New Jersey for what he hopes will be the first of two trips to MetLife Stadium this season.

"Of course," Manning said, "I don't expect to throw seven touchdown passes in every game. That's asking too much of me. Heck, that's asking too much of some AFC divisions."

The Manning's combine for 7 touchdowns, with 4 for Peyton, 3 for Eli, and none for the hapless Archie, again. The Broncos get a solid defensive effort from cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who, like his cousin Antonio's DNA, is all over the place. DR-C has two picks, and the Broncos leave town with a 37-31 win.

Jacksonville @ Oakland (-5½)

Already playing with a sprained thumb on his right hand, Blaine Gabbert suffered a cut in the same hand that required 15 stitches in the Jags' 28-2 loss to the Chiefs last week. He's out for the game in Oakland; Chad Henne will get the start.

"Despite his troubles," Gus Bradley said, "Blaine still reminds many of former Jacksonville great Mark Brunell. But only in that his right hand is useless."

Many are calling this the "Jadeveon Clowney Bowl," with the loser holding the inside track to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. In other words, it's such a big game, it could make Clowney return to school for his senior year.

Oakland wins, 28-12.

San Francisco @ Seattle (-2½)

The 49ers and Seahawks battle for early control of the NFC West, a division many consider the NFC's toughest. Sunday's matchup promises to be physical and heated between two teams that really don't like each other.

"We know the Seahawks will be fired up," Jim Harbaugh said, "and so will the crowd. Let's just hope the '12th Man' refers to the fans and not the officiating crew."

Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson have an unusual bet riding on the outcome of Sunday night's game — the loser has to shave an eyebrow. Give the "Edge" to Wilson, because he'll be the one shaving.

San Francisco wins, 20-13.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-6)

The Bengals welcome the Steelers to the Jungle, as both teams look for their first win of the year. It's a big game for James Harrison, as well, as the former Steeler linebacker looks to get his hands on Ben Roethlisberger.

"You've got it all wrong," Harrison said. "I don't want to get my hands on him. I'm James Harrison — I want to get my helmet on him. I've caused so many concussions, one day I'll be forced to make a paltry settlement to satisfy my victims."

With center Maurkice Pouncey out for the year and an unpredictable running game, the Steelers will have to rely on their defense to carry them in Cincinnati. Defensive coordinator Dick LaBeau, who has over 40 years of coaching experience, has a plan.

"Indeed I do," LaBeau said. "As always, the secret is having Troy Polamalu running around like a wild Samoan, forcing the quarterback to guess. Is Troy blitzing? Is he dropping back into coverage. Will Troy appear in my shower, extolling the benefits of Head And Shoulders? Is Troy's calf muscle more explosive than Polamalu himself?"

Cincinnati wins, 23-21.

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