Thursday, October 10, 2013

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 6

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

NY Giants @ Chicago (-7½)

Thursday Night Football features the 3-2 Bears hosting the 0-5 Giants in a battle of the two NFL quarterbacks most likely to carry a man purse. While the Giants are winless, the Bears have lost two in a row after a 0-3 start.

"I'm frustrated," said Brandon Marshall. "Mainly because I feel I should be getting the ball more. And the only way I know how to deal with frustration is to talk, incessantly. And, if my mouth could talk, it would say 'I'm open.'

"I expect a big game against New York. Let's face it, the Giants' defense can't stop anything, except opponents' losing streaks."

New York's defensive woes continued in a 36-21 loss to the Eagles last week. The G-Men gave up 439 total yards including 140 on the ground, while Eli Manning threw 3 interceptions, and leads the NFL with 12.

"No one's questioning Eli's ability," Tom Coughlin said. "Everyone's questioning his last name, though."

The Giants picked up linebacker Jon Beason from the Panthers in a trade, adding a player who is likely the only one with a right to complain about being traded from a 1-3 team.

As you'd expect from a new father, Cutler "feeds the baby," targeting Marshall 10 times. Marshall catches 8 for 124 yards and a touchdown, and the Bears win, 34-24.

Green Bay @ Baltimore (+2½)

The Packers tightened the race in the NFC North, whipping the Lions 22-9 at Lambeau Field. Green Bay is now just a game behind the 3-2 Bears and Lions.

"That was a huge win," Aaron Rodgers said. "I know the Lions were short-handed. Apparently, Detroit without Calvin Johnson is a lot like Detroit with Matt Millen.

"Sadly, Clay Matthews has a broken thumb that will keep him out for a month. Clay is our defense's outspoken leader. Likewise, Terrell Suggs plays the same role for the Ravens. T-Sizzle still thinks Roger Goodell was responsible for the Super Bowl blackout. With the big game scheduled for MetLife Stadium in February, it appears Goodell might be responsible for the Super Bowl whiteout."

Baltimore is 3-2 after beating the Dolphins 26-23 in Miami last week, powered by two touchdowns from Ray Rice and four field goals from Justin Tucker.

"And we've done it all without Joe Flacco," John Harbaugh said. "But really, who needs Flacco? Certainly not his pregnant wife. The Flacco's have two children. That means Mrs. Flacco has 'delivered' one more time in her life than Joe."

It has to be insulting to the Ravens. They are the defending Super Bowl champions, are coming off a win, have a better record than the Packers, and are at home, yet are still underdogs. It's a big slap in the face, and everybody knows the Ravens aren't in to S&M.

Flacco and Rodgers casually discuss #MightyWings prior to the game, then Flacco, for the first time in a while, actually outplays an opposing QB.

Baltimore wins, 27-24.

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay (even)

Josh Freeman was released two weeks ago, and the Mike Glennon era began with a loss to the Cardinals. Greg Schiano and his Buccaneers look for their first win of the season as the 1-5 Eagles visit Raymond James Stadium.

"I think when all is said and done," Schiano said, "both Josh and I will have left our marks in Tampa lore. In other words, we'll both be 'history.'

"Mike Glennon is our quarterback. He has one important characteristic that Freeman lacked, and that's absolute submission to my will. When I say 'Jump,' Glennon asks 'How high?' When I said 'Jump' to Freeman, he didn't answer, he just did, off the bandwagon."

Michael Vick suffered an injured hamstring in Philly's 36-21 against the Giants last week. He'll miss Sunday's game; Nick Foles will start.

"Foles is perfectly capable of running my up-tempo offense," Chip Kelly said. "The point of running such an offense is to wear down the opposing defense. It's working, but at the expense of our own defense. Our record might be 2-3, but as for my special offense, it's got a perfect record, in defeating the purpose."

Tampa wins, 28-24.

Carolina @ Minnesota (-3)

The Panthers fell to 1-3, dropping a 22-6 decision at Arizona, as Cam Newton threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 7 times.

"It's imperative we win on the road this week," Ron Rivera said. "Otherwise, I might be asked by owner Jerry Richardson to 'stay home.'

"Of course, this is Cam's team, so he needs to take charge. In order to save my job, I need Newton to carry this team like he carried Auburn to the national championship. In other words, I need him to go 12-0."

The Vikings returned from England victorious, and now hope to build on that victory against a struggling Carolina team.

"We know the Carolina a dangerous team," Leslie Frazier said. "And when you back a Panther into corner, there's no telling where you'll end up. Possibly in a car trunk. Or on the winning sideline.

"I've been a coach on the hot seat before, so I know what Rivera's going through. And, despite our records, our respective owners can't say our names without mentioning 'first place.' Of course, it's when they say 'Why did I hire him in the first place?'"

The Vikes just signed Josh Freeman. Now, Frazier just has to decide on a quarterback: Freeman, Christian Ponder, or Matt Cassel. It's his decision to make, which pundits are calling the 'Les' of three evils."

Freeman sits, Cassel starts, Minnesota loses. Carolina's front seven clamps down on Adrian Peterson, and Newton throws for two scores and rushes for another.

Carolina wins, 27-16.

Pittsburgh @ NY Jets (-1)

Powered by three touchdown passes from rookie Geno Smith, the Jets stunned the Falcons 30-28 in Atlanta. New York is 3-2 in the AFC East, one game behind the Patriots.

"Geno actually looked like a quarterback," Rex Ryan said. "Mark Sanchez has been seeking that look for years, but still can't get it right.

"Geno completed passes to eight different receivers. I guess Santonio Holmes is the only disgruntled receiver on this team now. For a former peddler of drugs, I can only say 'deal with it.'"

The Steelers bye week ended, surprisingly, without a loss. They'll look for their first win this season at MetLife Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVIII.

"The only thing Pittsburgh-related about the Super Bowl will be the weather," Mike Tomlin said.

"We'll have to better on defense. Some say are defense is too old. They may have a point. Dick Labeau used to be the oldest member of our defense."

Labeau dials up, fittingly, on a rotary phone, some defensive schemes foreign to Smith, forcing the rookie in to two big turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger throws 2 touchdowns, and the Steelers win, 19-16.

Oakland @ Kansas City (-10)

The Chiefs kept their record spotless, earning a hard-fought 26-17 win in Tennessee last week. K.C.'s 5-0 start is their best since 2003 and kept them tied with Denver atop the AFC West.

"We feel like we can challenge the Broncos for the division," Andy Reid said. "Their offense is unstoppable, and their defense is arguably the NFL's best, especially if you believe the adage, 'The best defense is a good offense.'

"Don't forget. This team was 2-14 last year under Romeo Crenel. I've already more than doubled that win output. Take it from any woman who's ever known me, I'm no Romeo."

The Raiders are now 2-3 following their Monday night win over AFC West rival San Diego. Terrelle Pryor passed for 223 yards and a touchdown after missing one game with a concussion.

"Terrelle showed a lot of courage," Dennis Allen said, "just to pass the concussion tests. He was a little confused, though, but only because he's not used to being rewarded for remembering details.

"We're so confident in Terrelle's ability that we released Matt Flynn, possibly the most overrated quarterback since the last quarterback we released. While Terrelle can beat you with his arm and legs, Flynn only gets paid like he can."

Kansas City wins, 24-17.

St. Louis @ Houston (-7)

After a 2-0 start to the season, the Texans have lost three straight, the latest a 34-3 blowout in San Francisco. Matt Schaub threw 3 interceptions, including one returned for a score, before being replaced by T.J. Yates in the fourth quarter.

"Schaub is still our starter," Gary Kubiak said. "He gives us the best chance to win. Unfortunately, our opponents can say the same thing.

"Fans are confronting Schaub at his house, which is not cool at all. Matt's a resilient fellow, and he's found the perfect way to handle them. He just throws the intruder a football, and they immediately start running away from him."

The Rams are 2-3 after last week's 34-20 win over the lowly Jaguars, forcing 5 Jacksonville turnovers while snapping a three-game losing streak.

"Schaub's confidence is on the injury list," said Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, "because it's questionable. If you asked Schaub who his favorite member of Mötley Crüe is, he'd surely 'pick Sixx.' If you look on his scalp, you'll see a birthmark that reads 'Pick 666.'"

Schaub manages the game quite well, and the Texans ease the pressure on their QB by running the ball 39 times for 222 yards. Schaub fails to throw any TD passes, but makes a TD reception when his pass from the Rams' six-yard line is batted back into his hands. Schaub makes the grab and jaunts into the end zone for a touchdown, his very own pick-6.

Houston wins, 31-16.

Cincinnati @ Buffalo (+3)

The Bills lost starting quarterback E.J. Manuel to a knee injury in Thursday's 34-23 loss in Cleveland. Thad Lewis will take over as the Bengals visit Rich Stadium.

"Thad was promoted from the practice squad," Doug Marrone said. "Clearly, in Manuel's absence, Thad is the best man for the job. Believe me, he's had lots of practice."

Cincinnati posted their best defensive effort of the year, swarming Tom Brady and the Patriots, 13-6.

"For those who doubted it," Marvin Lewis said, "defense is alive and well in the NFL. We play it well, as to teams who oppose our offense.

"Our defense is so good, it's even made Pacman Jones relevant again. And Pacman likes defense so much, he's even got his own team. And they're good. Pacman was found not guilty in an assault case in which he was charged with punching a woman. I knew he was innocent. He's never hit anyone."

The Bengals intercept Lewis three times, and A.J. Green catches 2 touchdown passes.

Cincinnati wins, 28-13.

Detroit @ Cleveland (+1)

Brandon Weeden is back as starter after Brian Hoyer was lost for the season with an ankle injury in Cleveland's 37-24 win over the Bills last Thursday.

"I feel like I have my confidence back," Weeden said. "Bernie Kosar may have refused to 'blow;' I refuse to 'suck.' So, I'm out of the dog house, and right back into the 'Dawg Pound.'"

The Lions hope to rebound after last week's 22-6 loss to the Packers that dropped Detroit to 2-3. It was the Lions' 22nd consecutive loss in Green Bay.

"We obviously aren't fond of Wisconsin," Jim Schwartz said, "especially Dominic Raiola. He verbally assaulted some members of the University of Wisconsin band. Allegedly, he called them, and I quote, 'members of the University of Wisconsin band.' And I'm sure he specifically targeted the woodwind section.

"Hopefully, we'll play better in Ohio. Calvin Johnson is expected to play. His knee is a little tender, but Calvin is a warrior. He's used to playing with pain. After all, he's been a Lion for six seasons."

Cleveland rocks Matthew Stafford, and Weeden throws for 2 scores.

Browns win, 27-23.

Tennessee @ Seattle (-8)

The Seahawks return to CenturyLink Field after falling for the first time this year, a 34-28 loss to Andrew Luck and the Colts. Seattle still holds a one-game lead over the 49ers in the NFC West.

"You can't win 'em all," Pete Carroll said. "Just ask the NCAA."

Ryan Fitzpatrick, in his first game as starter, threw two late costly interceptions that sealed the Titans' loss to the Chiefs last week. Fitzpatrick will remain the starter while Jake Locker recovers from a hip injury.

"I know Fitzpatrick went to Harvard," Mike Munchak said, "but that smarts."

Seattle wins, 27-9.

Jacksonville @ Denver (-28)

The 5-0 Broncos are 28-point favorites over the 0-5 Jaguars, a point spread which is the highest since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

"We've no doubt made bettors a lot of money," Peyton Manning said. "That's why we'll be asking for a 'cover charge.' Luckily for the Jaguars, it's also 'Ladies' Night.'"

Gus Bradley knows there is a tall task ahead for the Jaguars, on the road, in a hostile environment, against arguably the NFL's best team.

"If odds could truly be stacked," Bradley said, "ours would be a mile high. I'm not saying we'll cover, but we surely won't cower."

Denver wins, 45-13.

New Orleans @ New England (-3)

Drew Brees had his way with the Chicago defense last week, throwing for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Saints 26-18 win in Chicago. New Orleans is 5-0 and in command of the NFC South.

"What happened to the Falcons?" Sean Payton said. "They were on the brink of the NFC title last year. Now, they're battling to stay out of the NFC South cellar. But look on the bright side, Mike Smith — your playoff record can't get any worse.

"Our lead in the South is insurmountable. It's much too early to begin resting starters, but it's not too early to start calling our run to the division title the 'Gulf Coast.'"

New England returns home after losing for the first time, 13-6 to the Bengals in Cincinnati last week. Tom Brady's streak of 52 games with at least 1 touchdown pass came to an end.

"You'll see two of the NFL's best tight ends," Tom Brady said, "in Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. Graham is known for his 'slam dunk' touchdown celebrations. Gronkowski is known just for his celebrations."

Bill Belichick, the master of mind games, doesn't disappoint, and replaces the toilet paper in the Saints' locker room with super-absorbent Bounty. It's just enough to knock the Saints off their game.

New England defends home turf with a 23-20 win.

Arizona @ San Francisco (-11)

San Fran pummeled the visiting Texans 34-3 last week at Candlestick Park, harassing Matt Schaub into three interceptions. Now 3-2, the 49ers trail the Seahawks by one game in the NFC West.

"We still think we're the best team in the West," Jim Harbaugh said. "We let the Seahawks off easy the first time we played, mainly because we didn't 'test' them."

At 3-2, Arizona is in the hunt in the NFC West, and they have the defense to match those of division rivals Seattle and San Francisco.

"Did Donte Whitner really change his name to 'Hitner?'" said Carson Palmer. "He must be touched in the head. But I can relate. I've thought of changing my name several times. Instead, I just left Cincinnati, then left Oakland."

San Francisco wins, 24-17.

Washington @ Dallas (-5)

Tony Romo's record-setting day was spoiled by a late interception that led to Denver's game-winning field goal in a 51-48 Broncos' win. Romo threw for 506 yards, the all-time Cowboy record, and 5 touchdowns.

"There's a fine line between breaking a record," Jerry Jones, "and a broken record. But I'll stand by Tony through thick and thin. Of course, with a turnover like that one, Tony will have to answer the question about the 'big one.' And I think he has, because everyone knows he can throw the big one."

Washington, which had a Week 5 bye, is 1-3 and just½ game behind the 2-3 Cowboys and Eagles in the NFC East.

"Even in Washington," Robert Griffin III said, "that's a manageable deficit.

"We are rested and healthy, and I think you'll see the best of the 'Skins in Dallas. I've had a week's rest, which is plenty as far as I'm concerned, but three weeks short of being ideal, according to Mike Shanahan."

It's another shootout in Dallas. This time the Cowboys come out on top, 34-31.

Indianapolis @ San Diego (+1½)

The 4-1 Colts sit atop the AFC West with a 4-1 record after last week's come-from-behind 34-28 win over the previously unbeaten Seahawks. They'll face a stiff challenge when they visit Quallcomm Stadium for Monday Night Football.

"I think we proved ourselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders," Andrew Luck said. "And I've proven myself as an elite quarterback. There's little that separates me from Peyton Manning, except for about one second in the 40-yard dash."

Indianapolis wins, 30-27.

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