Thursday, October 17, 2013

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 7

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Seattle @ Arizona (+7)

Thursday Night Football comes to Glendale, home of the 3-3 Cardinals, as the NFC West-leading Seahawks invade. Arizona lost 32-20 in San Francisco last week, hampered by 4 turnovers.

"Carson Palmer is like the 'chupacabra' of quarterbacks," Bruce Arians said. "As of yet, no one knows if he's for real. But I'll tell you what creature is real — the 'Honey Badger.' Tyronn Mathieu is possibly the NFL's best athlete. He's so fast, he appears grainy and out of focus on film.

"We expect Thursday's crowd to be loud. Seattle has the '12th Man,' but we expect the University Of Phoenix Stadium crowd to out-noise them by 'degrees.' It's the hottest ticket in town, and if you don't have one, you're probably out of luck. But might I suggest you try Rashad Johnson's '4½ Finger Discount' at his ticket brokerage 'Stub Hub.'"

Seattle emerged with a sloppy 20-13 win over the visiting Seahawks last week, running their record to 5-1.

"This game is slated to start at 8:35 Eastern Standard Time," Pete Carroll said. "That means it starts three hours earlier, local time. If form holds, it may even be over sooner.

"I hear that USC is looking for Lane Kiffin's successor. It's not often one can say 'success' in reference to Kiffin, but I just did. Unlike me, Lane's not a great coach. Like me, he's a great recruiter. Given my budget, I'm pretty sure Lane could put together a solid team."

As part of the NFL Network team, Kurt Warner is on the house on Thursday. Warner draws cheers when he picks the Cardinals in the upset, but boos when he refuses Arians' offer of a one-day contract.

The Seahawks seem ripe for the picking, but so does Palmer. Seattle wins 20-18 on a late Steven Hauschka field goal as time expires.

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-9)

Tampa is still winless after a 31-20 loss to the Eagles last week. In the wake of the release of Josh Freeman, the team also had to deal with three cases of MRSA.

"For Christ's sake," Greg Schiano said, "don't ever again ask me 'What's the spread?' MRSA is no joking matter. Unlike my personality, it is highly infectious. If only it were as easy to get rid of as Freeman.

"But believe it or not, this is a blessing in disguise for us. Now, I'm the second-most dangerous entity eating away at this team."

The Falcons come out of their bye week with a 1-4 record, and what looked to be a promising year has become a rebuilding year. Julio Jones was lost for the season with a foot injury in Atlanta's 30-28 loss to the Jets in week 5.

"Julio is done for the season," Mike Smith said, "and Roddy White and Steven Jackson are nursing injuries. They are our three best receivers. It appears that we have a similar problem to the Bucs' MRSA outbreak, and it's 'catching.'

"We surely don't want to lose to the winless Bucs. As the standings, as well as a U.S. map, suggests, you can't go further south in the NFC South than Tampa."

Georgia Dome officials open up the gates several hours early and offer any and all fans a free cootie shot, under the condition that they chant "Circle, Circle, dot, dot. Now you've got your cootie shot."

Atlanta wins, 28-24.

Cincinnati @ Detroit (-2)

Cincinnati beat Buffalo last week to improve to 4-2, and now holds sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

"I was pleased to see Andy Dalton throwing with such confidence," Marvin Lewis said. "Now, we'll see if he shows that same confidence in the face of Ndamukong Suh. If you're a white quarterback, and Andy is, you've got to be on your guard around Suh. Compared to Suh, the Washington Redskins aren't racist. But, as far as body parts go, Suh shows no favoritism — he is an equal opportunity destroyer."

The Lions picked up a vital road victory with a 31-17 win in Cleveland last week, led by 3 touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford to tight end Joseph Fauria. At 4-2, Detroit is tied with the Bears atop the NFC North.

"Fauria was an undrafted free agent," Stafford said. "Now he's a fantasy darling, not to be confused with 'Fantasy Darlings,' where he worked as a bouncer before signing.

"We can win without a huge contribution from Calvin Johnson. This team is far from one-dimensional. We may even be two-dimensional, or three-dimensional. That would be '3D,' which is amazing, because in Detroit, we're not used to any 'D's.'"

Johnson grabs 5 catches for 45 yards and a short touchdown in limited action, and the Lions remain unbeaten at home.

Detroit wins, 31-27.

Chicago @ Washington (even)

Chicago kept the Giants winless with a 27-21 win last Thursday in Chicago, buoyed by two touchdown passes from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall. The Bears now face a 1-4 Washington team desperate for a win.

"As you know," Cutler said, "I'm married to Kristin Cavallari. She's quite a looker. Eli Manning even threw her a glance, and it was intercepted.

"Now, the Redskins are hungry. They've obviously been distracted by the controversy surrounding their nickname. Honestly, I can't imagine Washington with another nickname, just as I can't imagine Mike Ditka with any other name, especially 'Senator.'"

Despite a more mobile and healthy-looking Robert Griffin III, Washington lost 31-16 in Dallas last Sunday. That left the 'Skins 1-4 in the NFC East.

"Hey," Griffin said, "I don't know what the big deal about being called a 'Redskin' is. Coach Shanahan's called that every day, and he doesn't mind."

Prior to the game, a banner protesting the "Redskins" nickname flies overhead, ironically pulled by an Apache helicopter carrying a payload of Tomahawk missiles, Red Man chewing tobacco, and Cherokee cigarettes.

Washington suffers a loss, and so does the irony.

Chicago takes an early lead and repels a late Redskin comeback.

Chicago wins, 30-26.

St. Louis @ Carolina (-7)

The Rams played their best game of the year in a 38-12 win in Houston last week, and improved their record to 3-3, two games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West.

"I don't condone cheering an injury to a player," Jeff Fisher said. "One should never downplay an injury, unless it's in the form of a $765 million settlement."

The Panthers blew out the Vikings 35-10 last week, powered by four total touchdowns from Cam Newton. Now 2-3. Carolina trails only the 5-1 Saints in the NFC North.

"That was a Heismann-worthy performance by Cam," Ron Rivera said. "Some say the jury is still out on whether Newton is a 'poseur' or not."

Carolina wins, 27-16.

San Diego @ Jacksonville (+7)

Phillip Rivers and the Chargers took down the visiting Colts 19-9 last Monday, and are now 3-3 in the AFC West, well behind the undefeated Broncos and Chiefs.

"People knew our offense was potent," Rivers said. "I think our defense proved their capabilities against the Colts. So beware, Jaguars. Not only are we bringing our 'A' game to Jacksonville, we're bringing our own no-shows. This may be the first NFL game blacked out in the visiting team's market.

"My wife just gave birth to our seventh child. As you might have guessed, we're practicing Catholics. And boy do we practice. Sometimes, we even have two-a-days."

After a 35-19 loss in Denver last week, the Jaguars are 0-6, but there were plenty of positives to be gained from the loss. Jacksonville moved the ball consistently, and forced three Denver turnovers.

"I think this game proved two things," Gus Bradley said. "The Broncos and the Jaguars are both overrated."

Sunday's game will surely be blacked out locally, as tickets are readily available. They're so available, the Ticket Oak is on "leave."

Rivers throws 2 touchdown passes, and the Chargers win, 24-21.

Buffalo @ Miami (-8)

The Dolphins are 3-2, good for second behind the 5-1 Patriots in the AFC East. With a bye week under their belt, they'll look to end a two-game losing streak when the Bills visit Sun Life Stadium.

"This game is taking place on October 20th," Joe Philbin said. "That's 10/20, six months after 4/20. 4/20 is the date when Ricky Williams emerges from his van; if he sees his shadow in his grow-light, then he'll remain retired for six more months. So, on Sunday, we can expect another Ricky sighting. Here's hoping my running backs come out of their shell, also."

The Bills lost 27-24 in overtime to the Bengals last week, falling to 2-4, last in the AFC East. Quarterback Thad Lewis was solid even in defeat, with 2 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

"Thad injured his foot," Doug Marrone, "but we expect him to play. We've signed journeyman Matt Flynn to the roster just in case. When Flynn joins a team, they call the quarterback corps the 'Bass Guitar,' because it now has four strings."

Miami wins, 24-20.

New England @ NY Jets (+4½)

Tom Brady's 17-yard touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds left gave the Patriots an improbably 30-27 win over the Saints last week. It was Brady's only TD of the day, and the win handed the Saints their first loss of the year.

"We're 5-1 without Rob Gronkowski," Brady said. "Just imagine how great we'll be with him. Gronk is awesome. How awesome is he? He's so awesome, he didn't even play against the Saints and he matched Jimmy Graham stat for stat.

"What are the two words fans are dying to hear in New England? It used to be 'not guilty.' Now, it's 'medical clearance.'"

The Jets were manhandled by the Steelers 19-6, held to only 267 yards total offense and no touchdowns. Geno Smith was sacked three times, bringing his NFL-leading total to 21.

"Geno still has a problem with holding on to the ball too long," Rex Ryan said. "It could be worse, though; Mark Sanchez 'held on to the ball' for four years too long."

Brady throws 2 touchdown passes, if Gronkowski plays, and one if he doesn't.

New England wins, 23-17.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-2½)

The Eagles used big days from DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper to down the Buccaneers in Tampa 31-20 last week. The two combined for 184 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns.

"I told Darrelle Revis he couldn't cover me," Jackson said. "What rhymes with 'boast?' 'Toast.'

"As for Cooper, he was white hot. He's really responded well to circumstances to a problem he alone created. He's got a cross to bear, and defensive backs to burn."

The Cowboys bounced back from their loss to the Broncos with a 31-16 win over Washington. Dallas is 3-3 and tied with the Eagles for the lead in the NFC East.

"It's never easy playing in Philadelphia," Tony Romo said. "Fans there cheer injuries to the opponent, believe it or not. Just ask Michael Irvin. He got carted off the field on a stretcher back in 1999. It didn't bother Irvin, though. He was always willing to pay the price, on the field or off. Mostly off."

The Cowboys will be without DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray. For Big D, those are big "De's."

Philadelphia wins, 34-28.

San Francisco @ Tennessee (+4½)

Tennessee fell in Seattle last week, downed by the swarming Seahawks' defense and general ineffectiveness from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Titans are now 0-2 with Fitzpatrick as the starter.

"Our offense is built on the concept of mistake-free play from the quarterback," Mike Munchak said. "Unless Ryan can step up his play, I think we may be better off with quarterback-free play."

San Francisco remained one game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West with a 32-20 win over the Cardinals last week. Vernon Davis had 180 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns to lead the 49ers.

"Vernon is a monster," Colin Kaepernick said. "He's a freak in the weight room. Before Aldon Smith's situation went south, it was nothing to hear a teammate look at Vernon and say, 'Man, look at those guns.'"

San Francisco wins, 20-14.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3)

The Steelers won for the first time, bullying past Geno Smith and the Jets 19-6. Pittsburgh limited New York to only 267 yards of total offense.

"This was the kind of physical victory the Steelers are known for," Ben Roethlisberger said. "Usually, though, we're known for more than just one.

"Mike Tomlin has cracked down on fun. We can no longer play games in the locker room. That's too bad, because we need all the winners we can find in the locker room."

The Ravens are 3-3, one game behind the Bengals in the AFC North.

"This is Ravens/Steelers," John Harbaugh said. "You can go ahead and throw out the records, but make sure you don't hit Jacoby Jones in the head with them."

Pittsburgh wins, 22-20.

Cleveland @ Green Bay (-11½)

The Packers took a narrow 19-17 win in Baltimore, earning their first road win of the year. Green Bay won its second in a row, and at 3-2, are hot on the tails of the Lions and Bears for the division lead.

"That's right," Rodgers said. "Bears and Lions have tails. Packers don't have tails, but, according to Greg Jennings, they have 'asses.' I think he's referring to me. But since when has anybody listened to what a Viking has to say? That is, since That's Incredible went off the air."

The Browns lost to Detroit 31-17 after blowing a 17-7 halftime lead. Brandon Weeden was inconsistent, and mystified many with an odd backhand pass.

"Weeden just needs to make better decisions," Rob Chudzinski said. "Bad decisions on this team aren't limited to quarterback play. Our draft scouts are equally to blame. Apparently, they're partial to overrated quarterbacks and expendable running backs. Very seldom do we say 'Bingo!' after a draft pick. We have, however, been known to say 'Mingo!'"

Green Bay wins, 29-22.

Houston @ Kansas City (-7½)

Houston's season went from bad to worse last week in a 38-13 home loss to the Rams. Matt Schaub left the game in the third quarter after suffering an ankle injury.

"Matt left the field," Gary Kubiak said, "and some fans cheered. I was sickened, but only because all of them didn't cheer. In short, it was a bad decision by the fans. In their defense, they've only had one this season. Interestingly enough, when Matt gains a handicap, the team loses one."

Kansas City pounded Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders, 24-7. The Chiefs intercepted Pryor three times and sacked him 10 times to keep their record spotless.

"We'll have to account for J.J. Watt," Andy Reid said. "He's a one-man wrecking crew. Coupled with Schaub, the Texans have a two-man wrecking crew."

Kansas City wins, 20-17.

Denver @ Indianapolis (+7)

Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis for the first time since his release from the Colts. Indy is planning a tribute to Manning to honor his time as a Colt.

"This may be the biggest regular-season game in Colts history," Jim Irsay said. "This city is buzzing. There's not a vacant hotel room to be found. Indy is bulging at the seams. Dare I say it's 'herniated?'"

The 6-0 Broncos head to Indy after a surprisingly tough 35-19 win over the Jaguars last week. Manning knows the Colts are a dangerous team, especially after last week's loss in San Diego.

"I hear Irsay and the Colts are planning a tribute to me," Manning said. "I think Irsay did misspeak — he meant to say 'tribunal,' not tribute.'

"I'm just happy Von Miller is back. We really missed his defensive capabilities. Von must have an STD, because it burns us when he pees. Hopefully, he can stay clean. I'm sure the NFL wants him to 'P' himself. With that being said, Irsay can go 'F' himself."

How bad does Manning want to beat the Colts? So bad, he'll do it with surgical precision.

Denver wins, 41-24.

Minnesota @ NY Giants (-3½)

Eli Manning threw 3 more interceptions in the Giants' 27-21 Thursday night loss in Chicago last week. Manning has thrown a league-worst 15 interceptions, and the G-Men are now 0-6.

"Defensively, we'll have to slow down Adrian Peterson," Tom Coughlin said. "This is a night game, which is definitely an advantage for Peterson, because he not very good at 'mourning.'"

The Vikings are 1-4, last in the NFC North. Josh Freeman will start at quarterback.

"We expect to have success on offense against the Giants," Leslie Frazier said. "Their defense is terrible. Everyone knows a punter is useless against the Giants. Therefore, we've signed Chris Kluwe, because he is the epitome of a 'useless punter.'"

The Giants may be winless, but the Vikings have it worse. Why? Because they're the underdogs.

New York wins, 35-27.

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