NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 8

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay (+7)

The 3-3 Panthers hit the road to Tampa for Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network, home of the league's 24-hour chucklehead station. Carolina evened their record with a 30-15 win over the Rams last week.

"I am the Panthers' unquestioned leader," Cam Newton said, "but Steve Smith is obviously our spokesman. He's not afraid to speak his mind; apparently, he has a filthy mind.

"Despite their winless record, we can't forget about the Bucs. Nor can we forget about the disinfectant wipes. The Bucs are backed into a corner, and that makes them dangerous and unpredictable. They could explode, or just as easily implode. I heard they had a players-only meeting the other day. Word has it the locker room was 'teaming.'"

The Buccaneers are still winless, 0-6 in Greg Schiano's second year as head coach. Schiano has promised that the Bucs "will be good."

"That's right," Schiano said. "We will be good. Even my players agree. They even believe we'll be better, better off without me.

"But let me qualify that statement, which will likely be the only thing in Tampa that qualifies for anything this year. This team will be good, eventually."

Schiano gives the Bucs an impassioned pre-game speech, demanding better play after handing the team a performance grade of "D" to match the locker room's sanitation rating.

Newton scores on 13-yard TD strike to Smith midway through the first quarter, giving the Panthers quick 14-0 lead. Not one to skip a trash-talking opportunity, Smith taunts safety Dashon Goldson, telling him the Bucs should invoke the "MRSA rule" before the score gets any worse.

Carolina improves to 4-3 with a 27-17 win. On Friday, sanitation workers spray down the facilities with Lysol. Schiano gets sprayed with "Axed Body Spray," and is fired.

Dallas @ Detroit (-3)

The Cowboys and Lions meet in a game that will never take place on Thanksgiving, and probably won't take place on January 19th, date of the NFC Championship Game. Dallas is now alone atop the NFC East after their 17-3 win in Philadelphia last week.

"We've now beaten every NFC East contender," Tony Romo said. "And I use the term 'contender' very loosely, as you would the term 'competent owner.'

"But we'll take our one-game lead. There's a reason it's called a 'one-game lead' — because it will probably last one game."

The Lions fell out of the lead in the NFC North with a crucial 27-24 home loss to the Bengals. Sam Martin shanked a punt with 26 seconds left that gave the Bengals field position that led to Mike Nugent's game-winning field goal.

"I have a question for the league concerning Ndamukong Suh," Jim Schawartz said. "Can he be fined for abusing a teammate? Because Sam Martin could use a good kick.

"Despite the loss, we were buoyed by the return of Calvin Johnson, who had nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Dez Bryant says he can do anything Megatron can. I believe he's right. Megatron can beat anyone. Bryant can do him one better. He can beat anyone, too, and his mother."

Dallas wins, 30-27.

Cleveland @ Kansas City (-9)

The Chiefs are still undefeated after their tough 17-16 win over the Texans and backup quarterback Case Keenum. Kansas City is 7-0, ahead of the 6-1 Broncos, who were toppled at Indianapolis on Sunday night.

"The Texans cut three players for smoking pot in one of our fine hotels," Alex Smith said. "And that brings us to Brandon Weed-en. He doesn't smoke pot, but he does crack, mostly under pressure. As they say, 'Cleveland rocks!'"

"I heard that a Browns' fan listed Brandon Weeden's job on Craigslist. That's funny. That's where the Chiefs used to find quarterbacks."

The Browns lost in Green Bay 31-13 last week and fell to 3-4, tied for second in the AFC North. Weeden was 17-of-42 for only 149 yards, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

"Brandon had a little bit of everything," Rob Chudzinski said, "and a lot of nothing. Forty-two passes indicates that he's not afraid to 'wing it,' which is exactly what I did when I chose him to start. Brandon's only been in the league two years, and he's already 29-years-old. He ages faster than he makes his coaches age."

The Browns bench Weeden in favor of Jason Campbell. Weeden says "thanks" and so do the Chiefs. The Chiefs assault Campbell, sacking him four times and forcing 3 turnovers. Jamaal Charles rushes for 97 yards and a score, and Kansas City wins, 27-10.

Miami @ New England (-7)

The Patriots lost 30-27 in overtime to the Jets, doomed by an odd penalty that gave the Jets new life after a missed field goal. New England was penalized 15 yards for "pushing a teammate on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation."

"That certainly wasn't a make-up call," Bill Belichick. "It was, however, a made-up call. I hear the Jets tipped off the officials. I guess you can't blame the officials; they were just doing their job, but apparently not on the Jets' previous two field goals.

"I think we learned our lesson, which is it's a lot easier to circumvent the rule book when you don't involve the officials."

Miami fought back from a 14-0 early deficit to take the lead on the Bills, only to fall 23-21. The loss cost the Dolphins a chance to pick up a game on the division-leading Patriots, who lost to the Jets.

"We hope to leave with a win," Mike Wallace said. "That way, we can take our talents back to South Beach, as opposed to Aaron Hernandez, who took his talents to North Attleboro.

"And speaking of 'armed and dangerous' tight ends, Rob Gronkowski is back, and even with only one good arm, he's still better than most. He's almost at 100%, which in Gronk-speak is also known as '200 proof.'"

Tom Brady throws for 256 yards and 2 scores, both to Gronkowski, and the Patriots win, 31-20.

Buffalo @ New Orleans (-13)

The Bills shocked the Dolphins in Miami with a late Dan Carpenter field goal, securing a 23-21 win and a boost to their AFC East hopes. Buffalo is 3-4, last in the East, but only two games behind the 5-2 Patriots.

"Here's a surprising fact that may or may not be true," Doug Marrone said. "The Bills have never lost in the Superdome. Here's an even more surprising fact: the Bills have never played a Super Bowl in the Superdome."

The Saints return from a Week 7 bye with a solid 2-game lead over the Panthers. Drew Brees' favorite target Jimmy Graham will play despite a foot injury suffered in Week 6.

"Drew Brees is such a good quarterback," Sean Payton said, "he doesn't even need a backup. But he does have one. We call him the 'Katrina Victim,' because no one knows his name."

New Orleans wins, 34-24.

NY Giants @ Philadelphia (-7)

The Giants won for the first time this season, knocking off the Vikings 23-7 on Monday night at MetLife Stadium. Eli Manning threw for 200 yards and 1 touchdown.

"Most importantly," Tom Coughlin said, "he didn't throw a single interception. Of course, single interceptions aren't what kill us; it's multiple interceptions.

"We may be 1-6, but in the NFC East, that's only three games out of first. That's a manageable deficit, unlike Eli's salary cap hit."

The Eagles lost for the third time at home this season, falling 17-3 to the Cowboys, who assumed sole possession of first in the NFC East. Nick Foles was knocked out of the game with a head injury and relieved by Matt Barkley, who played like he had a head injury.

"Three points is unacceptable," Chip Kelly said. "At the University of Oregon, you don't see a 'three-pointer' until basketball season.

"Michael Vick is my starter, and if I ever say otherwise again this season, please remind me of our loss to the Cowboys. Otherwise, never remind me of our loss to the Cowboys."

Philadelphia wins, 27-23.

San Francisco @ Jacksonville (-17)

The winless Jaguars look to pull the upset as Jim Harbaugh and the 5-2 49ers face the Jacksonville in London's Wembley Stadium. The Jags lost 24-6 last week to the Chargers in Jacksonville and dropped to 0-7.

"This should be fun," Maurice Jones-Drew said. "We get to play in front of a stadium-full of people who know very little about American football. Usually, it's a stadium half-full of people watching players who know very little about American football."

With a 31-17 win in Tennessee last week, the 49ers remained hot on the tails of the 6-1 Seahawks in the NFC West. Colin Kaepernick passed for 199 yards and rushed for 68 yards.

"Colin was unstoppable," Jim Harbaugh said. "If I didn't know better, I'd say he was playing the Packers."

San Francisco wins, 27-13.

NY Jets @ Cincinnati (-7½)

The Jets shook up the AFC East standings with a 30-27 overtime win over the Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Nick Folk's field goal won it after his 56-yard miss was nullified by a Patriots' penalty.

"I hear that's the first time that penalty has been called," Rex Ryan said. "I think what that actually means is it's the first time that penalty has been called by the opposing coach. Officials usually wear vertical stripes; in some instances, those stripes can be crooked.

"We added David Garrard to our roster, which meant we had to drop Brady Quinn. So Mark Sanchez can now assume his old position. No, not quarterback, but the prettiest of pretty boys."

Like the Jets, the Bengals won with a field, beating the Lions in Detroit on Mike Nugents' 54-yard kick as time expired.

"Geno Smith said he will be an elite quarterback," Marvin Lewis said. "I'm amazed by his confidence, and his delusions.

"Andy Dalton is on the cusp of greatness himself. He may be the only quarterback in the league who can go from terrible to great in the span of one series."

The Jets win, 22-20.

Pittsburgh @ Oakland (+3)

The Steelers beat the Ravens 19-16, knocking off their rivals on Sean Suisham's field goal as time expired.

"We may be 2-4," Tomlin said, "and over two games behind the Bengals, but I think we can still win the NFC North. In Pittsburgh, I think they call that 'Immaculate Perception.'

The Raiders are rested after a bye week and ready to take on the visiting Steelers. Terrelle Pryor has emerged as a viable long-term option at quarterback for Dennis Allen's 2-4 squad.

"Terrelle's taken the quarterback job and run with it," Allen said. "What else is he going to do with it? We have the league's second-worst passing offense. At this stage, any reception would be immaculate.

"Mike Tomlin cut out all games in the Steelers' locker room? I just have a few questions to ask him. 'No kidding?' 'No joking?' 'You can't be serious?' Obviously, Mike ain't playing."

Pryor rushes for a score and passes for another, and the Raiders defense comes through with a late stop.

Oakland wins, 20-16.

Washington @ Denver (-13)

Peyton Manning's Indianapolis homecoming was spoiled in Denver's 39-33 loss to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Broncos are now 6-1, second to the undefeated Chiefs in the AFC West.

"At least this time," Manning said, "I was ready to leave Indianapolis.

"The Colts' defense had the perfect game plan. Apparently, the plan was to give up 33 points and still win. If the Colts wanted to make me feel at home, they succeeded, because that's exactly the type of defense I had while in Indy."

The Redskins won a shootout, outgunning the Bears 45-41 in Washington last week. Robert Griffin III passed for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"You can now call him 'Robert Griffin The First,'" Mike Shanahan said, "because he looked like the 'old' Robert Griffin.

"It will be nice to return to Denver. I won two Super Bowls there. It appears that I'm a lot like John Fox, because he can't win a Super Bowl without John Elway, either."

Manning's right arm looked like a wet noodle against the Colts. So the Broncs protect him with the running game, as Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, and Montee Ball combine for 165 yards on the ground. Manning throws for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Denver wins, 40-31.

Atlanta @ Arizona (-2½)

The Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak with a 31-23 win over the Buccaneers last week. Harry Douglas had seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown.

"For those of you who don't know," Mike Smith said, "Harry Douglas is the name of a real player, not some weird sexual euphemism."

The Cardinals were beaten back at home 34-16 by the Seahawks last week, dropping Arizona to the bottom of the NFC West. They'll try to rebound against an injury-plagued Atlanta team.

"This area is known for its dry heat," Carson Palmer said. "Many say my quarterbacking makes it known for its dry heaves. But this time, against the Falcons, I don't think we'll throw up; we'll throw down."

A nervous Palmer blows chunks during the coin toss, but recovers, and throws for 2 scores.

Arizona wins, 27-20.

Green Bay @ Minnesota (+10½)

In his first start as a Viking, Josh Freeman threw 53 times and completed only 19 for 190 yards and 1 interception in the Vikings' 23-7 loss to the Giants.

"Apparently," Leslie Frazier said, "team photos aren't the only thing Freeman doesn't show up for.

"Freeman may have suffered a concussion against the Giants. Or at least that's what we're saying, so as not to look like fools for immediately benching a player we just signed.

"Christian Ponder will start. Freeman's signing didn't sit well with Ponder. Usually, Ponder sits well, because we're often better off if he's sitting."

Green Bay, behind a balanced offensive attack, overwhelmed the visiting Browns, 31-13, last week. The win, coupled with Detroit's loss to the Bengals, left Green Bay alone atop the NFC North.

"It's first place against last place," Aaron Rodgers said. "I like our chances. In the past, the Vikes have been known for their erotic adventures. Sunday night, they'll be famous for their Quixotic adventures. Keep this in mind: if a Vikings says he's 'poking a windmill with his lance,' don't take it literally."

Green Bay wins, 31-16.

Seattle @ St. Louis (+11½)

The Seahawks whipped the Cardinals in Arizona last Thursday, improving their record to 6-1, tops in the NFC West. A win over the Rams will give the 'Hawks a 3-0 division record.

"We're anxiously awaiting the return of Percy Harvin," Pete Carroll said. "Harvin makes us even more of a dominating team. Once he's back in the lineup, opponents better watch out. If we have Percy, we won't have mercy."

Sam Bradford was lost for the season in the Rams' 30-15 loss at Carolina last week. Bradford tore his ACL; Kellen Clemens will take over the quarterbacking duties.

"Not only did we lose in Charlotte," Jeff Fisher said, "we lost our cool in Charlotte. Chris Long was ejected for throwing a punch at a Panther. Chris said he didn't flip off any fans at Bank of America Stadium. But if he did, so what? Some of those fans were throwing bottles at him. Even worse, some were asking, 'Howie doing?'"

The Seahawks force 4 turnovers, and Marshawn Lynch cashes in with 2 short touchdown runs, and is pelted by a hailstorm of Skittles from the St. Louis faithful.

Seattle wins, 31-13.

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