Friday, November 1, 2013

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 9

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Cincinnati @ Miami (+2½)

Andy Dalton and the Bengals exploded last Sunday, whipping the Jets 49-9 behind five Dalton touchdowns, including four to Marvin Jones. Now the 5-2 Bengals head to Sun Life Stadium to face the 3-4 Dolphins.

"We've all been 'Jonesin' for Andy to have a breakout game," Marvin Lewis said. "This time, Andy's hair wasn't the only thing that was brilliant.

"Even Pacman Jones had a touchdown. Then he taunted Rex Ryan and threatened Jets' receiver David Nelson. Funny, Nelson doesn't look like a stripper. Anyway, that's not what I want to see out of Pacman. Unlike his video game namesake, he doesn't chase ghosts, but he does collect skeletons, and keeps them in his closet."

The Dolphins blew a 14-point lead over the Patriots, eventually falling 27-17 after a second half dominated by home-standing New England.

"We got served in the second half," Ryan Tannehill said. "Then Mike Pouncey got served after the game. With a subpoena, that is. It's no coincidence that the Pouncey boys find themselves at the 'center' of the Aaron Hernandez case.

"We started 3-0 and have lost four in a row. I have to take most of the blame. Lately, that's the only thing I've been credited with."

It's Halloween. How can you not pick the team that wears black and orange? The home fans say "boo!" but the Bengals do the scaring. Tannehill throws 2 interceptions, and Cincy sacks him 4 times.

Bengals win, 22-16.

Kansas City @ Buffalo (+3)

The Chiefs remained undefeated, beating the upset-minded Browns 23-17 at Arrowhead Stadium last week. Kansas City is 8-0, the team's best start since 2003.

"The 2003 team started 9-0 that year under Dick Vermeil," Andy Reid said. "If you don't think that team was well-coached, you don't know Dick.

"Our eight wins have come at the expense of teams with a combined 20-41 record. I guess that's a nice way of saying the NFC East sucks."

The Bills fell to 3-5, last in the AFC East, after a 35-17 drubbing in New Orleans.

"The Chiefs may be undefeated," Doug Marrone said, "but we won't back down. This storied franchise is used to taking on the AFC's best, and beating them, as those four AFC championship banners attest. So, if we win, I just hope we don't play the NFC's best next, because we'll surely lose."

Is this what's known as a "trap game" for the Chiefs? It sure is. The fired-up Bills come after Alex Smith, and slow down Jamaal Charles. Dan Carpenter kicks four field goals, and the Bills pull off the upset.

Buffalo wins, 19-17.

Minnesota @ Dallas (-12)

The Cowboys blew a 10-point, fourth quarter lead in Detroit, losing 31-30 on Matthew Stafford's one-yard TD plunge with 12 seconds left. Stafford passed for 448 yards, including 329 to Calvin Johnson.

"It's official," Tony Romo said, "Dez Bryant can 'go off' just as well as Megatron. I'm sure Dez was just frustrated at being outgained by 257 yards by Johnson. That's a lot! Johnson's behavior speaks volume; Dez's speaks volumes.

"I know Dez is just passionate about the game, so I can't be angry with him. All he wants is the ball, and he got his wish, because I just gave him a pass."

The Vikings were overwhelmed 44-31 by the visiting Packers last Sunday night. Christian Ponder was ineffective, with only 193 yards through the air and no touchdowns.

"There's trade talk in Minnesota," Leslie Frazier said. "Thank goodness it doesn't involve Hershel Walker. That trade set the Vikings back years. And fans just can't seem to forget about it, especially during football season, when they're most likely to wear 'fleece.'"

"But the trade deadline passed and Adrian Peterson is still a Viking. People everywhere are happy. And Peterson does, in fact, have people everywhere."

Bryant catches eight passes for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns, a performance that screams "look at me!"

Dallas wins, 38-20.

Tennessee @ St. Louis (+3)

St. Louis' Jeff Fisher faces his former team as the Titans visit Edward Jones Stadium, where the Rams are 2-2 this year. Last Monday, St. Louis dropped a 14-9 decision to the NFC West-leading Seahawks.

"Kellen Clemens played a heck of a game," Fisher said. "I guess calling Brett Favre was not the greatest of ideas. If calling a former Packer great is the best way to motivate someone, then I should be speaking to Vince Lombardi.

"But who has time for a séance? The last time I sat around a table and held hands in the dark was with the NFL's Competition Committee. We call it a 'circle work.'"

Mike Munchak's Titans are 3-4, only two games behind the Colts in the AFC South. But inconsistent play has haunted Tennessee all year; Munchak hopes a bye week can help rectify some of the problems.

"Trust me," Munchak said, "I think of calling Favre almost every day. But I doubt he'd take my calls, which is the same thing I ran into with G.M.s when I tried to work a deal to trade Kenny Britt. Surprisingly, Kenny's not wanted in any state."

Tennessee wins, 16-12.

New Orleans @ NY Jets (+5½)

The Ryan twins face each other at MetLife Stadium as Rex, head coach of the Jets, welcomes brother Rob, defensive coordinator of the Saints.

"I'm proud of Rex's weight loss," Rob said. "He's not as large, but still in charge.

"I'm also proud of Rex's unselfish commitment to seeing the rules enforced properly. Far too many were getting away with 'illegal pushing.' Heck, even one of Rex's players, Santonio Holmes, admitted to doing it often as a youth."

The Saints whipped the Bills 35-17 to improve to 6-1, two games ahead of the Panthers in the NFC South. Drew Brees threw 5 touchdown passes, including two to Jimmy Graham.

"The Jets just gave up 5 touchdowns," Brees said. "And I just threw five of my own. It appears the 'Big Apple' will become the 'Big Easy,' at least for a day."

New Orleans wins, 27-24.

San Diego @ Washington (even)

The Redskins put up a fight in Denver before falling 38-21. Washington held a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter, but gave up three Peyton Manning touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

"We had the Broncos reeling," Robert Griffin III said. "We just lacked the knockout blow. That's what happens when Brandon Meriweather doesn't play.

"But Brandon will be back against the Chargers. And he says instead of going for their heads, he's going to take out their knees. That seems to be the natural tendency of things in this terrible division known as the NFC East — everybody is 'aiming low.'"

The Chargers had a week 8 bye, and at 4-3, are third in the AFC West.

"What's the most offensive name in Washington?" Phillip Rivers said. "It's not 'Redskins,' it's 'Dexter Manley.' Manley called Troy Aikman a 'queer.' That will surely make the headlines. Fortunately for Manley, he can't read them."

"Our 4-3 record would be good for second in any other division in the AFC. And first in the NFC East. Now that's queer."

The rested Chargers win, 34-27.

Atlanta @ Carolina (-7½)

The Panthers are rolling after last Thursday's 31-13 win in Tampa, and have now won three in a row. Cam Newton and his teammates hope to beat the Falcons and keep pace with the Saints in the NFC South.

"The sky's the limit for this team," Newton said. "'The Sky's The Limit' was also the title of my father's most famous sermon. The title had nothing to do with reaching heaven, and had everything to do with the asking price for my college football services."

The Falcons were physically dominated in last week's 27-13 loss in Arizona. The defeat dropped the defending NFC South champs to 2-5.

"Is it still 'Breast Cancer Awareness Month?'" Mike Smith said. "If it's not, then what's all this talk about 'pink slips?'"

Carolina wins, 27-21.

Philadelphia @ Oakland (-2½)

Michael Vick re-injured his hamstring in the Eagles' 15-7 loss to the Giants last week. Vick said he heard his hamstring "pop" late in Sunday's game.

"Michael is definitely out for the Raiders game," Chip Kelly said. "Nick Foles has been cleared to play and will start. Matt Barkley will be the backup. Matt was 'BMOC' at Southern California. Here, he's 'DWTH' — 'disaster waiting to happen.' Barkley puts the 'USC' in 'suck.'

"Luckily, the NFC East race is wide open. I think it's safe to say the NFC East champion won't earn a bye, but will say 'bye,' likely in the first round."

Oakland, buoyed by Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, knocked off the Steelers 21-18 in the Black Hole last week. Now 3-4, the Raiders welcome the Eagles and their chaotic quarterback situation.

"Pryor's run was the longest TD run ever by a quarterback," Dennis Allen said. "Terrelle barely got out of college without a 'record;' I can't say the same about his pro career.

"I've got a defensive coordinator named Jason Tarver who likes to give officials the finger. Apparently, our young defense isn't the only thing that's 'up and coming.' I don't buy Tarver's explanation that he was just honoring the late Bud Adams."

Philadelphia wins, 27-24.

Tampa Bay @ Seattle (-17)

The Buccaneers fell to 0-7 after last Thursday's 31-13 loss to the Panthers in Tampa. The 7-1 Seahawks, owners of the NFL's second-ranked defense, expect to light up the Bucs and their anemic offense.

"Hey," Greg Schiano said, "I'd much rather see my name in 'lights' than on a billboard.

"But I'm not giving up on the season. I'm just telling my guys to concentrate on the fundamentals. Likewise, many people are advising me to go 'back to school,' as well."

Seattle used a goal-line stand to thwart the motivated Rams 14-9 last Monday, and remained one game up on the 49ers in the NFC West.

"That was the 'stuff' of dreams," Pete Carroll said.

"Like Mike Glennon, Russell Wilson quarterbacked at North Carolina State. Glennon is 6'7," a good nine inches taller than Russell Wilson. However, it's Russell who stands head and shoulders above Glennon in talent.

Seattle wins, 31-6.

Baltimore @ Cleveland (+2½)

The Browns nearly shocked the undefeated Chiefs last week, losing 23-17 at Arrowhead Stadium. Jason Campbell played well, throwing for 293 yards with 2 touchdown passes, one to Josh Gordon.

"Jason's been in the league for nine years," Rob Chudzinski said. "So he's very resilient, much like a familiar horror movie character. But this Jason lives for Sunday's, not Friday's."

The 3-4 Ravens sit second in the AFC North, albeit 2½ games behind the division-leading Bengals. After a bye week, Baltimore is healthy for the most part and ready for the stretch run.

"Don't forget," John Harbaugh said, "we're still the defending Super Bowl champs. That goes a long way, as does Joe Flacco's contract.

"We sure do miss Ray Lewis' motivational speeches. Now he's an ESPN analyst, so nothing's really changed. He's just talking out of the opposite end."

In the battle of quarterbacks, you have to give the edge to Flacco. Not because he's a Super Bowl champion, or a spokesman for McDonald's, or anything remotely special. He just doesn't have to face Terrell Suggs.

Baltimore wins, 20-13.

Pittsburgh @ New England (-7)

The 6-2 Patriots own a comfortable two-game lead in the AFC East as the 2-5 Steelers make a visit to Foxboro. New England is 4-0, but has yet to show the type of dominance expected of the three-time Super Bowl champions.

"The Red Sox' David Ortiz has been unstoppable at the plate in the World Series," Tom Brady said. "I've been anything but unstoppable. Whereas Ortiz is known as 'Big Papi,' I'm known as 'Big Floppy' to my fantasy owners.

"But at least Ben Roethlisberger still thinks I'm the 'best.' I'm not sure where Big Ben is going with this line of flattery, but I'm guessing it leads to a bathroom."

The Steelers lost to the Raiders 21-18 last week and are now 2-5, last in the AFC North.

"I'm running out of things to ban in the locker room," Mike Tomlin said. "Maybe coaching will be next."

New England wins, 28-24.

Indianapolis @ Houston (+3)

The Texans used a bye week to sort out the wreckage of 2-5 season, and need a win over the Colts to have an iota of a chance in the AFC South. Gary Kubiak named Case Keenum the starter over Matt Schaub.

"Matt was ready to go," Gary Kubiak said. "Some say I'm even more ready to go."

The Colts lead the AFC South with a 5-2 record, and are showing the confidence of a team with wins over Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver this season.

"We're giant killers," Andrew Luck said. "That's opposed to Giant killers, which isn't nearly as impressive."

Houston wins, 24-23.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-12)

The banged-up Packers won at Minnesota last week 44-31 and improved to 5-2. Aaron Rodgers threw for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to Jordy Nelson.

"Randy Moss once famously made 'moon shine' at Lambeau Field," Rodgers said. "Similarly, Jordy is known as 'White Lightning.'"

The Bears are without Jay Cutler, who injured his groin in Chicago's 45-41 loss to the Redskins in Week 7. Josh McCown will take over at quarterback, and should the Bears win, they'll take over the lead in the NFC North.

"It's a huge game," Mark Trestman said. "Cutler's known for being crotchety; now he's got the injury to match."

Green Bay wins, 34-27.

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