Thursday, November 14, 2013
NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 11
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Indianapolis @ Tennessee (+3)
The Colts found themselves in a 28-0 hole to the Rams last week and eventually lost 38-8 at home. Andrew Luck threw 3 interceptions and Indy fell to 6-3.
"I was sacked three times and hit another seven," Luck said. "There's no 'incognito' in our offensive line, because they just got exposed."
The home-standing Titans were upset as well, losing to the winless Jaguars 29-27 in Tennessee. Jake Locker was lost for the year with a broken foot; Ryan Fitzpatrick will start on Thursday.
"Jake's suffered his share of injuries," Mike Munchak said. "And when he hurts, we all hurt, including me, because it pains me to say that our season rides on the back of Fitzpatrick.
"Ryan brings a Harvard education to the lineup. He's got a degree, but no pedigree. He reportedly scored 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test. At least in test-taking, he's good at passing."
The Colts come out with a purpose, that being to dismantle the Titans and solidify control of the South. Indy's defense puts them on the board first with an interception return for a touchdown. Luck throws two touchdowns the rest of the way.
Colts win, 27-16.
NY Jets @ Buffalo (even)
The Bills were whipped 23-10 by the Steelers in E.J. Manuel's first game back since suffering a knee injury in Week 5.
"As one would expect," Doug Marrone said, "Manuel was a little rusty against the Steelers. Of course, any scientist worth his salt would tell you that steel doesn't rust, iron does. What does that have to do with football? Nothing, but it's got everything to do with chemistry. And if nothing else, this team has chemistry. Just to clarify, that's no admission of PED use. Shawne Merriman's long gone. "
New York returns from a bye week with designs on chasing down the 7-2 Patriots in the AFC East. The 5-4 Jets' quest begins in Buffalo, where the Bills are 2-3, including a win over the 6-3 Panthers.
"Indeed," Rex Ryan said. "The Bills are unpredictable, except in Super Bowls.
"Much like the Bills," Rex Ryan said, "we have a dynamic, young quarterback, Geno Smith. When he's good, he's good. When he's bad, he's still better than Mark Sanchez. Sanchez played at USC; that makes him a former Trojan. Often, just for kicks, we'll call Mark by his Greek name, 'Erroneous.'"
"The bye week did us a lot of good. Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow are both set to return. They're both 'receivers,' but only one is a 'supplier.'"
New York wins, 23-17.
Baltimore @ Chicago (-3)
The Bears lost to the Lions 21-19 last week at home, falling out of a first-place tie in the NFC North. Jay Cutler returned from a groin injury and was still clearly troubled by the discomfort, and later left the game with an ankle injury.
"Jay's got a high ankle sprain," Mark Trestman said, "and he's out for the Ravens game. In addition, Charles Tillman has been placed on injured reserve with a torn triceps. Charles has battled a number of injuries this year; that's why they call him 'Peanut Brittle.'"
The Ravens built a 17-0 lead in the second quarter and didn't score again until overtime, beating the Bengals 20-17 on Justin Tucker's 46-yard field goal. Baltimore, now 4-5, pulled to within a game of the division-leading Bengals in the AFC North.
"We certainly were not playing like Super Bowl champions," John Harbaugh said. "Some say we were 'choking.' That's not true, although I would like to strangle some of my players.
"Hopefully, Joe Flacco can step up his game. Our fortunes lie with Flacco. By that, I mean we've got $100 million invested in him. Joe's apparently running his own offense—I believe it's called a 'Pyramid Scheme.'"
Chicago wins, 20-19.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-5½)
The Browns visit Paul Brown Stadium in a game with important AFC North implications. At 4-5, Cleveland is right in the middle of the race.
"The Bengals have a chant that goes 'Who dey?'" Brandon Weeden said. "We Browns have our own chant in response to that. It's called 'What da?' As in 'What da heck are the Bengals doing leading the division?"
The Bengals fell behind early in Baltimore, eventually losing 20-17 as the AFC North race tightened considerably. At 6-5, Cincy leads the Ravens and Browns by only one game in the loss column.
"Heck of a job by our defense," Marvin Lewis said. "But I can't pin blame on our offense. They're innocent, because they did nothing.
"The division is up for grabs, much like most of Andy Dalton's passes. Andy's an enigma. How else can you explain a 5-touchdown game followed by a 3-interception game? Sometimes, Andy plays like a 'ginger,' because he's easily 'red.'"
Cincinnati wins, 16-14.
Washington @ Philadelphia (-3½)
The Redskins let a 27-14 lead at Minnesota evaporate in a 34-27 loss to the Vikings. Robert Griffin III threw for three touchdowns, but was sacked 4 times as Washington fell to 3-6.
"We obviously have issues everywhere," Mike Shanahan said. "We can't stop the run, the pass, or the bleeding. Most people have a problem calling us 'Redskins;' I think all people would have a problem calling us 'division champs.'
"But in the NFC East, it's not over until it's over. I could see tiebreakers deciding the division. It's like they said at the start of the season, 'Let's get this parity started."
The Eagles, behind another big day from Nick Foles, bested the Packers at Lambeau Field 27-13. Foles, who threw 7 TD passes in Week 9, threw three more against the Packers.
"I think I've done more than enough to earn the starting job," Foles said. "I'd be really upset if Chip Kelly doesn't give me the nod. I'd be so upset, I'd probably go home and lock myself in my room. That would be called 'house arrest,' which, as history shows, may very well be the secret to acquiring the job."
Many say defense will decide this game. That can't be true. How can defense decide this game when it won't even be there.
Washington wins, 29-27.
Detroit @ Pittsburgh (+1)
One week after surrendering 55 points to the Patriots, the Steelers limited the Bills to 10 in a 23-10 Pittsburgh win.
"I was proud of our defense," Mike Tomlin said. "Sure they're old, but they still have a little life left in them. They're certainly not the NFL's best defense. They're like a good college defense, because they're 'senior-laden.'
The Lions beat the Bears 21-19 and are now alone atop the NFC North with a 6-2 record.
"That's right," Matthew Stafford said. "We have 'sole possession.' That's opposed to 'soul possession,' which is what black players in Miami say Richie Incognito has.
"But we don't tolerate players like Incognito here. We don't have any problem at all with teammates being bullied. Opponents? That's a different story. Ndamukong Suh has bullied players all over the league, and all over their bodies."
The Steelers get an inspired effort from their defense, but in the end, they can't stop Megatron, who catches two short TD passes.
Detroit wins, 27-20.
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay (+1)
The Buccaneers won for the first time, beating the distracted Dolphins 22-19 last Monday behind a solid defense and an offense that produced 140 yards on the ground. Tampa will try to make it two in a row when the 2-8 Falcons visit Raymond James Stadium.
"All the talk lately about 'locker room culture' has been centered on the Dolphins," Greg Schiano said. "But don't forget, we started it in Tampa. Laboratory tests revealed that the 'locker room culture' was, in fact, MRSA.
"Doug Martin is already on injured reserve, and we lost Mike James for the season to an ankle injury. But Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey filled in nicely. They have to be the NFL's best 'role' players not named Antrel."
In a rematch of last year's NFC divisional playoff game, the Seahawks turned the tables and hammered the Falcons 33-10 in Atlanta. Atlanta is now 2-7 and already thinking about next season.
"That's seven losses," Mike Smith said. "We're putting the 'L' in 'A-T-L.' We had 14 wins last year. I guess we also put the 'W' in 'H-O-W?'"
Tampa wins, 27-24.
Arizona @ Jacksonville (+7)
The Jaguars stunned the Titans 29-27 in Tennessee, winning for the first time this season. Despite gaining only 214 yards of total offense, Jacksonville persevered, giving Gus Bradley his first win as an NFL head coach.
"We did just enough to win," Bradley said. "We're doing anything but kicking ass. And speaking of 'kicking ass,' I showed my team the inspirational Disney movie Gus about a field-goal kicking donkey. Obviously, it had an effect on them."
The Cardinals returned from a bye week with a 27-24 win over Houston, sending the Texans to their seventh-straight defeat. Arizona improved to 5-4, good for third in the NFC West.
"And first in the NFC East," Bruce Arians said. "I'm sure if we played in the East, we'd dominate. Here's an interesting fact: when you travel West to East, you lose three hours, but you can gain three wins."
Arizona wins, 24-16.
Oakland @ Houston (-7)
The Texans lost their seventh consecutive game, falling 27-24 in Arizona. There was more bad news in Houston. In the wake of Gary Kubiak's minor stroke on November 3rd, Arian Foster is out for the season after undergoing surgery to treat a bulging disc in his back.
"It's been a tough year for us," said interim head coach Wade Phillips. "No one's more disappointed than former Presidents and Texas natives George H.W. Busch and George W. Busch. But does Obama care? I doubt it.
"Anyway, if Kubiak can't make it on Sunday, he's given me free reign to manage the game. Sure, he's got his way of coaching, and so do I. But he said if I like my plan, I can keep my plan."
The Raiders lost to the Giants 24-20 at MetLife Stadium and are now 3-6.
"My regards to Coach Kubiak," Dennis Allen said. "The rigors of coaching can be tough, but I feel great. I don't feel faint or dizzy at all. If I did, I would probably expect to wake up in Sebastian Janikowski's bedroom."
J.J. Watt continues to dominate, recording 3 sacks and a forced fumble. After a 31-14 Texans' victory, Watt is given the game ball, and the title of "interim quarterback."
San Diego @ Miami (+1)
The Chargers lost 28-20 in Denver last week, unable to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos' aerial attack. Manning threw four TD passes, including three to Demaryius Thomas.
"It's time to regroup," Mike McCoy said. "I'm sure that's not the first time that's been said in Miami.
"Thank goodness we don't have a problem like this in San Diego. If we did, I'm sure we'd handle it better. If I had to grade the Dolphins organization on their response, I'd give them a 'cluster F.'"
The Dolphins lost to the winless Buccaneers 22-19 last Monday night. With Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin out, the 'Fins' rushing attack suffered, with only two yards on the ground.
"Just like that," Joe Philbin said, "the left side of our offensive line disappeared. Ryan Tannehill wasn't happy, and he let me know it. He's a graduate of Texas A&M, so he informed me of his feelings in an obscene 'Tex' message.
"Richie's career as a football player may be done. But as a white man with ghetto street credibility, I'm sure he'll find a place, probably in the next Chappelle's Show 'Racial Draft.'"
Miami wins, 28-24.
San Francisco @ New Orleans (-3)
The 49ers were limited to 151 total yards and were upset by the visiting Panthers 10-9 last week. Colin Kaepernick was ineffective, with only 107 yards of total offense.
"There was a time," Jim Harbaugh said, "when opposing defenses had no answer for Kaepernick. Now, almost all have an answer, and the answer is 'No.'"
The Saints piled up 625 yards of offense and an NFL record 40 first downs in a 49-17 dismantling of the Cowboys at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last Sunday night. Drew Brees passed for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns as New Orleans held on to a one-game lead over the Panthers in the NFC South.
"It looks like Dallas' 'Doomsday Defense' is back," Brees said, "because when you give up 40 first downs and 625 yards, it certainly looks like the end of the world. The Cowboys are on a bye week. If they're lucky, it will be a 'bye' week for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, too."
Frank Gore and Kaepernick combine for 150 yards on the ground, and the 49ers pull the upset, 26-23.
Green Bay @ NY Giants (-6)
Green Bay's quarterback situation took another hit in last Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Eagles last week. Already without Aaron Rodgers, backup Seneca Wallace injured his groin early in the game. Scott Tolzien took over and will start on Sunday against the Giants.
"Tolzien's our man," Mike McCarthy said. "You know, despite his nickname of 'J.R.R.,' Scott's got no value in the fantasy world.
"But you never know where this may lead. Brett Favre started his amazing streak after taking over for the injured Don Majkowski. Am I saying Scott Tolzien is Brett Favre? I hope so. Am I saying that Aaron Rodgers is Don Majkowski? I hope not."
The Giants overcame 3 turnovers and won for the third-straight time, beating the visiting Raiders 24-20. New York is 3-6, behind the 5-5 Cowboys and Eagles in the NFC East.
"I was looking forward to playing against Rodgers. But I guess he's not playing, or so says this New York Post headline that reads 'Nay-Rod,' which could very well be a story about another Alex Rodriguez denial.
"In any case, we have to prepare for Scott Tolzien. But I'm already prepared, because I was already expecting to be the second-best quarterback on the field."
New York wins, 27-17.
Minnesota @ Seattle (-14)
The Vikings charged back from a 13-point halftime deficit to beat the Redskins 34-24 last Thursday. Their task is a much tougher one this Sunday, as they travel to Seattle to face the 9-1 Seahawks.
"Christian Ponder is recovering from a separated left shoulder that he suffered against the Redskins," Leslie Frazier said. "That's his non-throwing arm, or, as some call it, his good arm."
Seattle hammered the Falcons 33-10 in Atlanta last week and appear on their way to earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"We've got one thing in common with the Vikings," Pete Carroll said. "Percy Harvin hasn't played a game for either of us this year.
Seattle wins, 34-13.
Kansas City @ Denver (-7½)
The Chiefs and Broncos square off with the AFC West division lead on the line. The undefeated Chiefs lead the way, but a win by the 8-1 Broncos would give them the tiebreaker edge. Denver tuned up for the showdown with a 28-20 win over San Diego. Peyton Manning threw 4 TD passes, but took some hits that left him sore.
"We've got to do a better job in our protections," Manning said. "Every time I take a hit, everybody's heart skips a beat.
"The next three weeks could define our season. We'll face the Chiefs the week of Thanksgiving, which also happens to be the week of Black Friday. And that leads me to 'Black Saturday,' which is what players in Indianapolis called my former center with ghetto credibility."
The Chiefs are rested and ready for the challenge Manning and the Broncos present. They'll have to put pressure on Manning, which may be easier with his mobility hindered by a high ankle sprain.
"We'll have to be at our best," Andy Reid said. "We haven't faced anything like the Broncos this season, that being a team with a winning record.
"Dwayne Bowe will play despite being arrested for speeding and marijuana possession."
Manning limps off the field in the second quarter after a sack, and sits the remainder of the game. Backup Brock Osweiler takes over, and the Broncos immediately stink it up, because they've got "B.O."
Kansas City wins, 27-25.
New England @ Carolina (-2½)
If the Panthers weren't considered Super Bowl contenders, they are after last week's huge 10-9 win over the 49ers in San Francisco.
"As statement games go," Cam Newton said, "we filibustered that one.
"I admire Tom Brady. Someday I hope to have as many Super Bowl rings as him. Right now, I have none, which is three fewer than Brady, and one less than Vladimir Putin."
The Patriots are back after a bye week following a 55-28 win over the Steelers, an outburst which may indicate that Brady and the New England attack are peaking.
"We famously met the Panthers in Super Bowl 38," Tom Brady said. "That may have been Jake Delhomme's finest moment as a professional. Jake's like a god in Charlotte. In fact, people speak of him and God a lot, often in the same sentence.
"I don't have the physical gifts that Newton possesses. 'Physical gifts' aren't what got me to the University Of Michigan, but 'physical gifts' are definitely what got Newton to Auburn."
It's a huge Monday night game, probably the biggest in Charlotte in years. Fans are tailgating in record numbers. There's red meat and any and all varieties of alcoholic beverages. In Panthers country, they call that "junk in the trunk."
The Bank of America Stadium crowd is raucous, but Brady silences them along with Rob Gronkowski, whose popularity is still rising in the Northeast, but dropping considerably in the Far East.
Patriots win, 23-19.