Thursday, December 12, 2013
NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 15
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
San Diego at Denver (-10Â½)
The Broncos overcame a sluggish start before pulling away to beat the Titans 51-28. Peyton Manning threw for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns in temperatures that were in the teens at Sports Authority Field.
"To all the critics who say I'm a lesser quarterback in cold temperatures," Manning said. "They can all go 'FÂ°' themselves.
"Maybe I don't have the same arm strength I did when I was younger, but take it from me and Philip Rivers, droopy balls is a natural sign of aging."
The Chargers blasted the Giants, 37-14, giving Eli Manning a sour welcome in San Diego. Rivers outplayed Manning in a battle of quarterbacks forever linked by the 2004 NFL draft.
"Manning made a choice to shun San Diego," Rivers said, "and it was a total chump move. Peyton would never do that, although he'd gladly play for someone who did. John Elway did the same to the Colts in 1983. Apparently, refusing to play for a team is the easiest way to win two Super Bowls."
The Broncos will be without Wes Welker, who suffered his second concussion of the season. But Manning has plenty of other weapons to keep his wits about him.
Manning out-duels Rivers and the Broncos win, 30-27.
Washington at Atlanta (-6)
The visiting Chiefs trounced the Redskins 45-10 last week, handing the 'Skins their worst defeat of the year. Most fans at FedEx Field left early, not long after the start of the third quarter with the 'Skins trailing 38-10.
"That's interesting," Mike Shanahan said. "I thought about heading for the exit early myself. That was last year, after I found out Robert Griffin and Daniel Snyder had a 'thing' going on. That 'thing' turned out to be a good relationship.
"But seriously, I care deeply for Robert. He's like a son to me. If this quarterbacking thing doesn't work out, I could always hire him as my offensive coordinator one day."
The Falcons were edged 22-21 in Green Bay after blowing a 21-10 lead at halftime. Atlanta fell to 3-10, in last place in the NFC South.
"We're gone from first to worst," Mike Smith said. "From the NFC championship game last season to possibly the first pick in the 2014 draft. The 'Dirty Bird' to the 'Early Bird.'
"The Redskins are starting Kirk Cousins in place of Griffin. That's a daring move by Shanahan, but only because he's daring Snyder to fire him. And poor Cousins, he's stuck in the middle. Soon, he may find himself stuck in Jacksonville, or Tennessee, or worse, as a Jet."
If you thought bi-partisanship in the nationâ€™s capital was impossible, think again. Just ask Congress if the Redskins suck, and you'll finally hear the 'Skins get some "yays."
Atlanta wins, 27-24.
Chicago at Cleveland (-1)
The Browns blew a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left to play, allowing two Tom Brady TD passes in less than a minute in a 27-26 loss. The collapse overshadowed another huge day from Josh Gordon, who had seven catches for 151 yards and a score, including an 80-yard TD bomb in the third quarter.
"It's certainly not the first time Josh has been 'wasted,'" Rob Chudzinski said.
"Josh is a receiver with a unique blend of size and speed. And he's been on fire as of late. You can call him 'Flash Gordon,' but people who know him best, like NFL substance abuse investigators, know him as 'Blaze Gordon.'
"But let's be honest. The officials gave that game to the Patriots. The only interference I saw was on the game, from the back judge. I guess in Foxboro, there's a fine line between 'mystique' and 'mistake.'"
The Bears crushed the lifeless Cowboys 45-28 on Monday night, knocking Dallas out of a first-place tie in the NFC East. Josh McCown accounted for five scores as Chicago moved to 8-5, one game ahead of the Bears in the NFC North.
"McCown is an unlikely hero," Mark Trestman said. "That could make Jay Cutler an unlikely action star of the big screen, because he just might be in the next Expendables movie.
"There's a chance Cutler may get the 'franchise' tag in the offseason. That's the first time Cutler's been 'tagged,' but certainly not the first time he's been 'labeled.'"
Cleveland wins, 26-24.
Houston at Indianapolis (-6)
The Texans lost their 11th-straight game on Thursday night, 27-20, to the Jaguars, and fired head coach Gary Kubiak on Friday. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was named interim head coach.
"Once again," Wade Phillips said, "I've got to deal with the fall out. Sometimes, your heart and your owner say the same thing: 'it's time for some new blood.' I've spoken with Gary; he's disappointed, but definitely saw this coming. That's usually what happens when you fall down on the job."
The struggling Colts were overpowered, 42-28, in Cincinnati last week, but still clinched the AFC South division thanks to Tennessee's 51-28 loss in Denver. Indy will likely be the AFC's No. 4 seed, and all signs point to a matchup with the Chiefs.
"That means we start the playoffs at home," Andrew Luck said. "You tell the Chiefs that 'We'll be waiting.' I imagine the Chiefs will respond with just the opposite: 'they can't wait.
"We're certainly a flawed team. We're like Time magazine — we have weekly issues. But the Texans are like a newspaper — they fold in a lot of places. Including Lucas Oil Stadium."
Indianapolis wins, 30-27.
New England at Miami (+2)
The Patriots used a miracle finish to upend the Browns 27-26 in Foxboro last week. Tom Brady threw for 2 touchdown passes late, one after the Pats recovered an onside kick with less than a minute left.
"What a comeback," Brady said. "I definitely think there were supernatural forces at work. That's the only way I can explain the 'phantom' interference call that put us in position to win. I'm sure that drove my homey Terrell Suggs insane. I bet 'T' Sizzled when he saw that replay. In his honor, I'm making a donation to the school for wayward referees, Call So Bad University, which is a satellite school to Sugg's alma mater, Ball So Hard University."
"After last week's frigid game in Foxboro, it's nice to take our talents to South Beach. Of course, Rob Gronkowski won't be making the trip with us. He's out for the season with a knee injury. So, for once in Miami, Gronk won't be 'on the scene.'"
The Dolphins won a huge road game, knocking off the Steelers at Heinz Field 34-28 to improve to 7-6. The win puts Miami in good position to claim the AFC's final playoff spot.
"It's not often you see a warm-weather team beat a cold-weather team in the snow," Joe Philbin said. "But we've been doing the unexpected all year. Like fostering a culture of racism and inappropriate behavior in our locker room. But I think we've all learned from this. Sometimes, you've got to turn the other cheek; other times, you've got a turn a blind eye."
Miami wins, 27-20.
Philadelphia at Minnesota (+5)
Minnesota lost a wild 29-26 shootout in Baltimore as the two teams combined for 5 touchdowns in the final 2:05. Adrian Peterson left the game with a sprained foot injury early in the second quarter, and will sit out Sunday's game against the Eagles.
"In addition to the uncertainty of our quarterback situation," Leslie Frazier said, "now Peterson is hobbled. I think Adrian would agree that, just as it was the case in Baltimore, our issues are snowballing.
"If Adrian can't play, we'll need Cordarrelle Patterson to continue to step up. He's could be the next Randy Moss. He's got three things in common with Moss: he wears No. 84, he's got 'madd skillz,' and he's never given a damn what Mike Tice has to say."
The Eagles scored the game's final 21 points, including two long scoring runs from LeSean McCoy, to turn back the Lions 34-20 at snow-covered Lincoln Financial Field. With the Cowboys' loss to the Bears on Monday night, Philadelphia took outright possession of the NFC East lead.
"One would think that a Chip Kelly offense would struggle in the snow," Riley Cooper said. "But as you saw on that field today, 'white is all right.'
"There's a threat of snow in Minneapolis on Sunday. But there's little chance of significant accumulation. Significant accumulation is when problems arise at the Metrodome — when snowfall is through the roof."
Philadelphia wins, 31-28.
Seattle at NY Giants (+7)
The Seahawks lost a 19-17 slugfest in San Francisco and saw their seven-game winning streak snapped. The 11-2 Seahawks lead the 9-4 49ers by two games in the NFC West.
"I'm surprised we lost," Pete Carroll said. "We're not accustomed to losing. As Richard Sherman proved, we're also not accustomed to losing with dignity.
"MetLife Stadium is the home of Super Bowl XLVIII. So, we're hoping to make a return trip to this venue in February. So, on Sunday, we plan to familiarize ourselves with the place, particularly the Giants' end zone."
The Giants lost in San Diego 37-14 last week and fell to 5-8 on the year. They'll face one of the NFL's best defenses in the Seahawks, who are eager to rebound after last week's loss to the 49ers.
"I'll say what many of the Seahawks often do," Tom Coughlin said. "'We've got a tough test in front of us.' And it seems that Russell Wilson is the only one that passes.
"But who doesn't need a boost from time to time, whether it be to your ego or to your body? Personally, I believe that whatever you put into your own body is your business, which just happens to be the same argument Plaxico Burress made in court."
How intent are the Seahawks on returning to East Rutherford for the Super Bowl? Pretty intent, so much so that Marshawn Lynch, in homage to Tupac Shakur, spends Saturday night having "MetLife" tattooed across his torso.
The prideful G-Men take an early lead, but the 'Hawks force Manning to throw, and the Giants receivers to catch, which is a deadly combination.
Seattle wins, 27-16.
San Francisco at Tampa Bay (+5)
The Buccaneers beat the Bills 27-6 last week, as Bobby Rainey rushed for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns and the Bucs' defense forced 5 turnovers. Now 4-9, Tampa will host the 49ers at Raymond James Stadium.
"I like the way my defense is playing," Greg Schiano said. "They're aggressive, but they're not dirty. So just let Vernon Davis know that this Christmas season, he doesn't need to have his package insured. 'The Catch' is already a legendary play in 49ers' history; the 49ers don't need anything like 'The Grab' making it to the history books. Of course, if the trend of concussions and torn ACL's continues, the crotch may become the only part of the body a defender can legally touch."
The 49ers beat NFC West rival Seattle 19-17 last week behind four field goals from Phil Dawson. San Fran pulled to within two games of the Seahawks in the NFC West standings.
"If you ask Richard Sherman," Jim Harbaugh said, "the officials decided the game. He's right — they signaled Dawson's last field goal 'good.'
"I coached Sherman at Stanford. I believe he majored in waste management with a minor in communications. Hence, his ability at 'trash talk.'"
San Francisco wins, 24-13.
Buffalo at Jacksonville (+2)
The Jaguars beat the Texans for the second time this year, handing Houston a 27-20 defeat that resulted in the firing of Texans' head coach Gray Kubiak. After a 0-8 start, Jacksonville is now 4-9 and looking forward to the future.
"We're 4-1 in our last five games," Gus Bradley said. "You could say we've 'turned a corner.' And that's progress for a team known for 'cutting' corners. Especially where acquiring quarterbacks is concerned."
The Bills committed 4 turnovers in a demoralizing 27-6 loss in Tampa last week. Buffalo fell to 4-9 and is last in the AFC East.
"You've got to hand it to the Jaguars," Doug Marrone said. "They play hard. They are by no means flashy. Maybe that's a reflection of their head coach, Gus Bradley. Maybe it's their spray-painted helmets."
Jacksonville wins, 27-13.
Kansas City at Oakland (+4Â½)
The Chiefs pummeled the Redskins 45-10 in Washington last week and clinched a playoff spot. K.C. sacked Robert Griffin six times and forced 2 Griffin turnovers.
"Redskins' fans made a beeline to the exits just after halftime," Andy Reid said. That's because we directed them there. We like to say we 'route-ed' them. But you have to hand them this: they're the only people in Washington who know where they're going.
"As for the Raiders, we know we can expect a chilly reception in the Black Hole. We may be Oakland's most-hated AFC West rival. And we hate the Raiders, too. It's nothing personal. We don't hate the players, we hate the name."
The Raiders lost to the Jets, 37-27, in MetLife Stadium last week as Geno Smith combined for 269 yards of total offense and 2 touchdowns.
"It's true what they say in New York," Dennis Allen said. "Geno Smith can be a terror."
Kansas City wins, 26-16.
NY Jets at Carolina (-11)
The 6-7 Jets kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 37-27 win over the Raiders last week. They'll face a stiff test in Charlotte against the Panthers and their second-ranked defense.
"I heard ESPN is banning the use of the word 'suck," Rex Ryan said. "In other news, the Jets' beat writer needs a thesaurus pronto."
The Panthers faltered in New Orleans last week, losing big to the Saints, 31-13. The loss dropped Carolina from a tie for first in the NFC South.
"The Jets may try to sneak in here and steal a victory," Cam Newton said. "But we're the Panthers; we do the prowling."
Carolina wins, 22-7.
Green Bay at Dallas (-4)
Matt Flynn's 2-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless completed Green Bay's come-from-behind 22-21 win over the Falcons at Lambeau Field last week. The Packers are 6-6-1, trailing the Bears, who lead the division at 8-5.
"If Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play," Mike McCarthy said, "we have a good chance of winning the division. But we don't want to rush him back for fear of him re-injuring himself. Despite the risks, I'm all for Aaron playing. Given the choice of two temporary fixes, I'll take the one to Aaron's collarbone as opposed to Matt Flynn."
The Cowboys fell out a first-place tie in the NFC East, losing 45-28 in Chicago on Monday night. The Bears piled up 490 yards of total offense and collected 33 first downs.
"The Bears scored on all but one of their possessions," Tony Romo said. "If you were on our sideline, you no doubt heard our offense pleading for our defense to 'make a stop.' And you probably also heard our defense saying 'make it stop.'
"Jerry Jones still has Monte Kiffin's back. Jerry's very loyal to Monte, and will defend him to no end. He expects us to do the same. That makes Jerry a better 'defensive' coordinator than Kiffin."
Dallas wins, 31-23.
Arizona at Tennessee (+3)
The Titans gave up 395 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air to Peyton Manning in a 51-28 loss, Tennessee's fourth in their last five games. Tennessee is 5-8 and still alive in the wide-open AFC playoff race.
"There are rumors that neither Chris Johnson nor Jake Locker will be in Tennessee next year," Mike Muchak said. "Locker just can't stay healthy. He's had two leg injuries in this season alone. So, if we do, in fact, release him, you could say we gave him the 'walking boot.'"
The Cardinals overwhelmed the Rams 30-10 last week and improved to 8-5 on the season. Arizona could win their remaining three games and still not make the playoffs.
"That's why it's known as the 'wild, wild, West," Bruce Arians said. "A 7-9 team wins the division one year, and an 11-5 team potentially doesn't even make the playoffs in another."
Arizona wins, 23-17.
New Orleans at St. Louis (+6)
The Saints bounced back from their loss in Seattle in Week 13 with a definitive 31-13 win over the Cam Newton and the Panthers. Drew Brees passed for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns as New Orleans took the outright lead in the NFC South.
"We put a whippin' on the Panthers," Sean Payton said. "It looks like 'Riverboat Ron's' team got a 'paddling.'"
The Rams fell to 5-8 after their 30-10 loss to the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. They'll try to derail the Saints' path to the NFC South crown.
"Brees is just like any other quarterback," Chris Long said. "He puts his Wranglers on one leg at a time. Joe Montana is not like any other quarterback, because he wears Shechers.
"We have to get some pressure on Brees. Of course, you have to be careful once you get close. Just ask Ahmad Brooks. Brees is a sensitive fellow; you've got to let him down easy."
New Orleans wins, 27-23.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (+3)
Pittsburgh lost at home 34-28 to the Dolphins last week, effectively ending any playoff hopes they harbored. The Steelers nearly pulled off the victory, but Antonio Brown stepped out of bounds on a kickoff return that featured several laterals.
"And an illegal forward pass or two," Ben Roetlisberger said. "I was a guilty party, which is no surprise, because I've often been too forward with my passes, which in turn makes them illegal.
"I think Mike Tomlin has learned his lesson about interfering with play. Going forward, I expect him to mind his P's and Q's, as well as his G's and K's. $100,000 is a lot of money. That can get you a nice motorcycle, or an even better attorney. Everybody knows how much I love attorneys. Nothing gets me off better than a lawyer."
The Bengals raced to a 21-0 lead over the Colts last week and held on for a 42-28 win, keeping their record at Paul Brown Stadium spotless. Cincy could clinch the NFC North title with a win and a Baltimore loss or tie.
"Referee Jeff Triplett blew another replay call," Marvin Lewis said. "Luckily, it went in our favor. There's a reason he's called 'Triplett'; when he's on the field, you get three times the screw ups. That's only one thing more dangerous than Triplett 'under the hood,' and that's Pacman Jones 'in the hood.'"
Pittsburgh wins, 24-22.
Baltimore at Detroit (-7)
The Lions lost in snowy Philadelphia last week, as the weather and an inspired Eagles' defense slowed Detroit's high-scoring offense. Matthew Stafford had only 149 yards passing and no touchdowns in the loss.
"There will be no snow in Ford Field on Monday night," Jim Schwartz said. "The city can't afford it.
"We'll need Ndamukong Suh to get after Joe Flacco. Suh is having his best year as a Lion, and as a human being. But that may change. He said he wants to rip Flacco's head off, but just to see if money falls out."
The Ravens improved to 7-6 with a narrow 29-26 win over the Vikings on Joe Flacco's 9-yard touchdown pass to Marlin Brown with four seconds left.
"What a game!" Joe Flacco said. "Five touchdowns in two minutes. And no, I'm not talking about the Dallas Cowboys' defense.
"The Lions are a cocky bunch. They're also second in the league in giveaways. So, when they're not beating their chests, their beating themselves."
Did Baltimore safety Matt Elam really call Calvin Johnson "pretty old?" Of course, the mild-mannered Megatron took it all in stride, just as he will the passes from Stafford after Johnson toasts Elam.
"Besides," Johnson said, "what's a former Denver kicker doing trash-talking me anyway?"
Detroit wins, 31-27.