NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 4

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

NY Giants @ Washington (-3½)

The Giants won for the first time, beating the previously undefeated Texans, 30-17, powered by big days from Rashad Jennings on the ground and Eli Manning through the air.

"All I've heard this year is controversy over the 'Redskins' nickname," Tom Coughlin said. "Well, I used a similar theme when I cursed out my 0-2 prior to the game when I said, 'How can you call yourself a Giant?!'

"But I have to hand it to Eli. He had a couple of bad games to start the season, but he never lost confidence and responded as one would expect a two-time Super Bowl champion. If there's one thing you can expect from Eli, it's an even keel. Win or lose, good or bad, he always has that same dumb look on his face."

Kirk Cousins threw for 427 yards and 3 touchdowns in a losing effort, as the Redskins dropped a 37-34 decision in Philadelphia.

"That's bad news for Daniel Snyder," Jay Gruden said. "He can't win for losing. We all know how he feels about the 'Redskins' name. Well, Robert Griffin goes out, Cousins takes over, and the Redskins get more offensive.

"Obviously, some things got out of hand against the Eagles. Chris Baker was ejected for fighting, but that's okay with me. I like to see that kind of passion from my players. Baker wears No. 92, which was formerly Albert Haynesworth's number. But I'd rather have a player ejected from a game than dismissed from a practice."

Cousins throws for three scores, and the 'Skins play with a chip on their shoulder, which can only be knocked off when driven squarely under the opposing quarterback's chin.

Washington wins, 27-24.

Green Bay @ Chicago (+1½)

The Packers fell to 1-2 after last week's 19-7 loss in Detroit. The Lions defense held Green Bay to 223 total yards, and scored on a safety and fumble return.

"This defeat falls squarely on the shoulders of our offense," Mike McCarthy said. "And by extension, it falls squarely on my shoulders, which gently slope downwards, much like the direction this team is heading.

"Aaron Rodgers has urged Packers fans not to worry about the team's performance. His exact word was 'relax.' I think a better word would have been 'chill,' because the weather in Green Bay is way more predictable than the Packers."

The Bears followed up their Sunday night win in Week 2 in San Francisco with a Monday night win at MetLife Stadium over the Jets. Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett hooked up for two scores, and the Bears defense forced three turnovers.

"Our defense may bend," Marc Trestman said, "but it doesn't break. However, it does sprain, tweak, pull, concuss, tear, and twist.

"The Packers/Bears rivalry is one of the NFL's most-storied. I say 'one of,' because the most 'storied' rivalry in the NFL is the league's battle versus the truth. If Roger Goodell wants to tell a story, maybe he should start with the full story. Goodell is not the Commissioner; he's the 'O-missioner.'"

It's not quite a must-win game for the Packers, but a win would certainly feel better than the alternative: a loss and a three-game deficit to the division lead. Rodgers puts his team on his back, picking apart the Bears secondary for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns. Clay Matthews sacks Jay Cutler twice, and Green Bay wins, 27-22.

Buffalo @ Houston (-3½)

All hope of a Bills-Texans matchup of undefeated teams ended last week with losses by both teams. Buffalo lost 22-10 to San Diego, while the Texans fell 30-17 to the Giants.

"It may not a battle of two undefeated teams," Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "Nevertheless, it's still a big game for me. I was the quarterback in Buffalo for four years. I'd classify myself up there with Bills great Jim Kelly, because in four tries, I never won a Super Bowl either.

"But there's no ill will between me and the Bills. I can understand why they let me go. E.J. Manuel is a fine quarterback. He played his college ball at Florida State. To my knowledge, Manuel's never stood on a table and got stupid, but I'm pretty sure he's been under a table and got paid."

Despite their loss to the Chargers, the Bills are still tied for first atop the AFC East with the Patriots.

"I'm just glad we're staying in Buffalo," Fred Jackson said. "And I'm even more thrilled that Jon Bon Jovi has no stake whatsoever in Bills ownership. Besides, everybody knows the Goo Goo Dolls run this town."

Houston wins, 27-24.

Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-7½)

The Colts manhandled the hapless Jaguars 44-17, earning their first win of the year. Andrew Luck torched the Jacksonville defense for 370 yards passing and four touchdowns.

"Anytime you can get a win on the road," Luck said, "it's a big deal, even against the Jaguars. You could say we put them 'in their place.'

"Pep Hamilton really improved his play-calling. When I say he 'opened up' the play book, I mean he read past page two."

After a promising start to the season, a win on the road in Kansas City, the Titans have dropped two straight by a combined score of 59-17.

"Jake Locker has struggled lately," Ken Whisenhunt. "Maybe he's not the right guy to run my offense. But now is not the time to make a change. That doesn't mean I won't tell him, 'Jake, I think it's time we went in another direction.' Hopefully, he'll interpret that to mean it's time to move the offense forward."

The Titans keep it close, but Luck throws for two scores and runs for one on a bootleg in which he hides the ball in his beard.

Indy wins, 27-21.

Carolina @ Baltimore (-3)

Steve Smith welcomes his former team to M&T Bank Stadium, as the 2-1 Ravens host the 2-1 Panthers. Smith was a Panthers for 13 years before signing with the Ravens in the offseason.

"I'm sad to say I was a teammate to both Ray Rice and Greg Hardy," Smith said. "I'm even sadder to say they are teammates I should have punched when I had the chance.

"It appears this Rice situation isn't over. It will continue to haunt this franchise for years to come. I doubt even Edgar Allan Poe could imagine a nightmare scenario quite like this one. I can promise you this: Poe's version and the Raven's version would both be works of fiction."

The Panthers ran into a rested Steelers team intent on proving their recent offensive woes were only temporary. Pittsburgh handed Carolina a 37-19 loss, knocking them from the ranks of the unbeaten.

"Judging by the events of the last two months," Ron Rivera said, "I'm surprised anyone is unbeaten.

"But enough of my social commentary. I'm here to coach, not to babysit. And I'll be damned if Adrian Peterson should ever be allowed to babysit. Dang it! There goes my social commentary again."

Former Raven great Ray Lewis leads the home team onto the field, and performs his signature dance in the North end zone, destroying all evidence of the new paint job just put down by the grounds crew. Lewis then disposes of his sweaty clothes and gets the hell out of town.

In the stands, vendors distribute game day programs in Braille in honor of the fans' "blind support" for Rice.

On the field, Smith burns his former team for 6 catches and 89 yards and a short score.

Baltimore wins, 23-15.

Detroit @ NY Jets (+1½)

The Lions stifled the Green Bay offense in a 19-7 win at Ford Field last week. Detroit held Aaron Rodgers to 162 yards passing and only one touchdown.

"Our defense has been solid all year," Jim Calwell said. "They face good offenses and slow them down. You could call them the 'Lion Tamers.'

"Now, Ndamukong Suh is still the face of this defense, as well as it's 'sole.' In times past, Suh has made some questionable actions that often cost us dearly on the field. I think the 2014 version of the Detroit defense prides itself in Suh's image, because they often 'hurt themselves.'"

The Jets dropped to 1-2 after losing to the visiting Bears 24-16 at MetLife Stadium on Monday night. Geno Smith threw for 316 yards and 1 touchdown, but threw two costly interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

"Geno made some mistakes," Rex Ryan said, "but he displayed some flashes of brilliance. What Geno needs to understand most in that you can't force the ball. You can't be afraid of going to your check-down receiver. Just ask a hardcore Jets fan. He'll tell ya: 'Geno needs a new progression. Rex needs a new profession.'"

Calvin Johnson catches 8 passes for 105 yards and 2 scores.

Detroit wins, 23-20.

Tampa Bay @ Pittsburgh (-7)

The Buccaneers are 0-3 after last Thursday's 56-14 shellacking at the hands of the Falcons in Atlanta.

"We could possibly be the worst team in the NFL," Lovie Smith said. "Heinz Stadium could very well be 'four down' territory for us.

"We got beat in all phases of the game — offense, defense, special teams, and scoreboard. On the bright side, we proved a point. That point being that a team can shame the NFL on the field as well as off."

The Steelers overwhelmed the Panthers 37-19 in Charlotte last Sunday night, stunning a home crowd expecting the Panthers to emerge 3-0.

"Up until Sunday night's game," Mike Tomlin said, "we hadn't played well on offense or defense. You could say we had some issues to clean up. Luckily, we had easy access to all the video, so it was a simple process.

"James Harrison is back as a Steeler. We've had some injuries at the linebacker position, and James knows our system well. James has always been an outspoken critic of Roger Goodell. Well, it seems James was, in fact, a visionary.

Pittsburgh wins, 27-17.

Miami @ Oakland (+4)

The Dolphins and Raiders face off in London's Wembley Stadium in the first of three NFL games there this season. The Raiders are 0-3 after last week's tough 16-9 loss at New England. Once again, the Oakland ground game struggled, with only 67 yards rushing.

"Sure," Dennis Allen said, "we're averaging well under four yards per carry. But I've said all along, before this running game can be productive, we've got to take baby steps.

"We're looking forward to our trip to London. I can't tell you how many fans in Oakland have told me I need a change of scenery."

Miami dropped to 1-2 after losing at home 34-15 to the previously winless Chiefs. Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times and was largely ineffective in the loss.

"Dolphins fans may be asking too much out of Ryan," Joe Philbin said. "He's no Dan Marino, for Christ's sake. Maybe this trip to London will be good for Ryan. He's certainly not capable of playing out of this world; maybe 'out of this country' is a more reasonable expectation."

Miami wins 27-21.

Jacksonville @ San Diego (-13½)

The Chargers won their second straight game, scoring a tough 22-10 road win at Buffalo and are now 2-1, tied with the Broncos atop the AFC West.

"I threw for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Seahawks two weeks ago," Philip Rivers said. "Peyton Manning threw for 303 yards and 2 TDs against them last week. Either Aaron Rodgers is overrated, or the Seahawks pass defense is overrated.

"But the Jaguars aren't the Seahawks. The Seahawks have the 'Legion of Boom.' Jacksonville is neither the 'Legion of Boom' nor the 'Legion of Doom,' but they are 'Superfriend-ly' to opposing offenses."

The Jaguars fell into a 30-0 hole at Indianapolis last week and eventually lost 44-17 to the Colts. Chad Henne was benched at halftime, and rookie Blake Bortles took over, throwing 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

"We may have found our quarterback of the future," Gus Bradley said. "And, with a simple rearrangement of letters, our future is 'Blake,' not 'bleak.'

"Blake has a lot to learn, and it's important he start learning immediately. Quarterbacks in this league are difficult to come by for this franchise, unlike high first-round draft picks."

The Chargers sack Bortles 5 times and force 2 Jaguar turnovers. Rivers throws for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to Keenan Allen.

San Diego wins, 29-10.

Atlanta @ Minnesota (+2½)

In the wake of the Adrian Peterson case, the Vikes again struggled on offense, losing 20-9 to the Saints. Starting quarterback Matt Cassel left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury and was replaced by rookie Teddy Bridgewater.

"Teddy will have to grow up fast," Mike Zimmer said. "He's got 'zip on his balls,' and that has nothing to do with his arm strength.

"It appears that Peterson's days as a Viking are over. He's apparently in denial about his child abuse charges. Now, he wants to take a polygraph test. Why? Who knows? Maybe to prove that there is something he can't beat. What's next? Does he want to start saying that he simply outscored his children?"

The Falcons exploded for 56 points in their blowout of the Buccaneers last Thursday night. Matt Ryan tossed threw touchdown passes, and Devin Hester scored on a rush and a punt return.

"The Buccaneers graded out at an A+," Ryan said. "In getting 'home-schooled.'

"We've scored 93 points in two games at home, and 10 points in Cincinnati. I detect a pattern here. And that is, when 'the roof, the roof, the roof is on,' we're pretty good."

Atlanta wins, 30-19.

Philadelphia @ San Francisco (-5½)

The Eagles record is still spotless after an emotional 37-34 win over the Redskins last week. Philly scored ten straight points to take control after Nick Foles was roughed up by Washington's Chris Baker, who was ejected along with Philadelphia's Jason Peters after an ensuing brawl.

"It was good to see Peters take up for Foles," Chip Kelly said. "I believe that was the only instance of defense we showed against the Redskins.

"Now I've got Cary Williams criticizing my conditioning methods. And that's after we just went 3-0! And I thought Foles got blind-sided. Anyway, Cary has apologized for getting bent out of shape for being out of shape."

The 49ers lost their second consecutive game, falling 23-14 to the home-standing Cardinals. A loss to the Eagles would leave San Fran 1-3 and three games behind the Cards in the loss column.

"I don't want to talk about 'W's' or 'L's,'" Jim Harbaugh said. "And I surely don't want to talk about 'N's.'

"We drafted Colin Kaepernick with the intention of molding him into a new type of quarterback. And his actions support the idea that he's a 'piece of work.' But he's no easy matchup for the Eagles. With Colin, you have to respect his throwing and running ability. It's difficult to do both. Of course, some things you can't defend."

Former Eagle and 49er Terrell Owens shows up at the opening coin toss, and after tossing the coin, flips off players from both teams, then makes off with the coin, scoring his biggest payday in years.

The desperate 49ers win on Phil Dawson's 47-yard field goal as time expires.

San Fran wins, 24-21.

New Orleans @ Dallas (+3)

The Cowboys fell behind 21-0 in St. Louis before rallying to take the win 37-34. Dallas faces a Saints team looking to break out on offense.

"If Austin Davis can throw for 324 yards and three scores," Jason Garrett said, "I can only imagine what Drew Brees will do to our secondary. I fear for our safeties.

"But our offense is a lot like Jerry Jones — they think they can score with anyone. And speaking of our upstanding owner, let's just hope no illicit photos of Jerry Jones posing with some young hotties surface. Jerry really needs to stop hamming it up. So, all I can really say is, 'Jerry, Jerry, why you muggin'?"

The Saints ground out a tough 20-9 win over the resilient Vikings last week. It was New Orleans first win of the year, and left them one game behind the Falcons and Saints in the NFC South.

"We finally got a solid game from our defense," Sean Payton said. "It appears Rob Ryan's job is safe for now. Rob's been the defensive coordinator for four different NFL teams. Unlike his defense, he makes stops in a lot of places."

New Orleans wins, 38-30.

New England @ Kansas City (+3½)

The Patriots held on to beat the inspired Raiders 16-9 last week in Foxboro. Vince Wilfork's interception of a deflected Derek Carr pass ended Oakland's scoring threat and sealed the win.

"Surprisingly," Tom Brady said, "Vince has a nose for the ball. Usually, when he smells pigskin, there's a bag of pork rinds in jeopardy. And if you're food, Vince 'will fork' you up."

The Chiefs won for the first time, wearing down the Dolphins, 34-15, in Miami. Alex Smith threw for 3 touchdowns and Knile Davis rushed for 132 yards and a score.

"This reminds me of a quote by Herman Edwards," Andy Reid commented. "Herman once said, 'I should get out of coaching and into broadcasting.' And he did. He also said something about playing to win the game. Well, we did something like that in Miami. We played to win a game. And we did."

After three unconvincing performances, the Patriots make like Rob Gronkowski's doctors and put it all together. The Pats defense frustrates Smith, and Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen rush for a score apiece. Brady finds Gronkowski late to seal the victory.

New England wins, 27-20.

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