Thursday, November 13, 2014

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 11

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Buffalo @ Miami (-5)

The winner of Thursday night's Bills/Dolphins game takes over sole possession of second place in the AFC East. After both suffered losses last week, Buffalo and Miami are 5-4, two games behind the Patriots.

"Despite the loss in Detroit," Joe Philbin said, "I think we showed a lot of heart, especially Ryan Tannehill. As far as potential, the sky's the limit for Ryan, unless, of course, it's indoors, then there's definitely a 'ceiling.'"

The Bills squandered a 13-3 fourth quarter lead and lost 17-13 to the Chiefs.

"That's right," Doug Marrone said. "We got 'caught from behind.' And that brings me to Sammy Watkins. Besides a Jet cornerback, one thing he can't outrun is a comparison to Leon Lett. What Sammy needs to understand is celebrating before you reach the end zone can be the difference in the game, whether that be a 43-23 Bills win, or a 52-17 Bills loss. Don Beebe would appreciate your hustle, and O.J. Simpson would appreciate a 'clean getaway.'

"Leodis McKelvin guaranteed a victory over the Dolphins. I'm sure that's going to rile the Miami locker room. In fact, Cameron Wake angrily replied to the guarantee by saying, "This means 'war-ranty.'"

Miami wins, 19-16.

Minnesota @ Chicago (-3½)

The Vikings exit their bye week at 4-5 in the NFC North, and now face a Chicago team desperate for a win. The Vikes received some good news from the league; Adrian Peterson is likely eligible to return as soon as Week 12.

"It could be an early Christmas in Minnesota," Mike Zimmer said. "I think part of the agreement is that Adrian is not allowed near a tree. Anyway, he's grateful the NFL showed him a little leniency. Apparently, begging for mercy works, sometimes."

The Bears were demolished, 45-14, by the Packers at Lambeau Field last week. Green Bay led 42-0 at the half, and the Bears were left demoralized.

"It was over by halftime," Marc Trestman said. "I feared 'it' was going to be my job, not the game. That's a 'Great Chicago Fire' that would have been remembered fondly in the city.

"I'm a former coach in the Canadian Football League, so I'm quite familiar coaching a team of players not talented enough to play in the NFL. I didn't coach is Saskatchewan, but this season's been a rough ride' nonetheless."

Chicago wins, 27-21.

Houston @ Cleveland (-3)

The Browns hammered the Bengals 24-3 in Cincinnati last Thursday, holding Andy Dalton to only 86 yards passing. The win put the Browns in first place in the AFC North a 6-3.

"Brian Hoyer continues to impress," Mike Pettine said. "He's not flashy. He doesn't hang with celebrities. He doesn't have any endorsement deals. In other words, he's no Johnny Manziel, which, ironically, is the reason we drafted Manziel.

"Against the Bengals, Brian was 15-of-23 for 198 yards. Think about that for a minute. He completed 15 passes in a game. That's 15 more than Kyrie Irving.

"Jeremy Hill still thinks the Bengals are a better team. Does the Hill have eyes? Can he see a scoreboard? Does he know something everyone else doesn't? I know he has carnal knowledge, but does he have some other kind of knowledge?"

The 4-5 Texans had a Week 10 bye, and Bill O'Brian decided to make a change at quarterback. Ryan Mallett will start over Ryan Fitzpatrick.

"It was a tough decision," Bill O'Brien said. "But that's my job — making the tough decisions. And speaking of 'tough decisions,' I've decided that Jadeveon Clowney is not tough. He attended the University Of South Carolina for three years. That doesn't make him a true Gamecock; it does, apparently, make him 'mostly chicken.'

"I coached Mallett while in New England, so he's familiar with my scheme. Mallet's known for having a rocket arm. Heretofore, we've left 'strong-arming' duties up to J.J. Watt."

Cleveland wins, 24-17.

Seattle @ Kansas City (-1½)

The Seahawks whipped the Giants 38-17 last week, stifling Eli Manning and his youthful cohorts. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns as Seattle improved to 6-3.

"Marshawn was in full 'Beast Mode,'" Pete Carroll said. "He was a man among Giants. I'm not sure what's harder: tackling him, or interviewing him. He certainly doesn't like to be questioned, by reporters or police.

"Lynch is set for a big pay day in 2015. He can certainly taste the 'green' in the rainbow. We'll have a tough decision this offseason, whether to pay Marshawn or let him walk in free agency. Personally, I have no problem throwing money at a running back, or his family."

The Chiefs scored 2 touchdowns in the span of four minutes in the fourth quarter last week, powering them to a 17-13 win on the road at Buffalo.

"We were down 13-3," Andy Reid said. "A ten-point deficit is no reason to panic. Now, a 28-point lead is a different story.

"We have our own superstar running back in Jamaal Charles. Like Lynch, he sometimes gets in a zone in which he's unstoppable. In honor of a former Chiefs great, we like to call that 'Priest Mode.'"

Seattle win, 21-18.

Atlanta @ Carolina (-2)

The Falcons snapped a five-game losing streak, beating the Buccaneers in Tampa 27-17. Atlanta was out-gained by the Bucs, but gutted out the win to go to 3-6 in the NFC South, just one game out of the division lead.

"That's our first win since September 18th," Ryan said. "That's almost two months between wins. At that rate, we won't win again until well in December. At that rate, we may be leading the NFC South division at that time."

The Panthers were humiliated 45-21 by the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Cam Newton threw three interceptions and was sacked 9 times as Carolina's offensive line struggled.

"Cam took way too many hits," Ron Rivera said. "Call it a 'Powerbeat-ing,' but it wasn't from Dre. Cam needs to be more cautious. A quarterback who takes that much punishment is bound to end up much like a stolen laptop computer tossed out of a dorm room window — broken.

"But I think I have a solution. It's called a 'diversion program' in which Cam makes a concerted effort to avoid rushers. I've been adamant that Cam is not injured. If you see him grimace in pain, it's not as a result of an injury, it's as a result of his throws."

With a win at Carolina and a Saints loss to the Bengals, the Falcons would take over first place in the division. But there's a chill in the air in Charlotte, accompanied by a mild breeze, which is more than enough to topple the Falcons defense.

The Panthers get their rushing attack in gear, led by Newton, who scrambles for 65 yards and throws 2 touchdown passes.

Carolina wins, 27-23.

Cincinnati @ New Orleans (-7½)

The Saints lost in overtime to the 49ers 27-24, losing for the first time at home this season. The loss dropped New Orleans to 4-5 and left them in a tie with Carolina atop the NFC South.

"There was a questionable offensive pass interference call on Jimmy Graham that may have cost us the game," Sean Payton said. "It looked like a flop to me. As it was, we ended up with 'PI' in our face. In most cases, a Saint knocking an opposing player to the ground is rewarded, not penalized.

"I'm sure the Bengals will be motivated to play better. Our plan on defense is to make Andy Dalton beat us. The question is, do we force him to do what he does best, or let him do what he does best?"

The Bengals were pounded 24-3 by the visiting Browns on Thursday Night Football last week. Andy Dalton completed only 10-of-33 passes and threw 3 interceptions.

"Andy really picked a fine time to lay an egg," Marvin Lewis said. "After all, the whole state of Ohio was watching. That is, all of Ohio except Canton.

"We signed Andy to a contract extension in August. I hear a lot of fans want me to do the same. Oh, my mistake. I must have read that wrong. They just want me to resign."

New Orleans wins, 31-26.

Tampa Bay @ Washington (-7½)

The Redskins emerge from there bye week coming off a 29-26 road loss at Minnesota in Week 9. Robert Griffin III was a little rusty in his return, but expects to be better with an extra week of practice.

"I've said it before," Griffin said, "and I'll say it again: 'this is my team.' But that doesn't necessarily make me our leader. As I was telling DeSean Jackson, I'm just 'one of the gang.'

"Actually, DeSean stood up and supported me in a team meeting. That meant a lot to me. Usually, when a teammate stands behind me, he's mocking me, or making fun of my excellent grammar, or calling me a 'cornball brother.'

"As for the Buccaneers, we feel very confident we'll beat them. Despite their nickname, there's very little pirate-like about the Buccaneers. I've seen more pirating on Napster. If I was a pirate, I'd damn sure be complaining about the nickname."

The Bucs lost to the Falcons, 27-17, falling to 1-8 on the season.

"Losing is hard to swallow," Lovie Smith said. "Just ask Josh McCown. He was crying at his locker after the game. That takes a lot of guts, knowing not only that doing so might get you labeled 'soft,' but that a spoof video for s Smokey Robinson And The Miracles song called 'The Tears of McCown' would be hitting the internet in a matter of minutes.

"But crying can be liberating. It can also be soothing. I cry myself to sleep every night. Much like McCown, I sleep like a baby."

Washington wins, 27-13.

Denver @ St. Louis (+9)

The Broncos bounced back from week 9's 41-23 loss at New England with a 41-17 win over the Raiders at O.Co Stadium. Peyton Manning threw for 340 yards and 5 touchdowns as Denver improved to 7-2.

"The Raiders are about as non-American as a team can be," Manning said. "By that, I mean the Raiders are not the Patriots. And the Rams are not the Raiders, nor are they the Patriots. They fall somewhere in between, usually from three to seven if you're talking about wins.

"As for Sunday in St. Louis, it's important for us to start strong. That starts with the coin toss. I'm going to call 'tails' and wait for the referee to flip the coin. By the time it lands, I should have the Rams scheme figured out."

The Rams held a 14-10 lead at Arizona before a late collapse led to a 31-14 defeat. After a good start, Austin Davis finished the day with three turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

"Austin was in diapers when Manning was a rookie," Jeff Fisher said. "After his performance at Arizona, he apparently needs 'changing.' We'll be going with Shaun Hill at quarterback.

"Defensively, I think it's important to disrupt Manning's concentration. I'm not sure our defense can do that. But that doesn't mean we can't flash pictures on the JumboTron to upset Peyton. Like, for example, a Massachusetts snowflake, or Mike Vanderjagt, or Ty Law, or Domino's Pizza, or Eli's two Super Bowl rings, or Steve Spurrier. You get the picture."

Manning is sharp from the start, and throws a 55-yard completion to Emmanuel Sanders on the game's first play from scrimmage. Manning finishes with 289 yards passing and 4 touchdowns.

Denver wins, 34-21.

San Francisco @ NY Giants (+4)

The Giants hung with the Seahawks for a half, holding a 17-14 lead at the break before a Seattle onslaught sent the G-Men home with a 38-17 defeat. Marshawn Lynch powered for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns.

"Eli Manning gave Lynch his Citizen Eco-Drive watch," Tom Coughlin said, "because Lynch was 'unstoppable.'

"I hear the 49ers are buzzing about the return of Aldon Smith. It takes a strong man to return to the field after such problems. Luckily, Aldon displays an abundance of liquid courage."

The 49ers upset the Saints 27-24 in overtime last week, keyed by a 51-yard pass on fourth down from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree.

"Judging from my experience and the situation," Kaepernick said, "I just knew Crabtree would be open. Just call it 'offensive pass inference.' That's not the same thing as 'offensive pass interference.' Some say Perrish Cox flopped on that call. No way. Perrish is a stand-up guy. He'd never do anything wrong. He's a saint.

"Some say I don't know when to throw the ball away. That may be true. But I do know when to throw the ball 'a ways.'"

San Francisco wins, 26-16.

Oakland @ San Diego (-10)

The Chargers bye week came at an opportune time, after three straight losses that dropped Mike McCoy's team from 5-1 to 5-4.

"There's nothing like a 'bye' week to try to say 'hello' to a running game," Mike McCoy said. "Luckily, Ryan Mathews is back from an MCL sprain. That should help the running game, and provide Phillip Rivers with an outlet. And trust me, after three straight losses, Phillip needs an outlet other than his usual tirades."

The home-standing Raiders lost to Peyton Manning and the Broncos 41-17 last week. The loss kept Oakland winless at 0-9.

"We're on pace to go 0-16," Tony Sparano said. "In fact, we have been all year. So, you've got to like our consistency.

"There are rumors we may be moving to San Antonio. That could very well be a 'Spur-ious' claim. If our 32nd-ranked rushing attack responded to that rumor, they'd certainly reply 'We're not going anywhere.'"

San Diego wins, 30-17.

Philadelphia @ Green Bay (-5)

In his first start as an Eagle, Mark Sanchez led the Eagles to a dominating 38-7 win over the Panthers. Sanchez passed for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to Jordan Matthews, while the Philly defense forced 5 turnovers and sacked Cam Newton 9 times.

"Chip Kelly's innovation has rendered conventional offenses obsolete, expendable, and replaceable," Sanchez said. "And I've done the same to Nick Foles.

"Former teammate Braylon Edwards said I was 'babied' by the Jets. Braylon is an idiot, and that's the unadulterated truth."

The Packers demolished the Bears, 45-14, as Aaron Rodgers threw 6 first-half touchdowns. Rodgers tied Daryle Lamonica's record of 6 TDs in a half, set in 1969 with the Oakland Raiders.

"They called Lamonica the 'Mad Bomber,'" Rodgers said. "He was a terror for opposing defenses. Now he's a terror for Homeland Security.

"It just got even windier in the 'Windy City.' Even the coverage is blown. I hear there's a movie out called 'Big Hero 6.' I can't tell you what it's about. I can tell you what it's not about — Jay Cutler. Or is it? The movie appears to be about a white, spineless creature whose expression never changes."

Green Bay wins, 31-28.

Detroit @ Arizona (-2)

The Cardinals pulled away late, turning a 14-10 deficit into a 31-14 win over the Cardinals. The win was a costly one, as Carson Palmer was lost for the year with a torn ACL.

"This time," Arians said, "it was the doctor who said Carson wouldn't be playing for a team. Talk about bad timing. No, not Carson getting injured before a game that could determine home field in the playoffs, but Carson signing a contract extension just days earlier."

The Lions beat the Dolphins, 20-16, winning on Matthew Stafford's touchdown pass to Theo Riddick with 29 seconds left. Detroit improved to 7-2, and now heads to Glendale to face the 8-1 Cardinals.

"Calvin Johnson is back and better than ever," Stafford said. "He's even got a new Zaxby's commercial. And believe you me, if anyone knows tender leg meat, it's Calvin.

"Megatron's matchup with Patrick Peterson should be epic. Calvin is arguably the NFL's most talented receiver, and likewise, Peterson is arguably the league's most talented cornerback.

Detroit wins, 17-16.

New England @ Indianapolis (-2½)

After losing to the Chiefs in Week 4, the Patriots have won five in a row, and a Week 10 bye afforded them extra time to prepare for the Colts. New England is 7-2 and leads the AFC East by two games over the Bills and Dolphins.

"I've stated that there are things Andrew Luck does that I wish I could do," Brady said. "And I'm sure there are things I do that Andrew wishes he could, like my wife.

"Mike Vrabel had his three Super Bowl rings stolen. Unlike Robert Kraft's, Mike wasn't wearing his when it happened."

Adam Vinatieri kicks a 51-yard field goal as time expires, giving the Colts a 34-31 win.

Pittsburgh @ Tennessee (+6)

After 12 touchdowns in his last two games, Ben Roethlisberger cooled considerably last week in a 20-13 loss to the Jets. Roethlisberger threw for 343 yards, but only 1 TD, an 80-yard bomb to Martavis Bryant with 1:16 to go.

"That's what you call going from the penthouse to the outhouse," Roethlisberger said. "To me, that's a date that ends well.

"Justin Bieber showed up at our bible study on Saturday. If someone would have asked us 'WWJD?', the last thing we would have answered was 'Show up at the Steelers chapel.' The first thing we would have answered would have been 'egged Heinz Field and organized an illegal street race on Art Rooney Avenue."

The Titans managed only 210 yards of total offense in a 21-7 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore sack Zach Mettenberger five times and intercepted him once.

"One thing's for sure," Ken Whisenhunt said, "Zach didn't take any selfies. That doesn't mean he's not a poser. He's pretending to be an NFL-level quarterback. Unfortunately, Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst are doing the same thing."

Le'Veon Bell rushes for 116 yards and scores once on the ground and once through the air.

Steelers win, 31-16.

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