Thursday, October 1, 2015

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 4

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (+3)

AFC North rivals clash on Thursday night, as the 2-1 Steelers host the 0-3 Ravens. The Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a knee injury and will miss 4-6 weeks.

"That why we signed Michael Vick," Mike Tomlin said. "We like the experience he brings. Now, it's been a while since Michael's played a significant amount of football. Times have changed. So I'll make sure to tell him that the defense team isn't on his side.

"But we're not just going to tell Michael to keep it conservative. Like James Harrison said, you don't get a trophy just for participating, unless you're anyone other than James' kids. Michael's got a lot left in him. He's 35, which is only about 5 in dog years. If you're a quarterback at that age and you're still active, you've accomplished something. If you're a dog and you make it that long, you obviously weren't owned by Michael."

The Ravens fell to 0-3, losing 28-24 to the Bengals. Joe Flacco connected with Steve Smith for 2 scores, but the Ravens could not stop Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, who also hooked up for 2 TDs.

"That's the first 0-3 start in this franchise's history," John Harbaugh said. "And I hear Patriots owner Robert Kraft was talking junk about us on a radio show. Unlike their footballs, Kraft is 'on the air.' Kraft can takes those four Super Bowl rings and shove them up his behind. If he's off the mark just a bit, that's okay, because those rings are 'tainted' anyway.

"Smith has assumed the Ray Lewis role for this team. He doesn't lead the team in prayer, but he does lead the team in receiving. Steve's competitive nature and fire lift up his teammates, whereas in years past, it would 'drop' them."

The Steelers are doubly motivated to vanquish the Ravens: Pittsburgh is a home underdog, and they want revenge for knocking out the Steelers in last year's wild card game in Pittsburgh.

Steelers win, 27-24.

NY Jets @ Miami (+2½)

The Jets and Dolphins travel across the Atlantic in the first of the NFL's games in London this season. The Jets' hot start came to a screeching halt in a 24-14 loss to the Eagles last week.

"We were exposed," Todd Bowles said. "We're not a team that's built to come from behind. And Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a quarterback who is built to engineer such comebacks. We just need Ryan to keep his quarterback rating above his Wonderlic score. That's not asking a lot, unless you're Vince Young.

"We're looking forward to playing in London. I'm always gob-smacked by the number of wankers in New York; I hear there are way more in London. We're here for one thing, and one thing only: winning. So, to Antonio Cromartie, I say 'Never Mind the Bollocks.' You can keep the cockneys happy by shagging an interception, not a bird."

The Dolphins were hammered 41-14 by the Bills last week and fell to 1-2 on the year. It was the most lopsided home opener loss in franchise history.

"Joe Philbin is taking full responsibility for the team's performance," Ryan Tannehill said. "That's very noble of him. I think that has the making of a new television show about a guy who's a stunt man by day and comedian by night. It will be called 'The Stand-Up Fall Guy.'

"You may not know this, but Philbin was voted 'Most Likely To Succeed' by his high school class. And, he was recently selected 'Most Likely to Be Succeeded' by Dolphins management.

"Joe's not the only Dolphin with problems.The wife of Brent Grimes was arrested after the Buffalo game for head-butting a policeman then resisting arrest. Apparently, she's proficient in bump and run also. For this team, that's called threatening to 'Suh.'"

Brandon Marshall, ever the humanitarian, dons a pair of yellow cleats to draw attention to his new cause, "British Dental Health Awareness." Marshall grabs a touchdown score, and Darrelle Revis seals the win with a late interception.

Jets win, 19-15.

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (-9)

The Colts erased a 27-14 third quarter deficit and came back to beat the Titans 35-33, giving Indy its much-needed first win of the season. Andrew Luck tossed two fourth quarter touchdown passes to lead the comeback.

"We pulled that win right out of thin air," Luck said, "which, interestingly enough, is the same place we found our offensive line. Our OL was pieced together by Ryan Grigson. He may be the head of the team's front office, but he can go kiss my back orifice.

"The Jags have to be reeling after last week. They lost to New England 51-17! The Pats must have thought it was the playoffs, and they were playing the Colts."

The Jags surrendered 471 yards of total offense in their loss to New England.

"They call that a 'blowout' in New England," Gus Bradley said. "I'm not sure what the Pats are better at, running up the score, or legal bills.

"It felt like the Patriots knew exactly what we were going to do. So did most bettors, because they knew we were going to lose."

Indianapolis wins, 27-22.

NY Giants @ Buffalo (-7)

The Giants won for the first time, beating the visiting Redskins 32-21 last Thursday, led by 279 yards passing and two touchdowns from Eli Manning.

"It was a win we really needed," Tom Coughlin said. "After the game during my victory speech, I encouraged my team to go out, party, and release some pent up energy. I did clarify, however, that steam was the only thing I wanted them to 'blow off.'

"And speaking of Jason Pierre-Paul, I would rate our performance a 3½ out of 5."

The Bills rebounded from their Week 2 loss to the Patriots, routing the Dolphins 41-14 in Miami. Tyrod Taylor passed for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"Tyrod was great with his arm," Rex Ryan said, "but what sets him apart is his elusiveness. He wasn't sacked a single time. Tyrod's footwork is incredible, and should be celebrated. In fact, I'm hosting a party for his feet. It'll be called my 'Foot Fete-ish.'

"As for the Giants, we have to limit the explosiveness of Odell Beckham, Jr. We have cornerbacks in, so when this game is over, you can best believe Giants fans will be talking about 'The Catch,' because Beckham might have only one."

Bills win, 27-25.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay (+3)

The Panthers improved to 3-0 with a 27-22 win over the Drew Brees-less Saints last week. Cam Newton passed for two scores, both to Greg Olsen.

"Referee Ed Hochuli said I wasn't 'old enough' to warrant a call for roughing the passer," Cam Newton said. "Hochuli said he didn't say that. Can a player throw a challenge flag?

"I'm impressed by Jameis Winston. Is he the Bucs' franchise quarterback? You could say so. To quote any of his accusers, 'he fits the description.'"

Winston struggled in the Bucs 19-9 loss to the Texans last week. This will be the first meeting between Winston and Newton.

"I'm often compared to Newton," Winston said. "There have been a few occasions when I wish I could have been mistaken for Newton."

Carolina wins, 26-14.

Philadelphia @ Washington (+3)

The Redskins lost 32-21 to the Giants last Thursday night. Kirk Cousins struggled, throwing two interceptions and recording a quarterback rating of 39.7.

"Last I checked," Jay Gruden said, "Kirk was still our starting quarterback, I was still our coach, and Daniel Snyder was still the owner. I think Robert Griffin calls that 'Strike III.'

"And speaking of baseball, the Redskins aren't the only dysfunctional team in Washington. The Nationals have an issue after Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon scuffled in the dugout. I don't know what I would do in that situation. I don't even know if I could be in the sport of baseball, because I have no idea how to 'manage' a team."

The Eagles won for the first time, flying past the Jets 24-14 despite the absence of DeMarco Murray. Ryan Matthews rushed for 108 yards, and grabbed a touchdown pass from Sam Bradford.

"Finally," Chip Kelly said, "something offensive for the Eagles that's not Riley Cooper.

"Mathews is one of the offseason acquisitions I orchestrated. I made a ton of trades and free agent signings this offseason. As you would expect, NFC officials are clueless as to which are true 'football moves,' and which are me just trying to unload players I don't like."

Washington wins 24-22.

Oakland @ Chicago (+2½)

The Raiders beat the Browns 27-20 last week in Cleveland, led by big days from Derek Carr, Latavious Murray, and Amari Cooper. The Raiders are now 2-1 and tied for second in the AFC West.

"Those three are our own version of the 'Triplets,'" Jack Del Rio said. "Of course, it took this franchise decades to find this type of talent. Back in the late 1970's, the 'Triplets' often referred to the number of fake fumbles it took the Raiders to get in the end zone."

"Amari is something Oakland hasn't seen in ages. No, not a dominating wide receiver, but a first-round draft pick that actually worked out. If you'd like to see the history of terrible Raiders first-round picks, we've documented them as portraits in our Hall of Fame in the 'Robert Gallery.'"

The Bears were pummeled by the Seahawks 26-0 last week, as Seattle welcomed back Kam Chancellor from his two-game holdout.

"Keep in mind," John Fox said, "we played that game without Jay Cutler. That's why the score was so close.

"We're 0-3 and desperately need a win. I'm confident our players will respond. I think you'll see them 'make a statement,' but please, let's stop the comparisons to Patrick Kane right there. Did Kane get traded to Nashville? Because he's a 'Predator.'"

Bears wins, 29-27.

Houston @ Atlanta (-7)

The Falcon remained undefeated, coming out on top in a 39-28 shootout with the Cowboys in Dallas. Matt Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones for two scores, and Devonta Freeman rushed for 3 scores.

"This offense is explosive," Matt Ryan said. "Kyle Shanahan has really opened up the playbook. Julio is the best receiver in the NFL; you can close the book on that one."

The Texans shut down Jameis Winston and the Tampa offense in a 19-9 Houston win. Alfred Blue rushed for 139 yards and a score as Bill O'Brien and the Texans await the return of Arian Foster.

"I'm not prepared to name anyone the definite starter," Bill O'Brien said. "We have two quarterbacks who have started this year. Let's just call Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett 'Ko-Texans.'"

Atlanta wins, 30-19.

Kansas City @ Cincinnati (-4)

The Chiefs lost 38-28 to the Packers on Monday night, surrendering 5 passing touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers. Kansas City is 1-2, tied for last in the AFC West.

"Alex Smith finally threw a touchdown to a wide receiver," Andy Reid said. "He hit Jeremy Maclin for a score in the third quarter. Jeremy was just as surprised as everyone else. When we signed him, we gave Jeremy $22.5 million guarantees; a touchdown pass from Smith wasn't one of them."

The Bengals, powered by a career day from A.J. Green, beat the Ravens in Baltimore 28-24 to improve to 3-0. Green had 10 catches for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"That's right," Andy Dalton said, "we're 3-0 and on top of the AFC North. On our current pace, we'll finish 16-0. Then, you can best believe my playoff jinx will end, because the only way the Bengals can get out of the first round is with a bye."

Bengals win, 29-21.

Cleveland @ San Diego (-8)

The Browns lost 27-20 to the visiting Raiders last week.

"Despite a swell performance from Josh McCown," Mike Pettine said, "our fans were shouting 'Johnny! Johnny!' for Johnny Manziel. My reaction to that is, 'not a chants.'

"All I can do is continue to evaluate our quarterbacks and make an educated decision on the starter. Once that's done, I have to just hope for the best. That's the motto known as 'Aim High,' not to be confused with Josh Gordon's motto, 'I'm High.'"

The Chargers fell to 1-2 after last week's 31-14 loss to the Vikings. It was a forgettable day for Philip Rivers, who was sacked 4 times and felt the sting of 12 quarterback hits.

"As a devout Catholic," Rivers said, "I really would have loved to see the Pope. My teammates call me 'The Pope,' because being a father of seven children, I represent so many Catholics.

"I'm not so sure the Pope would even have been welcomed in San Diego. I hear he cruises around in the 'Pope-Mobile.' I don't think Chargers fans would appreciate another 'Holy Roller' in this town."

Rivers passes for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Chargers win, 27-23.

Green Bay @ San Francisco (+9)

The 49ers suffered a humiliating 47-7 defeat to the Cardinals last week. Colin Kaepernick threw 4 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

"Frankly," Kaepernick said, "I'm ashamed of my performance. And so is former 49er great Joe Montana. Joe said if my quarterbacking was a shoe, it would be a 'Skech-y.'

"It looks like Jim Harbaugh got out of San Fran at the right time. He's making an impact at Michigan. Now, he can treat his players like kids and get away with it."

The Packers remained undefeated with a 38-28 win over the Chiefs on Monday night. Aaron Rodgers threw 5 touchdown passes, three to Randall Cobb.

"If the Chiefs already had defensive issues," Rodgers said, "I just tore them a new one.

"I'm well on my way to winning the Most Valuable Player award. And it doesn't even look like it will be close. When they tabulate votes at the end of the year, I can promise you it won't be a 'hard count.'"

Rodgers completes passes to four wide receivers, three running backs, two tight ends, and one to himself.

Green Bay wins, 31-16.

St. Louis @ Arizona (-7)

The 3-0 Cardinals look to remain undefeated as they host NFC West rival St. Louis. Last week, Arizona turned back the 49ers, 47-7.

"Tyrann Mathieu said the 49ers had a 'simplified' passing game," Bruce Arians said. "Here's something else even an idiot could understands: the 49ers suck.

"We're going to approach Nick Foles the same way. We think we can force him into turnovers. The key is to watch his eyes. They're a dead 'giveaway.'"

The Rams fell in a defensive battle to the Steelers, losing 12-6. The Rams have scored only 16 points in their last two games, both losses.

"If you're familiar with my coaching philosophy," Jeff Fisher said, "you know I stress defense. If you're familiar with my coaching philosophy, you know it stresses offenses. Unfortunately, they're my own.

Arizona wins, 23-13.

Minnesota @ Denver (-7)

The Broncos are 3-0 after turning back the Lions 24-12 last Sunday night, as the Denver defense rendered the Detroit offense less than ordinary. The Broncos surrendered only 28 yards rushing, and will need a similar effort against Adrian Peterson, who leads the NFL with 291 yards rushing.

"Peterson will be a tall task for our defense," Manning said. "My dad Archie never laid a hand on me. Peterson's a running back. Of all people, he should know the difference between a 'hands off' approach and a 'hand off' approach."

Adrian Peterson scored his first touchdown since 2013 in the Vikings' 31-14 win to the Chargers last week. Peterson totaled 126 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day.

"Hey," Peterson said, "I don't mind playing at Mile High Stadium. At this altitude, more people are likely to think 'highly' of my fathering skills."

The Bronco defense stifles Peterson, and Manning picks the Vikings defense apart with short passes and the occasional "Brett-Favre-falling-down-to-Michael-Strahan sack," just to keep the Minnesota defense honest.

Denver wins, 26-14.

Dallas @ New Orleans (Even)

The Cowboys built a 21-point first half lead on the Falcons, but went scoreless in the second half, eventually losing 39-28. Brandon Weeden was solid at quarterback, while Joseph Randle rushed for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"Joseph hit pay-dirt three times," Jason Garrett said. "Those three things are better than the three things he was previously known for — cologne and a two-pack of underwear."

The Saints wasted a 10-0 lead against the Panthers, eventually losing 27-22. The Saints surrendered 434 yards of total offense, and head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan bickered on the sideline.

"I hate Rob's hair," Payton said, "but most of all, I hate his gut."

New Orleans wins, 30-24.

Detroit @ Seattle (-10)

The Seahawks shut out the Bears 26-0, and now face another struggling NFC North teams as the 0-3 Lions visit CenturyLink Field.

"Kam Chancellor made his return to the lineup," Pete Carroll said. "Did God tell Kam to end his holdout? I don't know if God spoke to Kam, but God did play a part in his return. If you look on a dollar bill, it says 'In God We Trust.'"

Prior to the game, Russell Wilson issues the "12 Commandment," ordering the CenturyLink Stadium to scream as loud as they can.

Seattle wins 23-16.

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2017