Thursday, November 10, 2016

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 10

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-10)

The Cowboys whipped the Browns 35-10 to send Cleveland to its ninth straight loss this season. Hue Jackson and his team have a short week to prepare for the Ravens in Baltimore.

"It was a tough week for Cleveland sports," Hue Jackson said. "Things for this city have gone from bad to curse.

"When this game ends, we're gonna pack up, leave Baltimore, and head to Cleveland. Take that, ghost of Art Modell."

The Ravens dominated the Steelers and a limited Ben Roethlisberger in a 21-14 win that put Baltimore in first in the AFC North. Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace for a 95-yard TD strike in the first quarter, and the Steelers didn't score until the fourth quarter.

"We knew we had to out-physical the Steelers," John Harbaugh said. "And we did, because I don't think Roethlisberger passed his physical. But really, I'm amazed by the recuperative powers of Roethlisberger. And so is Ray Lewis. Ray wants to know if Roethlisberger is available in spray form.

"I know it's not possible on the scoreboard, but I think our best chance to win this game is let Cleveland jump out to a 3-1 lead."

Baltimore wins, 24-16.

Kansas City @ Carolina (-3)

The Panthers beat the Rams 13-10 in Los Angeles and have now won two straight to improve to 3-5. Cam Newton was sacked 5 times, but persevered to pass for 225 yards and a touchdown to Greg Olson.

"I'm still taking illegal hits to the head," Newton said, "and they're not being called. I've already contacted Roger Goodell and begged him for a resolution, but to no avail. I've made pleas; I guess the next step is 'pretty pleas.'

"Ray Lewis said teams 'smell weakness' in me. That's probably not weakness they smell, it's my new cologne, 'Eau My Head.'"

With Alex Smith out, the Chiefs turned to Nick Foles against the visiting Jaguars last week. Foles responded with a mistake-fee game, passing for 187 yards and a touchdown in Kansas City's 19-14 win.

"Alex was impressed by Nick's performance," Andy Reid said. "Nick's day was Alex Smith-like, and Alex Smith-liked. Let's face it, neither Smith nor Foles will ever light up a stat sheet. But their fantasy owners can, when they take a match to it."

Carolina wins, 23-13.

Houston @ Jacksonville (+2)

The Texans lead the AFC South with a 5-3 and are fresh off a week 9 bye. Houston leads the Colts and Titans, both at 4-5, with the 2-6 Jags bringing up the rear.

"We used the extra week to add a few wrinkles to our offense," Bill O'Brien said. "Of course, it makes no sense that we're wrinkles when really what we need to do is straighten out our offense.

"Brock Osweiler is trying his best to master our playbook. He's studying it profusely and making tons of notes. Here's an interesting fact: Brock uses $100 bills as Post-It notes."

The Jaguars lost 19-14 to the Chiefs in Kansas City last week. In their first game with new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Jacksonville racked up 449 yards of total offense, but committed four turnovers.

"We executed offensively," Gus Bradley said. "That's what it's called when you make an offensive coordinator disappear.

"But we have to work on our ball security. If we had a 'ball security coordinator,' he would certainly be fired, and I would appoint our sole French member of the coaching staff, Jacques Strappe, to the position."

Texas win, 27-24.

Denver @ New Orleans (-2)

In a battle for first place in the AFC West, the Raiders outmuscled the Broncos, 30-20. Oakland rushed for 218 yards as a team, led by Latavius Murray, who had 114 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"The Raiders have a massive offensive line," Gary Kubiak said, "and they created 'Black Holes' all night. They call our pass defense the 'No Fly Zone.' Seeing our run defense dominated like that, I can tell you, that won't 'fly' either."

The Saints won their third straight game with a commanding 41-23 win over the 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mark Ingram rebounded from the previous week's benching with 2 touchdowns and 171 total yards, while Drew Brees passed for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"For his performance," Sean Payton said, "Mark gets the game ball. Of course, I reserve the right to take it back at any time of my choosing.

"Eight times a year, the Broncos play one mile above sea level. Sixteen times a year, their offense plays below average."

Brees passes for 2 touchdowns, and the Saints defense forces a late Trevor Siemian turnover to preserve the win.

New Orleans wins, 27-23.

Los Angeles @ New York Jets (-2)

The Rams offense struggled for three quarters in a 13-10 loss to the visiting Panthers. Los Angeles has lost four in a row after a 3-1 start to the season.

"Fans at the L.A. Coliseum were chanting 'We want Goff,'" Jeff Fisher said, "in reference to overall No. 1 pick Jared Goff. He's not quite ready. So, much like we did at the NFL Draft, fans were saying his name much too early.

"I don't know if Case Keenum gives us the best chance to win a game, but I believe Kenny Britt gives us a great chance to win. He should have a field day against the Jets defensive backfield. In this election year, Darrelle Revis has unanimously been voted off the 'Island' by opposing wide receivers."

The Jets lost to the Dolphins 27-23 in Miami and now sit alone in last place in the AFC East.

"Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions," Todd Bowles said. "Let me rephrase that: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two more interceptions. Jared Goff is a No. 1 pick; Ryan Fitzpatrick in No. 1 in picks.

"But I don't want to throw Ryan under the bus, unless it's moving. But I may not have to — Ryan has a sprained MCL. That may open the door for Bryce Petty and/or Christian Hackenburg to play. Ultimately, we need to find a quarterback who can perform at a high level consistently, and make the tough throws in crunch time. In other words, we want a quarterback who is 'guaranteed money,' and not one who's paid guaranteed money."

Fitzpatrick and Keenum put on a show that impresses no one, except for Goff, who realizes he is better than at least two other NFL quarterbacks.

Jets win, 23-16.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia (EevenMatt Ryan passed for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Falcons smashed the Buccaneers in Tampa 43-28 last Thursday. Atlanta is 6-3 and leads the NFC South.

"I'm happy to be mentioned with Tom Brady in the MVP conversation," Ryan said. "Heck, I'd be happy to be mentioned in any conversation involving Brady, unless the subject of the conversation ends in 'gate.'

"Former Atlanta head coach Mike Smith is Tampa's defensive coordinator. He finally did something he tried to do in Atlanta for seven years, which is make the Atlanta offense look good."

The Eagles lost 28-23 to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. Carson Wentz threw 2 interceptions, and Eli Manning picked apart the Eagles secondary for 4 touchdowns.

"Josh Huff was right," Doug Pederson said. "Manning has a 'gun' and he also has 'weapons.' And, I was sitting in the Met Life Stadium locker room after the game and I realized everybody was 'packing.'

"We need to take Ryan out of the game. So, like every player in the league, he needs to be 'un-armed,' at least according to Huff."

Atlanta wins, 30-21.

Chicago @ Tampa Bay (+1½)

The Bears enjoyed a bye week after their Week 8 win over the Vikings. Jay Cutler returned to the lineup with a solid outing, and was credited with inspiring his teammates with a pre-game speech.

"Usually," John Fox said, "Jay lets his arm do the talking. That often results in a moment of silence. But this time, Jay gave a speech that really fired up his teammates. He led them in a rendition of 'Go Cubs Go!'"

The Buccaneers gave up 500 yards of total offense in a 43-28 loss to the visiting Falcons last Thursday. It was the second consecutive game in which Tampa surrendered 500 yards.

"Obviously," Dirk Koetter said, "our defense needs some work. Actually, they need less work.

"We signed Josh Huff, who was just released by the Eagles, to add some firepower to our receiving corps. Josh asked 'What pro athlete doesn't have a gun?' That's clearly hyperbole. I know Josh was trying to make a point, but he instead made a hollow point."

Former Bears and Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith is named honorary coin tosser for the game, but is fired before he can fulfill his job duties.

Bears win, 24-21.

Green Bay @ Tennessee (+3)

The Packers lost to the visiting Colts 31-26, despite 3 touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay fell to 4-5 and has lost two games at home this year.

"I can't do it all," Rodgers said. "The rest of my team can't do it at all.

"A squirrel made its way onto Lambeau Field during the game last week. Apparently, that squirrel doesn't understand that no rodent comes into this house without paying the price, not here, not ever. But that squirrel did run into the end zone, which is more than I can say about our running backs corps."

The Titans gave up 208 yards on the ground in a 43-35 loss to the Chargers. Marcus Mariota passed for 3 touchdowns and ran for another, but had 3 turnovers, two of which were returned for scores.

"I've tasked Marcus with reviewing video of his turnovers," Mike Mularkey said. "But I don't want him watching it at the team facility; I want him viewing it at home. That way, maybe he'll have a better understanding of what 'taking it to the house' means.

"Our game plane against Green Bay is to not let the quarterback beat us. The quarterback I'm referring to is our own."

Packers win, 28-23.

Minnesota @ Washington (-3)

The Vikings hope to end a three-game losing streak when they invade FedEx Field to face the Redskins. Last week, Minnesota lost to the visiting Lions 22-16 in overtime.

"Blair Walsh missed a point-after attempt that may have cost us the game," Mike Zimmer said. "Even before that, Walsh was criticized by many for his many failed kicks. Now, you can expect there will be 'extra point-ing.'

"Our 5-0 start is history. Our 5-3 record is a current event. And speaking of current events, if you've been hiding under a rock, you should probably stay there."

The Redskins emerge from a bye week hoping to keep pace with the NFC East-leading Cowboys.

"Right now," Jay Gruden said, "we're not thinking about the Cowboys. We've got our attention on the Vikings. You might as well call us 'fans' of the Vikings, because we're worried about them."

Washington wins, 23-13.

Miami @ San Diego (-4)

The Dolphins beat the Jets 27-23. Jay Ajayi hammered the Jets for 111 yards rushing and a touchdown.

"Jay Ajayi is a 230-pound battering ram," Adam Gase said, "Jay was born in London, England. If Jay were a monetary currency, his name would be the 'British Pound.'

"We've won four straight games. Even when we were 1-3, I had faith. Trust me, I wouldn't leave this team, even if the job at the University Of Alabama became available."

Melvin Gordon rushed for 208 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers overwhelmed the Titans 43-35.

"That performance was Melvin's 'drop the mic' moment," Mike McCoy said. "It followed several 'drop the ball' moments."

Chargers win, 24-22.

San Francisco @ Arizona (-13½)

The Saints blew out the 49ers 41-23 as New Orleans piled up 571 yards of offense. On the bright side, Colin Kaepernick passed for 398 yards and 2 touchdowns in a losing effort.

"Colin can be 'out standing,'" Chip Kelly said, "but just not during the national anthem.

"Despite what you may have heard, I'm not leaving San Francisco for a return to college. That is, unless I get an offer I can't refuse. I'm a sucker for a good deal. In fact, I heard on the internet that the University Of Phoenix is looking for a new head coach."

The Cardinals emerge from their bye week at 3-4-1, two games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West.

"Sure," Bruce Arians said, "the Seahawks have been involved in several controversial plays lately. But you've got to hand it to them; they've made the kicking game interesting again. And isn't that just what this sport needs? A good kick in the balls?"

Arizona wins, 30-20.

Dallas @ Pittsburgh (-2½)

The Steelers offense was blanked for three quarters in an eventual 21-14 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Ben Roethlisberger started just three weeks after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus.

"I stand by my decision to let Ben play," Mike Tomlin said. "Sure, he struggled, but keep in mind, he's not Superman. Ben can't enter a phone booth and come out pain-free, just as he can't enter a bathroom and come out scott-free."

The visiting Cowboys overwhelmed the Browns 35-10. Dak Prescott passed for 3 touchdowns, and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 2 scores.

"That was a two-man rookie symposium," Jason Garrett said. "Our offense is like a car. Ezekiel is the engine, and Dak is the steering wheel. And Tony Romo would be the fifth wheel."

Steelers win, 27-24.

Seattle @ New England (-7½)

Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham hooked up for 2 touchdowns, and the Seattle defense made the late stops to preserve a 31-25 win over the Bills on Monday night.

"The Bills may want to dispute the reason that they lost," Pete Carroll said, "but it's 'official.' We won.

"This game will have a playoff feel. I imagine both teams are feeling a lot of tension. Gosh, if there was a device in that stadium that could measure 'pressure,' I'd love to see it."

The Patriots used their bye week for extra preparation for the tough Seattle defense.

"I'm sure the Seahawks are still stinging from the Super Bowl 49 loss. It must be tough talking about that game, much less watching highlights. If you're a Seahawk, and someone asks if you want to watch that game, do you say 'Run it,' or do you say 'I'll pass.'

"Bill Belichick apparently wrote a letter of encouragement to Donald Trump. Bill says he wasn't necessarily endorsing Trump. I think what he was trying to say was Trump's campaign was unprecedented, while Hillary Clinton's was 'un-presidented.'"

Patriots win, 28-24.

Cincinnati @ New York Giants (-2)

The Bengals enter the second half of their season with the intention of making a run at the AFC North crown. Right now, Cincy is 3-4-1, only ½ game behind the 4-4 Ravens and Steelers.

"I think the AFC North title is anybody's for the taking," Marvin Lewis said. "Even the Browns. If they somehow go on an seven-game winning streak, they could very well win the division, by one, maybe even two games. I think what I'm saying is the North has gone South."

Eli Manning passed for 4 touchdowns, two the Odell Beckham, Jr., in the Giants 28-23 win over the Eagles last week. New York improved to 5-3, two games behind the 7-1 Cowboys.

"Odell has been able to get his emotions in check," Manning said. "For a while there, I felt like he was on track to be a paid spokesperson for 'Shoulders,' because he had lost his 'Head.'

"But Monday night's game will give him an opportunity to measure himself against A.J. Green. Physically, I'd say they are both equally gifted. It's in the mental arena where Green has the edge. Comparatively, they're not 'even-tempered;' singularly, Beckham is definitely not even-tempered."

New York wins, 26-23.

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