Thursday, September 28, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 4

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-7)

The Bears stunned the Steelers 23-17 in overtime at Soldier Field, winning on Jordan Howard's 19-yard touchdown run with 8:27 left. The Bears are 1-2 and face the NFC North-leading Packers on Thursday night.

"This is what Bears football is all about," John Fox said. "A solid running game, tough defense, and a losing record.

"We're trying not to ask Mike Glennon to do too much at quarterback. He may just not be capable. I'm not sure if you can call Mike a 'franchise quarterback,' unless he also owns several chain restaurants.

"Make no mistake. We're going to attempt to run the ball down Green Bay's throat. I imagine if a football is run down a throat, the resulting voice would sound a lot like mine."

The Packers turned back a strong effort from the Bengals to post a 27-24 overtime victory at Lambeau Field. Green Bay erased a 21-7 halftime deficit as Aaron Rodgers passed for 3 touchdowns.

"A wise man once said 'never underestimate the Bengals,'" Rodgers said, "'until January.'

"We know the Bears always play us tough. And we expect nothing less on Thursday night. This game's going to be won in the trenches. In Green Bay, the trenches are outside the hash marks."

Rodgers' touchdown screen pass to Ty Montgomery in the fourth quarter seals the win for the Packers, who prevailn 29-17.

New Orleans @ Miami (+3)

The Dolphins nearly went scoreless in a 20-6 loss at MetLife Stadium to the Jets. Jay Cutler and the offense were erratic, and the defense couldn't stop Josh McCown and the Jets offense.

"It appears no one on this team showed up to play," Adam Gase said. "Here in Miami, we call that 'going AWOL.'

"I think we all need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Especially Jay Cutler. I think he'll find, much like we did against the Jets, that Jay Cutler looked like Jay Cutler."

Drew Brees passed for 3 scores and the Saints defense intercepted Cam Newton 3 times as New Orleans easily beat the Panthers, 34-13.

"We also sacked Newton 3 times," Sean Payton said, "and laid 5 QB hits on him. To my knowledge, none of those were the result of a bounty system. You can quote me on that, as long as my right hand is nowhere near a bible.

"You can best believe I'll be wearing my sunglasses on Sunday. Not necessarily because of the bright sun in Miami, but I'd like to cut down on Adrian Peterson's 'glare.' Adrian's not afraid to make eye contact. Unfortunately, A.P.'s not the same player he was five years. These days, eye contact is all it takes to bring him down."

Miami steps up their defense and rebounds with a 27-24 win.

Buffalo @ Atlanta (-8)

Tyrod Taylor passed for 2 touchdowns and the Bills defense did the rest as Buffalo beat the visiting Broncos, 26-16.

"Tyrod may be the hardest working quarterback in the NFL," Sean McDermott said. "No one would dare question his work ethic, his character, his commitment, or his stretching routine, for that matter. In other words, there's nothing shady about him.

"If there's a city that can relate to a winless Super Bowl record, it's Atlanta. And if there's a city that can relate to holding a huge lead in the Super Bowl, it's any team that's played Buffalo in the Super Bowl."

The Falcons remained undefeated, surviving a late scare to leave Detroit with a 30-26 win. The Lions appeared to have won a Matthew Stafford's pass to Golden Tate, but replay officials ruled Tate was stopped short of the goal line. With no time outs, the Lions watched helplessly as a 10-second run-off ended the game.

"I've seen my share of shocking endings," Matt Ryan said. "And I can think of only one more shocking than that. This one, however, involved a Falcons win. Baseball has 'walk-off' wins; this was a 'run-off' win.'

"In the realm of the undefeateds, we're still standing. And really, isn't it hard to keep up with who is and is not standing?"

LeSean McCoy responds to his critics by standing for the national anthem, on his head, and is soundly booed by the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and chastised by Donald Trump on Twitter, where the President tweets an animated video of McCoy tumbling over Niagara Falls.

Falcons win, 28-22.

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (+3)

The Steelers were stunned by the pesky Bears, 23-17, in overtime at Soldier Field, losing for the first time this season.

"There is obviously some things we need to clean up," Mike Tomlin said. "We just weren't in sync, on offense, on defense, and especially in the manner of showing unity in response to Donald Trump's comments.

"But enough about the national anthem. Let's talk about the real 'national disgrace,' which is what the Ravens' representation of American football was in London."

The Ravens were destroyed 44-7 by the Jaguars in London, as Baltimore managed only 52 yards passing. Joe Flacco was terrible, completing only 8-of -8 passes, and threw 2 interceptions.

"We were flat-out awful," John Harbaugh said. "And following with the current theme, we were an embarrassment to our country. To add insult to injury, we were stopped at the airport before departure, for trying to pass through customs with our tails between our legs.

"I pulled Joe out of the game in the fourth quarter. And to remind that he needs to put this pathetic performance behind him and concentrate of Pittsburgh, I tossed him a Terrible Towel."

Baltimore wins, 24-23.

Cincinnati @ Cleveland (+3)

The Bengals couldn't hold on to a 21-7 halftime lead at Lambeau Field and eventually fell 27-24 in overtime to the Packers.

"We were competitive," Marvin Lewis said. "I give the team an 'A' for effort, and an 'L' for result.

"We've got Vontaze Burfict returning after a three-game suspension. Sometimes, Vontaze's passion for the game is just too much, but I hesitate to tell him to 'lead with your head, not your heart.'

"A player who won't suit up on Sunday is Tyler Eifert. He's nursing a back injury. Tyler may be the most-injured player in the NFL. He practically lives on the injury list. He actually lives in a little blue tent on the sidelines."

The Browns are 0-3 after a 31-28 loss at Indianapolis. Deshone Kizer three 2 touchdown passes, but also tossed 3 interceptions.

"Deshone faces a steep learning curve," Hue Jackson. "That's a curve that starts at the bottom and ascends quickly. If you need a visual, picture the opposite of Johnny Manziel's career arc."

Cincinnati wins, 26-24.

Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas (-7½)

The Rams outscored the visiting 49ers 41-39 last Thursday night as Todd Gurley scored 3 times, while Sammy Watkins added 2 receiving TDs.

"It was good to see Watkins have a breakout game as a Rams," Sean McVey said."I knew it was a matter of time before he got vertical; his concussion tells me it was only a matter of time before he got horizontal.

"I'm a little concerned that we surrendered 39 points to a team that had previously not scored a touchdown. Wade Phillips has to be better. Our defense played like bums. I don't expect our defense to be 'bum-like;' considering who his father is, I do expect Wade Phillips to be 'Bum-like.'"

The Cowboys bounced back from their crushing defeat at Denver in Week 2 with a 28-17 Monday night win over the Cardinals. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 80 yards and sealed the win with an eight-yard TD run with 4:57 left in the fourth quarter.

"I was pleased with Ezekiel's performance," Jason Garrett said, "as well as his effort. As punishment for his lack of effort at Denver, I ordered Ezekiel to report into the game as 'tackle-eligible.'

"I think our home crowd will be a big factor on Sunday. There will be over 100,000 people in AT&T Stadium. I'm pretty sure the Rams won't see a crowd of that size in Los Angeles, until they add up their season attendance numbers."

Dallas wins, 28-24.

Tennessee @ Houston (+1½)

The Titans spanked the Seahawks 33-27 as Tennessee piled up 420 yards of total offense, 195 of that on the ground. At 2-1, the Titans are tied with Jacksonville atop the AFC South.

"If we can do that to the Seattle defense," Mike Mularkey said, "then we should be able to do it to any overrated defense. And that brings me to the Texans. They just gave up 36 points in last week's 36-33 loss to the Patriots. Does that alone mean the Houston defense sucks? Not necessarily. It does, however, mean that the Patriots defense sucks."

Tom Brady's 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds left broke the heart of the Texans, giving the Patriots a 36-33 win.

"We kicked a field goal to go up by five points instead of going for it," Bill O'Brien said. "In doing so, we knew we were giving Brady over two minutes to go the length of the field to score a touchdown. He needed a game-winning drive; I guess I just handed him the keys. I guess my history of bad quarterback decisions aren't limited to my own team.

"On the bright side, I think DeShaun [Watson] proved that he's our quarterback of the future. I think even Brady was impressed by what he saw. I can't be positive, because Tom doesn't toss compliments towards opponents as easily as he does touchdown passes."

Houston wins, 27-19.

Detroit @ Minnesota (-3)

Case Keenum, again filling in for Sam Bradford, passed for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Vikings' 34-17 win over the visiting Buccaneers.

"The status of Sam Bradford's knee is up in the air," Mike Zimmer said. "So it's good to have a capable backup in Keenum. That's why we like to call him 'Just In' Case Keenum."

The Lions lost 30-26 to the visiting Falcons, but nearly had the game won on what appeared to be a TD pass from Matthew Stafford to Golden Tate. But replays ruled Tate was down short of the goal line.

"I can assure you," Jim Caldwell said, "Golden didn't 'take that knee' as a form of protest.

"But we can't let one loss define our season. Just as we can't let one win define our season. Unless it's a playoff win. Then we will definitely let that one win define our season."

Lions win, 23-21.

Carolina @ New England (-8½)

The Patriots avoided the Texans upset bid with a gutsy 36-33 win, scoring the winning points on Tom Brady's 25-yard TD pass to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds left.

"We really gave Patriots fans a scare," Brady said. "Call us true 'Patriots,' because we made everybody in the stadium put their hands on their heart.

"You may have heard about my book, 'The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.' In the book, I say that drinking enough water can prevent sunburn. Now, that claim is not based on any factual evidence, which, as history tells us, could get me a four-game suspension. So I should keep my mouth shut before 'Hydrate Gate' becomes an issue."

The Panthers were outclassed 34-13 by the visiting Saints, suffering a demoralizing home loss. Cam Newton threw 3 interceptions, and the Carolina defense was exposed by Drew Brees.

"Cam's shoulder is obviously still bothering him," Ron Rivera said. "We all feel his pain, because Cam is hurting this team."

Patriots win, 28-24.

Jacksonville @ New York Jets (+3½)

The Jaguars bloody creamed the Ravens 44-7 at London's Wembley Stadium, led by a strong defense and Blake Bortles, who passed for 4 touchdowns, 3 to tight end Marcedes Lewis.

"Blake was out of this world," Doug Marrone said, "as well as out of this country. I'm pleased to see Blake's found a go-to receiver. Heck, before Sunday's game, we were more worried about Blake making a completion to a receiver, much less a connection."

The Jets overwhelmed Jay Cutler and the Dolphins, 20-6, and in doing so put to rest the notion that New York would suffer a winless season.

"I was pleased with our play," Todd Bowles said. "It was like Antonio Cromartie and pregnancy tests, because I saw a lot of positives."

Jacksonville wins, 19-13.

San Francisco @ Arizona (-6½)

The 49ers' comeback fell short against the Rams in a 41-39 loss last Thursday night. San Francisco is 0-3, last in the NFC West.

"We may be winless," Kyle Shanahan, "but I see a bright future for this team. And so do some former San Fran greats. Joe Montana said he'd go 'out on a limb' and say we're improving, as long as the limb is his foot, and he's wearing Skechers. Ronnie Lott swears the 49ers will be a playoff team in two years. Now, he'll only pinky swear with his right hand, not his left. And Barry Bonds says he feels our team is one playmaker away from being great. Barry calls that playmaker a 'performance-enhancer.'"

Arizona wins, 27-16.

Philadelphia @ Los Angeles Chargers (-1)

The Eagles held on to beat the Giants, 27-24, winning on Jake Elliott's 61-yard field goal as time expired.

"What a kick," Doug Pederson said. "Jake got a hero's treatment and was carried off the field. That last person to be carried off the field in Philadelphia to that much fanfare was Michael Irvin."

The Chargers are 0-3, and 0-2 at home, after last week's 24-10 loss to the Chiefs. Philip Rivers threw 3 interceptions in the loss.

"It was a miserable day," Rivers said. "On the bright side, there weren't many Chargers fans there to see it."

Chargers win, 27-24.

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay (-3)

The Giants fell to 0-3 after last week's 27-24 loss in Philadelphia, and sit at the very bottom of the NFC East.

"I think if Lawrence Taylor could speak to this team," Eli Manning said, "he would tell us to go out there like a bunch of crazed dogs. And, as a follow up, he could instruct us where to find the drugs that would make us act like crazed dogs.

"On the plus side, Odell Beckham, Jr. appears to be at full strength, grabbing 2 touchdown passes. Speaking of crazed dogs, Odell received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a TD celebration in which he raised his leg like a dog urinating. Odell's already famous for his one-handed exploits; now he's famous for his one-legged exploits. In any case, that's just piss poor decision-making on Odell's part."

Giants win, 23-21.

Oakland @ Denver (-3)

The Broncos lost 26-16 to the Bills in Buffalo, as Trevor Siemian struggled with 2 interceptions and no touchdowns.

"We can't rely on Trevor to win games for us," Vance Joseph said. "That's not who he is. We don't want him to be the 2013 version of Peyton Manning; we want him to be the 2015 version of Peyton Manning. And, time to time, we'll need to remind Trevor of that fact. So, if you see 10 players other than Trevor yell 'Omaha,' that's the reminder.

"Von Miller was handed a taunting penalty for faking like he was going to help Tyrod Taylor up. Protests be damned, I don't respect that flag."

The Redskins dominated the visiting Raiders, 27-10, at FedEx Field, holding Derek Carr to 118 yards passing while collecting 2 interceptions and 4 sacks.

"I heard a reporter ask Marshawn Lynch how he would rate our performance," Carr said. "Marshawn gave it two thumbs down, and gave the reporter two middle fingers up for asking."

Broncos win, 24-17.

Indianapolis @ Seattle (-13)

The Colts beat the Browns 31-28 behind big days from Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton. It was Indy's first win of the year, and they'll face a stern test at Seattle.

"On an even brighter note," Chuck Pagano said, "Andrew Luck is close to practicing. That's the biggest news this season for the Colts, big enough that we've hired Allen Iverson to let the world know that, yes, 'We're talkin' 'bout practice. Not a game. Not a game. Practice.'"

The Seahawks dropped to 1-2 after a 33-27 loss at Tennessee. Russell Wilson passed for 373 yards and 4 touchdowns, but the Seattle defense was gashed for 195 yards on the ground.

"We've yet to put together a 'complete game,'" Pete Carroll said. "But I don't doubt for a minute that my team will put in the work needed to get better. Don't call us the 'Legion of Boom'; for now, you can refer to us as the 'Legion of Room (For Improvement)."

Seattle wins, 30-14.

Washington @ Kansas City (-6½)

The Chiefs are the AFC's only undefeated team after a solid 24-10 road win over the Chargers. Rookie Kareem Hunt rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown, continuing his amazing opening stretch.

"If you handed Kareem the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy right now," Smith said, "you wouldn't get an ounce of protest. He's a virtual lock for the award. So, to prospective voters, I say 'Lock him up!'"

The Redskins drilled the visiting Raiders, 27-10, shutting down Oakland's high-powered offense while Kirk Cousins lit up the defense with 336 yards passing and 3 scores.

"There you have it," Cousins said. "The difference in playing for a long-term contract and playing with a long-term contract.

"I've heard enough about Trump on Twitter. Let's talk about Trump on 'The Howard Stern Show.' When Trump is interviewed by a shock jock, he's bound to say some interesting things. And speaking of 'shock jock,' I hear Trump wants to make that device the punishment for kneeling for the national anthem."

The Chiefs announce a special guest to lead the evening's protest, and bring out former Chiefs legend Neil Smith.

Chiefs win, 26-21.

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