Thursday, October 5, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 5

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

New England @ Tampa Bay (+5)

The Pats were shocked at home, losing 33-30 to the Panthers. Tom Brady passed for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the New England defense could not stop the Panthers for most of the day.

"I don't want to throw our defense under the bus," Brady said, "although that would likely be the easiest completion of my career. But it's no reason to get our panties in a wad, and let's face it, our defense wears the panties on this team.

"I have no doubts that Matt Patricia will fix our defensive issues. Matt has a pencil, and he's going to use it to 'pencil in' the names in the starting lineup, because I believe he's going to start threatening players with their jobs.

"Even at 40-years of age, I feel great. It's like I've been drinking from the 'Fountain of Youth. If you drink enough water from there, your body totally blocks the rays of the sun. And if you don't believe that, you can stick it where the sun don't shine."

The Bucs improved to 2-1 after last week's last-second 25-23 win over the Giants. Nick Folk kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.

"Nick had missed two field goals and an extra point previously in the game," Jameis Winston said. "We thought it may have been the curse of Robert Aguayo. It had to be, because no one's been cursed more than Aguayo.

"I like our chances against the Patriots defense. They're struggling. I think they're called the 'No Name Defense,' because no one wants their name associated with them.

"I have no doubt the Patriots will address and fix their issues. Historically, when they've needed to, New England has always found a little something extra, usually in opposing teams' playbooks, or illegally-filmed practices, or official's interpretations of vague rules.

The Bucs have what can only be termed a "field day" against the Patriots. Unfortunately, the best Tampa can do is claim a red ribbon for second place, as Stephen Gostkowski displays the importance of a reliable kicker, and the Pats win, 30-21.

Buffalo @ Cincinnati (-3)

The Bills beat the Falcons 23-17 in Atlanta, using a late defensive stand and two over-50-yard field goals from Stephen Hauschka to pull the upset.

"What a game by Stephen," Sean McDermott said. "I hate to sound like Rex Ryan, but I find Stephen's right foot to be a huge turn on.

"We're leading the AFC East. That may be surprising to most, but not to us. We'd like to send a message to the New England Patriots, and that message is this: 'We're coming after you.' Hopefully, that message won't be followed with 'in the standings' when the regular season is done."

The Bengals picked up their first win of the season with a dominating 31-7 win over the Browns. Andy Dalton passed for 286 yards and 4 touchdowns.

"That means we're the best football team in the state of Ohio," Dalton said. "But what does that say about the state of football in Ohio?

"We know the Bills will present a tough test. They're 3-1, they're leading the AFC East, and O.J. Simpson is a free man. What does O.J. matter to us? Well, if he would have been a Bengal, he would have been known as 'Jungle Juice.'"

Bengals win, 24-23.

New York Jets @ Cleveland (+1½)

The Jets won for the second time this year, knocking off the favored Jaguars 23-20 in overtime.

"That's right,"Todd Bowles said. "That's two wins, and two more wins than most people expected from us. It's also two too many wins for a team looking for the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft."

The Browns were overwhelmed 31-7 by the visiting Bengals last week and are now 0-4, last in the AFC North. DeShone Kizer struggled, completing only 16-of-34 passes for 118 yards.

"If DeShone can just his head up," Hue Jackson said, "he's just two words from equaling most of our recent quarterbacks, who had their heads up 'their asses.'

"Pac Man Jones said I couldn't win with the players on my roster. Leave it to Pac Man to main it rain on my parade, although the only parade in Cleveland is the parade of quarterbacks over the last 17 years."

Jets win, 20-16.

Carolina @ Detroit (-4)

The Lions picked up a big division road win, beating the Vikings 14-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Detroit's defense forced 3 turnovers, and held the Vikes scoreless in the second half.

"That's what NFC North football is all about," Jim Caldwell said. "Two teams with solid defenses, serviceable offenses, and no chance of beating the Packers when it matters."

The Panthers upset the Patriots 33-30 in Foxboro, winning on Graham Gano's 48-yard field goal as time expired. Cam Newton passed for 3 touchdowns and ran for another.

"I think Cam's right shoulder is feeling all right," Ron Rivera said. "You saw him raise his arm after the game; that was him showing that his arm is in good shape. It's mere coincidence that his arm had a fist on the end of it."

Carolina speedsters Curtis Samuel and Devin Funchess challenge Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay to 100-meter dash during pre-game warmups. The Lions refuse, saying they want no part of a "10-second runoff."

Panthers win, 22-19.

San Francisco @ Indianapolis (-1½)

The Colts were blown out 46-18 at Seattle last Sunday night and are now 1-3, last in the AFC South.

"We actually led at the half," Chuck Pagano said. "We call that a 'moral victory.' That's different than a 'morale victory,' which is what Colts fans get when rumors of my firing arise.

"Andrew Luck is back at practice. He says his right shoulder feels like new, but we surely don't want to rush him back and risk a re-injury. So, right now, Andrew is 'armed and dangerous.'"

The 49ers lost 15-12 in overtime at Arizona, and are now 0-4 on the season.

"That's the third game this season in which we haven't scored a touchdown," Kyle Shanahan said. "I may be an offensive genius, but I'm no magician, although I once had a part in making a 25-point lead disappear into thin air."

Colts win, 24-17.

Tennessee @ Miami (+1)

The Dolphins were shut out 20-0 in London by the Saints. Jay Cutler was ineffective, and Miami was penalized 11 times.

"Jay was terrible," Adam Gase said, "but you'd never know it by the look on his face. Like our offense, Jay was 'unmoved.'

"Jay will continue to be our starter. And I'm not one to pull a quarterback in the middle of a game, so Jay will also be our 'finisher.' Because with Jay, we're 'finished.'"

The Titans were annihilated 57-14 by the Texans in Houston. Marcus Mariota had 2 touchdown runs, but threw 2 interceptions and was left the game early with a hamstring injury.

"Our defense looked terrible," Mike Mularkey said. "We thought Dick Labeau could make the necessary improvements to our defense. Unfortunately against Houston, our defense went soft and shriveled, much like an 80-year-old Dick.

"I think Marcus will be okay. If not, Matt Cassel will fill in. And as a security measure, we've signed Brandon Weeden. That's 'Mariota insurance.' If Brandon had signed with the Raiders, it would have been 'Carr insurance.'"

Miami wins, 26-24.

Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Giants (-3½)

The Giants fell to 0-4 with a 25-23 loss to the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium. Nick Folk's 34-yard field goal as time expired sent the G-Men home with their first 0-4 start

"I'm not going to panic," Eli Manning. "If I did, in fact, panic, who'd even know? I'd have the same look on my face as I did when I won either of my Super Bowls. But, I'd rather have that look on my face than the one Coach McAdoo's stuck with. It's a face that says 'I'm a douchebag and don't even care.'

"Odell Beckham, Jr. was fined over $12,000 for his 'dog peeing' celebration against the Eagles. Some say he should have been fined more. As a protest, all service dogs in MetLife Stadium will heel for the national anthem."

Like the Giants, the Chargers are 0-4 after last week's 26-24 loss to the visiting Eagles. Philip Rivers passed for 347 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the Los Angeles defense couldn't contain the Philly rush attack.

"We're winless at home," Rivers said, "as well as in the hearts of football fans in Los Angeles. We were actually booed in our own stadium. I hear things like 'go back home' and 'we don't want you here.' It's like we're at an anti-immigration rally. Which, incidentally, is better than playing at StubHub Stadium."

Giants win, 27-18.

Arizona @ Philadelphia (-6½)

The Cardinals nipped the 49ers 18-12 in overtime, winning on Carson Palmer's 19-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald with 32 seconds left in overtime.

"Larry's been in Arizona forever," Carson Palmer said. "He's seen everything here, like the Cards' Super Bowl year, Kurt Warner's 100th TD pass, and Brenda Warner's fade-away haircut. Some of Larry's fondest memories as a Cardinal were the times he had to tell people that no, my quarterback is not married to Billy Idol. Good times."

The Eagles are 3-1, atop the NFC East standings, after a 26-24 road win over the Chargers. LeGarrette Blount hammered out 136 yards on the ground, and even had a 20-yard reception.

"Blount is a punishing runner," Doug Pederson said. "If you're a defender and you plan to acquaint yourself with LeGarrette, you better pack a lunch, or a bowl.

"We'll have the home-field advantage against the Cardinals. Against the Chargers, we had the visiting-team advantage. As they say, Eagles fans 'travel well,' usually from their seat to the in-stadium jail cell."

Eagles win, 27-24.

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh (-9)

The Steelers handled the home-standing Ravens 26-9, as Pittsburgh pounded the Ravens defense with 173 yards on the ground, with Le'Veon Bell leading the way with 144.

"That was a physical game," Mike Tomlin said. "We're still feeling the effects. Like, my side still hurts from laughing at the Ravens offense.

"Antonio Brown had only four catches for 34 yards. He was particularly frustrated on a play in which he was wide open and I wasn't able to get him the ball. Apparently, too few receptions is an affront to Antonio's manhood. Call it the 'Emasculate Reception.'"

The Jaguars 2-2 after last week's 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets and MetLife Stadium. Blake Bortles completed only 15-of-35 passes for 140 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

"Accuracy is not Blake's strength," Doug Marrone said. "That's because he sucks, and accuracy is my strength.

"Luckily, we have the NFL's second-best rushing attack, led by Leonard Fournette. Leonard's a workhorse, and when our run game is clicking, it allows us to run our 'prevent offense,' which, as you would guess, prevents Bortles from throwing the ball. We may actually run some 'wildcat' plays at Pittsburgh, with Leonard taking the direct snap, and Blake flanked wide. And when I say 'wide,' I mean 'wide' as in somewhere near Allentown."

Ben Roethlisberger targets Brown on the Steelers first 14 plays, and on the Steelers third possession, an exhausted Brown confronts Roethlisberger, says 'Touche,' and apologizes. Brown later catches the game-clinching touchdown pass.

Pittsburgh wins, 27-17.

Seattle @ Los Angeles Rams (-2½)

The Rams stunned the Cowboys in Dallas, erasing a 24-13 deficit to win 35-30. Todd Gurley racked up 225 total yards and scored 2 touchdowns.

"Todd is our best player," Sean McVey said, "but Jared Goff is our leader. He struggled last year, but he's overcome a lot of obstacles, like being saddled with the nickname 'Ja. Goff.'

"Now, Jared is the quarterback of the NFL's highest-scoring offense. We're becoming the second version of the 'Greatest Show on Turf.' Unfortunately, our L.A. fan base is the becoming the first version of the 'Greatest No-Show on Turf.'"

After a sluggish first half, the Seahawks stormed back in the second half, outscoring the Colts 36-3, to post a 46-18 win. Russell Wilson led the way with 2 passing scores and a rushing TD.

"Once we get rolling," Russell Wilson said, "there's no stopping us, except for injuries. We lost running back Chris Carson for the year to an ankle injury. He's the latest entry in a long list of RB injuries. That means Eddie Lacy will have to step up. I can see myself changing a play at the line of scrimmage from a pass to a Lacy run. Most would call that an 'audible.' With Eddie, it's called an 'edible.' Incidentally, before his dramatic weight loss, Eddie was on the 'Jeff Fisher diet,' because he 'ate and ate.'"

"There were a lot of things we could have done better in that first half against Indy. We'll certainly go back and review the film, particularly the plays Michael Bennett is involved in. I think film study is an important aspect of football. It's important to review film so you'll know exactly what did and did not happen."

Seahawks win, 29-27.

Baltimore @ Oakland (-4)

The offensively-challenged Ravens fell 26-9 in their AFC North showdown with rival Pittsburgh at M&T Bank Stadium. Joe Flacco struggled, throwing 2 interceptions, and afterwards took blame for the loss.

"Joe took full responsibility in the post-game press conference," John Harbaugh said. "So, I like what he does behind the podium as opposed to behind the center.

"People ask if I've considered cutting Flacco. I usually answer 'yes,' but clarify my answer to mean 'but only with a knife.'"

The Raiders lost 16-10 at Denver and have now lost two in a row after a 2-0 start. David Carr was limited to 143 yards passing before leaving the game in the third quarter with back spasms.

"We need to see improvement in all aspects of our game," Jack Del Rio said. "No one's doing their job. In other words, Amari Cooper isn't the only one 'dropping the ball.'

"Carr will miss at least two weeks with what has been diagnosed as a fracture in his back. In his absence, our quarterback will be a guy with the surname 'Manuel.' His initials are 'E.J.,' so we're 'F'd.'"

The Raiders defense steps up, and Manuel and the Raiders attack with the short passing game.

Oakland wins, 23-18.

Green Bay @ Dallas (-2)

Aaron Rodgers passed for 4 red zone touchdowns as the Packers rolled over the Bears 35-14 last Thursday night.

"Our red zone passing game is one of our greatest strengths," Rodgers said. "I'd like to say it's because of me, but it's really because we have no red zone running game.

"We've had 10 days to prepare for the Cowboys. That's a statement most often uttered by the prosecution, but it's our defense that's really used the preparation. They're geared up to shut down Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys can feed him all they want; I just hope he likes cheese."

The Cowboys' defensive limitations were evident in last week's 35-30 loss to the visiting Rams.

"We obviously have some defensive deficiencies," Jason Garrett said. "We might kneel before the anthem, but we lay down before good offenses."

Packers win, 31-27.

Kansas City @ Houston (+1½)

The Chiefs remained undefeated with a 29-20 win over the Redskins on Monday night.

"We're the last undefeated team in the NFL," Alex Smith said. "Next stop: AFC West division title. Next stop: home-field advantage in the playoffs. Next stop: divisional playoff victory. Next stop: AFC Championship versus the Patriots. Next stop: the Pro Bowl."

The Texans destroyed the Titans 57-14 behind a dominating defense and the play of rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson, who passed for 4 touchdowns and ran for another, becoming the first QB to do so since Fran Tarkenton in 1961.

"If you asked Fran Tarkenton what he thought of Watson's performance," Bill O'Brien said, "I'm sure Fran would say 'That's Incredible!' That was a 1980's television show hosted by that same Fran Tarkenton. Brock Osweiler and I once appeared on a show called 'Let's Make a Deal.' Brock chose the right door; I probably should have been shown the door."

Houston wins, 26-24.

Minnesota @ Chicago (+4)

The Vikings a defensive struggle against the Lions, falling 14-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium. It was a costly loss, as rookie running back Dalvin Cook was lost for the season with an ACL tear.

"Here we go again," Mike Zimmer said. "Injuries derailed our season last season; it appears to be happening again. First, knee troubles for Sam Bradford; second, Dalvin tears his ACL. That's two knees, which is never a good thing, unless it's aboard a sex boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka."

Mike Glennon struggled in the Bears 35-14 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field last Thursday night. Glennon had four turnovers, and passed for only one touchdown.

"We'd like to start the quarterback that gives us the best chance to win," John Fox said. "Unfortunately, he's not in a Bears uniform.

"But we're starting Mitch Tribisky against the Vikings. No, we're not playing Detroit, but we're throwing Mitch to the lions nonetheless."

Vikings win, 22-14.

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