Thursday, October 26, 2017
NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 8
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Miami @ Baltimore (-2½)
The Dolphins erased a 14-point deficit and beat the Jets, 31-28. The comeback was led by Matt Moore, who replaced Jay Cutler after Cutler was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. Moore will start Thursday night in Baltimore.
"See," Adam Gase said, "it's not just the coaches and Ricky Williams around here that take big hits. Jay took a serious hit and was in a lot of pain. Unfortunately, our own fans cheered when Jay left the field. Frankly I'm stunned by the fans' behavior; it should have been a standing ovation.
"We feel confident in Matt's ability. And I'm confident our teammates can get behind Matt, and that includes Jay, who is truly a 'get behind' quarterback."
The Ravens suffered at the hands of the Vikings defense, losing 24-16 at U.S. Bank Stadium. With an injury-riddled receiving corps, Joe Flacco managed only 186 yards passing and was sacked 5 times. Baltimore is 3-4, two games behind the 5-2 Steelers in the AFC North.
"Honestly," John Harbaugh said, "I'm not sure how we've won three games. And for that, matter, how have the Dolphins won four. I guess we've done it with smoke and mirrors; Miami's done it with coke and mirrors."
The Ravens welcome R&B superstar Usher as honorary captain, and he joins with Ray Lewis to urge, "we must protect this House of Usher!"
Baltimore wins, 18-14.
Minnesota @ Cleveland (-9)
The Browns' misery continued with a close 12-9 overtime loss to the visiting Titans. DeShone Kizer was benched again for Cody Kessler in the third quarter.
"There's a quarterback carousel here in Cleveland," Hue Jackson said. "And it runs circles around any other team's quarterback problems. That's the second time this season I've had to bench a quarterback mid-game. That's why the Browns hired me; they thought I was a 'game-changer.'
"A video surfaced that showed DeShone at a bar in the early morning hours of Saturday. That's bad. Can it get any worse? Yes, but only if Johnny Manziel was in the video, too. I can only condone DeShone being in a bar under one condition — that he was having beers with Joe Thomas, and Joe was advising him how to stay in the starting lineup."
The Vikings turned back the Ravens 24-16, as Minnesota's defense held the Ravens to just 208 yards of total offense.
"Joe Flacco's days as an elite quarterback are behind him," Everson Griffin said. "Some in the Ravens organization, like Director of Diminishing Quarterbacking Skills Edgar Allan Poe VI, think Joe should be benched, and sealed behind a brick wall, a la the Cask of Amontillado.
"I don't have to worry about my quarterbacks hanging out at bars in the late night. Sam Bradford and Case Keenum are middle-aged white dudes; the 'wee' hours are when they wake up to use the bathroom."
Could the Browns be in for a long day, with a fearsome Minnesota defense ready to pounce on an inexperienced quarterback protected by a offensive line without Joe Thomas? In a foreign country, no less? You betcha.
Vikings win, 27-9.
Oakland @ Buffalo (-2½)
Derek Carr found Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone to give the Raiders a wild 31-30 win over the visiting Chiefs. The TD pass came on the second untimed down after two Chiefs penalties.
"I've never seen a game like that," Carr said. "You know, one in which they allow 'mulligans.'
"Speaking of 'interference' calls, Marshawn Lynch got one of his own for running onto the field to defend his buddy Marcus Peters, who had just delivered a cheap shot on me. I'm not sure if I should be impressed or offended by Marshawn's loyalty. I guess Marshawn was just trying to keep the peace. If that's the case, then give that man the Nobel Prize.
"Amari Cooper came out of his slump with a huge night. He had 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, he still had a few drops. If Dean Martin put Cooper's predicament to song, it would sound like this: 'When the ball hits your guy, that's when things go awry, that's Amari.'"
The Bills forced a late Tampa turnover and escaped with a 30-27 win over the Buccaneers. Buffalo is 4-2 in the AFC East, a ½-game behind New England.
"All of Buffalo is impressed with our start," Sean McDermott said. "Some can't even contain their excitement. Like, for example, Buffalo's unofficial alternative rock/adult contemporary band has gone 'Goo Goo Ga Ga' for the Bills. Some of our more fanatical female fans are swooning over the Bills. It's seems we've 'dizzied up the girls.'"
Buffalo wins, 26-21.
Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-10)
The Bengals lost 26-14 at Pittsburgh in a hotly-contested AFC North rivalry game. Cincy was held scoreless in the second half, and is now 2-4, third in the AFC North.
"In the 'here we go again' category," Marvin Lewis said, "Vontaze Burfict was fined, but not suspended, for kicking Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix in the groin on the second play of the game. I'm sure Vontaze will appeal, and in that appeal, he'll ask to be credited with a 'nut sack.'
"We're breaking out our Halloween colors for the Colts game. Wait ... I've just been told those are our colors every week. But seriously, the only thing scary about the Colts is Andrew Luck's MRI. Interesting enough, I had an MRI taken, and it showed no structural damage, and no playoff wins."
The Colts were pounded by the Jaguars 27-0, days after news that Andrew Luck had suffered a setback in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. After the game, T.Y. Hilton called out the Colts offensive line, which surrendered 10 sacks to Jacksonville.
"I'm not sure the OL is too happy that they were bashed by a player like Hilton," Chuck Pagano said. "Let's just say his criticism was not 'widely received' by them. But T.Y. did later apologize, and said if he wanted ever again to discuss the issue of 10 sacks with a Colts player, he'd take it up with Dwight Freeney.
"As for Luck, he felt some soreness while throwing last week. That's not a good sign. I'll tell you what is a good sign: the 'Luck 2018' sign."
A.J. Green catches 7 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Joe Mixon gets his wish, with 12 carries in the second half after none in the first.
Bengals win, 27-20.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England (-7)
The Chargers shut out the Broncos, 21-0, behind 2 touchdown passes from Philip Rivers and a defense that sacked Trevor Siemian 5 times.
"That was Denver's first shutout in 25 years," Rivers said. "And by the look of things, not their last."
The Patriots totally dominated the Falcons in Foxboro, winning 23-7, and squashing early any ideas Atlanta had about winning.
"We proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that our Super Bowl comeback was no fluke," Tom Brady said. "And proved that Atlanta's Super Bowl appearance was a fluke.
"We didn't want there to be any doubt about the outcome, you know, like there was against the Jets before replay officials overturned a clear touchdown that worked in our favor. But that was at MetLife Stadium. Sunday's game is in Gillette Stadium, so of course we expect more than just a home-field advantage. And, you never know what you'll find stuffed in a referee's back pocket in Foxboro. Sometimes it's a yellow flag; sometimes it's cash. We call that the 'Tuck Rule.'"
Brady out-duels Rivers, and the Patriots win, 27-24.
Chicago @ New Orleans (-9)
The Saints beat the Packers, 26-17, behind an offense that nearly reached 500 yards, and a defense that made life difficult for quarterback Brett Hundley, starting his first game.
"I've been involved in two memorable games against quarterbacks named 'Brett,'" Sean Payton said. "Back in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, we hit Brett Favre so hard, he resorted to hawking copper socks and cheap grooming devices for a living. Now, we didn't make Brett Hundley do anything he didn't want to do, except throw the football."
The Bears humbled the visiting Panthers, 17-3, and have now won two in a row after a 1-4 start. The Bears sacked Cam Newton 5 times and forced 3 Newton turnovers.
"I have a lot of empathy for Ron Rivera," John Fox said, "because I know what it's like to coach Jake Delhomme. Now, I'm not comparing Newton to Delhomme, because Newton never threw 3 touchdowns in a Super Bowl.
"Mike Ditka recently celebrated his 78th birthday. That's a lot of candles. I'm not sure how Ditka feels about aging, but I'm sure Mike would gladly trade those 78 'Ditka' candles for one 'Ricky Williams' candle.
Can Tribisky handle the pressure he'll likely see against Dennis Allen's Saints defense? And will 4 completed passes be enough for the Bears to claim victory? Neaux and neaux.
Saints win, 23-11.
Atlanta @ New York Jets (+4½)The Jets blew a 28-14 lead and lost 31-28 at Miami. Josh McCown passed for 3 touchdowns and ran for another, but threw a crucial interception late that set up Miami's game-winning field goal. New York fell to 3-4, last in the AFC East.
"That's probably where we should be," Todd Bowles said. "But we still might be able to draft Sam Darnold after all. That is, assuming he's still available when our third-round pick rolls around.
"We're just hoping to eventually find a quarterback that can be this franchise's savior. Ideally, we'd like a quarterback with the guts to lead the team to the Super Bowl. At the very least, we'd like a QB with the guts to ask a sideline reporter for a kiss."
The Falcons stumbled at Foxboro, losing 23-7, and are struggling at 3-3.
"On the bright side," Matt Ryan said, "Julio Jones did score a touchdown. Of course, it was his only TD this season. That's insane. It certainly shouldn't be harder to find Julio in the red zone than it is to find a diamond earring at the bottom of a lake.
"Hopefully, we can find our mojo at MetLife Stadium. It certainly shouldn't be harder to find our mojo at MetLife Stadium than it is the find the Jersey Devil in the Meadowlands."
The Falcons commit to the running game, and DeVonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combine for 124 yards and 2 scores.
Falcons win, 23-20.
San Francisco @ Philadelphia (-13)
The Eagles beat the Redskins 34-24 on Monday night, led by Carson Wentz's 331 total yards and 4 touchdowns passes.
"What a show by Carson," Doug Pederson said. "He seemed extra motivated to excel. Maybe he heard former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb opine that Jared Goff was possibly the best quarterback in the NFC. I don't think so. I guess McNabb was just voted MVP of the 'Hyper Bole.'
"Carson played college at the North Dakota State University, where he dotted 'I's,' crossed 'T's,' and froze his 'B's' off. That playing environment prepared Carson very well for life in the NFL."
The 49ers were blasted 40-10 at home to the Cowboys and are now 0-7 on the season.
"The Cowboys and 49ers have played some memorable games," Kyle Shanahan said. "This was not one of them. There was nothing remotely similar to a Joe Montana/Dwight Clark touchdown pass in the end zone to win the game that became known as 'The Catch.' But if there was, I was ready to call dibs on naming it 'The Snatch.'
"It's never easy for anyone, much less a rookie quarterback, playing on the road in Philadelphia. Only in Philly does the 'Charge!' theme signal fans to lob batteries at the visitors."
The 49ers dare the Eagles to beat them with their ground game, which Wentz takes as a personal challenge.
Philadelphia wins, 27-19.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay (-2½)
The Panthers offense was shut down in a 17-3 loss at Chicago. Cam Newton was abused by the Bears defense, who sacked him 5 times and forced 3 turnovers.
"There are some games after which I don't want to talk with anyone," Newton said. "Then there are those games in which no one wants to talk to me.
"You may have heard I skipped an after-practice media session last week. I may call myself 'Superman,' but 'Women Wonder' what I might say when I open my mouth.
"On a bright note, Julius Peppers has 6.5 sacks this season. That's pretty good for a aging 37-year-old veteran. Von Miller gets all the attention, as do his deodorant commercials, but let's be real, Peppers is 'Old Spice.'"
A late turnover doomed the Bucs hope for an upset in Buffalo. With the game tied 27-27, Adam Humphries fumbled, and the Bills kicked the game-winning field goal six plays later.
"One minute it looks like you're going to win," Jameis Winston said. "The next minute, you've lost. Put in terms Warren Sapp could understand, one minute you're with a prostitute; the next, you're in jail."
Carolina wins, 24-23.
Houston @ Seattle (-6)DeShaun Watson and the Texans will face a stiff test at CenturyLink Field, where the 4-2 Seahawks await. Houston had a bye week, and Watson spent much of his time studying Seattle defensive tendencies.
"I've noticed they tend to argue," Watson said. "There's more angst on that squad than there was in the entire grunge era."
Russell Wilson passed for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Seahawks rolled to a 24-7 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
"MetLife Stadium has been good to us," Wilson said. "We won Super Bowl XLVIII there, beating the Broncos, 43-8. That almost seems like ancient history, because the Broncos had an offense then.
"Our rushing attack has been ineffective for the most part. Honestly, I think the best chance of a Seahawk running anywhere is Doug Baldwin running for Congress. Much like he does with social issues, Doug takes a hands-on approach to most things, like offensive line coaches, or community service, or 3-yard passes."
Seattle wins, 24-20.
Dallas @ Washington (+2½)
The Redskins lost, 34-24, to Carson Wentz and the Eagles in Philadelphia on Monday night. Wentz passed for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also rushed for 63 yards. Washington is 3-3, well behind the 6-1 Eagles in the NFC East.
"Wentz has that 'it' factor," Kirk Cousins said. "And coming from a player who's been hit with the 'franchise' label twice, you can say Wentz just got 'franchise tagged.'"
The Cowboys hammered the 49ers 40-10, led by 219 yards from scrimmage from Ezekiel Elliott, who scored 3 touchdowns.
"Ezekiel is a heck of a football player," Dak Prescott said. "But he's also an awesome basketball and tennis player. Just ask the NFL; they know he's unstoppable on courts everywhere."
Washington wins, 30-27.
Pittsburgh @ Detroit (+3)
The Steelers beat the Bengals 26-14 at Heinz Field, as Pittsburgh's "Big Three" of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell dominated.
"And," Mike Tomlin said, "we dominated on defense. And it all starts with our leaders on D, Ryan Shazier and Mike Mitchell. Those guys are intense. They have spirit, and will 'spear it.'
"Now, I hear Martavis Bryant wants a trade. I'm one of the most stubborn coaches in the NFL, so you know I won't acquiesce to Martavis' demands. He went to Clemson, so I'm gonna 'hold that Tiger.'"
The Lions had a Week 7 bye, and are 3-3, third in the NFC North.
"We had a productive bye week," Jim Caldwell said. "We worked tirelessly correcting the errors that resulted in a 52-38 loss to the Saints in Week 6. If you can learn from your mistakes, then we should be the most well-educated team in the league.
The Steelers shake off a slow start, and stage a second half comeback to take a 25-20 win.
Denver @ Kansas City (-7½)
Kansas City lost at Oakland 31-30 in a wild finish that handed the Chiefs their second consecutive defeat.
"I think the Raiders lead the NFL is 'second-chance points," Andy Reid said.
"But we're not going to panic. We still lead the AFC West. So call us 'frontrunners,' and call our fans 'tailgaters.' They're like the 'Lawrence Taylor' of tailgaters, because they really know how to party before a game."
The Broncos were shut out 21-0 by the Chargers in Los Angeles, where the Chargers defense shut down Denver's running game and pressured Trevor Siemian into a forgettable day. Denver is 3-3, and has lost two in a row.
"We're in a funk," Vance Joseph said. "And until we can find a way out of it, we're 'funked.'"
Chiefs win, 23-20.