Thursday, November 16, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 11

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh (-7)

The Steelers came back from a 17-3 third quarter deficit to defeat the Colts, 20-17. Ben Roethlisberger's 35-yard completion to Antonio Brown with time running out set up Chris Boswell's game-winning kick as time expired.

'We pulled that one out of our ass," Mike Tomlin said. "To elaborate, 'that one' is our heads, and we pulled our heads out of our asses just in time to win.

"We're excited by the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu got upset when someone stole his bicycle. Antonio Brown gets upset when someone steals his spotlight."

The Titans nipped the visiting Bengals 24-20, winning on Marcus Mariota's 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 36 seconds left. Tennessee is 6-3, off to its best start since 2008.

"I can't tell you the date of the last time I hit six wins as a coach," Mike Mularkey said. "Actually, I'm not sure of the year, but I'm almost positive of the week — it was '17.'

"Dick LaBeau is making his return to Pittsburgh. Dick served as defensive coordinator for eleven years in Pittsburgh. He's one of the greatest defensive minds in the history of football, and is the inventor of the 'zone blitz.' There's not a defensive coordinator in this league who hasn't been influenced by LaBeau. And there isn't an offensive coordinator who hasn't been mystified by a LaBeau defense. In short, it doesn't matter who you are in this league, you've either been 'touched by Dick' or 'Dicked over' at some point."

Pittsburgh wins, 29-16.

Detroit @ Chicago (+2½)

The Bears lost to the Packers 23-16 at Soldier Field, Chicago's eighth consecutive loss to Green Bay in Chicago.

"I challenged a play I thought should have been called a touchdown," John Fox said. "As it turns out, the call on the field was overturned, and instead of a touchdown, we were charged with a fumble. I felt stupid. Not only did I win Charlemagne's 'Donkey of the Day' award, but I also received the 'The U's' 'Overturn Chain.' Only this 'U' is the 'Umpire.' World Star!"

The Lions took down the Browns, 38-24, as Matthew Stafford passed for 3 touchdowns.

"Matthew's been known to put this team on his back," Jim Caldwell said. "Not only does he lead this team in passing, he leads it in 'carries' also."

The Bears race to an early lead, but the Lions force two second-half turnovers and escape with a 19-17 win.

Jacksonville @ Cleveland (+8)

The Browns lost to the Lions 38-24 but were encouraged by the play of DeShone Kizer, who had his best game of the season. Kizer had a TD pass and ran for another score

"DeShone played well," Hue Jackson said, "but let's not get carried away. He hasn't won a game yet. Even Johnny Manziel had a 'signature' win. Oh wait, that wasn't in the NFL; it was getting paid for autographs at Texas Autographs And Money University.

"If Kizer doesn't pan out as our long-term starter, then it looks like we may have whiffed on making a franchise QB draft pick. But that's become the norm here in Cleveland. Luckily, we've learned to forget about them. The new Browns motto is 'In the search for a long-term solution, it's good to have a short-term memory.'

"On another note, Josh Gordon says he wants to be the best receiver ever. So, on the list of the greatest receivers of all time, Josh wants to be high."

The Jaguars edged the visiting Chargers 20-17 in overtime, as A.J. Bouye's interception of Philip Rivers deep in Chargers territory set up Jason Myers' game-winning kick.

"What a play by A.J.," Doug Marrone said. "I was so excited after that pick, I wanted to give him a bear hug, but I decided the head lock would be the more appropriate wrestling move.

"A.J. and Jalen Ramsey comprise the most talented cornerback duo in the league. You've seen it. Those guys literally take wide receivers out of the game. Ask A.J. Green. He got so flustered, he went 'MMA' on Jalen. Then he went 'MIA.'"

Jacksonville wins, 20-13.

Tampa Bay @ Miami (-3)

The Bucs snapped a five-game losing streak with a 15-10 win over the Jets. Tampa, without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans, were led by former Jet Ryan Fitzpatrick, who passed for 187 yards and a touchdown.

"Ryan is not an outspoken leader like Jameis," Dirk Koetter said. "Whereas Jameis is a 'woofer,' Ryan is a 'tweeter.' That's not to say Ryan is active on social media. He's not. But he does speak softly and carries a huge Wonderlic score.

"I noticed my team seemed to be lacking motivation, so before the Jets game, I had Warren Sapp in to give the guys a motivational speech. The gist of Sapp's words were 'You need to do what you're paid to do.' Warren was pretty passionate when he spoke; then again, he says those words to nearly everyone."

The Dolphins lost their third consecutive prime time game, losing in a 45-21 blowout to the Panthers in Charlotte. Miami gave up 548 yards of total offense and dropped to 4-5 on the season.

"We had no answers for Cam Newton," Adam Gase said. "What we needed to have was questions, because Newton hates those. But at least what Newton says is interesting; I don't think Jay Cutler has ever said anything interesting. What I'm trying to say he's never made a 'good audible.'

"It's been a very trying season. But I think we can take away some lessons from our experiences. Lesson 1) Stay away from strippers. Lesson 2) Stay away from cocaine. Lesson 3) Don't be a coach for the Dolphins. Lesson 4) All of the above."

Miami wins, 24-20.

Baltimore @ Green Bay (-2½)

The Packers won for the first time without Aaron Rodgers, beating the Bears 23-16 at Soldier Field. Brett Hundley passed for 212 yards and a touchdown as Green Bay improved to 5-4, two games behind the Vikings in the NFC North.

"It's great that Brett has his first win under his belt," Mike McCarthy said. "He's now No. 2 on the all-time Packers list for wins by quarterbacks named 'Brett.' Brett Favre is the gold standard by which Green Bay quarterbacks are measured. Favre is also the copper standard by which rinky-dink endorsement deals are measured. According to Favre's infomercial, copper has magical pain-killing powers. It's like Vicodin for dummies, on a payment plan."

The Ravens had a Week 10 bye and are 4-5, second in the AFC North but three games behind the 7-2 Steelers.

"It's been an up and down year for us," John Harbaugh said. "As a member of the Ravens organization, I hate to compare anything to an elevator, but if the analogy fits, why not use it. On that note, I've been floored by this team's resiliency in the face of an injury-riddled season.

"We'll need a big game from Joe Flacco. In the quarterback comparison with Brett Hundley, Joe has a huge advantage in the experience department. In the quickness department, Brett has a huge advantage. In downfield passing, it's dead even, because when it comes to passes that travel 20 yards in the air, both these quarterbacks have 'bombed.'"

Green Bay wins, 20-17.

Arizona @ Houston (+1)

The Cardinals lost 22-16 to the Seahawks at Glendale last Thursday, and are 4-4 in the NFC West. Adrian Peterson was held to 29 yards on 21 carries

"Everyone knows what A.P.'s capable of," Bruce Arians said. "So it's no surprise when groups of people, like the Seattle defense, for example, come together as a group and say, 'This man must be stopped.'"

Tom Savage again struggled as the Texans were blasted 33-7 in Los Angeles by the Rams. Savage was 18 for 36 with a touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 2 fumbles.

"What's the bigger problem for the Texans?" Bill O'Brien said. "Quarterback turnover or quarterback turnovers?

"We may look to make a change at quarterback. When we were looking at quarterbacks, we looked at Colin Kaepernick. We looked at him up, down, backwards, forwards, but mostly sideways. I hear Kaepernick was named 'Citizen of the Year' by GQ Magazine. Josh Johnson, the quarterback we signed instead of Kaepernick, graced the cover of 'Gee, Your Quarterbacks Suck Magazine.'''

Houston wins, 20-14.

Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota (-2½)

The Rams pummeled the visiting Texans 33-7 and maintained their one-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West. Jared Goff passed for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"Jared has to be the frontrunner for the NFL's Most Improved Player award," Sean McVay said. "And he's been well-groomed for the success he's having this year. And speaking of 'well-groomed,' have you seen my beard? It's the 'Ben McAdoo of beards,' because it looks like it's been painted on."

The Vikings turned on the offense in a 38-30 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. Case Keenum passed for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the 7-2 Vikings lead the NFC North by two games over the Lions and Packers.

"Case is playing lights out," Mike Zimmer said. "Or maybe it's just the eye patches I'm wearing. Anyway, Case has made Sam Bradford expendable. Nothing against Sam's skills, but he is quite injury prone. Honestly, a stiff breeze could knock him over. Incidentally, 'Stiff Breeze' was the name of the vessel in the Vikings 'sex boat' scandal.

"We're going to put the pressure on Goff. We've got some players that just love to hit the quarterback. Like Anthony Barr. We call Anthony 'The Chauffeur,' because he's been known to drive quarterbacks to the turf."

Minnesota wins, 24-20.

Washington @ New Orleans (-7½)

The Redskins defense surrendered 406 total yards in a 38-30 loss to the visiting Vikings.

"Both Drew Brees and I will be free agents at the end of the season," Kirk Cousins said. "And I'm sure the Saints will do the right thing and give Brees what he deserves — a huge contract that shows they appreciate everything a quarterback has done for them over the year. So, if you ask me how I'd like to be treated by Redskins management, I'd say 'like that.'"

The Saints handed the Bills and embarrassing 47-10 home defeat, led by Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who combined for 237 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.

"That's why we were able to let Adrian Peterson walk," Sean Payton said, "because he couldn't run."

Saints win, 34-17.

Kansas City @ New York Giants (+10½)

The Giants lost, 31-21, to the 49ers at Levi's Stadium to fall to 1-8, adding more misery to an already miserable season.

"We're not a good team," Ben McAdoo said. "It's losses like this that make a coach want to pull his hair out. Luckily for me, mine is glued to my head.

"Everybody wants to say the players have quit on me. It's never good when the word 'Quit' is used, unless you're playing Scrabble. Another good word in Scrabble is 'mutiny.' But to say my team has turned against me is purely revolting.

"Giants ownership has reiterated that no coaching decisions will be made until the end of the season. That's probably a smart move, because my players haven't responded to a coaching decision all year."

The Chiefs had a Week 10 bye and are 6-3 in the AFC West, to games up on the 4-5 Raiders.

"Despite their struggles," Andy Reid said, "we won't underestimate the Giants. Sure, they're having a terrible season, but as has been seen throughout the league, things can change in a hurry. A season can turn on a dime, just as quickly as players can turn on a coach."

Chiefs win, 27-20.

Buffalo @ Los Angeles Chargers (-4)

The Bills lost, 47-10, at home to the Saints, suffering their second consecutive defeat. Buffalo gave up 298 yards rushing and 6 rushing scores.

"Some consider the Saints the best team in the NFC," Sean McDermott said. "So I think we were doomed from the start, because everybody knows Buffalo's history against the best team in the NFC."

The Chargers fell to 3-6 after losing to the Jaguars 20-17 in overtime.

"That's a game we should have won," Anthony Lynn said. "And we're winless in games we should have won. At least we lead the league in something.

"Philip Rivers may have suffered a concussion during the game. But I'm sure he'll be ready to go on Sunday. Philip's known as one of the toughest players in the game. He once played an AFC Championship Game with a torn ACL. He's a Catholic with eight children; 'limpness' has never been a problem for him."

Chargers win, 23-29.

Cincinnati @ Denver (-2½)

The Bengals lost 24-20 at Tennessee despite a big day from A.J. Green, who had 5 receptions for 115 yards and a 70-yard touchdown.

"Vontaze Burfict was ejected from the game for making contact with an official," Marvin Lewis said. "I assume he knows that's a no-no. In Vontaze's defense, I don't think he knew there were red flags in football. On top of all that, Vontaze accused officials of 'targeting' him."

The Broncos were destroyed 41-19 is a mistake-filled home disaster at Sports Authority Field that left head coach Vance Joseph vowing to make changes. Among the many errors were huge special teams gaffes,

"We had a number of special teams breakdowns," Vance Joseph said. "In other words, New England, a special team, broke us down.

"We're going to evaluate all areas of our team, and every single player will be scrutinized. I'm gonna start with their cups, just to make sure there's something there."

Denver wins, 27-14.

New England @ Oakland (+6½)

The Raiders had a Week 10 bye to prepare for the challenge of the 7-2 Patriots.

"And we used every bit of that time to prepare," Jack Del Rio said. "Preparation is key when you're facing the Patriots. I even gave the team a 'prep talk.'

"Let's get one thing straight. Our offensive line did not let David Carr get hurt because he told them to stand for the national anthem. David may be the most respected member of this team. Sure, he gets sacked every now and then, but David is a very devout Christian. Not only does he pray before every game, he prays before every snap."

The Patriots beat the Broncos 41-16 behind 3 touchdown passes from Tom Brady and a special teams unit that dominated the Broncos.

"I was unfazed by the thin air in Denver," Brady said, "and by that thin excuse for a defense. 'No Fly Zone,' my behind. The 'No Fly Zone' has surrendered seven passing scores in their last two games. I'm not sure what the 'No Fly Zone' needs, but I'd start with some air traffic control.

"You can't have a Patriots/Raiders game without mentioning the 'Tuck Rule.' Even if it takes place in Mexico. Here in Mexico City, it's loosely translated as the 'Tuck-O Rule.' When said with an Hispanic accent, it sounds like 'Taco Rule.' And, yes, here in Mexico City, tacos do rule. Long story short, all the people of Mexico support the Tuck Rule. 'Viva la raza!'"

Patriots win, 31-21.

Philadelphia @ Dallas (+3)

The Eagles had a Week 10 bye after their Week 9 51-23 win over the Broncos. Philadelphia is 8-1, three games ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East.

"It's perfectly okay if you want to say we 'Phil-leted the Broncos,'" Doug Pederson said. "But for Christ's sake, please don't say we 'Phil-lated' the Broncos.

"We spent our bye watch our three NFC East counterparts lose. And we'd like to 'distance' ourselves from the rest of the division, because they suck."

The Cowboys lost 27-7 in Atlanta, unable to control a Falcons defense that sacked Dak Prescott 8 times.

"It's time to regroup," Jason Garrett said, "not only on the offensive line, but as a team. Luckily, we have three consecutive home games coming up. Maybe the courts didn't grant us a 'stay,' but NFL schedule-makers did.

"Jerry Jones has spent a lot of time trying to get people to stand. And he's spent lots of time in court with Ezekiel Elliott. So, if Jerry's not saying 'All rise,' he's hearing a judge say 'All rise.'

"Jerry has threatened to sue other NFL owners over the Roger Goodell contract situation. As if Jerry needed more courtroom drama. This will add a new wrinkle to Jerry's many legal issue. And if there's anything Jerry doesn't need, it's a new 'wrinkle.'"

The Cowboys go pass-heavy, with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan calling for several Prescott roll-outs to avoid the rush. Prescott passes for 3 scores, and Dallas holds on for a 27-24 win.

Atlanta @ Seattle (-3)

The Seahawks beat the Cardinals, 22-16, on Thursday night as Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham hooked up for 2 short touchdown connections.

"Unfortunately," Pete Carroll said, "we lost Richard Sherman for the season with a torn Achilles. If this team has an 'Achilles Heel,' it's Sherman with an Achilles Heel injury. But do I look concerned? I'm Pete Carroll. Everything is cool. So, everybody needs to just take 'A chilles pill.'

"Russell Wilson does not have a concussion. But the league may punish us for not following proper concussion protocol after Russell took a shot to the chin. Maybe it just slipped our mind."

The Falcons roughed up the Cowboys 27-7, led by a defense that sacked Dak Prescott 8 times, 6 of those by defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

"The Cowboys refused to make an adjustment at left tackle," Dan Quinn said. "So, Adrian 'left' that tackle, again and again and again. Not only did Adrian 'turn the corner,' so did the whole team, because we needed a win to turn our season around.

"We had been struggling, but I think we finally righted the ship. Or, you could say we got our 'ship straight.'"

Seattle wins, 30-28.

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