Thursday, November 30, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 13

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Washington @ Dallas (+1)

The Redskins beat the Giants, 20-10, in a sloppy Thanksgiving night game that featured 16 total punts. Washington is 5-6, five games behind the Eagles in the NFC East.

"Nobody likes punting," Kirk Cousins said. "It's 'gross.'

"Here's the good news. We're still mathematically alive in the playoff race. The bad news? Where math is concerned, the Eagles are way better at 'division.'"

The Cowboys were manhandled by the Chargers, 28-6, as Dallas' offense struggled while its defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense. The loss left the Cowboys at 5-6, tied with the Redskins for second in the East.

"Jerry Jones felt the need to give us a pep talk after the game," Dak Prescott said. "In other words, Jerry testified on our behalf.

"Not too long ago, Cowboy fans were saying I was a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Now, those same fans are saying I should be benched. I guess either way, I'm a 'bust.'

"I'm told LeBron James, who is a Dallas fans, says Carson Wentz is his favorite player. That's pure blasphemy. I'm revoking revoking LeBron's fanship, and I hereby declare him a free agent."

Washington wins, 24-19.

Minnesota @ Atlanta (-3)

The Vikings defeated the Lions, 30-23, to further strengthen their grip in the NFC North. Case Keenum passed for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns as Minnesota improved to 9-2, three games ahead of Detroit.

"We've basically got a stranglehold on the North," Mike Zimmer said. "But our playoff success will determine whether or not you can call us 'chokers.'

"I said it before, and I'll say it again: 'Case Keenum has big balls.' And I mean it, they're pretty big. Heck, he was even briefly stopped trying to carry them through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. Pair them up with a 'Whizzinator' and you've got yourself a 'total package.'

"Case is playing on a one-year contract. He's definitely going to make more money next year. If he's lucky, he'll find himself on a team that will not only name him starter, but will also call him starter."

The Falcons have now won three in a row after dropping the Buccaneers, 34-20. Julio Jones had his biggest game of the year with 2 touchdown catches and 253 yards receiving.

"Julio is a freak," Dan Quinn said. "And we've been waiting for him to get 'freaky.' If you measure a receiver by the size of his gold chain, Julio would have the biggest one, and it would likely be at the bottom of a lake."

Falcons win, 25-24.

Detroit @ Baltimore (-3)

The Lions lost 30-23 at home to the Vikings on Thanksgiving, suffering a damaging blow to their playoff hopes. Detroit now trails Minnesota by three games in the NFC North, and will likely have to win out to have any chance at a wild card spot.

"Just like I am now," Stafford said, "Joe Flacco was once the NFL's highest-paid player. Joe sucks, but his Super Bowl XLVII ring means he can count his money on 'one finger.'

"I passed Steve Young and Y.A. Tittle on the NFL's all-time passing yardage list. Together, those two combined for over 66,000 yards. Just spitballing here, but if those two were in a rap group, would they be known as 'Young Tits?' I sure hope so."

The Ravens outlasted the visiting Texans, 23-16, on Monday night. The Ravens defense forced 3 turnovers, while the Ravens' rush attack produced 139 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"Once again," John Harbaugh said, "Joe Flacco did nothing. And we're fine with that, as long as Joe 'does nothing' to cost us a win.

"If the season ended now, we'd be the AFC's No. 6 seed. I can tell you this: we're not afraid of whatever team awaits us as the No. 3 seed. And I'm pretty sure they feel the same way."

Ravens win, 16-10.

New England @ Buffalo (+8½)

The Patriots beat the Dolphins, 35-17, as Tom Brady passed for 227 yards and 4 touchdowns, despite getting knocked around to the tune of 8 quarterback hits.

"Even with the game well in hand," Bill Belichick said, "I didn't consider taking Tom out of the game. He would never forgive me. Tom simply does not take a play off. As everyone knows, his 'play off' record is spotless.

"Tom is looking forward to playing in Buffalo. He'd like to send his thanks to Nathan Peterman, for making him the second most-hated quarterback in town."

The Bills upset the Chiefs, 16-10, quieting an Arrowhead Stadium crowd eager to see the Chiefs regain their early-season form. Tyrod Taylor passed for a score and was turnover-free as Buffalo improved to 6-5.

"I went back with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback," Doug McDermott said. "Bills fans will be happy to hear that 'No. 5' is Tyrod's jersey number and not Nathan Peterman's latest interception.

"I still believe in Peterman's talent. He just needs more exposure to the things he'll experience as a starting quarterback, like interviews. We had to cancel an interview with Deion Sanders, because Nathan was not ready for 'Prime Time,' but we did hook him up for an appearance on FOX News 'The Five.'"

Patriots win, 27-23.

San Francisco @ Chicago (-3½)

The 49ers lost to the visiting Seahawks 24-13 to fall to 1-10. There was a glimmer of hope, as Jimmy Garoppolo filled in late for a shaken up C.J. Beathard, and found Louis Murphy for the 49ers only touchdown on the day.

"There is some light at the end of the tunnel," Kyle Shanahan said. "That's not from this franchise's near-death experience; it's from the hope that Jimmy brings. He has over three years in the Patriots system, so he knows what it takes to win. As you would expect from a former Patriot, his 'sneak' is the strength of his game."

The Bears went a half without a first down in a lopsided 31-3 loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

"We were dominated," John Fox said. "Ask any long-time Bears fan. They'll tell you the last time a Bears offense was manhandled like that, it was 1985, in practice."

Chicago wins, 24-14.

Tampa Bay @ Green Bay (-1)

The Steelers nipped the Packers, 31-28, on Sunday night, losing on Chris Boswell's 53-yard field goal as time expired. Brett Hundley played his best game as a Packer, throwing for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"I love the way Brett has progressed," Mike McCarthy said. "Brett had some large shoes to fill, just as Aaron Rodgers had some large, copper-infused socks to fill.

"Aaron is throwing, and there's a chance he could return to practice soon. Now, I don't want to make a big deal about Aaron practicing, mostly because I don't want to get Allen Iverson started on an epic rant."

The Buccaneers are 4-7 after their 34-20 loss to the Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tampa surrendered over 500 yards of total offense, including 253 yards receiving to Julio Jones.

"No matter how hard we tried," Dirk Koetter said, "we just couldn't stop the Falcons offense. And speaking of 'unwanted advances,' the NFL is conducting an ongoing investigation into Jameis Winston's alleged groping of an Uber driver. I'm sure it will be a thorough investigation, so I commend the league for taking a hands-on approach to get to the bottom of it.

"Former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin invented the 'Tampa 2' defense. We're apparently now running a similar defense, in which everybody on offense gets involved, like wide receivers throwing touchdowns. It's called the 'Tampa Too.' Obviously, the great Bucs defenders of old wouldn't recognize this defense. If Warren Sapp paid to see them play, he would demand his money back."

Green Bay wins, 27-20.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville (-9)

The Jaguars' four-game winning streak came to an end in a 27-24 loss to the Cardinals. Leonard Fournette was held to only 25 yards rushing.

"We're still going to stick to our run-first philosophy," Doug Marrone said. "When we're not running the ball well, the outcome is up in the air. Even worse, the football is.

"I owe a lot to Jaguars owner Shad Khan for having the patience to build a team the right way. It took some time, but Shad built a masterpiece. But enough about his mustache. Let's talk about this team. We won't be satisfied with just making the playoffs. We want to make some noise in the playoffs. We may just ask Ezekiel Elliott for help, because he's an expert on 'NFL hearings.'"

The Colts lost to the Titans 20-16, as Jacoby Brissett was sacked 8 times. Indy is 3-8, last in the AFC South.

"It's not rare for an Indianapolis quarterback to be put on his back that often," Chuck Pagano said. "In 'Colts speak,' we refer to that by saying 'things are looking up for our quarterback.' Now, that 'looking up' could be 'looking up at the sky, or 'looking up at the doctor.' Either way, it's not good.

"Andrew Luck's future is up in the air. I wish I could say the same thing about his shoulder, because he can barely lift it. Andrew sought treatment for his shoulder in Europe. I'm not sure if it worked, so he may seek some other form of treatment. I think acupuncture may be a good option. Jim Irsay may advise him otherwise, because he can personally vouch for the perils of needles in arms."

Jaguars win, 27-13.

Denver @ Miami (+1)

In his first start at quarterback, Paxton Lynch struggled before an injury forced him out of the game as the Broncos fell 21-14 in Oakland. The game was marred by an early brawl between Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree, and both were ejected.

"I'm not sure what they were fighting over," Vance Joseph said. "I hear it had something to do with Crabtree's gold chain, or maybe Talib's ankle bracelet. But I can't really fault Aqib for going after Crabtree's jewels. Heck, have you seen our offense? Aqib may have found the only way to 'move the chains.'

"Paxton was seen crying on the bench. All I have to say to that is 'bawlers gonna bawl.'

"Peyton Manning had a hole-in-one on a golf outing in Denver last week. He used a five-iron from 196 yards and got a nice roll. John Elway said even the greens are soft in Denver."

With Jay Cutler sidelined with a concussion, the Dolphins lost to the Patriots 35-17. Matt Moore managed only 215 yards passing, with a touchdown and 2 interceptions.

"We've counseled our players on the perils of wearing jewelry during games," Adam Gase said. "And we urge our opponents to do the same, particular sentimental items, because Ndamukong Suh has a history of going after the 'family jewels.'"

Denver wins, 20-16.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-4)

The Panthers beat the Jets 32-27 at MetLife Stadium for their fourth consecutive win. Carolina rushed for 145 and 2 touchdowns, Luke Kuechly scored on a fumble return, and Kaelin Clay returned a punt for a score.

"Cam Newton doesn't have to throw four touchdown passes in order for us to win," Ron Rivera said. "Even when he's not scoring touchdowns, he's doing other things, like picking up crucial yards on the ground, accepting an incompletion when no one is open, and just being an all-around leader. Cam wears many hats on this team, and they're all dumb-looking."

The Saints lost to the Rams 26-20 despite a huge day from Alvin Kamara, who combined for 188 total yards and 2 touchdowns. The loss dropped New Orleans into a tie with the Panthers for first in the NFC South.

"Alvin is amazing," Sean Payton said. "Sure, Adrian Peterson might be good for a big game once a month, but Alvin does in every week. You can call Peterson 'All Day,' but you should call Alvin 'All Day and Tamara Kamara.'"

Saints win, 28-26.

Kansas City @ New York Jets (+3½)

The Jets lost a tough 32-27 battle to the visiting Panthers, losing a game they easily could have won. New York held a 20-18 lead early in the fourth quarter, but mistakes doomed them down the stretch.

"We could have used that win," Josh McCown said. "A win would have left us 5-6, still in the thick of the playoff race, and one win closer to six, which would make our coach 'Bowles-eligible' to win Coach of the Year, for leading this team to six more wins than anyone thought.

"Former Jets Darrelle Revis is now a Chief. He's still on the Jets payroll, and of course, we're paying him now. So, in addition to Darrelle himself, there's two teams getting burned, as well."

The Chiefs were upset 16-10 by the Bills at home, losing for the third time in a row. Alex Smith struggled to complete passes downfield, and tossed a late interception that sealed K.C.'s fate.

"Alex is not playing his best," Andy Reid said. "But he is throwing well, if you consider throwing kinks into our playoff hopes 'well.'

"You might see Patrick Mahomes warming up on the sidelines on occasion. Well, Pat's getting warmer, he's getting warmer, and warmer."

After a scoreless and uneventful first quarter, former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards commandeers the public address system and reminds both teams that "you play to win the game."

Chiefs take heed and win, 20-17.

Houston @ Tennessee (-6½)

The Titans beat the Colts on the road 20-16, erasing a 16-6 deficit and getting the winning points on DeMarco Murray's 1-yard touchdown run with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter.

"DeMarco has made some huge plays for us," Mike Mularkey said. "He's our 'Mr. Clutch.' Now, until Marcus Mariota stops throwing interceptions, we're going to call him 'Mr. Brakes.'

"You'll see a lot of throwback Houston Oiler merchandise. That's old-school. I'm sure there are some kids today that would look at an Oilers helmet and say, 'why is the Eiffel Tower on that?'"

Titans win, 23-19.

Cleveland @ Los Angeles Chargers (-13½)

The Chargers whipped the Cowboys 28-6 in Dallas on Thanksgiving, as Philip Rivers passed for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"The Cowboys defense is subpar," Rivers said. "I'm pretty sure Jerry Jones and Ezekiel Elliott would agree with that assessment of the Cowboys 'defense team.'

"We're 5-6, and now trail the Chiefs by only one game for the AFC West lead. We started the season 0-4, while the Chiefs raced to a 5-0 record. I guess you could say we spotted them a lead. I think by season's end, the Chiefs will be 'spotted' somewhere other than the playoffs."

The Browns are now 0-11 after their 30-16 loss to the Bengals.

"We've got five more tries to get a win," Hue Jackson said. "And Josh Gordon will be in the lineup to help us. Josh said he made $10,000 a month selling drugs while at Baylor. We'd like to downplay that by saying Josh was employed in 'shipping and receiving.'"

Chargers win, 27-10.

Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona (+7)

The Cardinals beat the Jaguars, 27-24, winning on Phil Dawson's 57-yard field goal as time expired. Arizona is 5-6, three games behind the Rams in the NFC West.

"Phil is 42-years-old," Bruce Arians said, "but he's got the leg of a 17-year-old. And please tell Lawrence Taylor not to take that comment out of context."

Jared Goff passed for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Rams beat the visiting Saints 26-20. Los Angeles is 8-3, a game up on the Seahawks in the NFC West.

"Sean McVay has given me an offense to run that is dynamic yet easy to understand," Goff said. "He's an offensive guru, and he's always giving me a new trick to implement. He's the mastermind; I am merely the hand that carries out the plan. If he's the wizard, then I am the wizard sleeve.

"Somewhere, Jeff Fisher is asking himself, 'what could have been?' And somewhere, Jeff Fisher is answering himself, '7-9 at best.'"

Cardinals win, 26-24.

New York Giants @ Oakland (-7)

The Raiders beat the Broncos 21-14 in a testy affair that featured an all-out brawl, initiated by sworn enemies Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree. Both were ejected from the game, and subsequently suspended for the next game.

"That's the second time those two clowns have battled over a necklace," Jack Del Rio said. "Personally, I'm appalled, but I also can't wait for 'The Trilogy.' What's it gonna be called, and where will it be contested? How about 'Off the Chain In Bahrain?' Or 'Talib-Crabtree 3: Chain Reaction?' If it's televised on network television, will it be called the 'Free For All?' Maybe they should settle it with a bodybuilding contest, and call it 'Guns Blazing.' Advantage Talib.

"Marshawn Lynch has requested that the Mexican national anthem be played. It's got nothing to do with Donald Trump; it's got everything to do with Marshawn's new restaurant, 'Marshawn Lynch's Taco Stand.'"

The Giants managed only 197 yards of total offense in a 20-10 loss at Washington on Thanksgiving night. New York fell to 2-9 and 0-3 in the NFC East.

"Our offense looked anemic," Ben McAdoo said. "I don't want to say they quit, but watching them play if very 'trying.'

"We're making a tough decision and benching Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. It's probably appropriate that Geno is most known for his 'bad decisions.' Of course, the decision to bench Eli evoked a lot of eye rolls. I'm guessing when all is said and done, it will have evoked even more head rolls."

Raiders win, 24-13.

Philadelphia @ Seattle (+5)

The Eagles beat the Bears, 31-3, to improve to 10-1, and are close to clinching the NFC East division title. Carson Wentz passed for 227 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"We have quite a cushion in the NFC East," Wentz said. "It's a pretty big cushion, too. It's so big, we could take that cushion, put it in a chair, sit out the rest of the year, and still win the division.

"I'm sure CenturyLink Field will be rocking on Sunday night. The Seahawks have the loudest fans in the NFL. When the '12's' get really loud in there, you can't even hear yourself think, which, come to think of it, should work to Pete Carroll's advantage. Because when he thinks, he makes dumb decisions."

The Seahawks beat the 49ers 24-13 at Levi's Stadium, led by Russell Wilson, who passed for 2 scores and ran for another.

"If we're going to make the playoffs," Wilson said, "it's going to have to be on the backs of this offense. They're the only 'backs' we have, because we don't have running backs, we don't have any defensive backs.

"The Eagles may have the best defensive front four in the NFL. And our offensive line play has been shaky. That means I'll likely be running for my life. If you've ever wondered what it looks like when a 'five-step drop' becomes '50-100 steps,' you'll find out on Sunday night."

Seahawks win, 30-27.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (+5½)

The Steelers nipped the upstart Packers 31-28, winning on Chris Boswell's 53-yard field goal as time expired. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 351 yards and 4 touchdowns, 2 to Antonio Brown.

"If there was any question," Roethlisberger said, "I think this proves that my heart is in the game. If my heart wasn't in it, then my creative teammates would have found a way to incorporate giving me CPR into one of their TD celebrations.

"We're trying not to look ahead to our Week 15 matchup with the Patriots at Heinz Field. In the past, New England has been the measuring stick for how we stack up as a team. And nearly every time, the Pats have made that measuring stick a hickory stick, and taken us to the woodshed."

The Bengals beat the Browns, 30-16, to keep the Browns winless.

"When you say 'winless' in Cincinnati in December," Marvin Lewis said, "the playoffs must be fast approaching."

Steelers win, 28-18.

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