Thursday, December 21, 2017
NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 16
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Indianapolis @ Baltimore (-13½)
The Colts lost 25-13 to the Broncos last Thursday night, dropping their fifth straight to fall to 3-11.
"I'm giving my 'two weeks notice,'" Chuck Pagano said. "Sorry, Colts fans. I'm not resigning. I'm just letting you know there are two weeks left in the season.
"Andrew Luck is still in Europe having his shoulder treated and rehabilitated. At least that's what I hear. Heck, for all I know, Andrew could be standing in front of a dog trainer who does nothing but yell 'heal!' Really though, he's over there because you don't need your arms to play football.
"We have an opportunity to play 'spoiler.' I'm excited. I love role-playing. I'm told my next role will be 'former Indianapolis coach.'"
The Ravens dominated the Browns, winning 27-10 in Cleveland to improve to 8-6. Baltimore forced 4 turnovers, including 3 by DeShone Kizer.
"Let me just say to new Browns general manager John Dorsey," John Harbaugh said. "These players are indeed, 'real.' Real bad.
"If we win our last two games, we've got a good shot to make the playoffs as a wildcard. In other words, we control our own destiny. Veterans like Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs don't need me to remind them of that. They know what it takes to control their own destinies; it's their bladders that are a concern."
Even with unseasonably mild temperature forecast in the 60s at game time, the Ravens bring the heat anyway, and sack Jacoby Brissett 5 times.
Ravens win, 31-13.
Minnesota @ Green Bay (+9)
The Vikings bounced back from Week 14's loss at Carolina with a resounding 34-7 win over the visiting Bengals. Minnesota held Cincy to 161 yards of total offense and picked off Andy Dalton twice, as the Vikes clinched the NFC North.
"Our defense carried out the game plan to perfection," Mike Zimmer said. "I gave our them an 'A' for 'execution,' because they absolutely killed the Bengals.
"We know the Packers are out for revenge. Not only for beating them in Week 6, but for breaking Aaron Rodgers' collarbone. So, Aaron has a bone to pick with us."
The Packers lost 31-24 at Carolina in Aaron Rodgers' return from a broken collarbone. Rodgers tossed 3 touchdown passes, but also threw 3 interceptions.
"We're out of the playoff hunt," Mike McCarthy said, "so we're shutting Aaron down for the year. In other words, I'm telling him to 'R-E-L-A-X.'"
Vikings win, 26-14.
Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-9½)
Cam Newton passed for 4 touchdowns, as the Panthers held on to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, 31-24. Carolina is 10-4.
"The Packers actually had a chance to tie the game after recovering an onside kick," Newton said. "We certainly were nervous, especially with the ball in Rodgers hands. But when faced with a potential disaster, our defense said 'Hail no!' and forced a fumble.
"Our owner, Jerry Richardson is under investigation for workplace misconduct of a sexual and racial nature. And he's decided to sell the team. So, if you're a prospective NFL franchise owner, or a victim of Jerry's misconduct, then he's ready to 'cut a deal.'
"Now, I'm not sure this is true, but Jerry is claiming his 'racial slur' was that one time he was critical of NASCAR."
The Buccaneers lost to the Falcons, 24-21, on Monday night, despite 3 touchdowns from Jameis Winston. Patrick Murray's 54-yard field goal as time expired was wide right, giving Atlanta the win and sending the Bucs to their 10th loss of the season.
"It's unfortunate what's happening with ownership of the Panthers," Dirk Koetter said. "But I think it's the right move for Richardson to sell. And it's a good move that Carolina has named Tina Becker chief operating officer of the team. Ten years ago, if you told Jerry a woman was 'wearing the pants' in his organization, he would have told her to change into a skirt."
Panthers win, 30-19.
Cleveland @ Chicago (-6½)
The Bears lost 20-10 at Detroit last Saturday and fell to 4-10. Mitch Tribisky passed for 314 yards and a touchdown, but also threw 3 interceptions.
"Obviously," Tribisky said, "we're a better team when I don't have to throw the ball 46 times. My game is more suited to 46 rushes. If I was a Harry Potter wizard, I would be called 'Handoff.'
"But I'm not a wizard. And that's too bad, because I like John Fox, and it would surely take magic to keep him around as head coach. I wouldn't be surprised if the headline in the Chicago Sun-Times soon reads 'John Fox Ousted.' However, I would be surprised if the headline reads, 'John Fox Outed.'"
The Browns lost 27-10 to the Ravens and remained winless at 0-14.
"We're almost guaranteed to have the No. 1 pick in April's NFL Draft," Hue Jackson said. "And I'm pretty sure we'll get that No. 1 pick. We're already evaluating talent, and we're already evaluating slogans for the draft. We've narrowed it down to two: 'No. 1 or Bust' and 'No. 1 and Bust.'"
Chicago wins, 20-10.
Detroit @ Cincinnati (+5)
Matthew Stafford threw 2 touchdown passes, as the Lions beat the Bears 20-10. Detroit kept their slim playoff hopes alive.
"If our chances of making the playoffs are slim," Stafford said, "then our chances of losing once we get there are fat.
"You probably saw the touchdown celebration after my TD throw to T.J. Jones. He and his teammates did a 'Rockettes' routine, complete with high kicking. I'm surprised Matt Prater didn't join in, because I know he's 'kicked high' before."
The Bengals were hammered, 34-7, by the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"We looked awful," Marvin Lewis said. "But the real question is this: who quit first? Me, or my team?
"I'm leaving the team at the end of the season. This way, I get to say goodbye on my own terms. It'll be just like I'm in the playoffs again, because I'll be saying 'I'm out.'"
Bengals win, 24-21.
Miami @ Kansas City (-10)
Kareem Hunt totaled 206 yards from scrimmage and scored 2 touchdowns, as the Chiefs won their AFC West showdown with the Chargers. Kansas City is 8-6 and leads the division by a game.
"It was indeed a showdown," Andy Reid said. "We showed the Chargers how to move down in the standings. We also showed the Chargers how a real AFC West team does it. You know, with people in the stands.
"We don't think the Dolphins can move the ball on our defense. We're going to put a line in the sand and dare them to cross it. Now, it's a good thing this game's not in Miami, because if you put a line in the sand in South Beach, someone, maybe an offensive line coach, might snort it."
Jay Cutler threw 3 interceptions in Miami's 24-16 loss at Buffalo. The Dolphins tumbled to 6-8, third in the AFC East.
"Jay's play has been wildly inconsistent," Adam Gase said. "One week after carving up the Patriots defense, he throws 3 picks at Buffalo. Maybe I'm just looking at this from the wrong perspective, though. Maybe, just maybe, Jay is consistent, and his consistency is, in fact, his inconsistency. And he is the most consistent quarterback in the league. He's won me over, again."
Chiefs win, 27-20.
Buffalo @ New England (-12½)
The Bills easily handled the visiting Dolphins 24-16 to improve to 8-6. Tyrod Taylor rushed for a score and passed for another, while LeSean McCoy had 2 scores, as well. Currently, the Bills hold the AFC's No. 6 seed.
"You've heard of 'no win' situations," Sean McDermott said. "We're in a 'no lose' situation. A 'no win' situation would be a game with Nathan Peterman at quarterback. A 'no win' situation would also be me trying to explain that decision."
The Patriots beat the Steelers 27-24 at Heinz Field and wrestled the AFC's No. 1 seed away from Pittsburgh.
"That game had a playoff feel to it," Brady said. "The tension was so thick, I believe it was affecting the air pressure in the football.
"Is there any surprise we hold the top spot? We're so confident of it, we assume we'll be there. And so does my doctor. Just the other day, he told me to 'assume the position.' And his index finger agrees that we're 'No. 1.'"
As he makes his way from the locker room to the field for pre-game warmups, Rob Gronkowski is viciously body-checked into the wall by Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane, who staples a receipt signed by Tra'Davious White to Gronkowski's back.
Patriots win, 27-13.
Atlanta @ New Orleans (-5½)
The Saints beat the pesky Jets 31-19 at the Superdome and maintained the top spot in the NFC South. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 240 yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns.
"Those two are a true dynamic duo," Sean Payton said, "like 'Batman And Robin.' I guess that makes me Commissioner. I held a similar title back in 2010. That was when the league was questioning me about the bounty scandal, and my not-so-forthcoming answered earned me the title the 'O-missioner.'"
The Falcons held on the beat the Buccaneers 24-21 in Tampa on a night in which Jon Gruden was inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor.
"If you were watching that game," Matt Ryan said, "you probably heard me say the 'F' word, pretty loudly. I'd like to apologize to anyone offended. Usually, the 'F-bomb' is what I say when Julio Jones drops another long pass from me.
"Anyway, our game with the Saints will probably be high scoring. They call games like that track meets. And it's my job to be the official starter. So, 'On your mark, get f'n set, go!'"
Saints win, 27-24.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets (+7)
The Jets hung tough with the Saints before falling 31-19, as New York was officially eliminated from the playoff contention.
"Jeremy Kerley blamed a 'ghost' for his positive drug test," Todd Bowles said. "I've heard of ghosts injecting fear into someone, but not drugs. But we don't mind a ghost hanging around; we can always use a little more team spirit. Anyway, we released Kerley. And his ghost has been booed out of town."
The Chargers lost 30-13 at Kansas City in a battle for the AFC West lead. Los Angeles committed 4 turnovers, including 3 Philip Rivers interceptions.
"I take responsibility for the loss," Rivers said. "At least that's what I told my Catholic priest at confessional. I asked for forgiveness. He said, 'Close. Your team had 'four giveaways.'
"Now, we're going to have to scramble to make the playoffs. We're 7-7, so we'll need to win our final two games and pray for some help. Personally, I'll do that praying at the altar of 'Our Lady of Hope (-ing All 8-6 Teams Lose Their Final Two Games).'"
Chargers win, 26-17.
Los Angeles Rams @ Tennessee (+6½)
The Rams destroyed the Seahawks, 42-7, in Seattle, led by Todd Gurley, who scored 4 touchdowns. The win gave the 10-4 Rams a two-game lead over Seattle in the NFC West.
"We're all sick of hearing about the Seahawks and their lack of discipline," Sean McVay said. "Yeah, they're the 'bad boys' of the NFL, so we took it upon ourselves to spank them.
"Todd is a threat as a runner and as a receiver. He reminds many of former Ram great Marshall Faulk. You know, great hands, great legs, and the ability to run away from anything. Well, almost anything.
"On that note, someone please explain to me what the heck is going on at the NFL Network. Some men there are out of control. I can only guess the weather forecast at NFL Network studios. They're calling for 'cold showers.'"
The Titans lost 25-23 to the 49ers at Levi's Stadium and fell two games behind the Jaguars in the AFC South, but currently hold the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff standings.
"Jeff Fisher used to coach both of these teams," Mike Mularkey said. "Now, I hear he wants to return to the coaching ranks. If you're a team looking for a coach to lead you to the 16-20th pick in the following year's NFL draft, then Fisher is your man."
Titans win, 27-26.
Denver @ Washington (-3½)
The Redskins beat the Cardinals, 20-15, in a sloppy game that had fans at FedEx Field booing at times. Kirk Cousins passed for 196 yards and 2 scores, as Washington improved to 6-8.
"I can't say that I blame them," Cousins said. "We probably should be booed. That's the climate here in DC now. You've got a team with a sub-.500 record, and fans that are very displeased about it. There's someone in town that likes to call that the 'losers and the haters.'
"No, we are not changing our name to the 'Redhawks.' That's fake news. That was the biggest hoax perpetrated on Redskins fans since Dexter Manley convinced them he could read."
Brock Osweiler replaced an injured Trevor Siemian in the first quarter and accounted for 3 touchdowns in the Broncos' 25-13 win over the Colts on Thursday night.
"If only Brock played like that when it mattered," Aqib Talib said. "Sure, Brock is 6'7," but he only stands 'big and tall' when he's being measured for a suit.
"But when he's at his best, Brock can beat you with his arm and his legs. He's a dual threat, as opposed to me, who's a duel threat, when I challenge someone to a gunfight."
Denver wins, 19-17.
Jacksonville @ San Francisco (+4½)
With Leonard Fournette out with a quad injury, Blake Bortles picked up the slack by passing for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns in Jacksonville's 45-7 blowout win over the Texans.
"Blake has previously been the laughing stock of NFL quarterbacks," Doug Marrone said. "He's often been called 'Blake Chortles.' Or even 'Ha Ha Bortles-Blake.'"
Jimmy Garoppolo passed for a career-high 381 yards and a touchdown, and Robbie Gould kicked 6 field goals, as the 49ers beat the Titans, 25-23.
"Jimmy is 3-0 as a starter here," Kyle Shanahan. "He's batting one thousand. That's better than even San Francisco Giant great Barry Bonds. Unlike Bonds, they call Jimmy 'The Natural.'"
Jacksonville wins, 24-17.
New York Giants @ Arizona (-4)
The Giants battled the Eagles before losing, 34-29. Eli Manning passed for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns, as New York dropped to 2-12.
"I've still got it," Manning said. "Which is more than you can say for Jerry Richardson. But this will be a great thing for the Panthers, especially if P. Diddy buys the team and brings in Colin Kaepernick to compete for the starting quarterback job. That would be a slap in the face to Cam. I guess what I'm saying is the Panthers don't 'kneed' Kaepernick."
"While I was torching the Eagles defense, I'm sure Ben McAdoo was watching. Probably from behind the tinted window of his 1985 van."
The Cardinals lost 20-15 to the Redskins and fell to 6-8. Blaine Gabbert struggled mightily, completing only 16-of-41 passes with an interception.
"It's been an injury-riddled season," Bruce Arians said. "And I hate riddles."
New York wins, 23-22.
Seattle @ Dallas (-5)The Seahawks were humiliated at home, 42-7, by the Rams. It was the worst loss in Pete Carroll's eight seasons as head coach.
"Last week in Jacksonville," Carroll said, "we had trouble keeping a player on the field. It got worse against the Rams. We couldn't keep any of them on the field, because the Rams rans us off the field.
"We'll likely have a similar issue at Dallas. We have a problem keeping players out of the stands. The Cowboys have a problem keeping an owner off the field."
The Cowboys beat the Raiders 20-17, helped by a controversial fourth down ruling that led to the eventual game-winning points.
"I've never seen anything like that before," Jerry Jones said. "Usually, when a person in a position of power pulls out an index card around a Cowboy, it's to read him his Miranda rights.
"Ezekiel Elliott will be making his return after a six-game suspension. Zeke's been training in Mexico. I hear Zeke's training motto is 'Alimentarme.' No, that's not a performance-enhancing drug; it's Spanish for 'feed me.'
"Dez Bryant is looking forward to his matchup with the Seahawks injury-depleted secondary. Dez's favorite Christmas song right now is 'It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like X.'"
Seahawks win, 27-25.
Pittsburgh @ Houston (+9½)
The Steelers lost a heartbreaking 27-24 decision to the visiting Patriots that gave New England the inside track to home-field advantage in the playoffs.
"I thought we had the game won," Ben Roethlisberger said, "but there was a 'catch.' The catch was there was no catch. If that sounds confusing, then you should try reading the NFL's rules concerning what is and is not a catch.
"After the game, I just want to know if it would be in bad taste to 'shake hands' with Tom Savage."
The short-handed Texans were manhandled, 45-7, by the Jaguars at EverBank Field. T.J. Yates, in his first start of the season, completed only 12-of-31 passes for 128 yards.
"Antonio Brown is out at least for the regular season with a calf injury," Bill O'Brien said. "That's a relief to hear for our defense. I guess we'll find out what a 'de-calf-inated' Pittsburgh offense looks like."
Pittsburgh wins, 26-14.
Oakland @ Philadelphia (-9)
Nick Foles passed for 4 touchdowns in the Eagles' 34-29 won over the Giants that clinched a first-round playoff bye. Foles out-dueled Eli Manning, who passed for 434 yards and 3 TDs.
"I'm not worried about our offense without Carson Wentz," Doug Pederson said. "But maybe I should be worried about our defense without Wentz.
"We've got to stop Michael Crabtree. He may be the most disliked player in football, and he's obsessive about wearing his necklace. We call him 'Dick Chainy.'"
The Raiders lost to the Cowboys, 20-17, in Oakland and are 6-8, third in the AFC West.
"I have to question the officials use of an index card to determine whether the Cowboys picked up a first down on a fourth down play," Jack Del Rio said. "In my opinion, there's no place for index cards in the game of football. It's uncouth and offensive. I'm of good mind to charge Gene Steratore with 'indices exposure.'"
Eagles win, 31-17.