NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 12 (Pt. 2)

Denver @ Chicago (-2)

In his first start since getting benched, Rex Grossman did not throw a single interception. Last year, that would have probably meant a 34-9 Bears victory. Heck, last year, even when Grossman threw three interceptions and fumbled twice, the Bears would still manage a 24-23 win that would send Dennis Green to the verge of insanity. But that was then, and this is now. A near error-free game from Grossman doesn't necessarily mean a Chicago win. In last Sunday's instance, it meant a 30-23 Seahawks win, as the Bears defense gave up 425 yards of total offense.

"Our problems go well beyond Rex Grossman," says Lovie Smith. "Rex, as well as other quarterbacks in Chicago 's history, are basically measured against Jim McMahon, who QB'ed the Bears 1985 Super Bowl-winning team. Take away that Super Bowl win, and McMahon's claim to fame would simply be mooning a helicopter. Don't get me wrong. That's much more impressive than anything Rex has done so far.

"The point is this: there have been other quarterbacks in Chicago's storied history who didn't win the big one, but still had fine careers. There's Bob Avelini, Peter Tom Willis, and Vince Evans, who beat the odds, rising from the ghetto, finding success in the wake of the bad career choices made by his three older siblings, J.J., a dee-jay, Thelma, a crack-addicted prostitute, and Michael, a drag queen, making his loving mother Florida, and his temperamental, but good-hearted father James, very proud. We just want Rex to be Rex, but we want Rex to be Rex about 50 times better."

Success in Denver is apparently not predicated on Broncos wins, but on the number of timeouts the obsessive-compulsive narcissist of a coach Mike Shanahan can call before the opposition's field goal attempts. He did it again Monday night against the Titans, calling timeout just before Rob Bironas hooked a 56-yard attempt. Bironas then nailed the rekick.

"You down with OCD?" says Shanahan. "Yeah, you know me. I'm naughty by nature, not 'cause I hate you. I just want my name in the rule book when they outlaw the timeout before the kick. I'm that insecure."

Is there any hope left for the Bears? Only if a fire-breathing grizzly in a Brian Urlacher jersey shows up. Denver wins, 27-21.

Houston @ Cleveland (-3½)

If the playoffs started today, the Browns would just miss the No. 6 seed on a tiebreaker to the Titans. But Cleveland has six more games to secure a playoff berth, which would be their first since 2002. That year, the Browns fell to the Steelers 36-33, just another disappointment of many in the history of Cleveland sports. The list is long and distinguished.

"Hey, is this the part where Val Kilmer, as Iceman, says 'So's my Johnson'?" asks Derek Anderson. "One of the great lines in cinematic history. But, yes, there have been some sad moments in Cleveland sports. There's Earnest Byner's fumble, Michael Jordan's shot over Craig Ehlo, and the Indians' loss to the Braves in the 1994 World Series. However, that all pales in comparison to the Browns firing Bill Belichick as coach. If he were still coach, we could be the team dominating the NFL and running up scores, and I could be dating a supermodel. Maybe not. Have you seen my picture? Well, I at least could be dating Brady Quinn's rejects. And Tom Brady could be the draft pick cut by the Ravens who achieved greatness with another team. Anyway, Houston could possibly be a team with which we'll be fighting for a playoff spot in the end, so we desperately need this win as a tiebreaker."

Speaking of "Johnson's," the Texans Andre returned last week from a knee injury, and was unstoppable against the Saints. With Johnson, the Texans are like Maverick with his wingman Goose. Without Johnson, Houston is like Tom Cruise extolling the virtues of Scientology — unwatchable.

"If I could go on The Oprah Winfrey Show and talk up Andre," says Matt Schaub, "then I'd jump up and down on her coach like a madman and tell him how much I love him. Hopefully, that wouldn't creep Andre out too much, and he'd still agree to catch my passes and follow my cultish religion."

After two highly emotional games in the last two weeks against division foes, the Browns are mentally spent and ready for a breakdown, much like Katie Holmes. The Texans pull the upset, 30-23.

Minnesota @ NY Giants (-7½)

The Giants took a huge step towards securing the top wild card seed with a gritty 16-10 win over the Lions, as Michael Strahan sacked Jon Kitna three times (all legitimate), then engaged in a verbal sparring match with Kitna, who claimed the Lions were still the better team. In fact, he guaranteed it.

"Since when is a guarantee from Kitna worth more than, say, a 1974 Topps Mario Mendoza rookie card?" asks Strahan. "It's worth less. In fact, it's worthless. Kitna's obviously having the same kind of delusions of grandeur he had when he guaranteed 10 wins. Here's a guarantee of my own: Adrian Peterson won't gain a yard against us."

That's a bold statement, Strahan, but Peterson will be chillin' on the sidelines in his sweatsuits, which is still pretty exciting to watch. But Chester Taylor proved the Vikings running game hasn't petered out, despite Peterson's knee injury. Taylor rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders last week in Minnesota 's 29-22 win.

"If you can get to the second level on the New York defense," says Taylor, "you can run for days. Their secondary is easy like Sunday morning. Honestly, I can't wait to get to Giants Stadium. Not necessarily to play the Giants, but to stand with my teammates along the pedestrian ramp at Gate D and make catcalls at lovely women in the hopes that they'll join us on our next sexy-time cruise. And, if we're lucky, we'll fill our roster and maybe, just maybe, appear in the next DVD of Gate D Gone Wild."

Giants win, 23-14.

New Orleans @ Carolina (+3)

What must have been going through the mind of Steve Smith as he watched from the sidelines as the Packers beat the Panthers last week, 31-17?

"It was a feeling of total helplessness," says Smith. "Much like the feeling I get when I'm on the field. It's hard to get open when you're being triple-teamed. And, even when I do get open, there's no guarantee that Rony Seikaly will even throw me the ball. What? That's not Rony Seikaly? Well, he looks a lot like Vinny Testaverde. Hey, they both look good in orange. Anyway, this has been a season to forget. It makes me want to crawl in a hole and cry. Or, review tape in the film room with Pee Wee Herman. Or, better yet, crawl into a bathroom stall with two Carolina Top Cats and cheer them on."

Smith is a true gamer. Even when he's not playing, he's cheering on his teammates, no matter how much they suck. Put other wide receivers in his situation, and they'd probably whine and pout, irritate management, and miraculously find themselves on the roster of the Super Bowl favorite. Should Smith return from a shin injury, the Panthers can win. Without him, they might as well hole up in a car trunk. Smith starts, and turns a short pass into a long touchdown. John Kasay kicks the game-winning field goal, and Carolina wins, 24-22.

Oakland @ Kansas City (-5)

In their narrow 13-10 loss last week to the Colts, Chiefs quarterback Brody Croyle outplayed Peyton Manning, outdoing Manning in every statistical category. After getting the start two weeks ago, Croyle has quickly made a name for himself as the best Chiefs quarterback from two weeks ago to the present.

"Hey, I'm not much on Chiefs' history," says Croyle, "but it's nice to have my name mentioned with the other greats in the team's history, like Tony Montano, Sonny Bono, Richard Dawson, Al Green, and El DeBerg. Those guys were great quarterbacks. I just hope I can live up to their legacy, or my name's not Popeye Croyle."

Croyle's obviously a little giddy about his recent success, so much so that he's talking gibberish. And gibberish is what you get whenever you try to get a straight answer from the Kansas City organization about the status of their running backs. Is Priest Holmes retiring? What's so secret about Larry Johnson's foot injury? Who's their third-string running back? Inquisitive minds want sucker-free answers.

Croyle throws for a score and the Chiefs win, 20-14.

Seattle @ St. Louis (+3)

So Matt Hasselbeck puts his kids to sleep by reading from his playbook? Man, that kind of torture is banned under the articles of the Geneva Conventions. But please, feel free to broadcast it loudly over the speakers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Otherwise, you're not American.

Need another cure for insomnia? How about watching an NFC West football game?

"Hey, don't knock NFC West football," says Hasselbeck. "It's worth the price of admission just to see which Shaun Alexander will show up — the 'wah wah' Alexander or the 'rah rah' Alexander. I don't know what happened to Shaun. He used to be a guy that would go out and dish out as many hits as he took. Now, he's nothing more than a two-bump chump."

The Rams won their second straight, edging the 49ers 13-9 despite six sacks of Marc Bulger. Bulger survived, and will face a Seattle defense that has given up only five touchdowns through the air.

"Our offensive line has been decimated by injuries," says Bulger. "We've tried everything: free agents, different blocking schemes, even dirty blocks that the Denver Broncos offensive line wouldn't even try. None of it worked. I never thought it would come to this, and I've questioned the coaches on this one, but we're going to have our lineman say 'Nee!' to rushing defenders. It's worth a shot, I guess."

Seahawks win, 27-16.

Tennessee @ Cincinnati (+1)

We could sit here all day debating the pros and cons of quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Vince Young, but who wants to hear about that when there's the story of a nightclub altercation between Titan teammates Pacman Jones and Albert Haynesworth. Apparently, Jones and Haynesworth were relaxing at a nightclub, minding their own business, when Jones began showering random dancers with cash money. Haynesworth, forgetting that he has a hamstring injury that's kept him out of two games, rushed over to collect the free cash, and, in his haste, stepped on the much smaller Jones. A shoving match ensued, along with an East Coast-West Coast rap feud and a The Source Music Awards show. Then, all hell broke loose when George Clooney and Fabio got into an altercation. Then, Jones met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his reinstatement.

The Titans rush for 215 yards on the ground and win, 30-20.

Washington @ Tampa Bay (-3)

Tampa Bay opened up a two-game lead in the NFC South, whipping the hapless Falcons while division rivals Carolina and New Orleans lost. The Bucs boast an undefeated division record of 3-0, and face a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Beat the 'Skins, and a game at Houston in Week 14 would mark their only remaining game against teams that currently have a .500 record or better.

"You're telling me we've got a chance to go 12-4?" asks John Gruden, sporting a Jolly Roger on the deck of his 180-foot yacht The Billy Ocean. "Wow! The NFC really has gone downhill. But don't knock the NFC South. This division has put at least one team in the playoffs in each of the last five years. The South is tougher than people give it credit. I heard people, like Neil Young, have put us down. Well, I hope Neil Young will remember, an NFC South man don't need him around, anyhow."

Tampa wins, 19-14.

San Francisco @ Arizona (-10)

What do the Cardinals most regret in their season so far?

"Well, it's kind of irritating when Kurt Warner audibles with verses from scripture," says Edgerrin James. "Sometimes, I don't know whether to pick up the safety blitz or build an ark. But I would say our biggest regret was losing to the 49ers in Week 1. That's a loss that may come back to haunt us, especially if we finish 6-10 and one game out of first in the NFC West. But, when life gives you a second shot at the 'San Francisco Treat,' you've got to take appropriate action, just as you would if you had to guess the price of a box of Rice-A-Roni on 'The Price Is Right.' I'd say 79 cents, and we're gonna beat the 49ers like Bob Barker pummeled Happy Gilmore, and I'm gonna have my dog spay or neutered, whichever comes first."

San Francisco is in the midst of a disastrous season, tied for last in the West at 2-8. Coach Mike Nolan has reminded his players that they must "stay the course." Oh really? Well, if you stay the course and you're in last place, wouldn't that keep you in last place. What's next? Is Nolan going to boast "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier in San Francisco Bay? Then watch his approval ratings hover at numbers close to the 49ers' winning percentage?

"Hey, if it will allow me to keep my job for eight years, I'll do it," says Nolan.

With the Lions coming back to the field, the Cardinals look like the team that could slip into that last playoff spot. And, with the kleptomaniacal tendencies of cornerback Antrel Rolle scoring points for the Cards, they're unstoppable. At least against the 49ers, or until Warner gets hurt. Cardinals win, 27-9.

Baltimore @ San Diego (-9)

At 4-6, the Ravens are a desperate team. At 4-5, they were also a desperate team, and that was before they had a victory over the Browns cruelly and agonizingly, albeit justly, snatched from their hands by the correct call. Brian Billick was miffed at the officiating crew's ruling, which overturned the original call on the field although field goals are not reviewable.

"Look, I'm not upset that the officiating crew circumvented the rules to arrive at the right call," says Billick. "I'm just upset that they circumvented the rules to arrive at the right call at my expense. I don't fault the Browns at all, and I bear no grudge towards Phil Dawson. Next time, however, when he makes a kick like that, it would be nice if he called 'bank.'"

Don't worry, Billick. I'm sure the NFL will examine that situation, and it will be "under review," as will the terms of your dismissal at season's end. Yeah, I know it's been a tough season, but look on the bright side. If you score your season highlights to the upbeat tempo of a Wham! song, it will look much better.

The Ravens and Chargers sported the NFL's two best records last year, 13-3 and 14-2 respectively. The memory of those records is ancient history, much like the age of the Ravens defense. The fact is, these two teams don't scare anyone, not even Scooby and Shaggy. Alfred Hitchcock couldn't make these Ravens scary, and Shawne Merriman is getting flattened by Cosby kids with three names. But, this still should be a physical battle. LaDainian Tomlinson won't rush for many yards against the Ravens, but he'll toss a touchdown pass or punch it in from the one after a Kyle Boller fumble. San Diego wins, 20-13.

Philadelphia @ New England (-22)

It's business as usual in New England and in Philadelphia . The Patriots continue to score like a pinball wizard, and Donovan McNabb is hurt. New England slaughtered the Bills to near extinction, 56-10, as Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes to Moss. Brady has 38 TD passes on the year, while Moss has 16 scoring receptions. Brady is on pace to break Peyton Manning's record of 49, while Moss is gunning for Jerry Rice's mark of 22.

"Chalk it up," says Moss. "Tom will get the record, and I'm on Jerry like white on rice. I want to prove to all those who have criticized me in the past that they were wrong about me. Criticizing Randy Moss is wrong, and doing so amounts to defecation of character. I've been reading up on the law."

Randy, you must mean "defamation of character."

"Hey, whatever the crap you want to call it."

While the pompous soon-to-be champs are eating their Wheaties while envisioning a photo of themselves on the box, bookies across the land are shatting their collective pants whenever the line for the Patriots game is released, which soon rises five to eight points when smart investors place their early bets with a satisfied grin. The Eagles opened as 17 point underdogs. Now, that line is as high as 23½.

"This team could make history," says New England special teams great Larry "H to the" Izzo. "Sure, we could go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. But I think a game in which the spread equals the over/under would truly cement the legacy of this team."

Is there any hope for the Eagles? Not to win, but just to cover the massive spread? The Patriots are just one hit away from going from a "great" team to a team that's just slightly less than "great." At some point this year, Moss will have to take a hit across the middle, and Brady just might face some physical contact that leaves him unable to complain to the officials about it. Can the Eagles do something to stop the Patriots' juggernaut?

"Hey, I don't have a clue," says Brian Westbrook. "But I just did it with Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the candlestick, while Colonel Mustard watched. And speaking of weapons, we'll need our official thugs Vinnie and Joey to break out all the weapons they have, including the revolver, lead pipe, wrench, rope, or revolver."

Patriots win, 42-21.

Miami @ Pittsburgh (-16)

In Miami , the 0-10 Dolphins are stinking up the joint, and Ricky Williams' joint is stinking up Miami. The Dolphins are four losses from equaling Tampa Bay's 0-14, and six losses away from completing an 0-16 season. It may be too late for Williams to help them on the field, but he can offer support in other ways.

"I've started a support group," says Williams, "called H.E.M.P. That stands for 'Help End Miami's Pain.' At best, we can go 6-10. At worst, we can go 0-16. But at least we'll keep the record for NFL futility in state."

The Steelers took a step back in their quest for classification as the AFC's second-best team. In a 19-16 loss to the Jets, the Steelers were beaten in all phases of the game, leaving Mike Tomlin less than pleased with his team's effort.

"I guess you could say we were a bit overconfident," says Tomlin. "I promise, we won't underestimate the Dolphins. How could we? They haven't won a game. We absolutely don't want to lose in back-to-back weeks to a one-win team and a no-win team."

Pittsburgh wins, 27-9.

Comments and Conversation

November 24, 2007


Hey Knucklehead,
The Browns didn’t fire Bill Belichick. He went to Baltimore with Art Modell, who fired him. Get your facts together, if you want to rip on someone.

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