NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 8

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-2)

After a bye week to assess their 3-3 record and station in life, the Eagles are bound and determined to drag themselves from the bottom of the NFC East and reach the potential that some analysts recognized, possibly in a crystal ball, when said analysts boldly picked the Eagles to make the Super Bowl. Philly will try to start that turnaround against 4-2 Atlanta, the NFC's most surprising team.

"I'm not sure what those prognosticators were smoking at the time," says Andy Reid, "but I'm sure my sons could get hold of some. As for the game, the congregation of so many Falcons and Eagles in one place is sure to create suspense. The Hitchcockian overtures will be overwhelming. Of course, today's players probably have no idea what that means. To them, 'Hitchcock' is a venereal disease."

Mike Smith has the Falcons in the thick of the playoff hunt, but he knows the one thing they must avoid is complacency.

"Hopefully, we haven't reached our peak yet," says Smith. "It's not often an NFL head coach makes a reference to iconic actor and pretty boy Lorenzo Lamas, but here goes: this team's potential has not reached a 'Falcon Crest.' How's that? I bet you thought I was going to drop a Renegade reference, Lamas' Highlander ripoff. Wrong! Anyway, as far as a victor in this game goes, there can be only one."

So, which Eagle team will show up at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday? The team that shutdown the Steelers, 15-6, or the team that lost 41-37 to those highly overrated Cowboys? Philly's had a bye week to get Bryan Westbrook healthy, and Reid's added a few wrinkles to the playbook, thereby making his laminated play sheet about the size of your front door. I'm guessing the Eagles will load up the line and contain Michael Turner, and force Matt Ryan to beat them through the air. The Falcons hang tough, but the Eagles take a hard-fought 23-17 win.

St. Louis @ New England (-8)

Have the Rams really beaten the Redskins and Cowboys in consecutive weeks? You know, most people were right. The Rams' problem was "lack of coaching." More specifically, the Rams' problem was "lack of Scott Linehan's coaching." Linehan was fired three weeks ago, and St. Louis is 2-0 while "lacking Linehan's coaching."

"In two weeks," says Jim Haslett, "we went from the worst team in the league to a contender in the NFC West. Obviously, that's not going far, but we're so proud of our accomplishments that I want to let everyone know, including the Patriots and Bill Belichick. Therefore, we're offering them a DVD copy of our Dallas win, as well as a bonus disc, which includes my commentary on the entire three-hour game. Plus, if they act now, they'll get another disc containing 14 hours of blooper footage from our first four games."

The Patriots are back on track after blowing out the Broncos, 41-7, last Monday behind 3 touchdown passes by Matt Cassel, two to Randy Moss. The Pats are 4-2 and trail the Bills by one game with a Week 10 contest between the two on the horizon.

"The Broncos left here with 'blazing saddles,'" says Bill Belichick, "because they were ridden long and hard. Mike Shanahan a genius? Yeah, maybe if Ed Hochuli is proctoring Shanny's IQ test. Here's an unsolicited observation on the AFC West: if the Chargers don't win that division, then they a sorry excuse for a potential playoff team."

New England wins, 31-24.

Kansas City @ NY Jets (-11½)

After a physically-taxing 34-10 loss to the Titans, the Chiefs fell to 1-5 and saw their top two quarterbacks, Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard, go down with injuries. Croyle is lost for the season with a knee injury, while Huard's status is uncertain for next week with a thumb injury. That would be plenty to dampen the spirits of your average NFL coach. But not Herman Edwards, whose sunny disposition and amicable personality can always find the positive side to any situation.

"My motto is 'always look on the bright side,'" says Edwards. "Sure, I may take that too far sometimes, specifically with my ongoing crusade to change the Pink Floyd album to The Bright Side of the Moon. No luck so far. That doesn't mean I don't listen to the album, particularly the song 'Money,' which is why I'm in Kansas City and not still with the Jets."

"Now, we've got our share of problems. Sure, two of our quarterbacks may be hurt, but it gives Tyler Thigpen another opportunity to prove his worth to this team, and the Peanuts crew, as well. And, by now, you've already heard of Larry Johnson's assault problems, or at least three of them. It seems that Larry's in trouble for spitting a drink in a woman's face. Larry claims it was self-defense. You see, the lady had asked Larry what his yards-per-rush average was. When he told her, she spit out her drink in surprise, right into Larry's face. He was just getting her back. He spit, when he should have swallowed. His pride, that is."

"But I don't think L.J. will get out of this one. Ideally, I hope Larry can get off with just community service. It will be a chance for him to give back to the community. He can put that yards-per-rush average to good use while teaching second-graders about fractions."

The Chiefs defense will face a Jets offense led by Brett Favre, known throughout the league as a "gunslinger," while quickly building an equally renowned reputation as a "mudslinger." When he's not bashing his former employees in Green Bay, Favre likes to call Packers opponents and drop dime on what he thinks the Packers' offense will try to do.

"Hey, I texted Sports Illustrated's Peter King and explicitly denied giving the Lions any information on the Packers. That should be enough to quell those nasty rumors. Name me one instance when my word wasn't good. Okay, name another one."

New York wins, 29-13.

Washington @ Detroit (+7½)

"Get up, everybody's gonna move their feet. Get down, everybody's gonna leave their seat."

Lyrics to a KISS song, or what Detroit fans are doing? Either way, you're gonna lose your mind in "Detroit Rock City."

"I don't blame the fans for leaving," says Rod Marinelli. "Let's see. First, the Lions get rid of Matt Millen. What happens? We lose. Then we get rid of Roy Williams. What happens? We lose. I'm thinking my job is pretty safe, despite the fact that the front office has moved my office into the back of a U-Haul moving truck. I'm nervously awaiting the sad day when the headlines read 'Rod Gets the Shaft.' For now, we are determined to put fans back in the seats, and, judging by the Lions record of bad decisions, I wouldn't be surprised if we're given approval to kidnap to achieve that goal. "

The Redskins are 5-2 and clearly one of the stronger teams in the NFC. But here's an alarming statistic: Washington hasn't won a single game by more than seven points this year, and have only scored 12 more points than their opponents.

"Hey, we like to keep the gamblers on their toes," says Jim Zorn. "As far as the Lions go, we can't and won't take them lightly. I'm sure their skipper Sparky Anderson will have them ready. What? He's not the coach? Okay, then I'm sure Chuck Daly ... No? Flip Saunders? Wayne Fontes? Never mind, then. Sure, they're 0-6, but Lions are most dangerous when backed into a corner. Unless they stay there. Then they're totally harmless, and quite cuddly. We've lost to one winless team already this year; we won't let it happen again."

Clinton Portis rushes for 112 yards and a touchdown, and the Redskins try their best to win by 7½ points just to make Vegas sweat. But, eventually, they win, 27-17.

Buffalo @ Miami (+1)

After a thorough 23-14 whipping of the Chargers that improved their record to 5-1, the Bills feel confident mentioning themselves among the elite teams of the AFC. Now, they embark on a three-game series in which they'll face their AFC East competition, the results of which will be vital in eventually determining the division champ.

"This team is riding high on confidence right now," says head coach Dick Jauron, "We just beat the Chargers, an AFC finalist last year, so convincingly that they packed up and left the country. We'll need that same kind of determination in Miami, where the Dolphins have already doubled their win output from last year. We know we can expect some tricky formations from Tony Sparano and the 'Fins. They like to use that formation in which there's no quarterback in the backfield. They call it the 'Wildcat' formation. We call it 'Chad Pennington lining up under center.'"

Miami may be a few years away from the playoffs, but they are competitive week in and week out. Most of that credit goes to general manager Bill Parcells, who, as he has done before with other teams, has cultivated a winning climate.

"Sometimes, franchises just need a total overhaul," says Sparano. "Bill's done that here. And the city has embraced him. Now, when people talk about Miami, not only do they mention the beach, the cocaine trade, the cosmopolitan lifestyle, J. Lo's booty, Ocean Drive, and the South Beach Diet, they also mention Parcells. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Bill even got his nickname from one of the main tenets of the South Beach Diet, 'Good Fat.'"

Buffalo wins, 23-20.

Arizona @ Carolina (-4½)

The Panthers rebounded from their dismal 27-3 loss to the Bucs in Week 6 with a convincing 30-7 win over the Saints and Drew Brees. Carolina is a perfect 4-0 at home, and will put that record on the line when Kurt Warner and the Cardinals pay a visit this Sunday.

"Arizona is certainly playing well," says Jake Delhomme. "I'd say they're peaking right now. In fact, I believe they have achieved 'Cardinal synergy.' But we know it will difficult to take Kurt Warner out of his game. Now, if it were Matt Leinart starting, we could just leave a trail of thong panties leading to Julius Peppers, and Leinart would fall for it every time. We're tempted to try the same thing on Warner, except with granny panties. But Warner's not so easily distracted. He's beyond temptation. He's got his own version of the 'Three Amigos' on his side. I'm not talking about Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston. I'm talking about the 'Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' Those guys are badass."

Warner and the Cards will face the Panthers fifth-rated defense, a unit that's given up only 33 points in four home wins.

"Hey, I know they'll be playing with a chip on their shoulders," says Warner. "I can't blame them. We're coming in here with cardinals on our helmets, knowing full well that the cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina. What's the state bird of Arizona? I'd guess the roadrunner, but Leinart tells me it's the 'twin-breasted, red-rumped woodpecker.' He also tells me the state snake is the 'feathered boa,' so I'm a little dubious of Leinart's understanding of the animal kingdom, beavers excluded."

The Panthers shut down Brees, so why shouldn't they be able to do the same to Warner? Check the history books. The Panthers have never lost at home to a glove-wearing quarterback. Carolina wins, 29-21.

San Diego @ New Orleans (+3)

The Chargers and Saints will face-off in London's Wembley Stadium, and the British will again get a taste of the intricacies of American football. The Saints and Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yardage, will face the 3-4 Chargers, who have the league's worst pass defense.

"I guess the Chargers' defensive backs coach is familiar with a 'corner kick,'" says Brees. "It's what he does when Quentin Jammer gets burned. We'll be throwing downfield quite a bit. I just wish Reggie Bush was here for the Brits to see. I guess it's for the best; I hear the British hate Bush anyway."

San Diego's Phillip Rivers isn't in London to gain any sense of cultural diversity. He's here simply to win a football game, and if the British are intrigued by what he does for a living, then so be it.

"Am I supposed to be impressed by these soccer hooligans?" says Rivers. "Well, I'm not. I don't need to go to London to see fanatical, out-of-control, eager-to-fight sports fan. I can see that in Oakland on any given Sunday. And I'm talking about during church."

While the British may not completely understand the game of American football, they obviously know more about it than Rivers knows about soccer. During a pre-game interview, Rivers is asked his opinion of 'Man U.' and replies that he prefers attending co-ed colleges.

San Diego wins, 27-22.

Tampa Bay @ Dallas (-3 ½)

You know what they say — "everything's bigger in Texas." That includes cowboy hats, legal fees, personal seat licenses, Wade Phillip's noggin, player complaints, and pinkie injuries. With Tony Romo out with a broken pinkie, the Cowboys were destroyed by the Rams, 34-14, the Cowboys' second straight loss and third in their last four games. It's all put Phillips' job in jeopardy and Romo's rehab on the fast track.

"Look, I've already said this once," says Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who answers to the name "Dick Magnate" in the seedy internet chat rooms in which he frolics. "Wade Phillips' job is not in danger. However, his head is. As for Romo, he's proving that the pinkie finger is just as important to quarterbacking as it is to playing Guitar Hero."

"Now, I'm praying Tony will be ready for Sunday's game. We've all stepped up the rehab on the pinkie. Even Jessica Simpson's pitching in with her special 'hands free' pinkie massage, which has worked wonders for Tony's pinkie as well as his morale."

"I'm Tony Romo, and I approved this massage."

"Romo's pinkie is sure getting pampered," says Jon Gruden. "I haven't seen this much tiptoeing around a body part since Keyshawn Johnson's mouth was in Tampa. I don't think Romo will be making Howie Long's 'Tough Guys' list. You know, here in Tampa, we've got a miracle cure for a broken pinkie. It's called athletic tape, and you just tape that broken finger to the closest good finger, and it's good as new."

Dallas wins, 22-20.

Oakland @ Baltimore (-7)

The Raiders won their second game of the year, and first under interim head coach Tom Cable, with a 16-13 overtime win over Brett Favre and the Jets. Cable had a pre-game surprise for his troops, as former Raider great Ken Stabler stumbled into the locker room and "fumbled" a bottle of Jack Daniels, which was then pounced on by another famed Raider, Dave Casper, while a gummed-up Lester Hayes tries to glad-hand all the current Raiders, although his first handshake left him stuck to the hand of quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

"That's not entirely true," says Cable. "It was a bottle of Jim Beam. Anyway, I'm happy to be coach of the Raiders. And I'd be even happier if Al Davis would pay me in something other than Confederate currency. Al's got some crazy idea that he doesn't have to pay his coaches. Well, I won't stand for it. He's not going to get 'free Cable.'"

The Ravens bounced back from three straight defeats with a 27-13 win in Miami, evening their record at 3-3. This will be coach John Harbaugh's first instance of coaching against the Raiders and wacky owner Davis.

"Hey, I love Al's 'Warped Tour,'" says Harbaugh. "Love him or hate him, Al's a legend in football. I sure hope I get to meet him. Is it true that's he's actually transparent? Did he really play a zombie in a George Romero movie without makeup? Does he know a cotton-picking thing at all about pro football in the 21st century?"

Baltimore wins, 23-12.

Cincinnati @ Houston (-10)

Isn't it odd? At 0-7, the Bengals have the worst record in the NFL, yet the behavior of the team has been exemplary. There have been no arrests, and Chad Johnson has complained little if any, although he's had plenty to complain about, including his own play.

"Yeah, if you ignore the seven losses," says Marvin Lewis, "then things couldn't be better. Usually, people are saying what a train wreck this team is. Well, this team ain't no train wreck. At least not yet. We did just sign Cedric Benson, who, should he get behind the controls of a train, very likely may cause a train wreck. This Bengal organization has made it a habit of signing some of the league's most unsavory characters. Benson and Chris Henry have no doubt been on 'Most Wanted' lists before. Apparently, they're most wanted in only one state, because they only made our list of most wanted free agents."

Since starting the season 0-4, the Texans have won two in a row behind the quarterbacking of Matt Schaub, who, when healthy, is Houston's number one quarterback. He'll try to make it three straight against a Bengals squad that again might be without Carson Palmer, who's considering surgery to correct an elbow injury.

"As a fellow member of the quarterbacking fraternity," says Schaub, "I certainly have sympathy for Carson's predicament. His injury has been well-publicized, and doctors have even named the injury after him. It's called 'Palmer's Elbow,' and if left untreated, it can even cause hairy palms and blindness."

Houston wins, 30-24.

Cleveland @ Jacksonville (-7)

Is Derek Anderson the quarterback of the future for the Browns? After a 14-for-37, 136-yard performance last week against the Redskins, one has to wonder.

"Let me put it this way," says Romeo Crenel. "He can wear shades if he wants to, but Derek's future is so 'blight,' there won't be a Brady Quinn trade. I may have to heed the advice of Zed from Pulp Fiction and 'bring out the gimp,' and put in Quinn."

The Jaguars are 3-3 and will no doubt be pulling for the Colts to beat the undefeated Titans on Monday night and tighten up the AFC South race. Either way, the Jaguars will need a win to remain in second place in the division.

"We're a running team," says Jack Del Rio. "And we just became more of a running team upon learning of the suspension of our leading receiver Matt Jones, who was suspended three game for violating the NFL's 'You idiot! You were doing cocaine in your car?! In public?!' policy. In short, Matt got 'nose tackled' by the NFL. I always wondered why Matt chuckled everytime I told him to go line up in the slot."

Without Jones, Jacksonville becomes an even more run-heavy team. But that's not a bad thing. The Jags are at their best utilizing the "Short Fuse" offense, in which they "run like hell." And, against the Brown's 26th-ranked rush defense, which just gave up 175 yards to Clinton Portis, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor will find plenty of room.

Jacksonville wins, 27-13. Suspended Browns tight end Kellen Winslow is sadly diagnosed with his second major illness in less than a month — locker room cancer.

Seattle @ San Francisco (-4)

It's a battle for last in the NFC West as the 1-5 Seahawks face the 2-5 49ers, who just fired head coach Mike Nolan. Defensive coordinator Mike Singletary was named interim head coach and immediately addressed the team with the beady-eyed stare that intimidated many opposing quarterbacks during Singletary's days as a middle linebacker in Chicago.

"I love it," says San Fran linebacker Patrick Willis. "It was really cool how they played 'These Eyes' while Singletary was being announced as our new head coach. We just unloaded Mike Nolan in exchange for Mike Singletary. So, we went from 'Sayonara' Mike to 'Samurai' Mike. That's awesome!"

"I've been jammin' for quite a while," says Singletary. "Doin' what's right and settin' the style. So it's no surprise to me that I was selected to replace Nolan. Unlike Mike, I'm 'well-suited' for this job. Now, if I could just get Buddy Ryan in here to implement the '46' defense, and garnish that with a punky QB, we could very well turn this season around."

No team in the NFL has suffered more injuries than the Seahawks. Matt Hasselbeck has dealt with chronic back and knee injuries all year, while the Seahawks' receiving unit has been battered beyond repair. The Seahawks have the NFL's worst passing offense, averaging a paltry 127 yards per game.

"That's just stinks," says Mike Holmgren. "It smells like teen spirit. Heck, it smells like Tom Skerritt. This is definitely not how I envisioned my last year in Seattle. I was supposed to be the one carried off the field, not my players. But what can you do about injuries? It's a part of the game. We'll just try to play guys when they're healthy. Right now, our first-stringers are a lot like Bigfoot —they only make rare appearances in the Pacific Northwest."

The excitement's back in San Francisco. No, it has nothing to do with Singletary. A 3.8 magnitude earthquake just hit. And two more Seahawks just went down. San Francisco wins, 24-10.

NY Giants @ Pittsburgh (-1)

Sunday night's Giants/Steelers contest will mark Plaxico Burress' first game against his former Steeler teammates in Pittsburgh, a place where players respect their head coaches. Burress has clashed lately with head coach Tom Coughlin, and the two engaged in a brief shouting match last Sunday in San Francisco.

"Hey, what's wrong with giving a 'shout out' to your coach?" ask Burress. "Coach Coughlin is an older man; he's hard of hearing. Me? I'm just hard of head, with an aversion to authority, rules, practicing, and putting my son on the school bus. In Cincinnati, coaches and receivers may kiss, but you won't see me kissing Coach Coughlin. Man, I'm not down with that interracial thing."

Burress is undoubtedly Coughlin's, and Eli Manning's, favorite target. To win this game, the Giants will need a big game from Burress, and a turnover-free game from Manning, who will be frantically avoiding the Steeler rush led by linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. But the real fun will be watching Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu play, fresh off a visit from the league office. Ward was docked $15,000 grand for two hits, while Polamalu said the NFL was becoming a "pansy" league for the way the league levied financial penalties for infractions. So, Hines, how'd the meeting go?

"'Fine,'" says Ward. "I just had a few questions for the league when we met — who do I make this check out to? And is it tax deductible? Troy's right. You can't hit anyone in this game anymore, unless you're Larry Johnson. I don't play this game to hurt people, but damn, it's always cool to be on Youtube. Anyway, I understand the Baltimore Ravens have a 'bounty' on me. I'm shaking. They know where to find me. Leave it to the Ravens to bring a 'paper' towel to a Terrible Towel fight."

Most people say this game will be decided by the quarterbacks. I'd agree with that, but only if I knew beforehand that Manning and Ben Roethlisberger sat down together prior to the game and came to a gentleman's agreement on who'd turn the ball over more. There will be precious few yards on the ground, so there will be a lot of passing. I think the Giants' offensive line will protect Manning better, giving him more time to go downfield. New York wins, 24-21.

Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-3½)

Just when we thought Peyton Manning was back to form, he suffered a miserable day in Green Bay, going 21-for-42 for 229 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Manning offered no excuses for his play, although he did check with doctors to make sure they hadn't performed a third surgery on his left knee.

"The knee is just fine," says Manning. "It's my back that's bothering me now. The Titans' 332 yard rushing performance last week sent shivers up my spine, and left defensive coordinator Ron Meeks in awe. Not only that, but we have the worst rushing offense in the league, and the Titans have that beast Albert Haynesworth anchoring their line. And it's a contract year for Phat Albert. I don't limit my audibles at the line to just changing plays, so maybe I'll just tender Haynesworth a contract offer during Monday's game. After all, what our defense needs most is a run-stuffing, man-boobed monster in the middle, and he fits the bill. I don't know if we can afford the bill, though."

The Titans are the NFL's last remaining undefeated team, although the 1972 Miami Dolphins aren't quite fretting over their precious record just yet. It's strange that the NFL's last undefeated team is a squad other than the Colts, who began the last three years 13-0, 9-0, and 7-0. Jeff Fisher feels a changing of the guard in the AFC South.

"And the Chargers and Saints went all the way to Buckingham Palace to see a 'changing of the guard,'" says Fisher, "when they could have just seen one here. Suckers. But seriously, beating the Colts is never an easy task. We know they'll try to beat us through the air, because there's no way the league's lowest-rated rushing offense can do anything against us. We just have to play out game on offense, which is loads of rushes and high percentage, 4-yard passes. When all is said and done, the Colts will be a little 'hoarse,' because we're going to run the ball right down their throats."

Tennessee wins, 25-19.

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