NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 4

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-12)

Justin Tucker's 27-yard field goal on the game's final play lifted the Ravens to a satisfying 31-30 win over the Patriots on Sunday night, somewhat avenging Baltimore's AFC title game loss last year.

"There were a lot of controversial calls in the game," John Harbaugh said. "Heck, we may have won the game because of one. But I would never think of putting my hands on an official, except to thankfully embrace him.

"Bill Belichick overreacted by going after an official, and the NFL responded with a stern reprimand. It all gives new meaning to the term 'officially charged with a time out.'

The Browns are the AFC's last remaining winless team, and it will take quite an effort to take down the AFC North-leading Ravens.

"I think we can score on the Ravens," Pat Shurmur said. "The Pats moved the ball mostly at will. Did you see that streaker at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night? The Ravens' defense didn't get near him. He was untouchable."

They're calling the game the "Hate Art Modell/Love Art Modell" bowl, in honor of the man who brought football to Cleveland and Baltimore. Modell will certainly be looking down on Thursday night's proceedings, or up if you're a Browns fan.

Ray Rice rushes for 149 yards and 2 scores, and the Ravens avoid the let down with a 27-12 win.

Carolina @ Atlanta (-6)

Cam Newton was awful in Carolina's 36-7 loss to the Giants last Thursday, and Steve Smith let him know about it. Newton tossed 3 interceptions and pouted on the sideline for much of the fourth quarter.

"Who, besides Panthers cheerleaders, doesn't need a tongue-lashing in Carolina?" Smith said. "Cam was a good sport about it and thanked me, for not punching him. He now knows that the opposite of 'upbeat' is 'beat up.'

"In some parts of Charlotte, it's often a necessity that you 'get down,' but not at Bank of America Stadium on a Thursday night in front of 70,000 plus fans who came to see you and wished they hadn't. Cam owes it to the fans. And by 'it,' I mean a refund."

After whipping the Chargers 27-3 last week, the Falcons are one of only two unbeatens in the NFC. In consecutive weeks, Atlanta has ousted the teams led by Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers.

"Ask me who the NFC's best team is," Mike Smith said, "and I'll give you the 'bird.' If you have to ask me twice, I'll give you the 'Dirty Bird.'

"Offense is the name of the game in Atlanta now. That came to me in a revelation last year, just minutes after we scored two points in a playoff loss to the Giants. What's worse is the defense scored those two."

The Panthers have had ten days to address the defensive problems that plagued them against the Giants. In a strange twist, it was a receiver named "Ramses" who was the source of the plague, and not the victim. Just imagine the severity of the plague that strikes the Panthers from receivers named "Roddy" and "Julio." It will be of bubonic proportions.

Matt Ryan throws for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns and the Falcons move to 4-0 with a 35-24 win.

New England @ Buffalo (+3½)

After Week 1's blowout loss to the Jets, the Bills have struck back with two straight wins, the last a 24-14 win at Cleveland. The visiting Patriots will provide Buffalo's stiffest test of the year when they invade Rich Stadium on Sunday.

"Our goal is to pressure Tom Brady," Chan Gailey said. "That's what we're paying Mario Williams 'handsomely' to do. $100 million will make most people do a lot of things. As of yet, it hasn't made Mario do a lot of sack dances.

"Brady had a good day in Baltimore. However, it sounded like Brady had a rough day there. Of course, it only sounded like that because Brady is contractually obligated to say 'UGG!' whenever he's hit."

The Patriots lost a dramatic 31-30 decision to the Ravens on Sunday night, and now New England is 1-2 and below .500 for the first time since 2003. Furious at the officiating, Bill Belichick confronted an official, grabbing line judge Ali Shetula.

"No offense to Ali," Belichick said, "but some of those calls were 'Bull Shet.' I know my mother always told me not to pick at 'scabs,' but that was ridiculous.

"Of course, now I feel petty for complaining after seeing the Packers get shafted on Monday night. That was a terrible call, probably the third-worst in history, right behind the 'Tuck Rule' and me going for it on fourth down in Indy in 2009. Sadly enough, there were at least three other calls in the Packers-Seahawks game that made the top 10."

Much like replacement officials, the Pats don't look like Super Bowl favorites. The New England defense has a lengthy list, about 500 yards long, of pressing issues. But just when you think the Pats are in trouble, Belichick whips out a new wrinkle in the game plan, or a bootleg film, to iron things out.

The Patriots' defense forces two Buffalo turnovers, and Brady and company rebound with a 34-23 win.

San Diego @ Kansas City (+3)

After last week's 27-3 loss to the visiting Falcons, the Chargers are 2-1 and still sit atop the AFC West, one game ahead of the Chiefs, Broncos, and Raiders, all at 1-2.

"You know what they say about the AFC West," Norv Turner said. "'If you're one game over .500, you're likely leading the division.' That usually applies to Week 1, too. And one game is often the margin in the final division standings. So, when someone asks 'How the West Was One,' you'll know.

The Chiefs shocked the Saints 27-24 in overtime last week, leaving New Orleans winless. Jamaal Charles exploded for 233 yards rushing and a touchdown, as the heretofore lethargic Chiefs' offense found its rhythm.

"I carved up that Saints' defense Good,'" Charles said. "In other words, I carved it up like Roger Goodell. In fact, I felt a lot like Goodell as I was running through the Saints' defense, because I kept saying 'You can't touch me.'"

Charles scampers for 115 yards on the ground, and Matt Cassell finds Dwayne Bowe for the game-clinching score.

Kansas City wins, 27-23.

Seattle @ St. Louis (+3)

The Rams mustered only 160 yards of total offense in last week's 23-6 loss in Chicago. The Rams are now 1-2 and at the bottom of the NFC West.

"When that's all you can 'muster,'" Jeff Fisher said, "you're forced to play 'catch up.'

"But this team is a work in progress. We've got first-round picks from the Redskins in addition to our own for the next two years. It's not often the coach of a 1-2 team coming off a 2-14 year can say this, but I can: 'we're loaded."

The Seahawks were handed a 14-12 win over the Packers on Monday night thanks to some suspect officiating.

"Replacement officials will always have a place in my heart," Pete Carroll said. "In their honor, my wife and I recently purchased The Replacements' entire music catalog. We both own it, which I'm thrilled to call 'simultaneous possession.' Golden Tate agrees — the music is 'catchy.'"

The Seahawks fall behind early, but quickly erase the six-point deficit behind the running of Marshawn Lynch, the passing of Russell Wilson, and the refereeing of officials who don't know the difference.

Seattle wins, 24-9.

San Francisco @ NY Jets (+3)

The Vikings stunned the previously undefeated 49ers 24-13 last week, and now San Francisco must regroup for a cross-country trip to face the Jets. It's the 49ers' third road game of the year

"We just didn't play with passion," Jim Harbaugh said. "It appears we left our hearts in San Francisco. Rex Ryan should be happy to hear that I'm not leaving my foot in San Francisco. Rex will be sad to hear I'm bringing it for a butt kicking and not for his perverted fetish."

The Jets left Miami with a hard-earned 23-20 overtime win, improving their record to 2-1, where they are tied with the Bills and Patriots. Mark Sanchez was 21-46 for 306 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.

"We know the 49ers are coming with a chip on the shoulders," Ryan said. "We start each season with a chip on our shoulders. Usually, we're the one who knock it off.

"We need more from Sanchez. However, we don't need more from Tim Tebow. He showed plenty in his Vogue photo shoot. Some hardcore Christians are calling it a 'spread offense.' I bet if you put that tractor tire on a football field, Tebow wouldn't be able to move it at all."

The 49ers return to form, defensively and offensively, and the Jets' defense appears lost without Darrelle Revis. The 49ers are not the Dolphins, so, for the Jets, it's "Back to MetLife, Back to Reality."

The 49ers harass Sanchez, forcing three turnovers. Tebow relieves a battered Sanchez in the fourth quarter and plays terribly, validating what Vogue proved earlier — Tebow is a "poser."

San Francisco wins, 20-13.

A few weeks later on Broadway, a musical based on the story of a receiver with a long history of nonconformity who now acts like a total team player, opens. The show, called "Ain't Moss Behavin,'" plays to rave reviews.

Tennessee @ Houston (-8)

The Titans took their first win last week, beating the visiting Lions in a wild 44-41 overtime victory. Jake Locker threw for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Chris Johnson continued to struggle, with only 24 yards on 14 carries.

"Chris Johnson says he's not getting the blocks," Locker said. "He's wrong. I know we have holes in our defense, but we also have them in our offense. Chris shouldn't criticize his offensive linemen under any circumstances, especially when they're getting further downfield than he is."

The Texans stated their case loud and clear as the AFC's best time, going into Denver and leaving with a 31-25 win. At 3-0, Houston has a two-game cushion on the Jaguars, Colts, and Titans.

"The helmets of all NFL quarterbacks are fitted with an earpiece," Matt Schaub said. "I lost mine in Denver."

It's a Tennessee versus Houston contest, and, oddly enough, the only Oiler in town is Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who handles the opening coin toss and jokingly asks Schaub if he's ever lost a face-off.

The Texans win the toss, and win everything else on the day.

Schaub exfoliates the Titans secondary, tossing for 284 yards and 3 scores. Houston wins, 30-13.

Minnesota @ Detroit (-6)

The Vikes pulled off the season's biggest upset, stunning the 49ers 24-13 last week. Christian Ponder threw for 198 yards and 2 scores and rushed for another score, delighting an ecstatic, yet surprised, Mall of America Stadium crowd.

"That's what I call 'good Christian leadership,'" Leslie Frazier said. "Ponder obviously has a solid future in the NFL and is moving fast up the fantasy football boards. 'Christian-sanity' is sweeping Minnesota. I hate to resort to an overused expression, but 'he is risen.'"

The struggling Lions are 1-2 after losing 44-41 in overtime in Tennessee. Detroit piled up 583 yards of total offense, but surrendered 437 and gave up two special teams touchdowns.

"With this offense," Jim Schwartz said, "I never thought this team would be outscored. But it seems like every time we lose, that's the case.

"To compound issues, Matthew Stafford has a strained right leg. Apparently, he hurt it running onto the field after Titans' touchdowns."

The Lions, as opposed to 18 seconds worth, play an entire game with a sense of desperation. Stafford sits, and Shaun Hill picks up the slack, throwing for 327 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Detroit wins, 37-28.

Miami @ Arizona (-4½)

Believe it or not, but the Cardinals are 3-0 and alone in first atop the NFC West after an emotional 27-6 win over the visiting Eagles last week. Kevin Kolb vanquished his former team with 222 yards passing and two touchdowns.

"This is the most satisfying victory of my pro career," Kolb said, "Which can only mean I've had a very unsatisfying career.

"I'm not sure I have the power to make the Eagles regret trading me. Only Michael Vick can do that. And, as was also the case in Philly, he's better at it than me."

Miami is 1-2, but could very well be 2-1 had Dan Carpenter made either of the two 47-yard field goals he missed, one in regulation, one in overtime, against the Jets.

"We're playing the undefeated Cardinals, which should pique the attention of those ornery 1972 Dolphins," Joe Philbin. "This year is the 40th anniversary of their magical season. I've been lucky enough to stand in the same room with the surviving members of that team. As you would expect, it smelled like 'old farts.'"

Arizona wins, 24-13.

Oakland @ Denver (-5½)

The Broncos host long-time rival Oakland, hoping to get back on track after consecutive losses to the Falcons and Texans. With a Denver win, and a Chiefs win over the Chargers, there would be a three-way tie for the lead in the AFC West.

"There are three reasons I chose to play for the Broncos," Peyton Manning said. "The Chargers, the Chiefs, and the Raiders.

"But I know I have to play better. I've made some bad decisions in the last two games. I know more is expected of me in Denver. But this is about what was expected of me in Indianapolis."

Despite giving up 384 yards passing and four touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger, the Raiders beat the Steelers 34-31, scoring the final 13 points of the game.

"Credit the team for pulling this game out," Dennis Allen said. "That's called 'finding a way to win.' They had to find it, because it darn sure wasn't in the game plan."

Denver wins, 31-19.

Cincinnati @ Jacksonville (+1)

The Cincinnati offense was explosive in a 38-31 win over the Redskins last week, piling up 478 yards of offense and three scores of 48 yards or longer.

"This game features a lot of dynamic offensive players," A.J. Green said. "So hopefully the outcome will be decided by the 'horses' and not the 'zebras.'

"But let's try not to be so hard on the replacement officials. They're working under a lot of pressure. No one wants to see them choke, but everyone wants to see them choked."

The Jaguars posted their first win of the year, beating the Colts on Blaine Gabbert's 80-yard strike to Cecil Shorts with 45 seconds left. In non-80-yard touchdown plays, Gabbert was a pedestrian 9-of-20 for 75 yards.

"That is indeed 'pedestrian,'" Mike Mularkey said. "Ironically, that decisive touchdown pass may have kept Gabbert from taking a 'walk.'"

Ironically, Gabbert can't walk; he needs to be "carried," and Maurice Jones-Drew takes him places.

Jacksonville wins, 27-24.

Washington @ Tampa Bay (-2)

After wins to open the season, both the Redskins and Bucs have dropped two in a row. Mike Shanahan and the dynamic Robert Griffin III now face the Bucs and head coach Greg Schiano, who's instilled his new team with a new-found confidence.

"I hear the Bucs like to be quite aggressive on opponents' kneel downs," Griffin said. "I say by year's end, they should be pretty good at it."

The Bucs were offensively inept in last week's 16-10 loss in Dallas, with just 166 yards of total offense.

"We plan on hitting RGIII whenever possible," Schiano said. "Heck, we might 'take a knee' if the opportunity presents itself. It's that kind of mentality that may make me the NFL's most-hated coach by season's end. Sunday's game against Washington is the perfect platform for me to prove how much I can get 'under one's 'Skin.'"

Tampa Bay wins, 26-21.

New Orleans @ Green Bay (-5)

The Saints are 0-3 and now face the unenviable task of traveling to Green Bay in search of their first win. New Orleans has surrendered 102 points in three games, worst in the NFC.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Drew Brees said. "That's why we're filing an injunction against the Packers' offense. That may be the only way we can stop them.

"We still have a lot of pride here in the Big Easy. For that reason, we're not afraid to question authority. That's not a criticism of Roger Goddell. On the contrary, it's us asking who our coach is."

Green Bay was robbed on Monday night in Seattle, as the officials inexplicably awarded the Seahawks a touchdown catch on the game's final play in regulation. It was a bitter defeat for the Packers, who are now 1-2, albeit just a game out of first in the NFC North.

"Hopefully," Mike McCarthy said, "the NFL will take notice of what happened to us and apply it to striking officials. We got 'jobbed'; locked-out officials need that, as well."

The Packers reply to news of the NFL's deal with locked-out officials with the most sarcastic "Thanks" in world history. Then they take out a week's worth of frustration out on the Saints.

Green Bay wins, 41-24.

NY Giants @ Philadelphia (-2)

The Eagles were stymied 27-6 in Arizona last week, done in by 3 turnovers, a problem that is now cause for major alarm in Philadelphia.

"Turnovers finally caught up to us," Andy Reid said. "I'm quite surprised it took them so long. Apparently, winning ugly and losing ugly look a lot alike.

"But I like to look on the bright side. We're without a doubt the best 1-2 team that should be 0-3 in the league. But there's no need to panic. Michael Vick is still my quarterback, which basically contradicts my previous statement."

The Giants head to Philadelphia with the confidence of an offense that knows it can score on anyone, and the confidence of a defense that makes most offenses feel the same way.

"Our defense has come a long way since giving up 58 points in our first two games," Tom Coughlin said. "And I expect them to come up big in Philly, because they'll likely have just as many chances to score as our offense."

The Eagles' defense plays with passion, sacking Eli Manning four times, while Philly offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg dials up quick slants and screens for Vick, ensuring he gets the ball out of his hands before putting it into those of the opponents. LeSean McCoy carries the load on the ground, rushing for 114 yards.

After surviving a late Giants' comeback, the Eagles hold on for a 25-20 win.

Chicago @ Dallas (-3½)

Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, two of the most-maligned quarterbacks in the league, face-off in Dallas on Monday night.

"In a lot of ways," Romo said, "I'm a lot like Cutler. We're both quarterbacks. In more ways, I'm not like him at all. I can sit in the whirlpool with teammates with no fear that I'll be drowned. Of course, there's nothing more satisfying than lounging in the whirlpool while reading the third book in The Hunger Games series, 'Mockingjay.'"

The Bears are 2-1 and tied for the lead in the NFC North. Chicago's two wins have come against the Colts and Rams, who are a combined 2-4.

"The name-calling on this team has to stop," Lovie Smith said, "but not before I report a few of the derogatory terms Cutler's been called. There's 'Smarmy of One,' 'I-Formation,' The Un-Bear-able,' and 'The Chicago Black Sheep.' Also, any combination of the symbols '#,' '%,' '&,' and '*.'

"It's my job as a coach to keep this team together. So, whenever there's conflict, I've instructed my players to summon me by saying 'Where's the Lovie?'"

Chicago wins, 23-20.

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