Note: The quotes in this article are fiction.
Carolina @ Atlanta (-5 1/2)
The Panthers suffered another narrow defeat, losing 30-27 to the Saints last week to fall to 1-4, last in the NFC South. Carolina’s four defeats have come by a total of 22 points, so the Falcons can’t expect a cakewalk in the Georgia Dome on Sunday.
“I’ve heard the term ‘close, but no cigar’ much too often,” Cam Newton said. “Not this year, but back when my father was taking offers from colleges for my services.
“We play teams especially tough in Charlotte. The only ass-whipping you see on our field comes courtesy of Steve Smith. He’s single-handedly responsible for the ‘fight’ in us.”
The Falcons stormed out to a 14-0 lead last Sunday night against the Packers, then went scoreless for the remainder of the game in a 25-14 loss. The defeat left the Falcons 2-3, just one game ahead of the Panthers, and two behind the division-leading Saints.
“The Packers dropped 25 unanswered points on us,” Mike Smith said. “That pales in comparison to the number of unanswered questions we’re faced with. Like ‘What the hell?’ Or, ‘How the hell?’ And, ‘What’s Matt Ryan’s problem?’”
The Falcons get it together against a defense they can handle. Ryan throws for two scores, and Michael Turner punches one in from short range.
Atlanta wins 34-24.
Philadelphia @ Washington (-1)
The Eagles are 1-4 after four Michael Vick interceptions hastened a 31-24 loss in Buffalo last week. It was the latest in a series of disappointments that has left a team many considered a Super Bowl contender mired in the NFC East cellar.
“Those were the least of our mistakes,” Andy Reid said. “As head coach, I have to take responsibility for all the mistakes. And I do. Not really, but I’m hoping this will rally the team around me. I’m not sure it will work, though, but I’m sure Vick will appreciate my ‘guilty’ plea.”
Washington leads the NFC East with a 3-1 record, and Rex Grossman’s prediction of a division championship seems plausible, if not likely.
“The Eagles are done,” Rex Grossman said. “The Giants are a disaster in the works, and Dallas is Dallas. We’ll win the division the same way I won the starting quarterback job...by process of elimination.”
After starting the season in a “can’t lose” situation, the Eagles now find themselves in a “must-win” situation, which they better get used to, because it will last through the year.
The Philadelphia defense has been exposed often this year, with many Eagles caught out of position, including their defensive coordinator. In D.C., the defense is temporarily straightened out, and they intercept Grossman twice.
Philadelphia wins 22-20.
St. Louis @ Green Bay (-14)
If the Rams are to end their winless drought, they have to do so the hard way, with a win over the undefeated and defending world champion Packers, in Lambeau Field, no less. The Rams are rested after a bye week, but it will take more than fresh legs to upset the Packers.
“Indeed,” said Steve Spagnuolo. “Fresh legs won’t be enough, unless they are fresh frog legs, which, when boiled in a kettle with eye of newt, the tears of Dick Vermeil, and the stubble of Kurt Warner, creates a voodoo potion bound to curse the Packers. But only if we can get their starters to drink it.”
Green Bay bounced back from a slow start last Sunday in Atlanta, scoring 25 straight points to erase a 14-0 deficit. The Packers are undefeated and will have to guard against a letdown in Lambeau Field.
“Brett Favre has a street named after him in Green Bay,” Aaron Rodgers said. “I hear it ends at an interception, I mean an intersection. Anyway, I hope to have my own road someday, preferably a bypass around Favre Boulevard.
“As for the Rams, we won’t take them lightly, and we won’t take them seriously. No offense, but the Rams have no offense.”
Rodgers shakes off a slow start and throws for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
Green Bay wins 38-17.
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh (-13)
For the time being, it appears the Steelers have remedied their offensive line problems. In last week’s 38-17 win over Tennessee, Ben Roethlisberger found the time to throw for five touchdowns, and was sacked only once.
“I’m thrilled to be sacked only once,” Roethlisberger said. “So thrilled, in fact, that I became the first offensive player to do a ‘sack’ dance. To show my appreciation to my offensive linemen, I went out and bought them watches with no faces, because they should be ashamed to show theirs after what I’ve experienced in the first four weeks.”
Rookie Blaine Gabbert will start for the Jaguars, and he will face a Pittsburgh defense ranked second in the league in total defense.
“Blaine, you’re playing a game, you never can win, girl,” Jack Del Rio said. “Pardon my homage to Jefferson Airplane, but I don’t want Blaine setting his expectations too high. Our owner, Wayne Weaver, doesn’t want me setting my expectations too high, either. That’s why I won’t hear him singing me another classic rock staple, Jackson Browne’s ‘Stay.’”
The over/under on this game is 39.5. That point total sounds right on the money. That means the Jags could make NFL history by becoming the first team to lose a game by the score of 39 to .5. But that’s impossible, much like a Jaguar win at Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh wins 27-9.
Buffalo @ NY Giants (-3)
Despite a 3-2 record, the Giants are struggling after a 36-25 loss in the Meadowlands to the lowly Seahawks. With the G-Men driving for the go-ahead score with seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning threw his third interception of the game, which was returned 94 yards by Brandon Browner for a touchdown.
“I’m livid,” Tom Coughlin said. “If Eli says he’s in a class with Tom Brady, he should play like it. If Eli says he’s in a class with Buffalo’s Harvard-educated Ryan Fitzpatrick, then Eli would be wearing the dunce cap in that class. If Eli’s not careful, he’ll be the second Manning watching from the sidelines.”
The Bills sit proudly atop the AFC East with a 4-1 record, backed by the devotion of a loyal contingent filled with rabid fans. In years past, that kind of fan support was unheard of, except for the Goo Goo Dolls. Now, the Bills are the hottest thing in New York.
“We whipped the Eagles last week,” Fitzpatrick said, “and we’ll whip the Giants on Sunday. Later in the season, we’ll beat the Redskins and Cowboys. Then, we can say we’ve done something the Buffalo’s four-time Super Bowl losers couldn’t, and that’s beat an NFC East team.”
It’s nip and tuck from the start. Down 20-19, the Bills and Fitzpatrick mount a late charge as time runs down in the fourth quarter. Rian Lindell lines up for a 47-yard field goal, but pushes it wide right.
New York wins 20-19.
San Francisco @ Detroit (-6)
The red-hot Lions will put their undefeated record on the line against the equally as red-hot 49ers, who, at 4-1, lead the NFC West by two games. Right now, first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh looks like the leading candidate for the NFL’s coach of the year.
“With apologies to Joe Montana and Dwight Clark,” Harbaugh said, “they’re calling me ‘The Catch’ in San Francisco now.
“We have four wins and a two-game lead in the West. In this division, that’s grounds for putting the champagne on ice. We won’t back down to the Lions. 5-0 records don’t impress me, unless it’s in Super Bowls. I want to ‘get to six’ just like Jim Schwartz, except, as coach of the 49ers, my expectations are just a bit loftier.”
The Lions remained undefeated, subduing the Bears 24-13 on Monday night in Detroit, where cars are made and Stripper Buses are made to leave. Jahvid Best scored on an 88-yard run, while Calvin Johnson hooked up with Matthew Stafford for a 73-yard TD reception.
“We’re two wins away from a 7-0 start,” Johnson said, “and three wins away from finally being mentioned in a Kid Rock song. Kid is obviously more talented at dropping names than Hank Williams Jr.”
The 49ers gear their defense towards stopping Johnson, which entails jams at the line of scrimmage, double-teaming, ridiculing the size of Johnson’s hands, and other forms of negative reinforcement.
In the end, Johnson gets the last laugh, as Detroit’s goal-line offense, called “Calvin And Lobs,” comes through again as Stafford hits his favorite target for a two-yard score.
Detroit wins 27-24.
Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (-7)
The Colts are 0-5 after blowing a 24-7 lead in a 28-24 loss to the Chiefs last week. Curtis Painter had his best day as a Colt, throwing for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but only managed 40 of those yards in the second half.
“We’ve had no luck in the win column,” Jim Caldwell said. “That’s okay, because we hope to find ‘Luck’ in the loss column.
“If I had to choose a replacement for Peyton Manning, Painter would not be my No. 1 pick. And speaking of ‘No. 1 pick,’ we’d like to use that to select Luck, assuming we remain winless. This is a perfect situation for Luck. Is there a better place to learn as a quarterback than growing up with Peyton Manning? Sure, it didn’t quite work so well for Eli, but I think Luck will reap all the benefits.”
Are the Bengals the NFL biggest surprise? After last Sunday’s 30-20 win in Jacksonville, Cincy is 3-2 and boasts the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
“We’re winning with defense,” Marvin Lewis. “For once, our players can say that, and not their lawyers. This is Cincinnati. There are no more surprises. Unless we win a playoff game. Then I’ll be surprised.”
Cincinnati wins 22-17.
Cleveland @ Oakland (-7)
What goes down when this much Brown goes to the Black Hole?
“Hopefully, all of it,” Hue Jackson said. “We’ve had success running the ball, so we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which is rushing to our opponent’s 35-yard line, stalling, then bringing out Sebastian Janikowski to kick an over-50-yard field goal. He’s good from any distance, and even better from close range, where he can slip a mickey into a drink, then ‘kick it’ later.”
“We’ll stop the run in Oakland the same way it’s stopped in Cleveland,” Colt McCoy said. “With strep throat. What is it with players named ‘Peyton’ and mysterious ‘neck’ ailments? I worked out with Brett Favre this summer. I know he’d never miss a game for strep throat. Hillis will have to live this down, and that won’t be easy in Oakland, where I’m sure at least one fan will offer him a bowl of ‘chicken’ soup.”
Hillis hears an earful from the Black Hole faithful, who chide him with chants of “You suck, but have trouble swallowing.” Hillis responds with a short touchdown run in the first quarter. The Raiders, in turn, respond with their own ground attack, and take a hard-fought 23-20 win.
Houston @ Baltimore (-7)
The Ravens lead the AFC South with a 3-1 record, and with a bye week under their belts, should be more than ready to face the Texans, led by quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Arian Foster. The 3-2 Texans, however, will be without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, arguably their two best players.
“It’s hard to identify the Texans ‘best’ player,” Ray Lewis said. “My guess it’s one with a bad hamstring. Houston has a lot of ‘great’ players. They just don’t have a lot of ‘good’ ones.”
The Texans are 3-2 and tied with the Titans atop the AFC South. A loss at home to Oakland kept Houston from sole possession of the South lead.
“That was a game we should have won,” Gary Kubiak said. “Unfortunately, the Texans have made a habit of not doing things they should. Like firing me, for example.”
Ray Lewis makes the 327th greatest pre-game speech of his career, and in a purely symbolic gesture, the 11 Baltimore starters carry their offensive counterparts onto the field.
Defense wins some championships, but it always beats the Texans.
Baltimore wins 34-20.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (+5)
The Bucs, a week removed from a 48-3 thrashing in San Francisco, host the NFC South-leading Saints, and a Tampa win would forge a tie in the division.
“48 points is totally uncalled for,” Raheem Morris said. “It’s not good when you let the 49ers nearly live up to their name. They played like a team possessed; we played like a team regressed."
The high-powered Saints offense is scoring at a 31 points per game clip, better than 27 teams in the league, and, more importantly, better than their defense, which surrenders 25 points per game.
“So, our defense isn’t that good,” Sean Payton said. “Here’s a French quarter, call someone who cares. And speaking of French Quarter, our fans there have faith in our defense. Their rallying cry is ‘Oui, Believe.’ In actuality, our defense makes our offense better. As in, when our defense leaves the field, the offense says ‘We better score.’”
The Bucs win the opening coin toss, and defer to the Saints. Oddly, the Saints choose to kick off, and surprise the Bucs with an onside kick, which the Saints recover. Then, to start the second half, the Saints again onside kick, and recover. The extra possessions pay off, and the Saints close the game with a John Kasay field goal.
New Orleans wins 29-27.
Dallas @ New England (-7)
The Cowboys have had two weeks to contemplate their monumental collapse against the Lions, and that’s good, because it takes at least 14 days for Jerry Jones to sing a soothing lullaby to every single Cowboy player and coach. Jones may be the most “hands-on” owner in professional sports not to be accused of sexual harassment by someone.
“Jerry’s the only owner every to be accused of tampering by his own team,” Tony Romo said. “He’s like Leon Lett and a blocked punt—he doesn’t realize he needs to get as far away as possible. He needs to realize I don’t need a pat on the back. I need a run play called.”
It’s safe to say the Patriots and Bill Belichick have scoured hours of videotape, surreptitiously obtained or not, of the Cowboys. And in review of that footage, they have no doubt pinpointed weaknesses in the Dallas attack.
“Surprisingly,” Bill Belichick said, “the Cowboys have only one weakness---leading. Romo is good at throwing caution to the wind; he’s even better at throwing footballs to the opposition.”
The Cowboys race to an early 13-3 lead, and hold on, thanks to a game-clinching, 11-play drive in which Romo goes 0 for 0 passing.
Dallas wins 36-30.
Minnesota @ Chicago (-3)
The 1-4 Vikings face the 2-2 Bears on Sunday Night Football in an intriguing matchup that will certainly raise a number of questions. The most important question being this: Can NBC start flex-scheduling early? Because most of America, Minneapolis and Chicago included, would like to see the Cowboys and Patriots in prime time.
“I concur,” Leslie Frazier said. “Two consecutive weeks of the Bears in prime time is too much. Almost as bad as one week of the Vikings in prime time.
“But there are some interesting story lines in the game. One of which is Donovan McNabb returning to his hometown. We’re hoping he might stay.”
The Bears defense steps up, and shuts down Adrian Peterson, forcing McNabb to throwing downs. Instead, he throws up.
Robbie Gould kicks four field goals, and Chicago wins 26-19.
Miami @ NY Jets (-9)
Are you ready for some football? The Dolphins don’t appear to be, after an 0-4 start and the loss of quarterback Chad Henne to a shoulder injury. Matt Moore will start, backed up by Sage Rosenfels.
“I hear Hank Williams, Jr. is angry at ESPN for dropping him,” Tony Sparano said. “Apparently, he’s ‘teed’ off, and I’m guessing he did so in a threesome with Adolf Hitler and Benjamin Netanyahu. Williams needs to leave the inappropriate political commentary to the experts at Fox News. He should know his place. I know mine. If we lose, it’s six feet under below the north end zone at MetLife Stadium.”
The struggling Jets are 2-3 after their third consecutive defeat, a 30-21 loss in New England in which the Patriots beat the Jets at their own game.
“I didn’t go to Foxboro to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings,” Rex Ryan said. “However, if they were on his feet, I’d have considered it. It’s early in the season, but I have to make changes. One is trading Derrick Mason to the Texans. The other is possibly moving offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to defensive coordinator. My guess is at either position, he’d be good at stopping our offense.”
Jets win 27-14.