New Orleans @ Atlanta (-3 1/2)
The Falcons narrowly escaped Tampa Bay with a win last week, winning 24-23 to
run their record to 10-1. Atlanta will look to avenge their only loss of the
season, a 31-27 loss to the Saints in week 10.
"I'm proud of this team," Mike Smith said. "They showed the heart of a
champion. Now, it remains to be seen if we can show the playoff record of a
champion. From what I hear, it takes at least one win to do so.
"We're on our way to clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
And based on my playoff record as a head coach, that makes us not only
the team to beat, but a team to beat."
The Saints' three-game winning streak came to an end last Sunday, as the
49ers turned two Drew Brees' interceptions into 14 points in a 31-21 win in the
Superdome. The loss dropped New Orleans to 5-6.
"The 49ers sacked me five times," Brees said. "They came at me like there was
a price on my head, because they ???tagged' me.
"Roger Goodell thinks he's cleaned up bounties in the NFL. He's wrong. I
endorse Vick's NyQuil, so I'm still getting paid to knock people out. Here's an
interesting fact: Brett Favre played much of his career with one ???G' on his
helmet. Curiously enough, when he came to the Superdome as a Viking, he had
ten ???G's' on his head. And you didn't hear that from Jonathan Vilma."
Atlanta wins 34-31.
Jacksonville @ Buffalo (-7)
The Jaguars snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 24-19 win over the
Titans as Chad Henne passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Now 2-9,
Jacksonville takes to the road to face the 4-7 Bills.
"Chad Henne may just be the Jaguars' quarterback of the future," Mike
Mularkey said. "By that, I mean he's starting on Sunday. Chad gives us something
Blaine Gabbert couldn't---talent."
After a 2-1 start to the season, the Bills have lost six of eight to fall to
4-7. They'll host the 2-9 Jaguars on Sunday at Rich Stadium.
"Although it appears there won't be an NHL hockey season," Ryan Fitzpatrick
said, "there will still be ???checks' in Buffalo. It seems that most of them are
going to Mario Williams."
Buffalo wins 23-19.
Seattle @ Chicago (-3)
Jay Cutler returned from a concussion last week and helped the Bears to a
decisive 28-10 win over the Vikings. However, the win was costly for the Bears,
as Devin Hester, Matt Forte, and Charles Tillman left the game with
"We're hurting," Cutler said. "Not as much as we were when Jason Campbell was
starting, because everybody felt his pain.
"We'll have to be ready for the Seahawks. They may be the underdog, but
they've been known to steal wins."
Seattle's road woes continued last week with a 24-21 loss in Miami, the
Seahawks' fifth loss on the road this season. Down the stretch, the Seahawks
could be without defensive backs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, who may
face suspensions for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug
"I've never claimed to run a ???clean' program," Pete Carroll said. "But
seriously, I have no control over what pro athletes put in their bodies, just as
I have no control over what college athletes put in their wallets. And you can
take that to the bank.
"Sherman and Boyd filed their appeals on time," Pete Carroll said, "so
they'll be with us in Chicago. The league can mind their ???pees,' but Richard and
Brandon wisely mind their ???cues.'"
If the Seahawks can't win on the road, they'll, ironically, be home for the
playoffs. The Bears force three Russell Wilson turnovers, and Cutler
leads Chicago to a 23-17 win.
San Francisco @ St. Louis (+6 1/2)
The 49ers came away with a 31-21 win over the Saints last Sunday, returning
two Drew Brees interceptions for touchdowns. San Francisco is 8-2-1 and chasing
the Falcons for the NFC's top seed.
"Alex Smith could have played," Jim Harbaugh said, "but I chose to start
Colin Kaepernick. That's what Alex, as well as my doctor, calls a ???half-hearted'
"If I told Alex he would be starting, I must have done so with my fingers
crossed. As you know, that's not legally-binding, nor is ???pinkie-swearing' with
Ronnie Lott. I have no doubt that both Smith and Kaepernick could be
starting next year. Kaepernick for us, and Smith for someone else."
The Rams face the 49ers for the second time in three weeks. In their last
meeting, the teams played to a 24-24 tie.
"We know what it's like to play to a standstill," Jeff Fisher said. "Or at
least our offense does. We're 28th in scoring. It's not often we hear ???28' and
???scoring' in the same sentence."
Kaepernick gets the start, and it's nip and tuck throughout, with both teams
trying their best to win, mainly to avoid a tie, because they still
don't understand overtime rules.
San Francisco wins 26-17.
New England @ Miami (+9)
The Patriots blasted the Jets 49-19 on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium,
sending the home team to its worse defeat this season. Now 8-3, New England has
a commanding three-game lead over the 5-6 Dolphins, who are 3-2 at home this
"My favorite part of Thanksgiving is a trip to the dessert table," Tom Brady
said. "What does that have to do with destroying the Jets? It was a ???cake walk'
"We've scored 98 points in our last two games. 98 points is a good game for
the Heat, and a good month for the Dolphins."
The Dolphins bounced back from a week 11 loss in Buffalo with a 24-21 win
over the Seahawks last Sunday. Ryan Tannehill threw for 253 yards and a
touchdown to lead the ???Fins.
"I don't think any of Dan Marino's records are in jeopardy," Tannehill said,
"especially that one about never winning a Super Bowl."
Attendance at Sun Life Stadium has been sparse this season for the Dolphins,
but expect the fans to come out in droves to see Brady and the Patriots. Of
course, may of those fans will be rooting for New England, which is what happens
when the Dolphins get "patronized."
Brady further "patronizes" the home team when he takes a knee with the
Patriots clinging to a seven-point lead early in the third quarter. The Pats
tack on two more scores out of respect, then Brady takes a knee out of sympathy.
New England wins 38-17.
Arizona @ NY Jets (-3)
The Jets fell apart in a 49-19 loss to the Patriots on Thanksgiving night, as
a scoreless first quarter soon turned into a blowout. New England scored 35
unanswered points, with two touchdowns coming on fumble returns for scores.
"Jets superfan ???Fireman Ed' is hanging up his hat," Rex Ryan said. "Like me,
he said he's had enough of the quarterback controversy here. And, interestingly
enough, Fireman Ed's about as useless as me at ???putting out fires.'
"But at least I know Tim Tebow will be able to play on Sunday. Jets' fans
will be happy to hear that he's ready to go. Jets' fans would be
happier if I was ready to go. They'd be happier if I'd already
With last week's 31-17 loss to the Rams, the Cardinals have now lost seven
games in a row, and their 4-0 start is now a faded memory. Quarterback Ryan
Lindley threw four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
"A game in MetLife Stadium is a nightmare come true for me," Ken Whisenhunt
said. "I've grown accustomed to seeing three useless quarterbacks on Sunday; now
there'll be five."
New Yorks wins 20-16.
Indianapolis @ Detroit (-3 1/2)
The Lions fell to 4-7 with their ninth consecutive Thanksgiving loss,
dropping a 34-31 overtime loss to the visiting Texans. Jim Schwartz challenged a
Texans' scoring play that was likely to be overturned, but the NFL rulebook
dictated an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Schwartz, as well as no review
of the play.
"That's one kick in the nuts Ndamukong Suh was not responsible for,"
Schwartz said. "I guess the Texans owe me a pat on the back. In any case, it was
a dickens of a Thanksgiving."
The Colts improved to 7-4 with a 20-13 win over the Bills, and Indianapolis
is in solid position to earn a wildcard playoff spot.
"If the regular season ended today," Andrew Luck said, "our season would
likely end the following week in Denver in a made-for-television
showdown with Peyton Manning. I think my talents compare quite favorably to
Manning's, but most agree that he's got the better supporting cast. So our
matchup would have to be called ???Luck Versus Manning: This Time, It's
"I'll be sure to be on the lookout for Suh. But I won't call him out like
Schaub did. I'm not an outspoken guy. My philosophy is to ???speak softly and wear
a big cup."
Matthew Stafford throws for 333 yards and three touchdowns, two to Calvin
Johnson, and the Lions win 34-27.
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-9)
The Packers were pounded on Sunday night in MetLife Stadium, losing 38-10 to
the Giants, Green Bay' worst defeat since 2007. The loss dropped the Packers to
7-5, a game behind the 8-4 Bears in the NFC North,
"The Giants whipped us with the entire nation watching on NBC," Aaron Rodgers
said. "As a Packer, I can say that we, indeed, were ???publicly
The Vikings lost to the Bears 28-10 in Chicago, as the Bears put the game
away early after taking a 25-3 halftime lead. Christian Ponder struggled, while
Adrian Peterson rushed for 102 yards but lost two fumbles.
"After much deliberation," Leslie Frazier said, "I've decided to stick with
Ponder at quarterback. By definition, ???ponder' means ???to think or consider
soberly and deeply.' In other words, I often have ???second thoughts' about
Rodgers calls a players only meeting, and tells his teammates he's sick and
tire, not only of losses to the Giants, but silly mustaches as well. Rodgers
loses the peach fuzz, and the Packers bounce back with a vengeance.
Green Bay wins 30-20.
Houston @ Tennessee (+5 1/2)
The Texans became the first team to win consecutive overtime games after
nipping the Lions 34-31 in Detroit on Thanksgiving. Now 10-1, Houston can clinch
a playoff berth win a win over the 4-7 Titans.
"The NFL has decided not to suspend Ndamukong Suh for kicking me in the groin
on Thanksgiving," Matt Schaub said. "That's ludicrous. Suh should have been
suspended two games, or, at the very least, been banished to spend a night at
the ???Nutcracker Suite.' Ironically, Suh's was the only ???big kick' a Lion
connected on that day.
"What concerns me more is our defense. We've given up 68 points in the last
two games. There's a ???Big D' in the state of Texas, but apparently, there's not
even a little ???D' in Houston."
The Titans lost to the Jaguars 24-19 and are now 4-7 and 0-3 in the AFC
South. On Tuesday, head coach Mike Munchak fired offensive coordinator Chris
"One of the most necessary tasks of coaching," Munchak said, "is delegation.
I'm one of the best at delegating blame. Palmer had some great qualities as a
coach, his best being his expendability."
The Texans' defense shows up for the first time in three games, and J.J. Watt
sacks Jake Locker twice. Andre Johnson tweaks his hamstring early in the game,
giving the Texans another sore "Johnson," but guts it out and records a late
Houston wins 27-14.
Carolina @ Kansas City (+3)
With a 17-9 loss to the Broncos, the Chiefs now sit all alone at 1-10 with
the NFL's worst record. The Chiefs managed only three Ryan Succup field goals in
the loss, while Brady Quinn struggled.
"As you've probably heard," Romeo Crenel said, "Jamaal Charles got Peyton
Manning's autograph after the game. If that's not a ???sign' we've given up on the
season, I don't know what is. If I could get my quarterbacks to sign something,
it would be a ???release,' or a ???waiver.'
"Luckily, only one Chief asked for Manning's autograph. So, one autograph was
???all he wrote.' My concern is hearing my boss say that's ???all she
Cam Newton burned the Eagles with four touchdowns, two passing and two
rushing, in the Panthers' 30-22 Monday night win over the Eagles. Carolina is
now 3-8 in the NFC South.
"While I'm recognized by fans all over the country," Newton said, "I doubt
the fans in Kansas City would have any idea who I am. That's because that city
hasn't ???identified' a good quarterback in years."
Newton is held in check through the air by the Chiefs' defense, but he does
damage on the ground. Quinn, or Matt Cassel, or Len Dawson, or whomever starts
for the Chiefs, does damage as well, but to their own team.
Carolina wins 20-19.
Tampa Bay @ Denver (-7)
The Broncos have all but locked up the AFC West division after a 17-9 win in
Kansas City, led by 285 yards passing and two touchdowns from Peyton Manning, as
well as a stifling defense that held the Chiefs to 13 first downs. Denver leads
the West by four games with five to play.
"You know what they call a Brady Quinn pass?" Manning said. "The same thing
the Chargers call the Broncos-???uncatchable.'
"I've got to give our defense a lot of credit. Much of that should go to
defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. He's a lot like me---the best thing that's
happened to us was leaving the AFC South. And, in honor of our defense, my Papa
John's franchises will be offering pizzas with ???orange crust.'"
The Buccaneers nearly upset the Falcons, but fell short 24-23. The Bucs are
6-5 in the NFC South, well behind the 10-1 Falcons, but are still in the hunt
for a wildcard spot.
"Our defense will have to be at its best against Manning," Greg Schiano said.
"He reads defenses like Tim Tebow reads the Bible---with joy, and with the
belief that what it tells him is the gospel truth."
Manning should have a field day against the porous Tampa pass defense, and in
the end, enamored Bucs' defender won't need Manning's autograph, because his
signature will be all over a Broncos' win.
Manning passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns, and the Broncos
Cleveland @ Oakland (-1 1/2)
The Browns forced a whopping eight turnovers last week in a 20-14 win over
the Steelers in the Dawg Pound. Cleveland is now 3-8 in the AFC North with a
date in the Black Hole awaiting.
"The Steelers are obviously not the same without Ben Roethlisberger," Pat
Shurmur said. "On the other hand, the Raiders are the same with Carson
The Raiders were smashed 38-10 in Cincinnati and fell to 3-8, third in the
AFC West. They'll try to end a four-game slide against the improving Browns.
"If Al Davis were here today," Dennis Allen said, "he'd be the embodiment of
the current Raiders-no signs of life."
Oakland wins 27-20.
Cincinnati @ San Diego (+2)
In Carson Palmer's return to Cincinnati last week, the Bengals whipped the
Raiders 34-10 as Palmer was sacked four times and held to 146 yards passing. The
win moved the Bengals into a tie for second with the Steelers in the AFC North
"We reminded Palmer why we don't need him," Marvin Lewis said. "He reminded
us why we don't want him. We put him in his place, on a plane back to
The Chargers lost a tough 16-13 overtime battle to the Ravens last week. Now
4-7, San Diego trails Denver by four games in the AFC West.
"Look at this," Philip Rivers said. "We're underdogs at Qualcomm Stadium.
Along with the boos from our fans, that's just further proof that we're not
???favored' at home.
"We had the Baltimore game won, then Ray Rice converted a fourth-and-29. And
they say Ndamukong Suh is a real ball breaker. When people ask ???What's new?' is
San Diego, oh how I wish I could answer ???a coach.' Instead, the only thing ???new'
here are ???ways to lose.'"
At 4-7, the Chargers have reason to get angry. And, they have reason to get
"even," as an 8-8 record is their only achievable goal.
San Diego win 26-23.
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-1 1/2)
The Ravens pulled out an improbable 16-13 overtime win in San Diego last
week, a win that likely would not have been possible without an amazing
fourth-and-29 conversion from Ray Rice that led to the game-tying field
"Ray saw lots of daylight," Joe Flacco said. "The weather's been strange in
San Diego this year---the sun's out all the time.
"Congratulations to Ben Roethlisberger on the birth of his son. One day, that
kid's gonna say, ???I've got a some Roethlisberger in me,' and become the first
person to say that and not press charges."
The Steelers looked awful in Cleveland last week, turning the ball over eight
times in a costly 20-14 loss. Pittsburgh fell to 6-5 and see their playoff hopes
"What do you expect," Mike Tomlin said. "We sign Plaxico Burress, and
everybody starts shooting themselves.
"There's a 50-50 chance Roethlisberger will be able to play on Sunday. That
means there's a 50% chance of us being 100% sure to lose."
Baltimore wins 24-13.
Philadelphia @ Dallas (-3)
The Eagles lost on Monday Night Football 30-22 to the Panthers, Philly's
seventh consecutive defeat. Afterwards, in a surprise move, the Eagles cut
defensive end Jason Babin, just 18 months after signing a five-year, $28 million
"I'm just as mystified as anyone," Andy Reid said, "as to how this team can
???trim the fat' and still keep me around. Ask Juan Castillo--it's
probably not the only time we've ???cleaned house' this year.
"This squad was once called the ???Dream Team. That nickname has been put to
sleep. On the plus side, we've helped settle the argument about which ???Dream
Team' is better: clearly, the 1992 Dream Team would beat us, in
The Cowboys took a Thanksgiving beating at the hands of the Redskins, losing
38-31 despite 441 yards passing from Tony Romo. Dallas is 5-6 in the NFC East,
two games behind the Giants.
"One enterprising Dallas fan started a petition to remove Jerry Jones from
power," Romo said. "Jerry's not going anywhere. Appropriately, we're playing the
Eagles, who have had their fair share of meaningless 'signings.'"
Dallas wins 27-20.
NY Giants @ Washington (+2 ??)
The Giants broke a two-game losing streak with a flourish, smacking the
visiting Panthers 38-10 last Sunday night. Eli Manning broke out of his slump
with 249 yards passing and three touchdowns.
"I'm finally back in a groove," Manning said. "For the season, I'm completing
60% of my passes, which is only average in this league. That means that about
60% of the time, I'm an elite quarterback. The rest of the time, I'm just Eli
Robert Griffin III and the high-flying Redskins will look to trim their
deficit in the NFC East to one game with a win over the Giants. RG3 torched the
Cowboys on Thanksgiving with 311 yards through the air and four TD's.
"Some people say I'm the second coming of Randall Cunningham, or Michael
Vick, or any other black quarterback," Griffin said. "That's all very
flattering, but the truth is, I'm merely the second coming of Robert Griffin,
Jr. More motto is ???Stay humble, my friend.' That's also my pitch to Dos Equis to
expand their brand into the urban market. I'm the perfect choice to shill for
Washington wins 27-24.