Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
NY Jets @ Buffalo (-6)
Brett Favre threw 3 ugly interceptions last week against the Chiefs, but in true gunslinger fashion, he rebounded to toss the game-winning touchdown pass in the Jets 28-24 win. Favre is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions thrown with 11, and will have to curb his errant ways if the Jets are to beats the Bills in an important division game in the ever-tightening AFC East race.
"Eleven interceptions is a lot," says Favre. "You know, errant passes aren't the only thing in my growing list of inaccuracies. Yeah, I know, some of those passes the Chiefs intercepted looked so bad even I believe the Chiefs may have had some inside information from a former Jets quarterback. Again, I'll reiterate that I did not reveal any information to the Lions in regards to the Packers offense. And there's absolutely no truth to the rumors that I'll make my leading man acting debut in the action flick Lie Hard With a Vengeance. I'm still the same old Brett Favre. I love the game, I love winning, and no injury can keep me from playing, not even this pesky condition in which my nose grows to an unnatural length."
Buffalo lost last week to the Dolphins, and a second straight division lost would put a damper on the Bills AFC East title hopes.
"This organization can't afford another division loss," says Dick Jauron. "But it can afford a three-year contract extension for me, which I fully intend to have amended to include a free Goo Goo Dolls concert for myself, complete with black balloons. As for the Jets, we'll need to establish what I like to call our 'La Marseillaise rushing attack,' which features 'Marshawn, Marshawn' Lynch. Doing so will in turn keep the pressure off Trent Edwards, whose passer rating is much higher on plays when he's not sacked."
Prior to the game, Deanna Favre releases a version of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" on the family website, while Brett makes a phone call to his new 'BFF,' Jeff Fisher, whose Titans face the Packers.
Bills win, 27-17.
Detroit @ Chicago (-12½)
The 0-7 Lions head to Chicago to face the 4-3 Bears, who sit atop the NFC North along with the Packers. Earlier this year, in Week 5, the Bears handed the Lions their fourth loss, 34-7, Detroit's first game after general manager Matt Millen's firing.
"You know," says Detroit head coach Rod Marinelli, whose well-thought out Halloween costume outfits him as the cousin of Donald Duck, 'Lame' Duck, "if chronic resister-of-arrests Cedric Benson still played for the Bears, it would be a perfect time to characterize this game as 'Lions, Tasers, and Bears, oh my!' However, since Benson had his sentence commuted to Cincinnati, I can't. And, since, as my coaching acumen proves, cleverness is not a strong trait of mine, I've got nothing. But it's Halloween, and since the Bears are a-knocking, they'll get a 'treat,' which is the luxury of playing the same winless team twice in the span of a month."
The Bears are the NFL's highest-scoring offense, thanks to a 48-point outburst in Week 7's win over the Vikings. Quarterback Kyle Orton is winning over fans in Chicago with his strong play,
"Give me a pair of Ray-Bans, a headband, a spiky hairdo, and a world-class hurdler at wide receiver," says Orton, "and I'd practically be Jim McMahon. Of course, I'd also need a defense that doesn't give up 41 points to a team quarterbacked by Gus Frerotte. If we give up 41 to the Lions, a helicopter won't be the only thing I'm mooning. I do, however, have to compliment the Lions on the Halloween costume. They've been masquerading as a legitimate NFL team all year."
Bears win, 31-10.
Jacksonville @ Cincinnati (+7½)
The 0-8 Bengals' last chance at a win before their bye week will come against the Jaguars, who, with a 3-4 record, are one of the AFC's most disappointing teams. Talk of the Bengals lately has centered around the belief that the team has "quit" on coach Marvin Lewis. Should the Bengals lose, they'll fall to 0-9. Should the Jags fall, they'll drop to 3-5, 4½ games behind the Titans in the AFC South. Either way, one team's season will spiral further downward.
"It's been a tough year for me," says Chad Johnson. "We can't buy a win, and I can't sell a jersey. Even Pete Rose won't bet on us. Although this season is mired in 'cat litter,' we're not 'cat quitters.' Now, I have quit on my efforts to have the 'Ocho Cinco' jersey available this year. It's just not fair for me to buy all of the remaining 'C. Johnson' jerseys and deprive my fans in Third World countries of a chance to wear those jerseys when Reebok unloads all the unsold inventory at season's end."
"Now, I still believe that this team is capable of great things. It may seem far-fetched, but we can go 8-8. And who knows? 8-8 might be good enough for the playoffs. The last I checked, playoff qualification wasn't an octuple-elimination affair, so we've still got a mathematical chance."
The Jaguars are a team that, as the NFL Network's Solomon Wilcots is fond of saying, "is still searching for its identity." After running all over the Broncos in Week 7, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor managed only a combined 53 yards in last week's 23-17 loss to the Browns.
"I can guarantee you this:"says Jack Del Rio. "We won't abandon the running game. We just need much better blocking up front. When your best 'line play' is coming from a wide receiver charged with cocaine possession, you know you're in trouble."
How appropriate. The Bengals will break out their Halloween colors for Sunday's game. Will the orange and black get carved up like a Halloween pumpkin, or are the Jags ripe for the picking? Hey, even the Great Pumpkin shows up once a year. The Bengals? Not so much. Jones-Drew and Taylor combine for 178 on the ground. Jacksonville wins. 28-13.
Baltimore @ Cleveland (-1)
If you think bounties went out with the Eagles/Cowboys rivalries of the late 1980s, well, don't despair, the bounty is back. Last week, before backtracking on his statement, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs admitted that the Ravens had a "bounty" on Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, payable to anyone who could knock the smile off Ward's face. Even former Ravens head coach Brian Billick chimed in, affirming that bounties do exist in the league.
"Of course Billick should know about bounties," says Ray Lewis. "He had one on his head. And he's got a pretty big noggin. That one was put in place by the entire city of Baltimore. As for the Browns, why would we need a bounty on a player, like Kellen Winslow, for example? Winslow's already got a bounty on him, put there by Cleveland general manager Phil Savage. Of course, now I hear that all is kosher with Winslow and the Browns organization. Heck, I hear they even bought him a brand new motorcycle."
The Browns were whipped by the Ravens in Week 3, and all bounties, wanted posters, and contagious infections aside, Cleveland will be playing for revenge. And, in this case, revenge is a dish served not cold, but slightly "Browned."
Cleveland wins, 16-13. After the game, Lewis is confronted by outlaw lawman Dog The Bounty Hunter, who seeks information on exactly what he has to do to collect the bounty on Ward.
Tampa Bay @ Kansas City (+7½)
Chiefs running back Larry Johnson met with commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday to discuss Johnson's spate of off-the-field incidents, which includes several assaults, as well as spitting in a woman's face. Often, when Goodell summons a player, a suspension is inevitable.
"Well, I guess the spit's gonna hit the fan," says Herman Edwards. "I always knew Larry couldn't hold his liquor. Anyway, Goodell is no pushover, but it could be worse. Can you imagine Mike Singletary as commissioner? And Bill Romanowski as his lieutenant in charge of spitting cases? I don't begrudge Larry his right to be pissed off, just as long as that doesn't result in someone being pissed on."
It's never a good sign when Goodell sees a player to the door after a tense meeting while the rhythmic chant of "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, Good-ell" can be heard over the office loudspeaker.
After last week's 13-9 loss to the Cowboys, the Bucs are now 1-3 on the road, with Arrowhead Stadium's rowdy fans awaiting.
"Arrowhead's always a tough place to play," say Jon Gruden. "First of all, it's a tough stadium to find. Is it in Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas City, Kansas? And the fans are just nuts about their football. Larry Johnson's even got his own 'fight' song. Of course, it doesn't play during games; only when he goes clubbing. That's not to be confused with the 'spit tune' he hears when he's rebuffed by ladies in bars who refuse to dance with NFL running backs who can't average 2 yards a carry."
Tampa wins, 22-17.
Houston @ Minnesota (-4)
What's the worst thing that could happen to the Vikings? Prince starting at quarterback? A cruise ship on Lake Minnetonka in which only the bar is "open?" A Halloween prank in which the Hubert R. Humphrey Metrodome is filled with helium and floats away? All of those would be awful, but not as catastrophic as a situation which lies ahead - all-pro tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams may face a suspension after testing positive for a drug used to mask the use of steroids.
"Hey, don't ask me what's going on," says Brad Childress. "As a Viking head coach, I live by the mantra 'Turn your head and pretend you didn't see that.' Heck, Mike Tice kept a seeing-eye dog around for occasions just like this. And three monkeys who swore they saw, heard, or spoke no evil. I can't keep up with what these guys are putting in their bodies, just as Tice couldn't keep up with what his Vikings were putting their bodies in."
Houston is the hottest 3-4 team in the NFL, having won three in a row. If not for a Week 5 collapse against the Colts, the Texans would be 4-3.
"Hey, we're just like Santonio Holmes or any other league pothead," says Gary Kubiak. "We're 'rolling.' As for the 'water pill' situation, let me address that with a joke. Question: what did the water pill say to the steroid? Answer: 'what steroid?' What did the steroid say to the water pill? 'Nice mask.'"
It looks like the Williamses will play while the NFL hears their appeals. But that shouldn't stop Matt "Houston" Schaub from finding his big target, Andre Johnson, open. Johnson catches 9 balls for 134 yards and a score. Houston wins, 27-24.
Arizona @ St. Louis (-3)
In their 27-23 loss to the Panthers last week, a glaring weakness was exposed in the Cardinals' offense - the lack of a running game. Arizona rushed for only 50 yards against the Panthers, with 30 of that total coming on an Anquan Boldin reverse.
"Hey, don't forget the 17 yards on 7 carries and 1 fumble for Edgerrin James," says Ken Whisenhunt. "He's been begging for a larger role in this offense. Well, he's got it - as a blocker. I know the Edge is upset that he's not getting the carries he saw in Indianapolis. Maybe he regrets leaving, but I can't fault a man for seeking greener pastures, or more golden teeth. Edgerrin has bills to pay, mouths to feed, and dentists to pay. For now, he's got to live with his role as the last line of protection for Kurt Warner."
"But let's be clear. My team will never be mistaken for a running team, just as Kurt Warner will never be mistaken for Brian Warner, better known as Marilyn Manson, who could actually pass for the offspring of Kurt and his wife Brenda, who looks a lot like Max Headroom."
Last week was a tough one for Rams coach Jim Haslett. First, the NFL voided a contract that would have given Haslett the job had the Rams won six games. Then, in Sunday's 23-16 loss to the Patriots, New England had only one penalty called on them, which the Rams declined. The Rams sent a tape to the NFL office in search of an explanation for the disparity.
"Can you say 'conspiracy?'" says Haslett. "I've already been contacted by Oliver Stone, conspiracy fanatic and director of the movie W, about making a movie about this situation. He wants to call it ****?"
"But really, what can I expect? We're the Rams; we're gonna get fleeced."
What's wrong with being a pass-happy team? Not a darn thing, despite what the experts, who extol the virtues of offensive "balance" and "keeping the defense honest." Let's face it, if the Panthers hadn't picked off Warner on that flukey interception of a tipped pass, Arizona would have won and those same experts would be praising the Cards air assault. Give Warner time, and he could find a receiver blindfolded.
Arizona wins, 31-21.
Green Bay @ Tennessee (-5½)
The Titans legitimized their undefeated record with a 31-21 win over the Colts on Monday night, improving to 7-0 after erasing a 14-6 second half deficit. Many analysts had questioned the quality of the Titans after amassing six wins over mostly inferior competition, but the win over Peyton Manning and the sophisticated Indy passing attack quelled those doubts.
"I thought we showed guts, heart, and guile," says Jeff Fisher. "Heck, even Vince Young was wearing his Titans-issue parka with a purpose, and we didn't even have to use the cattle prod to get him to leave the locker room at half time. But don't cry for Vince. He'll get his chance again. I know Kerry Collins is playing lights out, but I'm thinking of jumping on the bandwagon and utilizing some 'Wildcat' formations for Vince. I think Vince would find lots of room to run; I just hope he stops when he gets to the end zone. We've got to handle him delicately. You know his Latin motto: Vini, Vidi, Vince. Loosely translated, it means 'I came, I saw, I'm outta here.'"
While Brett Favre has made headlines, good and bad, in New York, Aaron Rodgers has gone about his business, quietly leading the Packers to a 4-3 record. Up next: a shot at adding the undefeated Titans to his list of conquests.
"I'm proud of what I've done so far," says Rodgers. "But you know what I'm most proud of? I'm an 'A-Rod' and I'm not sleeping with Madonna. That's one conquest I would not want any part of. Not that I've got anything against 50-year-old women. I just have a problem with 50-year-old women who've been sexually active for 39 of those years, not to mention been intimate with the likes of Dennis Rodman, Sean Penn, and Sandra Bernhard, who all border the line between ugly and downright hideous. I'm the Green Bay Packers quarterback. To me, intimacy with 50-year-old women entails accepting baked goods from those particular women."
The Titans handled Manning without utilizing the blitz, instead opting to drop seven defenders in coverage and force Manning to throw into what was usually a tight space. Expect them to employ a similar strategy against Rodgers.
Titans win, 26-23.
Miami @ Denver (-3)
With two sacks last Sunday, Miami linebacker Joey Porter has 10½ after seven games, putting him on pace for 24 this season, which would break Michael Strahan's record of 22½ set in 2001. This Sunday, Porter will take his boastful talents to Denver, where he'll unleash his wrath on Denver's narcissistic quarterback, Jay Culter, and narcissistic wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, and their equally narcissistic head coach, Mike Shanahan.
"Wow! That's a lot of 'narcissistic' on one team," says Porter. "Did they catch it from Kellen Winslow? Anyway, Cutler, Marshall, and Shanahan are Rocky Mountain 'high' on themselves. They've obviously mistaken 'altitude' for 'attitude.' Well, the air is thin, and they suck (wind). I'll be like a pit bull coming after them. And you know what happens when a Joey Porter pit bull, not to be mistaken for a Jerry Porter miniature dachshund, goes after a horse."
After a stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by the Cheater Girls, Porter is incensed when he is inexplicably flagged for a late hit during the coin toss by referee Ed Hochuli. He takes out his anger on Cutler, sacking him twice, while the Miami running game has its way with the Bronco defense.
Dolphins win, 25-23.
Dallas @ NY Giants (-7)
While the Cowboys' 13-9 win over the Bucs ended Dallas' two-game skid, it did nothing to convince doubters that Dallas can or will return to the form that had many lauding them as the class of the NFL just two weeks into the season. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants will present the Cowboys a true measuring stick
"It wasn't pretty," says Wade Phillips, "but we've stopped the leak. Tony Romo's pinkie is still on the mend, but for now, we've got a finger in the dike."
"Don't move it," says Jerry Jones, who, when he's not patrolling the Cowboy sideline, retreats to the damp, cavernous dwelling he shares with the other Sleestaks, "or her. We're still trying to determine who will start at quarterback for us. We understand that Brad Johnson's limitations are limitless. He can't see downfield, much less throw downfield."
After last week's 21-14 win over the Steelers, the Giants seem fully capable of defending their Super Bowl title. And Eli Manning can be steady even in the face of a fearsome defense like the Steelers.'
"But he's got to work on his poker face," says Tom Coughlin. "How the heck can he allow a Steeler to read his lips on a play call? That's inexcusable. One would think that the brother of Peyton Manning would be well-schooled in the art of the decoy, and spout endless gibberish at the line of scrimmage that sounds like a play-call, but is in fact nothing more than pillow talk. Of course, you could tell the Cowboys what you intended to run every time and they probably couldn't stop it."
A loss to the Giants won't necessarily ruin the Cowboys playoff hopes. However, a lopsided loss might have that effect. The Cowboys come to play, but the Giants prevail, 28-23.
Atlanta @ Oakland (+3)
Halloween is an odd time to be in Oakland. Sometimes, it's hard to tell a trick-or-treater from a Sunday afternoon Raider fan. Heck, even players are sometimes mistaken for others. Just the other day, I believe it was a Sunday, during the Raider game, JaMarcus Russell was mistaken for Nipsy Russell. In addition, you can be sure to find kicker Sebastian Janikowski as his Halloween persona, the infamous villain 'Slipped Mickey.' And, it's often around Halloween when owner Al Davis is actually complimented for looking like a corpse.
"Dead or alive," says Davis, "I've got a job to do. And that's to manage this franchise as only I know how. I don't want to have any regrets. I live every day like it's my last. I've been doing that for going on thirty years now. My motto is 'Seize the day,' or corpse diem in Latin."
Unfortunately, Halloween is not always a joyous occasion for all. Although Tom Cable has been in costume since September 30th as Raiders head coach, he's yet to score any candy at all.
"All I got was a rock," says Cable.
That's known as a "paycheck" to Davis.
The Falcons are 4-3 and well within the playoff hunt in the NFC, and a win in Oakland would keep them a game behind the Panthers in the NFC South. The Falcons have been thriving on the legs of running back Michael Turner, and the youthful quarterback-to-receiver connection of Matt Ryan to Roddy White.
"Youth is served," says Mike Smith. "In today's NFL, that often means some brash young player just got subpoenaed. Or Al Davis fired a coach. Or one of the Vick brothers is canoodling with underage girls. Now, in Atlanta, we won't tolerate negative character issues. Football comes first. Players can go to a strip club; they just have to take their playbooks."
Atlanta wins, 20-19.
Philadelphia @ Seattle (+7)
The Seahawks exploded for 34 points in a 34-13 win at San Francisco last week, improving their record to 2-5, and thereby giving Seattle more 'Ws' than in the name of their homefield, Qwest Field. With Matt Hasselbeck still bothered by back and knee injuries, Mike Holmgren will go with Seneca Wallace at quarterback.
"Matt was in Los Angeles earlier this week to have his back and knee examined by specialists," says Holmgren. "Unfortunately, he wasn't cleared to play, and doctors have diagnosed him with a condition known as 'dead leg.' I'm no doctor, and I don't understand all this fancy-schmancy, mumbo-jumbo, scientific, medical, hocus-pocus doctor speak, but I'm sure I can head on over to Seattle Grace and get McDreamy, McSteamy, McSlutty, or McHomophoby to explain it to me."
Philadelphia's Andy Reid served as an offensive assistant under Holmgren during Holmgren's tenure as head coach in Green Bay. There, Reid was schooled on the West Coast offense that he still favors today.
"Although I live on the East Coast," says Reid, "I'm down with the West Coast offense. No one seems to have a problem with that except for rappers."
While Hasselbeck receives treatment from an acupuncturist, a witch doctor, and a colon specialist, the Eagles, led by 123 total yards and a score from Brian Westbrook, the Eagles win, 23-12.
New England @ Indianapolis (-5½)
Has the balance of power in the AFC shifted so much that the Patriots and Colts aren't even mentioned in the conversation anymore? Whereas in year's past, New England and Indianapolis battled for conference and NFL supremacy, these days it's become a race between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to admit to having the most procedures done of their respective knees. Not quite as exciting as a snow-covered AFC championship game, but still newsworthy. Sunday night's showdown is practically a must-win game for the Colts, who are 3-4 after Monday night's loss to Tennessee.
"Brady may have three Super Bowl rings and one super model girlfriend," says Manning, "but I've got one advantage on him - I had my surgeries done by competent doctors. I understand Tom had his knee surgery done by doctors in California although the team wanted his surgery done by doctors in Boston. It's created a tense situation at Patriot headquarters. It looks like the Patriots went for a 'cut block' then tried to charge Brady with a 'procedure penalty.'"
As Matt Cassel has gained more comfort running the Patriots offense, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has opened up the playbook, most notably to the pages which list the name "Randy Moss."
"Tom Brady had me at 'hello,'" says Moss."It's taken Matt and I a little longer to find that same comfort with each other. We're from very different places in the country. Matt's from upper crust Southern California, while I'm from the podunk mountains of West Virginia. We don't exactly speak the same English. He speaks the Queen's English, and I drink the Olde English. Somewhere between the two, we found a common ground."
It's obvious. No, not the outcome of the game. The fact that whomever loses can blame it on someone's knee. The Colts need it more, and it never hurts to have Bob Sanders' wild head of hair haphazardly nailing the opposition. Indianapolis wins, 30-28.
Pittsburgh @ Washington (-3)
Is there any reason to believe this game won't be close? Washington's seventh-ranked offense is very potent, but the 'Skins have had trouble all season putting teams away. The Steelers boast the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense, a unit that has repeatedly bailed out an offense that has struggled to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all season.
"Roethlisberger got knocked down, knocked sideways, and knocked silly," says Mike Tomlin. "I'd go so far as to say he got 'knocked up'; there were New York defenders on top of him all day. Luckily, as is our defense, Big Ben is 'impregnable.'"
"I learned a lot in that game, however. Besides our obvious protection issues, I learned that an ill-advised two-point conversion attempt isn't the only way to give your opponent two points. You can have your deep snapper snap the ball right out of the end zone. Works just as well."
"Have you noticed," says Clinton Portis, the NFL's leading rusher, "that Tomlin always explains his mistakes with the statement 'If I had to do it over, I'd do the same thing?' Talk about not learning from your mistakes. But, it's always fun to have the term 'emergency snapper' in the news. Before the Giants/Pittsburgh game, I always thought of 'emergency snapper' as who you summon if the talent fails to show up for a cruise on Lake Minnetonka."
The Steelers haven't beaten an NFC East team yet. And Jason Campbell hasn't thrown an interception all year. Will you be able to say the same after the game? Check with me after the game.
Redskins win, 22-20.