Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Kansas City @ Philadelphia (-9.5)
The Eagles' ears are still ringing in the wake of last week's 48-22 drubbing at the hands of the Saints, who scored seemingly at will against the Philly defense. That ringing noise? It's the recurring notes of "When the Saints Go Marching in, And In, And In."
"I'm not too pleased with the defensive effort," says Andy Reid. "And if you want another alternate title to a song applicable to last Sunday's game, how about Elton John's 'Philadelphia Freed 'Em to Score as They Please?'"
"But with Donovan McNabb still nursing sore ribs and Michael Vick eligible to play, we've got to ask ourselves one thing. And that's 'Can Vick play defense?' Well, he can, but only in a courtroom setting."
"I've said it once and I'll say it again. If Donovan can't go, Kevin Kolb will get the start, and not Vick. I hate to keep a brother down, but Michael's not quite ready. So, it's 'K.K., 'kay?'"
Todd Haley's conditioning regimen seems to be paying dividends so far. Although the Chiefs are winless, they've been competitive well into the fourth quarter of both losses.
"Exactly," says Haley. "Hey, when I took this job, I made no promises that this team wouldn't suck. I just said we wouldn't suck wind."
"But the truth is we don't suck. In fact, we may be no more than two years away from competing for the AFC West title, or as little as three months away."
Michael Vicks gets in for eight plays, and on a quarterback scramble in the second quarter, becomes the first player to be 'dog-collar tackled' when Chiefs safety Jarrad Page wrestles him to the ground. Page is not penalized, however, as all members of the officiating crew were "looking the other way" when the infraction occurred.
The Chiefs hang tough, but Philadelphia wins, 27-21.
Washington @ Detroit (+6.5)
After a less than impressive 9-7 win over the Rams last week, neither the Redskins, nor their fans, can be too happy with the team's performance so far. Add in some political pressure from Native American groups frustrated with the team's nickname, and you've got big trouble in the nation's capital.
"Well," says Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, "it's obvious that any references to 'Native American pressure' can't be in regards to our pass rush, because we don't have much of one."
"Of course, our offense wasn't much better. We managed only three field goals. That's not how I drew it up, although 'Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3' does sound good, at least on paper. Scoring in increments of three won't win you many games."
In Detroit, the Lions have given quarterback Matthew Stafford the starting position and let him run with it. Unfortunately, instead of running with it, Stafford has been passing, to the tune of 5 interceptions in two games.
"Obviously, Matthew's learning curve won't be a steep as a Matt Ryan or a Joe Flacco," says Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. "In fact, Matthew's may be as gently sloped as the crown of a football field. That should work out nicely, because by the time he understands the nuances of the game three or four years down the road, it'll be time for another No. 1 draft pick."
Against the 0-2 Lions, you have to give the Redskins the edge, if for no other reason than Ford Field is a great place to kick field goals. But are the 'Skins ripe for the picking, and if the Lions pull the upset, is Jim Zorn ripe for the pruning? To go along with his itchy wallet finger, Daniel Snyder also has an itchy trigger finger.
Detroit wins, 23-20.
Green Bay @ St. Louis (+6.5)
There's probably no better way to bounce back from a painful home loss than a visit to St. Louis, where the Gateway Arch beckons visitors to enter the Midwest, and, much like the Rams defense, offers little resistance. The Packers dropped a 31-24 decision to the Bengals in Green Bay last week, and Chad Ochocinco even took a Lambeau Leap after scoring the go-ahead touchdown.
"Hey, I'm disappointed our fans allowed that to happen," says Aaron Rodgers. "Apparently, they haven't seen a baseball game at Chicago's Wrigley Field, otherwise they would have tossed Ochocinco back onto the field."
"Instead, our fans chose the passive route to objecting to Ochocinco's heinous act, and filled his Twitter account with thousands of angry Tweets. But Ochocinco got the last word - he answered every one of them."
"We definitely need to right the ship in St. Louis, before we head to Minnesota the following week for what is sure to be the most anticipated game of the year. I'm usually not one to look ahead to next week, but standing here, with the Rams defense in front of me, I can actually see the Metrodome."
After all the praise the Packer defense received in beating Chicago, they were exposed by the Bengals and their talented offense, which features playmakers at all the skill positions. The Rams aren't the Bengals, though. When you say 'playmaker' in St. Louis, you're usually referring to someone's high school drama teacher.
A-Rod goes yard on the Packs second possession, hitting Donald Driver for a 65-yard touchdown. The Green Bay defense steps up, holding Marc Bulger to 165 yards passing.
Green Bay wins, 30-17.
San Francisco @ Minnesota (-6.5)
How would one describe San Francisco's 2-0 start to the season, which has the 49ers atop the NFC West standings and has generated a sense of gaiety in a city that has longed to return to the glory days of old?
"Whatever you do," says Mike Singletary, "just don't call it 'flaming.'"
"Sure, we're off to a hot start, but we've earned every bit of it. This isn't your daddy's 49er team. We won't beat you with Hall of Fame quarterbacks and receivers, nor will we stop you with a hard-hitting safety and his 9?? fingers. Hey, what's the difference between Ronnie Lott and a phone number? A phone number has 10 digits."
"All joking aside ... in a moment. What do you call a steamy erotic drama starring Ronnie Lott and Kim Basinger? "9?? Digits." Okay, I guess you guys didn't know that Samurai Mike had a sense of humor. Of course I do. I rapped on 'The Super Bowl Shuffle.' What's funnier than that? There may not be a West Coast Offense here, but there is a West Coast rapper in the house."
Like the 49ers, the Vikings are 2-0, with two road wins, and flawless play from Brett Favre, who set the NFL record with his 271st consecutive start, breaking the record of Minnesota defensive end Jim Marshall, who set the record from 1961 to 1979.
"I'm honored to pass the great Jim Marshall," says Favre. "It's truly amazing to be able to start that many consecutive games as a defensive end. It's even more amazing that he did so without not once retiring."
"The last thing I want to do is overlook the 49ers with the Packers coming here on October 5th. But it's hard not to. I've had that date circled on my calendar since the schedule was released. But you know me. Between all the retirements and all the comebacks, I've got a lot of dates circled on my calendar."
Does the winner of this contest officially claim the "for real" tag, signifying it as a legitimate NFC contender? You bet. And the NFC rushing lead will likely be decided, with Adrian Peterson looking to extend his 35-yard lead on Frank Gore.
Peterson wins the battle, rushing for a hard-fought 110 yards and a score, and the Vikes win the battle, 22-19.
Tennessee @ NY Jets (-3)
One thing is for sure after the Jets bullied the Patriots into submission last Sunday in the Meadowlands: if Rex Ryan and the Jets tell you they're going to do something, then, by golly, they're going to do it.
"Or maybe the Patriots just aren't that good," says Titans head coach Jeff Fisher. "And I might just know a thing or two about teams that 'just aren't that good.' We're 0-2, and that's not good."
"It's a very rare occasion to see the Patriots intimidated and taken out of their game. I know Tom Brady is expecting a child, but I never expected to see him in the fetal position."
"But I know my guys well enough to know they won't run and hide, unless it's Vince Young from a standardized test, or playing time."
"And I'm confident in myself as a coach to know that I run a clean program. You won't catch me tampering with another team's unsigned draft pick. But let's not jump to conclusions. I think the Jets did, in fact, contact Michael Crabtree, but not for his services. I believe they were inquiring about a good bail bondsman for Shaun Ellis."
Ryan and the Jets impressive 2-0 start has the city of New York in a frenzy, with many a call-in radio fan dialing frenetically for the chance to express their love for the home team. With the Giants also a perfect 2-0, the Big Apple is a collective 4-0, and talk, albeit premature, of a Big Apple Super Bowl.
"Who knew that when Frank Sinatra crooned 'New York, New York,'" says Ryan, "he was talking about a Jets/Giants Super Bowl? Hey, I bet Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the rest of the gang were Jets fans. And I bet they called themselves the 'Jet Pack.'"
Hey, let's hand it to the Jets, or at least thank them. In a week when very few teams played defense, the Jets did with flying colors. They will again against the Titans, who desperately need a win. But the Titans can as well, at least when facing an 0-3 start to the season.
Tennessee wins, 17-16.
Atlanta @ New England (-4.5)
After losing the war of words with the Jets, the Patriots must turn their attention to the 2-0 Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan, who starred at quarterback for Boston College. Atlanta has ridden a balanced offensive attack and a resilient defense to two home wins, and now will test themselves against an angry and humiliated Patriots team.
"We know the Pats are dangerous when down," says Ryan. "And they probably don't want to hear what we're going to do to them any more than we want to tell them."
"But our plan is no secret, anyway. We'll run Michael Turner to set up play action, and on defense, we'll limit Tom Brady's time in the pocket with pressure. Now, if Bill Belichick wants a tape of our practice, I'll gladly send him one. That's assuming he doesn't already have one."
The Patriots are 1-1, and, save for a monumental Buffalo collapse in Week 1, would be 0-2.
"Obviously," says Tom Brady, "we have a problem with New York teams that like to bring pressure. Luckily, there's only two of them in the league."
"But it's no time to panic. I know when it's time to panic, and that's when my two baby mommas are at the same place at the same time. Or Wes Welker and Randy Moss are at the same place at the same time - the injured list. Luckily, that hasn't happened."
Atlanta wins, 23-21.
Jacksonville @ Houston (-3 1/2)
After being shut down by the Jets in Week 1, the Texans offense finally displayed the potency many expected, scoring 34 points and dominating through the air in a 34-31 win over the Titans. The Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson connection accounted for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns, and that duo should see success against a Jaguars defense that forced only two Kurt Warner incompletions.
"Yes, the amount of Warner incompletions was alarming," says Jack Del Rio. "But not nearly as alarming as Matt Leinart's completions. Anytime Leinart gets playing time against you, you know it's bad news."
"And we couldn't get pressure on Warner or Leinart. Leinart seemed to be downright enjoying himself in the pocket. I think it was more likely we were guilty of 'fluffing' the passer than 'roughing' the passer."
"There's been a lot of talk about blacking out our home games. I added a twist to that this week - I blacked out tape sessions of the Arizona game."
Well, Jack, hopefully you've scouted your opponent via tape study. If you have, you probably noticed that the Texans surrendered 240 yards on 26 carries on the ground.
"So, you're saying that if I get Maurice Jones-Drew 26 carries, he'll accumulate 240 yards?"
More or less.
Jones-Drew won't see 240 yards, but he will see 26 carries. Jacksonville wins this on the ground, rushing for 222 as a team.
Jacksonville wins, 27-23.
NY Giants @ Tampa Bay (+7)
The Giants played spoiler to the opening of Dallas $1.15 billion stadium in Arlington, stunning the Cowboys 33-31 on Lawrence Tynes' field goal as time expired and ruining the night for Jerry Jones, who had taken a helicopter flight down from his luxury box to enjoy what he thought would be a Cowboy victory.
Now the Giants head to Tampa to face the 0-2 Bucs in a stadium worth approximately $1 billion less than the Cowboys palace.
"Arlington Stadium is overrated," says bruising running back Brandon Jacobs. "Despite all of its amenities, it's still a 'single star' facility."
"It matters little the stadium we're in, though. In Arlington, there's a stiff, wooden structure in the owner's box; in Tampa, there's one in the end zone of Raymond James Stadium. One has crow's feet, the other a crow's nest."
"And, with Plaxico Burress off to take a two-year walk off a short plank, we've needed our receivers to pick up the slack. And they have. Steve Smith had 10 catches for 134 yards and a score. I think it's safe to say he's now known more as a top receiver than as 'the Steve Smith who doesn't punch teammates.'"
With two division wins already, the G-Men look to extend their G-string in a three-week stretch at Tampa, at Kansas City, then at home against Oakland, before what looks to be a huge showdown at New Orleans on October 18th.
New York wins, 24-12.
Cleveland @ Baltimore (-13)
With a huge 31-26 win in San Diego, the Ravens are 2-0 and in first place in the AFC North. Ray Lewis made perhaps the game-saving tackle last week when he drilled Darren Sproles for a loss on fourth and two with the Chargers driving for the potential go-ahead touchdown.
"That may have been the greatest defensive regular-season play of my career," says Lewis, "and possibly the only defensive play we've made this year. We're giving up 25 points per game, which is about twice as much as we did last year."
"But my play against the Chargers was only good enough to make No. 2 on Deion Sanders' top 10 plays of the week, the only top 10 list delivered from the corner of 21st and Prime Time, and the only top 10 list delivered in street lingo from a man dressed in a style that falls somewhere between pimp and preacher."
"Those NFL Network blowhards are like Kanye West - they don't know when to shut up. Is it just me, or would it have made more sense if Kanye had delivered his apology on an episode of Pardon the Interruption?"
It's been a dismal start to the year for the Browns. Already, they're in an 0-2 hole, and head coach Eric Mangini is in a $25,000 hole to the league for failing to disclose Brett Favre's biceps injury last year.
"A Brett Favre injury?" says Mangini. "That had to be the worst-kept secret in the league. How times have changed. Then, I tried to cover up an arm injury to my quarterback. Now, I'd give anything for an arm injury to my quarterback."
After two uncharacteristic defensive performances, it's time for the Ravens to blister an opponent. What better team than Brady Quinn and the Browns?
Lewis finishes the game by sacking Quinn, then punctuates the takedown by downing a serving of EAS Myoplex shake and then saying to the fallen Quinn, "Now you're done."
Baltimore wins, 29-9.
Chicago @ Seattle (+1)
Jay Cutler played mistake-free in the Bears 17-14 win over the Steelers last week, a week after 4 interceptions raised a stink in Chicago. Cutler threw 2 touchdown passes and led the Bears into range for Robbie Gould's game-winning field goal.
"Bears fans don't take kindly to a four-interception day," says Lovie Smith, who was not conceived at Woodstock, but was, in fact, present there as a roadie for Sly and the Family Stone. "And the locker room wasn't too happy, either. Even Rex Grossman was disgusted, and he doesn't even play here anymore."
"But I think Jay has found his comfort zone. He's got that swagger back and he seems to have a better understanding of our offense, which is built on the principle of throwing to the right team. Sure, he's got a rifle arm, but a rifle arm is pretty useless when it's used to shoot yourself in the foot. When we decided to deal for Cutler, in other words, when we decided to 'pick six,' we didn't do it with interceptions in mind."
Only two weeks into the season and the Seahawks are facing catastrophic injury issues. Matt Hasselbeck, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Walter Jones, among others, are nursing injuries, which has turned what looked to be a promising student into one that could dangerously spiral downward.
"Tell me about it," says Jim Mora, Jr. "Talk about an injury 'list.'"
Chicago wins, 22-17.
New Orleans @ Buffalo (+4)
Shaking off the disappointment of their Week 1 collapse against the Patriots, the Bills left no doubt against the Buccaneers, jumping to a 17-0 lead on the way to an eventual 33-20 win. The 1-1 Bills now face the daunting task of slowing the NFL's highest-scoring offense, a Saints squad averaging over 46 points per game.
"It won't be easy," says Dick Jauron. "If we can keep 'em under 30, I think maybe we could go home happy to un-vandalized lawns."
"You know, it was really unfortunate that fans felt the need to deface the lawn of Leotis McKelvin, whose fumble against the Patriots cost us the game. However, I've got to hand it to those fans for accentuating their vandalism with imagination and clever wording. It seems they painted Leotis' front yard like an end zone, with a sign that read 'Keep On.'"
The Saints are no yard vandals, but they have been known to "tear up the turf" so far this year. And regardless of how well the Bills defense plays, their offense will have to produce to keep up with the Saints. Much of the burden for that falls on Terrell Owens, who had his first touchdown catch as a Bill last week.
"I'm not one to shy away from attention," says Owens. "Unfortunately, there's very little of that to be had here. In Buffalo, doing sit-ups in the driveway is not a spectator sport."
"Now, it only someone would have told me years ago of this yard vandalism as a form of protest, then I could have left a swath of destruction running from San Francisco to Dallas, via Philadelphia."
Owens has a big day, catching 8 balls for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, but that's not enough to keep up with the Saints' offensive juggernaut. Nobody circles the wagons like the Bills, but nobody crosses the "T" in touchdown like the Saints.
New Orleans wins, 31-22.
Miami @ San Diego (-6.5)
LaDainian Tomlinson is in a walking boot, Philip Rivers was fined for taunting, and San Diego has serious shortcomings on defense. Oh how the Chargers long for the time when the unsubstantiated claims of a ditzy, C-list, mildly retarded reality star were their only worries.
"Well, it seems as though we've rid ourselves of one 'wildcat,'" says Norv Turner, "just in time for another. That being the 'wildcat' offense made fashionable, and productive, by the Dolphins. The 'wildcat' is a lot like Philip Rivers - a 'useful tool.'"
Miami learned a hard lesson last Monday against the Colts: that a three-to-one advantage on time of possession doesn't always translate to victory. They also learned that blatant mismanagement of the clock often results in a futility.
"I've made a note of what I learned on Monday night," says Tony Sparano, "especially the concept that it's best to kill the clock when you have the lead, and not when trailing by four points."
"Really, this is all my fault. When we spent an hour in practice on the two-minute drill, I didn't expect my offense to apply that literally in a game."
With a short week after a Monday night game, and a long plane trip across America, the Dolphins will be too darn spent to present any resistance to the Chargers, who are at home and desperate to validate those fools that picked them to win the Super Bowl.
Philip Rivers throws for 287 yards and 2 scores, and Shawne Merriman puts his hands on Chad Pennington, recording 2 sacks.
San Diego wins, 27-14.
Denver @ Oakland (-2.5)
It's not often a team wins when the number of incompletions tossed by its quarterback exceeds the number of points scored. But it happens, as the Raiders 13-10 win over the Chiefs proved. JaMarcus Russell was 7-of-24 for 109 yards. Oakland is 1-1 and in a three-way tie atop the AFC West.
"Look, the important thing is JaMarcus didn't turn the ball over," says Tom Cable. "We're not going to win offensive shootouts. For us to be competitive, we'll have to win with defense and conservative offensive play-calling. Slowly, I'm seeing players and coaches alike buying into my system. I want my players to drink the Kool-Aid, and my coaches to swallow the 'punch.'"
"If they continue to do so, the Raiders will be relevant again, and maybe Ice Cube will stop making family-friendly movies and put back on his Raider gear like a real man."
The Broncos are a somewhat surprising 2-0, with one of those wins courtesy of Brandon Stokley's miracle in Cincinnati in Week 1. Last week, Denver manhandled the Browns 27-6 at Mile High.
"One thing's for sure," says Josh McDaniels. "You don't need a miracle to beat the Browns. But it never hurts to ask for one."
"Yes, Stokley's touchdown catch was a miracle. And, if lighting should strike twice, I just hope one of them hits Brandon Marshall."
Raiders win, 16-13.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (+4.5)
Should the Bengals be in the discussion, with the Ravens and Steelers, when the subject of AFC North supremacy arises? The next three weeks should answer that question, as the Bengals host the Steelers, followed by road games at Cleveland and Baltimore.
"Hey, I don't want to get into a long discussion about that," says Chad Ochocinco. "It's way too early. Besides, I'm compelled to communicate in short, barely coherent texts of 140 characters or less."
"But if you want a simple answer, you won't get it, because I'm incapable of those. However, I can give you loads of things you didn't ask for, like the return of the list of cornerbacks who didn't stop me, or a theme for a touchdown celebration, should I score. This week's will have a Spanish flavor, but contrary to some internet rumors, I won't be choking Tila Tequila after I score."
"As usual, I'll give the fans what they want, and that's my touchdown 'pinata' celebration, in which I swing from the crossbar while everyone flogs me with a stick."
While the Steeler defense seems to be managing without the injured Troy Polamalu, concern on offense is the lack of a consistent ground game.
"Hey, don't knock the offensive line. Those guys may not give our running backs room to run, but they sure give me plenty. I'm sure Dancing With the Stars will be calling, because I can move for a big man."
Cincinnati sacked Aaron Rodgers 6 times last week, but Rodgers isn't as nimble afoot as Roethlisberger, who may be the best east-west runner in football. Big Ben will likely air it out at least 40 times, so, when he drops back, the Bengal defense not only needs to pressure him, they need to tackle him.
Cincinnati wins, 23-21.
Indianapolis @ Arizona (-1)
Offense should be in high gear when the 2-0 Colts head to Glendale to challenge the 1-1 Cardinals. Indianapolis won 27-23 in Miami on Monday night, despite only holding the ball for only 14:53, compared to 45:07 for the Dolphins.
"You know the old saying," says Manning. "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Well, give a Manning a team of Dolphins, and it'll only take him a quarter of an hour to eat."
"But above all things, we owe our defense an apology for making them stay on the field while we sat on the sidelines chilling in the mist while enjoying some Gatorade. That's 'G,' and that's 'R&R.'"
The Cards bounced back from a Week 1 defeat with a 31-17 win over the Jaguars. In that game, Kurt Warner set an NFL record by completing 92.3% of his passes (24-of-26).
"That's darn near perfect," says Warner. "I don't think you'll see a lot of incompletions come Sunday, especially with two defenses worn down from games in hot, humid Florida. Jacksonville's about as close to Hell as one can get, which is convenient, because from what I hear, you practically have to deal with the devil to see a game on TV there."
"I welcome the challenge of facing Manning. He's a good Christian man, I think, although he seems to have sold his soul. Not to the devil, though. It's much worse - to Oreos, Gatorade, and DirecTV."
The Colts defense will get a break in Arizona; the Cards don't take nearly as long to score as the Dolphins.
Arizona wins, 35-31.
Carolina @ Dallas (-10)
Jake Delhomme and Tony Romo are two of the NFL's most polarizing quarterbacks, praised when winning, but vilified when losing. Both have found a generous share of scrutiny, Delhomme after 5 turnovers against the Eagles in Week 1, and Romo after a 3-interception performance in a loss to the Giants on Sunday night.
"I'm the quarterback of America's Team," says Romo. "So, when I play badly, I'm apt to get a 'country' whipping."
"But I refuse to be discouraged. Tony Dorsett may not believe in me, but the man upstairs has my back. That's Jerry Jones, of course, not Jesus. And you can worship both in the fabulous new stadium - Jesus in the chapel on the fourth floor, and Jerry in the larger chapel on the fifth floor."
Delhomme played much better in the Panthers' 28-20 loss to Atlanta. He's yet to connect with Steve Smith for a touchdown; he should be able to against a Dallas secondary that was victimized by the Giants.
"If the Cowboys game with the Giants indicated anything," says Delhomme, "it's that there's plenty of room to throw in that place."
"Arlington Stadium is such a cavernous structure, one could easily disappear is such a spacious area. We've seen that even in a smaller venue, like the Georgia Dome, someone as large as Julius Peppers can be hard to find. In Julius' case, anytime he gets lost, he can easily be spotted by locating the huge wallet hanging out of his back pocket."
Delhomme will find Smith often, but ultimately, the Cowboy rush will get to Delhomme, forcing a crucial turnover. Romo throws for 224 yards and a touchdown, and Marion Barber finds Peppers and goes through him for a short touchdown.
Dallas wins, 27-24.