Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Pittsburgh @ Tennessee (-6)In their first game without the suspended Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers rode their defense and their ground game to a hard-fought 15-9 overtime win over the Falcons. Rashard Mendenhall's 50-yard walkoff touchdown run won it for the Steelers.
"This franchise has won games before without Roethlisberger," said Mike Tomlin. "Most notably Super Bowl 40."
But right now, this team is not about Roethlisberger. It's about Dennis Dixon. Three games from now, we'll welcome Ben back with an open bathroom door. Sure, people are quick to criticize Ben's behavior, but don't forget he's a two-time Super Bowl champion. He may be ???flicted,' but he's also afflicted, with a condition known as ???restless leg-acy syndrome."
The last time the Steelers visited LP Field, the Titans came away with a 31-14 win, and Titans running back/tub of lard LenDale White taunted the visitors by stomping on a Terrible Towel. That image is undoubtedly burned into the minds of the Steelers, but Jeff Fisher believes it won't be an issue on Sunday.
"LenDale could have made a better decision," Fisher said. "Lord knows, there are better uses for a Terrible Towel, like as a napkin, or, perchance, to wipe down a potential crime scene."
But the ???Smash' of ???Smash And Dash' is no longer here, which makes Chris Johnson's appetite for yardage even stronger. And speaking of ???appetite,' did you see our mascot, ???T-Rac,' devour a cheerleader last week? That was amazing. I guess Carolina Panther girls aren't the only ones bestowed with the honor of eating a cheerleader."
Chris Johnson will find yards tough to come by on the ground. That is, until he catches a swing pass and gallops 55-yards for a score.
Tennessee wins 19-17.
Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-5)
Believe it or not, the Bucs are tied with the Saints atop the NFC South, undefeated after last week's tight 17-14 win over Cleveland. Sure, the season is young, infantile if you will, but Raheem Morris has Tampa playing with a purpose.
"Heck," Morris said, "I didn't think we could reach the top of the South so soon. Realistically, our goal was to be there much later, like in 2012."
I feel good about the direction the team is taking. And I feel good about being one of the youngest coaches in the NFL, as well as the only coach in the league who could go straight from coaching to rapping without having to change names."
Starting quarterback Matt Moore suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss to the Giants, succumbing to New York's fearsome defensive front. If Moore can't go, rookie Jimmy Clausen will get the start.
"There was a slew of concussions last week," said John Fox, "and quarterbacks, in particular, took a beating. There was a doozy of woozies, and Moore was on the short end of a brain scramble. Whomever starts, Moore or Clausen, will be short on inexperience. In situations like this, the Doobie Brothers' ???It Keeps You Runnin' is always a soothing tune, because I know DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will take the pressure off my quarterback. ???Jesus Is Just Alright,' and so are we."
Somebody cue "What A Fool Believes."
Panthers win 22-14.
Kansas City @ Cleveland (-2 1/2)
After Monday night's 21-14 over the Chargers, the Chiefs are basking in the afterglow of the outright AFC West lead. With losses by the Raiders and Broncos, the Chiefs took sole possession of the West lead with a gutsy effort in the driving rain at Arrowhead Stadium.
"It wasn't the prettiest victory," said Matt Cassel, "but we'll take it and others like it, assuming the opportunity presents itself. That's fancy USC-grad talk for ???we got lucky.'"
Anyway, Chiefs football isn't predicated on offensive firepower. It's geared more towards getting a lead and protecting the lead. See, there's the ???West Coast Offense,' and then there's the ???Midwest Coast Offense.' We prefer the latter."
The fallout from the Browns 17-14 loss to the Bucs last week was immediate. Quarterback Jake Delhomme is in a walking boot, resulting from a sprained ankle suffered in the game while throwing one of his two interceptions.
"This is something we expected," said Eric Mangini. "Jake's ???gotten the boot' before, and he'll probably get it again. That boot should keep Jake's ankle immobilized so he can't do further damage. We're hoping for a medical breakthrough that will bless us with a product that can do the same for his right arm."
It's appropriate that against the Chiefs, Seneca Wallace gets the start. Wallace scores on a five-yard run and tosses a TD pass to Josh Cribbs.
Browns win 22-17.
Miami @ Minnesota (-5 1/2)
After last Thursday's 14-9 loss in New Orleans, the Vikings have had a solid ten days to regroup, plenty of time to game-plan for the Dolphins and rest for the home opener at Mall Of America Field.
"We should be well-prepared," Brett Favre said. "Ten days is an eternity, and plenty of time to contemplate retirement, which I can easily be talked out of. As you may know, I left New Orleans after the game and headed to Mississippi for my grandson's christening. And it only took one Viking to drag me back-me."
It's one thing to be christened with ordinary water. Hopefully, my grandson will be able to experience the joy of being christened with Gatorade."
The Dolphins will likely find it difficult to run the ball against the Vikings stingy rush defense, so the ???Fins and quarterback Chad Henne will look to Brandon Marshall for offense. Marshall has yet to score in a Dolphin uniform, but may find paydirt against a Minnesota secondary dealing with numerous injuries.
"There's only one person who can stop Brandon Marshall," Marshall explained, "and that's Brandon Marshall. And, more often than not, my ego gets the best of me."
Adrian Peterson rushes for 126 yards and two scores, and the Viking blitzes bother Chad Henne, thus limiting Marshall's effectiveness.
Minnesota wins 27-20.
Arizona @ Atlanta (-7)
After a stinging 15-9 overtime loss to the Steelers last week, the Falcons host the Cardinals, 17-13 winners in St. Louis. To avoid an 0-2 hole, The Falcons will look for a win in the Georgia Dome, where they were 6-2 last year.
"There's nothing like home cooking," said matt Ryan, "unless you're talking about a meth lab, of which there are several in the Atlanta area."
Anyway, we'll certainly need to have our game faces on. But, first things first. With the Cardinals and Falcons in the same building, it's a perfect opportunity for another show of solidarity, as players from both teams can come together, say ???the heck with the index finger,' and give the owners the ???Dirty Bird.'"
Ken Whisenhunt was pleased with the play of Derek Anderson, and the Cardinals will look to attack the Falcons downfield with Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston.
"We'll have to play our best to beat the Falcons," Whisenhunt said. "They're tough at home, and hungry for a win. Anytime Arizona and Atlanta face each other, you can expect both to bring their ???A' game."
Now, it will take a full team effort to beat Atlanta. We'll need contributions from everyone, from LaRod Stephens-Howling to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. You'll notice one glaring absence from our list of players with hyphenated names. That's because Matt Leinart-Sucks is now a Houston Texan."
Falcons win 26-23.
Philadelphia @ Detroit (+3)
Head trauma is all the rage in Philly, with Kevin Kolb and Stewart Bradley suffering concussions last week against the Packers. But heads are spinning in Detroit as well, after Calvin Johnson's apparent touchdown catch was nullified by the correct (but wrong) interpretation of a rule that clearly needs, ironically, further review.
"If you look closely at the replay," said Jim Schwartz, "you'll see Calvin catch the ball with two hands, with two feet inbounds before falling, where two knees, his rear end, and elbow, and one hand land inbounds. What more does he need? If there would have been any other body part involved, he would have been charged with indecent exposure."
I certainly feel for Calvin. Much like Javon Walker a few years ago, he was robbed. But I suspect ???Megatron' will take it in stride. He's been screwed before, like on Draft Day 2007."
If Kolb is not cleared to play on Sunday, Michael Vick, who subbed admirably against the Packers, will start. Vick passed for 175 yards and rushed for 103, flashing the skills that made him one of the National Football League's most feared players.
"Don't forget," said Andy Reid, "Mike was equally feared by the American Kennel Club. But that Michael Vick has long been dead and buried. Digable Planets once sang of the ???Rebirth Of Slick.' Well, this may very well be the ???Rebirth Of Vick.' And, you know what? I'm cool with dat."
Michael's on standby. Kevin certainly got his bell rung, or as they say in Philly, he got his ???Liberty Bell rung.' He's still shaking out the ???Kolb-webs,' and if he's ready to go, he'll get the start. Not because he gives us the best chance to win, but because I'm a stubborn mule and don't want to look foolish for investing the team's future in a player, and then not playing him."
Vick gets the start, and is unstoppable, throwing for two touchdowns, rushing for another, and generally baffling the Lions defense. Johnson has nine receptions and one touchdown, and also catches several NFL rulebooks thrown at him by angry fans.
Philadelphia wins 31-24.
Chicago @ Dallas (-9)
If Dallas' 13-7 loss in Washington proved anything, it's that boneheaded decisions by Cowboys are not limited to off-the-field endeavors. Two glaring errors (a fumble that gave the ???Skins a touchdown to end the first half, and a holding penalty that canceled out the Cowboys game-winning score) were the catalysts in the heartbreaking loss.
"The Cowboys were also victimized by 11 other penalties," Cutler said. "But that's just the beginning of their issues. They have multiple problems. They may be ???America's Team,' but ???America's Teem-ing' with troubles."
Despite a multitude of mistakes, you have to credit the Cowboys with one thing. Although it ended badly, that fateful play at the end of the first half was the NFL's first Hail Mary shovel pass (research courtesy of the Hail Mary Hall Of Fame in Vatican City).
The Bears can certainly match the Cowboys for boneheaded plays. Despite outgaining the Lions 463 to 168, Chicago turned the ball over four times and gave up four sacks. In addition, Lovie Smith opted to go on fourth and one from Detroit's one-yard line, although they trailed 14-13.
"The marquee outside Cowboys Stadium," Jerry Jones quipped, "says ???Dumb And Dumber.' But I won't tolerate the kinds of mistakes that killed us in the Redskins loss. If necessary, we'll make changes. If someone can do a job better, they'll get the start. In fact, I've already authorized one change: offensive lineman Alex Barron has taken over for Matt McBriar as holder."
Dallas wins 30-24.
Baltimore @ Cincinnati (-1)
Ray Lewis, in the buildup to the Ravens-Jets Monday night opener, pleaded with everyone not to get consumed by the Jets brash talk. Well, the wizened veteran proved prophetic, as the physical Ravens bullied their way to a 10-9 win in the Meadowlands. Now, attention turns to AFC North rival Cincinnati, which swept the Ravens in 2009.
"When I said ???Don't believe the hype,'" Lewis explained, "I meant it. I said it with conviction, just like I said ???Don't believe the witness' some time ago, although I guess you could say that was a statement made without conviction."
Anyway, we've silenced the Jets for now. We've heard enough of their bold talk on ???Hard Knocks.' Well, Home Box Office, in conjunction with the Baltimore Ravens, would like to announce the sequel. In the spirit of filmmakers past, it's a silent picture, entitled ???Sound Off.'"
Films of yore, quoth the Raven. Films of yore.
Against the Ravens, the Jets lacked anything resembling a downfield passing game. That's a strength of the Bengals, who boast strong-armed quarterback Carson Palmer, as well as veteran wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
"We don't fear the Ravens," Ochocinco said, "and we don't fear Ray Lewis, at least in his Old Spice commercial. And we won't shy away from crossing patterns over the middle, despite the fact that we saw Ray knock Dustin Keller so silly, Keller couldn't even locate the first down marker later. In fact, T.O. and I have an online crusade of fans begging us to take on Ray across the middle. We call them the ???Alligator Arm-y.'"
The Bengals have home turf to defend, and need to avoid an 0-2 hole in the AFC North. They do so, with a finely crafted game plan modeled exactly the opposite of the Jets.'
Bengals win 19-16.
Buffalo @ Green Bay (-9)
After facing an Eagles team featuring the dynamic Michael Vick, the rough-and-tumble Packers defense gets a respite, of sorts, when Trent Edwards and the anemic Buffalo offense visit Lambeau Field.
"The Bills offense is as predictable as sunrise," said Charles Woodson. "And, like the sun, the Bills offense never moves. It's routine, almost mechanical, so when they face our dynamic defense, you can say ???That's all she rote.'"
The Bills and coach Chan Gailey will need to eschew the conservative approach and attack the Packers on the edges and downfield. Defensively, they have to pressure Aaron Rodgers and limit his comfort in the pocket.
"Indeed," said Gailey, "we intend to ???open up the playbook,' as they say. Whether or not I call any plays from it remains to be seen. We do intend to let C.J. Spiller take a few snaps in a newly-implemented formation we like to call the ???Buffalo Wild Wing.'"
Packers win 30-17.St. Louis @ Oakland (-3 ??)
Despite a loss to the Cardinals, rookie quarterback Sam Bradford was impressive in his debut for the Rams, with 32 completions and 55 passing attempts. In Oakland, he'll face Nmandi Asomugha, one of the NFL's two best cover men.
"You don't hear much about ???Asomugha Island,'" Bradford said. "From what I hear, though, it's surrounded by water, and incompetence. But his man-to-man coverage is top notch, and when he has safety help, be it from Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch, or his Man Friday, it's impossible to throw his way."
Bradford finds the going rough in the Black Hole, throwing two interceptions, seemingly unnerved by the insane Raider faithful.
Oakland wins 26-12.
Seattle @ Denver (-3)
Seattle will head to Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High with a key 31-6 drubbing of NFC West rival San Francisco under their belt. Pete Carroll won his debut as Seahawks coach in impressive fashion, and proved that, whether in the college or pro ranks, he can be successful while managing pay-for-play athletes.
"Anyone who though the 49ers would run away with this division better think again," Carroll said. "I think I'm going to like it here. The NCAA can't touch me, I'm overpaid, and all my players have agents. Heck, it's just like being at USC."
The Broncos suffered a 24-17 loss in Jacksonville in front of a crowd of 63,636, most there to get a glimpse of hometown hero Tim Tebow. Alas, Tebow was in for only three plays, gaining two yards on two carries and throwing one interception.
"It's no secret," said Josh McDaniels, "that I'm preparing Tebow for the eventual starting role. You could say I'm ???grooming' him, and it's no accident that statement sounds mildly erotic. At least to me. But I'm not quite ready to thrust Tim, into action, that is, until I get to know him a little better. For now, I'm content to go steady with Kyle Orton."
Matt Prater kicks a 55-yard field goal as time expires, giving the Broncos a dramatic 24-22 win, and Tebow is carried off the field by his teammates.
Houston @ Washington (+3)
The Mike Shanahan era began in Washington with a huge 13-7 win over NFC East rival Dallas, giving the Redskins' faithful hope that this may be the year the team breaks out. On Sunday, Washington, like Houston, 34-24 winners over the Colts last week, hopes to avoid a letdown after such a huge division win.
"What's the most stunning aspect of the Shanahan era in Washington?" said Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. "Is it the fact that Shanny wore an ???I'm With Stupid' t-shirt when he shook my hand to accept the head coaching job? No. Shanny's encouragement of Albert Haynesworth to get in shape, so he could star in Precious 2? No. It's the fact that Shanahan's skin is a match exactly to Redskins burgundy."
Now, the Redskins organization doesn't condone the words of Clinton Portis made in regards to female reporters in the locker room. Someone needs to tell Clinton that ???misogyny' is not something that comes with a happy ending."
Texans running back Arian Foster torched the Colts for 231 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-24 win. That effort puts Foster on top as the NFL's leading rusher.
"Adolf Hitler was right," said Gary Kubiak. "Arian's the master race. I doubt Adolf knew that he was referring to the master of the NFL rushing race. But what does a megalomaniac know about football? Well, besides Bill Parcells."
Anyway, I'm sure the Redskins will be geared up to stop Foster. But, are the Texans stupid enough to try to ram Foster down the Redskins throats. No, but it sure sets up good play-action.
Matt Schaub hits Andre Johnson for a touchdown on the Texans first possession, and Houston hangs on for a 28-23 win.
New England @ NY Jets (-1)
Things are just peachy for Tom Brady. He just signed a new, $72 million contract, he's married to Brazilian supermodel Giselle Bundchen, and the three-ringed Super Bowl champ's cologne, "Smell The Fingers," sold double-digit bottles last year.
Not so much for Randy Moss. There's no supermodel and no fancy cologne, although Moss has been shopping his own fragrance, a scent that captures the essence of the rugged West Virginia wilderness, and the leathery aroma of a regulation football, called "Flannel No. 81." After last Sunday's win over the Bengals, Moss spoke less of the game and more of how he feels "unwanted" in New England without a new contract.
"So, Randy wants more ???bread,'" said Brady. "That's interesting, because the lack of a new deal leaves him contractually obligated to ???loaf.'"
"But we'll certainly need Randy against the Jets. At least to occupy Darrelle Revis while we throw at Kyle Wilson. We're not stupid. We'll avoid any visits to ???Revis Island,' but I hear the fishing's good on ???Wilson Island,' because everybody's catching, and there's a lot of ???biting.'"
Brady's contract was certainly big news, but was nowhere near as earth-shaking as Darrelle Revis' $46 million deal that ended his 36-day holdout and secured the game's top cornerback's place in the Jet defensive backfield.
"Sure, Brady's contract was for more money," Revis said. "To that, I say ???Big deal.' My contract was so historic, it was signed on the deck of the USS Missouri."
But before we can concern ourselves with the opponent's passing game, we need to get ours straight. Brian Schottenheimer's play-calling was so conservative, it made his father, Marty, curse the family name. For this team, it looks like the only bombs that will be appearing will be ???F-bombs.'"
This will be a game of contrast. The Patriots and their dynamic, pass-happy offense against the Jets and their physical defense. The affable Rex Ryan against the staid Bill Belichick. Heck, even their treatment of female reporters wildly differs. The Jets try to incorporate a female reporter into their workout; the Patriots greet their female reporters with a whip out.
Patriots win 22-16.
Jacksonville @ San Diego (-5)
David Garrard's three touchdown passes, two to tight end Marcedes Lewis, powered the Jaguars to a 24-17 win over the Broncos. It's that kind of take-charge performance Jack Del Rio envisioned on the many occasions he's urged his quarterback to be more assertive.
"David was brilliant," said Del Rio. "I can't tell you how proud I am. For so long, I've longed for the confidence to put David on the field and dare the opponent to beat him. But even more so, I've longed for the opportunity to put him on the field and say to the opposition ???En Garrard.'"
The Chargers fell to the Chiefs 21-14 on Monday night, a loss that clearly bothered quarterback Philip Rivers, San Diego's fireplug of a quarterback. Rivers passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns, and will look for more of the same against a Jacksonville secondary that surrendered similar numbers to Denver's Kyle Orton.
"For Christ's sake," Rivers said, "please don't compare me to Denver quarterbacks, former or present. Monday's loss was certainly frustrating. Heck, I haven't been that frustrated since Ed Hochuli and Jay Cutler double-clotheslined me, although cooking breakfast for the Monday Night Countdown gang was an equally trying endeavor."
Chargers win 31-26.
NY Giants @ Indianapolis (-5 ??)
Unless it's footage from those intense training videos for Oreo's Double Stuff Racing League, football fans are not often treated to a Manning versus Manning battle. Fans will see the brothers do battle when Eli and the Colts travel to Lucas Oil Stadium where Peyton and the Colts await.
"I don't want to say I taught Eli everything he knows," said Peyton Manning, "because that would reflect badly upon me. Let's just say I taught him everything I know. The interceptions, the bad decisions, how to keep a helmet on---he learned all that on his own."
"Eli's never played a regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, but he has witnessed a Colts game or two from the elegant setting of a luxury suite, where I'm sure he enjoyed individual service from one of the Luc's fine waitress staff, the ???Personal Lubricants.' Our defense won't be nearly as hospitable. And I know the defense is ready to play. How do I know? Because Bob Sanders is injured."
The Giants will certainly have their chances against a Colts defense that gave up 257 yards on the ground to the Texans, or will they? The Colts always seem to find a way to plug gaping holes in their defense, oftentimes with Peyton Manning. Peyton will toy with the G-Men defense, countering their counters with counters to their counters.
Manning throws for 345 yards and three touchdowns, two to Reggie Wayne.
Indianapolis wins 34-24.
New Orleans @ San Francisco (+4 ?? )
A sobering 31-6 loss in Seattle left the 49ers asking "What happened?" And head coach Mike Singletary has no answers, although he's been trying to underplay the 49er playoff hype with a rap called "The Super Bowl Muffle."
"There was a time when the corner of Haight and Ashbury defined San Francisco," Singletary said. "After our performance last Sunday, the intersection of ???Drawing Board' and ???Square One' is the place to be. Because that's where we will be."
I'm certainly disappointed in our performance. Our fans were expecting big things this year, and we still plan on delivering. I understand they had faith in us. Let's just hope San Francisco rockers ???Faith No More' aren't scheduled to perform the national anthem before Monday night's game."
The Saints are 1-0 after a 14-9 win over the Vikings in a surprising defensive slugfest. Drew Brees and the Saints will have their work cut out against a 49er team that will be fired up to play the defending Super Bowl champs on Monday night.
"I'm saddened that Reggie Bush had to return his Heismann Trophy," Brees said. "It seems that the Heismann committee wanted Bush to strike a ???pose' from their list of winners. But Reggie's got a lot going for him. What other Heismann winner can say they've won a Super Bowl and have been intimate with Kim Kardashian? Besides Jim Plunkett?"
The Saints, behind Brees' 245 yards through the air, nip the inspired 49ers on Garrett Hartley's late field goal.
New Orleans wins 27-24.