Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
NY Jets @ Buffalo (+4 1/2)
With the win over the winless Bills, the Jets could successfully run the gauntlet of their AFC East competitors. In consecutive weeks, New York has taken down the Patriots and Dolphins, thanks mostly to the arm of Mark Sanchez, who has thrown for six touchdowns in the two wins.
"Speaking of ???running gauntlets,'" Rex Ryan said, "Ines Sainz had enough the first time, and she probably won't be back at practice ???asking for it.' I guess you could say ???baby got back' to Mexico.
As for the Jets, offensively, we're where we want to be. Defensively, we're not. The absence of Darrelle Revis really changes the complexion of our defense. The important thing is we managed without him. Against Miami, the route from ???Revis Island' to victory was along ???Braylon Edwards Drive.' It's a winding road, and if you're walking it, it's tough to do it in a straight line.
Anyyway, Edwards' 67-yard touchdown catch from Sanchez was huge. Braylon's a threat to go all the way, on the field, that is, but not home, after a few drinks."
The Bill released quarterback Trent Edwards, one week after he was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. And rumors are swirling that the Bills are fielding offers for running back Marshawn Lynch.
"I see where the Jaguars were awarded Edwards off waivers," Chan Gailey said. "I'm stunned....that it's classified as an ???award.'"
Sanchez stays hot, throwing for two scores, and the Jets defense wraps up Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense.
New York wins 26-13.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3)
The undefeated Steelers may be the hottest team in the NFL, winning their three games by an average margin of 11 points, even with a quarterback situation that has been steeped in uncertainty due to injuries and the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger. Should Pittsburgh overcome the Ravens, Roethlisberger would inherit a 4-0 team when the Steelers host the Browns in week six after a bye week.
"I won't guarantee, promise, or certify Ben's job when he returns," Mike Tomlin said, "to anyone other than Ben himself. But, the job is Ben's, if he wants it. And, as we all know, when Ben wants something, he takes it.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe people found it difficult to believe this team could function so well without Roethlisberger. I had no doubt our defense would get us through. They've got more meaningful ???carries' than the Broncos rushing crew."
With Ray Rice likely out with a knee contusion, the Ravens will have to attack the Steelers through the air. Their prized free agent acquisition, Anquan Boldin, paid huge dividends in last week's 24-17 win over the Browns, with three touchdown catches.
"Boldin's a beast," said John Harbaugh, "and should remain one until he tweaks his hamstring in week 8. For now, though, he's Joe Flacco's go-to guy. After a shaky first two weeks, Flacco had a solid game last week. That was probably the result of the confluence of having something to prove, and having something to improve."
The intensity is always extreme for Ravens-Steelers game, but it reaches a crescendo when, early in the game on a screen pass, Hines Ward blindsides Ed Reed, in street clothes and on the sideline. The Ravens retaliate the best they know how, with a Billy Cundiff field goal.
The Steelers rebound, and force three Flacco turnovers, including two red zone interceptions.
Pittsburgh wins 18-9.
Detroit @ Green Bay (-14 1/2)
The Packers were penalized a whopping 18 times for 152 yards, contributing to Monday night's 20-17 loss in Chicago. Green Bay also suffered several special teams breakdowns, including a blocked field goal and a punt return surrendered for a touchdown.
"When you get to 18 penalties," Mike McCarthy said, "it becomes more than simply a problem. It becomes an epidemic, or a felony. That's a lot of yellow. Throw in some Packer green and you got the makings of new uniforms.
It's a loss that's hard to swallow. You wake up the next day and ask ???What happened?,' much like Al Harris would if he wakened from a 12-hour nap and found his weave tangled beyond repair. We can fix this; it will just take time."
With a loss at Lambeau Filed, the Lions will be staring an 0-3 division hole in the face. Detriot hasn't won a game in Green Bay since 1991, and a win over a Packer team stinging from defeat seems next to impossible.
"I feel the Packers pain," said Calvin Johnson. "I too was a victim of the NFL rulebook. Of course, while it left the Packers seeing red, the rule book left me seeing a shade of grey."
Green Bay wins 34-20.
Denver @ Tennessee (-7)
While the 1-2 Broncos at the 2-1 Titans clash is certainly not the NFL's game of the week, it will still claim its fair share of viewers, most notably the millions of Tim Tebow followers, fans of the band Blind Faith, and the eleven **** children of former Broncos and Titans running back Travis Henry.
"That's a full house," Jeff Fisher said. "I don't think LP Field has been that packed since May, when it was full of water.
But just like those children are dependent on a running back for support, so are we. Make no mistake, Chris Henry's legs drive this team as much as his dental habits drive the price of gold.
The best thing to happen to Chris was getting rid of LenDale White. Chris always bristled at being ???lumped' together with that tubby son of a gun, and he never like the ???Smash And Dash' nickname given them. We all saw last year what Chris could do once he went ???fat free.'"
The Broncos have offset their lack of a running game with the exploits of Kyle Orton, who is second in the NFL with 1,078 yards passing. Orton threw for 476 in last week's 27-13 loss to Indianapolis.
"Tebow is certainly an influential fellow," Orton said. "I'll give him that. I've even taken to displaying Bible verses on my eye black. Last week, I did a little preaching to the Colts pass defense. ???Orton 4:76' says ???I just whipped your ass.'"
Johnson posts 185 yards of total offense, and Vince Young tosses two scoring passes. Afterwards, Young signs a young fan's poster that reads "VinY, VidY, VicY," and apologizes for his inability to read Latin.
Titans win 30-17.
Cincinnati @ Cleveland (+3)
The 2-1 Bengals bring their brand of grind-it-out football to Cleveland Stadium, home of the Dawg Pound, where spaying and neutering is a fate sure to be bestowed
The Bengals boast on offensive lineup that includes weapons such as Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and Cedric Benson. Surprsingly, though, Cincy often struggles to score, averaging slightly less than 20 points per game.
"That's what you call an offensive jugger-naught," said Marvin Lewis. "Our ???Batman And Robin' receiving duo of Owens and Ochocinco, who, incidentally, are super friends, don't carry a whole lot of touchdowns in their utility belts. If you need a sound byte, however, they've got plenty.
But offense is not our game; we've got loads of confidence in our defense, and they've got loads of confidence in themselves. Which isn't surprising---they practice against our offense."
The Browns are still winless, with three losses by a total of 12 points. A win over their hated in-state rival would assuage some of the pain of losing.
"'Assuage?'" says defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who has two tackles of the opposition this year, which is one more than airport security has on him in that same period. "That sounds like an option at a massage parlor, a place much like an airport in the fact that they'll also ask ???Is that a pistol in your pocket?'"
Rogers and the Browns defense stifle the Bengals offense, and emerging fantasy force Peyton Hillis, football's ???Gerry Cooney,' grinds for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Browns win 22-21.
Carolina @ New Orleans (-13 ??)
The Saints were a 29-yard Garrett Hartley field goal away from an overtime win over Atlanta and the outright lead in the NFC South. Unfortunately, Hartley hooked the attempt, and the Falcons won on Matt Bryant's 46-yard kick, just seconds after Bryant's first attempt was blocked, a play that was nullified by Sean Payton's timeout just beforehand.
"There's ???icing the kicker,'" Payton said, "and then there's ???icing the cake,' which is what I did by calling that timeout. Trust me, it was tough facing the team after my bonehead mistake. It felt like a scene from the movie Men Who Stare At Goats.
Now, Hartley may find himself fighting for his job unless he can quickly remedy this habit of hooking easy field goals. If he can't get the job done, I'll have no qualms about releasing him, though. And I won't feel sorry for him. Heck, this is New Orleans. A good hooker can easily find work here."
Carolina's Jimmy Clausen finds himself in an unenviable position---as a rookie quarterback on a team that the opposition dares to pass. Opponents have been loading the line of scrimmage, limiting the effectiveness of DeAngelo Hall and Jonathan Stewart, and forcing the Panthers to rely on the passing game.
"He's not even dead," said Clausen, "yet the ghost of Jake Delhomme still haunts this team. Legend has it that this apparition strikes fear into no one. And, it is said that when linebackers and defensive backs look into its eyes, they can see right through him."
Saints win 31-24.
Seattle @ St. Louis (+1 ??)
The 2-1 Seahawks share the NFC West lead with the Cardinals, which, in the current state of the division, is akin to kissing your sister. Seattle overcame a 247 deficit in total yards to defeat the Chargers 27-20. On Sunday, the Seahawks face the Rams and rookie sensation Sam Bradford.
"It's tough win a game when you're outgained like that," said Pete Carroll. "Almost as tough as it is to lose a game when you return two kickoffs for touchdowns. We tested both theories last week against the Chargers.
Now, Seahawks-Rams isn't the rivalry it used to be. Call it ???rivalry weak.' But his game could very well go a long way in determining the NFC West champ, because this division is wide-open..... to speculation as the NFL's weakest division.
To win, we'll have to stop Sam Bradford. I have a reputation for ???stopping' Heismann Trophy winners. From following the rules, that is."
The Rams, with a win and an Arizona loss in San Diego, would own a share of the division lead for the first time since kickoff in week 1.
"The excitement is back in St. Louis," said Bradford. "So much so that even Nelly's wearing Rams gear again. Like he says, it's getting ???Hot In Herre.'"
Rams win 29-27.
San Francisco @ Atlanta (-7)
San Francisco is one of five teams still winless this year, but in their defense, the 49ers have set themselves apart from the other four, in that no one expected them to be in this situation. Picked by many to win the NFC West, the Niners are in dead last, and are struggling to find answers on offense and defense. Just don't ask Mike Singletary about, lest you be removed from your job
"As you know," said Singletary, "'failure to communicate' was bogging down our offense. No one can accuse me of not doing anything about it, nor can they accuse me of ???failure to ex??-communicate,' because I've fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, who failed in both aspects of his job title, ???offense' and ???coordinating.'
But we throw blame around better than we do the ball. Our downfield passing attack has been virtually non-existent, as evidenced by running back Frank Gore's 22 receptions, which places him in a tie for third in the entire league. Vernon Davis can't get open, and Michael Crabtree is playing like a player whose agent was a bail bondsman. It's time for some changes. It's like getting play calls to the huddle---if we don't do something ???in a hurry,' we're doomed."
After an emotional win in the Superdome, the Falcons must avoid overconfidence and concentrate fully on the 49ers, who are still a dangerous team, especially when backed into a "Coach's Corner' by an inquisitive television show host.
"We must avoid a let down," Matt Ryan said. "But we can't avoid ???The Let
Down,' because ???The Let Down' is the 49ers, and they're next on our schedule.
We know the 49ers have the talent to win. They'll find the coaching soon enough."
Falcons win 23-20.
Houston @ Oakland (+3 ??)
After last Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Cowboys, the 2-1 Texans are surely not "America's Team," much less "Texas' Team." But that's okay, because Houston can be "California's Team," because none of the three teams in the state seem to want the burden of that title. Between them, the Chargers, 49ers, and Raiders are 2-7.
"We won't make the mistake of taking the Raiders lightly," Gary Kubiak said. "When you challenge an Al Davis-owned team, you know you're in for a stiff test.
And it's never fun playing in the Black Hole. I should know. For nine seasons as a Bronco, I came here once a year and endured some of the most awful vitriol ever directed at human ears. And, like a dutiful, career-long backup, I promptly went to John Elway and told him what they thought of him."
The Raiders hope to erase the memory of a heartbreaking 24-23 loss in Arizona last week. In that game, Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals, including the potential game-winner from 32 yards out as time expired.
"I could have sworn Sebastian graduated, or at least has a degree, from Florida State," said Tom Cable. "But it now seems he matriculated at Ole Miss.
Sebastian has been big for us all year, but he choked. Now, in the world of sexual deviancy, that may be more familiar to Sebastian as ???auto-erotic asphyxiation.' I'm sure he's heard of it, if not participated in it. But Sebastian is our top offensive threat, and we'll need him, for this game is likely to come down to a field goal. I've yet to decide whether we'll try kick it, though."
The Raiders rush for 175 yards, and Nnamndi Asomugha preserves the win with a late interception of Matt Schaub.
Oakland wins 26-24.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville (+7)
The 1-2 Jaguars are reeling, dead last in the AFC South and in dire need of a boost before it gets any worse. Is a visit from the unpredictable Colts defense just what the doctor ordered, or will Peyton Manning dissect, first on film, then on the field, a Jacksonville secondary that's 29th in the league in yards surrendered?
"I remember a magical day long ago when the Jags rushed for 375 yards on the Colts," said Jack Del Rio. "Anytime you drop a quarter-mile on a defense, it's something you'll remember forever. It was only four years ago, but it seems like an eternity, which is a phrase I'm used to hearing in relation to my coaching tenure.
Our problems extend to both sides of the ball. And dealing with that puts me in a difficult position of balancing mean-spirited criticism with sugar-coated compliments. It's like toeing the line between ???Jack The Ripper' and Jack Tripper."
Manning has been nearly perfect this year, with 1,013 yards, nine touchdowns, and no interceptions. And he certainly likes the matchup against the Jaguars.
"In tape study," Manning said, "I've noticed a lot of confusion in the Jacksonville secondary. And that's not surprising, given that the Jaguars play a version of the ???Cover 2' defense known as the ???Cover Who?'
Tom Brady may have got big money when he signed his recent $74 million extension, but I'll put that to shame once I sign mine. There's ???Tom Brady money,' but I'm going for ???Ronnie Lott money,' which is ???nine digits.'"
Who can stop Manning, besides a playoff road game? Certainly not the Jaguars. Manning throws for 342 yards and three touchdowns, and the Colts earn a 31-23 win.
Washington @ Philadelphia (-7)
It's Washington's Donovan McNabb versus Philadelphia's Michael Vick in a showdown they're calling "The Battle Of Eagle Quarterbacks That Are Better Than Their 2010 Week 1 Starter." Vick and the Eagles lead the NFC East, with the Giants, Cowboys, and McNabb's Redskins a game behind at 1-2.
"Maybe I was a bit hasty in anointing Kevin Kolb as the heir to the Philly quarterbacking legacy," Andy Reid said. "Frankly, I'm surprised the Reverend Al Sharpton hasn't insisted this whole situation was racially motivated. I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am not a racist. Some of my best quarterbacks are black.
In hindsight, I can now see that McNabb and Vick are imminently more talented than Kolb and his pedestrian skill. It's like a real-life episode of Pros Versus Joes."
McNabb will undoubtedly face a Philly crowd that will let him have it, despite his years of service and accomplishments. The atmosphere will certainly be electric, and be made more so by the countless Taser-ings of unruly Eagles fanatics.
"If those crazy Eagles fans shower me with boos," McNabb said, "I'll be very surprised, because most Philly fans don't shower. Actually, I'm expecting boos. It will be a nice bookend to my career. I was booed by Philly fans at the 1999 NFL Draft, so boos at Sunday's game will sandwich my career nicely."
Just for kicks, Mike Shanahan names Rex Grossman starter minutes before game time before coming to his senses and starting McNabb. Andy Reid takes it as a personal jab, and exacts his revenge with a trick play in which Vick hits Kolb for a two-yard touchdown pass.
Philadelphia wins 27-19.
Arizona @ San Diego (-9)
Despite racking up 518 yards of total offense, the Chargers fell in Seattle 27-20, a result of two catastrophic special teams failures and five turnovers. San Diego gave up two Leon Washington kickoff return touchdowns and fell to 1-2, two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West.
"There were obviously breakdowns in our kickoff coverage," said Norv Turner. "That's three touchdowns on kickoffs we've given up this year. And speaking of ???too much in return,' we were unable to broker a deal to trade Vincent Jackson, mainly because A.J. Smith refused to budge from his asking price of a 2nd and 3rd round pick.
Frankly, I'm surprised we were unable to broker a deal for Vincent Jackson, particularly since we don't need him. If Philip Rivers can throw for 455 yards without him, then I think we can do without him. Apparently, general manager A.J. Smith was asking too much. Ironically, so is Vincent."
Despite their 2-1 record, the Cardinals are not the Cardinals of years past, which featured a high-powered passing attack led by Kurt Warner.
"With Derek Anderson at quarterback," said Ken Whisenhunt, "our passing game lacks the downfield threat. You could say we ???long' for our quarterback of old. I think we all, our receiving corps included, are growing a little impatient with him. I hate to be ???Kurt,' but we'd be much better off with Warner."
In two tries so far this year, the Chargers have yet to beat a team from the West, AFC or NFC. As they say, the third times the charm, unless you're the Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings.
The Chargers win the coin toss, and wisely elect to receive. Then, to start the second half, Nate Kaeding kicks off sideways, directly out of bounds. San Diego gives up no kickoff return touchdowns, and wins 33-17.
Chicago @ NY Giants (-3)
After knocking off the 2-0 Packers, the Bears are the last of the NFC's undefeated teams and now head to New Meadowlands Stadium to face the 1-2 Giants, a team on the verge of implosion. In consecutive weeks, the Bears have knocked off the Cowboys and Packers, two teams widely accepted as Super Bowl contenders.
"I guess playing the Giants ends that streak," said Jay Cutler. "The Giants season has been defined by bickering, goofy left-handed passes, and a runaway helmet, which somehow ended up in Lawrence Taylor's possession.
We know they're down but dangerous. We just have to play our game, although I'm not sure what our game is. I do know it involves forcing a lot of penalties."
The G-Men are back to their quibbling ways after a rough start to the season, with two lopsided losses to the Colts and Titans.
"This is what's known as a ???statement' game," said Eli Manning. "Here, that normally means a loss followed by a ???statement' by a player criticizing Tom Coughlin. In most cases, that player just played a crappy game.
This time, though, our statement will be a resounding win over the Bears. I've studied much film of Chicago, and it's all very revealing, and rated ???O' for ???over.'"
Prior to the game, Coughlin leads the team in a prayer. In other words, they get a ???blessing out,' and play with the urgency of a team not wanting to go 1-3.
Giants win 27-17.
New England @ Miami (+1)
After a 38-30 win over the Bills, it's apparent that the Patriots are living by the adage that "a good offense is the best defense." And it's true. In the 91:38 the Patriots offense has had possession of the ball, they have yet to surrender a touchdown.
"Talk about efficiency," Tom Brady said. "But our defense is a resilient bunch, and I'm sure Bill Belichick will devise a scheme to handle Miami's offensive weapons. The Patriots have a habit of finding ways to win, even in their darkest hours. But we know the ???tuck rule' can't save us again, so we can only hope for another miracle."
While Monday's game is by no means a must-win situation, a loss by the Dolphins would saddle them with home losses against their two main AFC East competitors. Against the Patriots, pressuring Tom Brady will be imperative if the Fins are to record their second AFC East win.
"Brady is willing to stand strong in the pocket," Tony Sparano said. "I admire his courage, and the length of his hair. I'm amazed that people think Brady is henpecked just because his wife likes his hair long. Now, if Brady shows up in capri pants and a tube top, then we should worry."
Brady throws for three touchdowns, but in the end, the sketchy Patriots defense is overcome by Miami's "Wildcat" offensive set, just another testament to the notion that Brady is "****-whipped."
Miami wins 27-24.