Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Jacksonville @ Buffalo (-1)
As unpredictable teams go, the Jaguars may be the league's most unpredictable. After two lopsided losses, Jacksonville overcame division rival Indianapolis, lifted by Josh Scobee's dramatic 59-yard field goal as time expired. Now, the Jags must avoid a letdown against the winless Bills, who were stomped 38-14 by the Jets last week.
"Scobee made the game-winner," said Jack Del Rio, "but David Garrard played an efficient game, with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score.
Lately, Garrard's been anything but an efficient quarterback, although he's been close, close enough to be called an ???effin'' quarterback.
As you know, we picked up Trent Edwards off waivers after he was released by the Bills. He'd like nothing more than to beat his old team. What is it about former Bills living in Florida seeking revenge? Let's face it, the chances of a Bills victory are about the same as the chances of O.J. Simpson exacting vengeance on the ???real killers.'"
Bills coach Chan Gailey has committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Harvard-educated genius who reportedly scored a 48 on the Wonderlic test.
"And I hear he completed the test in around nine minutes," Gailey said, "which is about the time it took him to memorize my playbook, after I slipped it under his door.
Now, at 0-4, we need a win badly, and we plan to go all out to get one. We've got everything to gain, and nothing to lose, except a lottery pick, which I probably won't be around to see."
The Bills come out hot, and C.J. Spiller returns the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, and celebrates in the end zone as the public address system blares B.B. King's "The Spill' Is Gone."
Buffalo wins 27-22.
Denver @ Baltimore (-7)
The Ravens head home for only their second home game this year, with a huge 17-14 win at Pittsburgh under their belts. Joe Flacco's 18-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds left won it for the Ravens, who now sit atop the AFC North.
"It's always satisfying beating the Steelers," said John Harbaugh, "and even more satisfying doing it with a Cincinnati Bengals reject. Now, with Josh McDaniels calling the shots in Denver, there are Denver rejects around the league, like in Chicago, and Miami. Not to mention those still on the Broncos roster. It will be equally satisfying beating the Broncos with their own rejects."
For the second straight week, the Broncos will face a sturdy defense, this time against a Ravens unit known for its physical style. So far this year, the Broncos have lived and died by the pass, and Kyle Orton leads the NFL is passing yardage.
"There's really no point trying to run on the Ravens," McDaniels said. "We got where we are through the air, on a charter flight, from Denver to Baltimore. And what do you know? The Ravens have the league's top-rated pass defense. This will be a case of the ???Irresistible Force' meeting the ???Immovable Object.' In my experience, the best way to handle that situation is to trade that player known as the ???Immovable Object' or ???Irresistible Force.' I don't like to butt heads. I like buttheads even less."
Are the Ravens due for a letdown after an emotionally-draining win over the Steelers. Yes, but for only about four minutes. Denver takes the opening drive seven yards after a big kickoff return, settling for a long Matt Prater field goal. After that, it's all Ravens.
Baltimore wins 23-10.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis (-9)
The undefeated Chiefs head to Indianapolis for a showdown with Peyton Manning and the 2-2 Colts. After last week's 31-28 loss to the Jaguars, the Colts are 0-2 in the AFC South, and will look for their second win against an AFC West competition.
"Beating the Chiefs won't be an easy task," said Peyton Manning. "They've got a lot going for them. They're undefeated, they're coming off a bye week, and they're playing with passion. You could say they're a handful. I just hope one of our defensive linemen doesn't become a ???handful.' K.C.'s Shaun Smith has an odd way of preventing ???sacks.'
In all seriousness, though, I never underestimate an opponent, unless said opponent is quarterbacked by my brother Eli. People have said I'm doing more for this offense than I ever have. That's not entirely true. Sure, I'm doing it for my offense, but I'm also doing it for the Manning family legacy, which I'm apparently carrying on single-handedly."
The Chiefs will face the difficult task of stopping Peyton Manning and an Indy offense relying almost exclusively on the passing game. Manning is second in the NFL in passing yardage and leads the league with 11 touchdowns.
"Indeed," said Todd Haley. "Manning is our primary concern, but it's like I told Shaun Smith, ???We have to handle our own business.' That means a solid running game, and high-percentage passes that even a simpleton like Matt Cassel can handle. Cassel's earned the nickname ???Royal Flush,' because he's king of the ???dump down.'"
Are the Chiefs ready for the big time, against the defending AFC champs, in front of a lubed-up, frenzied crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium? There's one way to quiet a raucous Colts crowd, and that's to run the ball down there throats. The Chiefs are capable, but not after Manning stakes the Colts to an early 14-0 lead, thus rendering the K.C. rushing attack useless.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis tee off on Cassel, with four sacks, all while protecting their manhood.
Indianapolis wins 34-20.
Green Bay @ Washington (+3)
Donovan McNabb was triumphant in his return to Philadelphia last week, receiving a standing ovation from the Philly faithful before engineering a big 17-12 win over the Eagles. Now, the 2-2 ???Skins host the 3-1 Packers and their fifth-ranked scoring offense.
"The Philly fans surprised me," McNabb said. "Had they booed me in lieu of a standing ovation, I was prepared to deem them ???can't stand' Philly.
Honestly, the standing ovation reminded of what I used to say when Freddie Mitchell made a catch-???I was surprised by the reception.
Now, to beat the Packers, we're going to need a big contribution from Albert Haynesworth. He was solid in the Philly game, with four tackles and a pass defended. And Albert's proud of the fact that he didn't immediately cash his $21 million dollar bonus check, as if it would lose value the longer he held it. What I find most impressive about Albert is that after sitting on that check for so long, he was able to find it."
The Packers corrected the penalty issues that plagued them in last Monday night's loss to the Bears, cutting their infractions from 18 to three in their win over the Lions.
"If it's not penalties," said Mike McCarthy, "it's turnovers. If it's not turnovers, it's missed assignments. If it's none of those, it's certainly not coaching. I toss accusations around like a true McCarthy---Joseph McCarthy.
But there is no ???Red Scare;' we don't fear the Redskins at all. They are an average team. That makes them all ???Common-ists.'"
Packers win 27-21.
St. Louis @ Detroit (-3)
After last week's 28-26 loss to Green Bay, the Lions are 0-4, and have fallen to all three NFC North rivals. Three of the four losses have come by five points or less, and as favorites for the first time this year, this could be the week the Lions break through.
"0-4 is no reason to panic," Jim Schwartz said. "We've been there before, and before, and other times as well, so this isn't virgin territory for us. We're clearly the best 0-4 team in the NFL, and CFL for that matter.
We're headed in the right direction. Matthew Stafford is throwing on his injured right shoulder. Once he's healthy, he and Calvin Johnson could become the most feared quarterback-to-wide receiver combination in the league. Let's face it, nobody achieves separation quite like Stafford and Johnson."
The 2-2 Rams are tied for the lead in the NFC West and are riding a two-game winning streak. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford's play has the Ram faithful thinking playoffs, and possibly division crown, in the NFC West.
"Only in the NFC West," Bradford said, "can you set your sights high and low simultaneously. But anything's possible in this division. I can't tell you what will happen in the West, but I can tell you what won't happen---a wildcard team from this division. Inevitably, the story of this division will be called ???How The West Was One.'"
The Lions, and a partisan Ford Field crowd, witness first hand that Bradford, like a Dodge, is ???Ram Tough.' Bradford throws for two touchdowns, giving St. Louis an early lead. But Johnson breaks free for a long touchdown score from Shaun Hill late in the fourth quarter.
Detroit wins 30-23.Chicago @ Carolina (+3)
Julius Peppers returns to his old stomping grounds in Charlotte, where he was one of the most feared defensive ends in the game, at least when he wanted to be. Now Peppers, like Jay Cutler, is wreaking havoc for the Bears, and plans to do the same against Carolina's rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
"After nine sacks on Jay Cutler last week," Peppers said, "this is probably the only time I can honestly say ???I wish I was still a Panther.'
But Cutler had a half he'd like to forget, and luckily, he probably will, if the effects of his concussion have any compassion. Cutler just needs to relax and get back to the basics of quarterbacking. And I think the most basic basis of quarterbacking is throwing the ball. If officials could flag a quarterback for holding, Cutler would have seen more flags than the United Nations. "
The 0-4 Panthers nearly upset the Saints in New Orleans last week, but fell on a late field goal. Now, Carolina occupies last place in the NFC South, behind the Falcons, Saints, and Bucs with one loss apiece.
"We're at the bottom all by ourselves right now," John Fox said. "It's just like two Carolina Panther cheerleaders said when they found a quiet toilet stall for a romantic rendezvous, ???Alone at last.' Never has porcelain been so sexy."
Now, you've probably heard that Dwayne Jarrett has been released and Steve Smith is out with an injury. Jarrett was arrested for the second time for driving while impaired. Apparently, he refused the Breathalyzer, but we found him guilty of ???blowing' nonetheless.
It all leaves us thin at wide receiver. Honestly, I couldn't tell you who our top wide receiver will be for Sunday's game. Maybe someone will surprise us, by popping out of a car trunk."
Peppers displays the unbelievable athleticism he's known for, and sacks Jimmy Clausen three times. He also collects an interception as well, and Panthers fan witness something they haven't seen from Peppers in years: effort.
Chicago wins 19-9.
Tampa Bay @ Cincinnati (-7)
So much for the Bengals sweeping AFC North games this year. Cincinnati lost at Cleveland 23-20, despite 371 yards passing from Carson Palmer and 222 receiving yards from Terrell Owens. Cincy will look to get back in the win column against the 2-1 Buccaneers, coming off a bye week.
"Ahoy mateys," said Owens. "They may be 2-1 and only one game out of the NFC South lead, but if I had to give them a grade, I'd go no better than a ???high sea' for the Buccaneers.
As for me, I'd give me an ???A.' As for Chad Ochocinco, I'd rate his play a ???B,' but I'd give his cereal, ???Ochocinco's,' an ???R,' as in ???rated R.' What kind of cereal leaves a phone number to a sex hot line on the box? I'll tell you what kind. One in which most of the boxes are still on the shelf, because they were made ???in bad taste.'"
The Bucs will have to be at their best to beat the Bengals, who will be still stinging from last week's lost to the Browns.
"If we can keep Carson Palmer, Owens, and Ochocinco in check," said Ronde Barber, "we can win. Palmer won't throw for 371 yards against us. Palmer's much like Robert Palmer---he's surrounded by divas."
Cincinnati wins a back-and-forth struggled, winning on a Mike Nugent 48-yard field goal.
Bengals win 22-20.
Atlanta @ Cleveland (+3)
The Browns won for the first time, taking a 23-20 win over AFC North rival Cincinnati last week behind 102 yards and a touchdown from running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis is certain to provide a play-action threat when Jake Delhomme returns from an ankle injury suffered in week 1.
"Delhomme's anxious to get back out there," said Eric Mangini, "and dispel the rumors that his new nickname is ???Jake The Ache.' ???Playing through pain' is what it's called when Delhomme's your quarterback. But I shouldn't be so critical of Delhomme. We spent $7 million dollars on this guy, for Christ's sake. Seriously, Delhomme will bring a new dimension to this offense. We've already installed some new formations just for him we never thought we'd use in a million years. It's called ???Peyton Hillis in the wildcat.'"
The Falcons squeaked by the 49ers 16-14, a win that seemed in doubt with the Falcons down 14-13 and San Fran's Nate Clements streaking down the sideline with an interception. But Roddy White saved the day, stripping Clements, whose fumble was recovered by Atlanta and turned into Matt Bryant's game-winning field goal.
"I'd rather be lucky than good," said Mike Smith. "And that's good, because we are lucky, for goodness sake. We may be the most overrated 3-1 team in the league. If not for a shanked 29-yard field goal and a flukey fumble, we'd be 1-3, and my hair would no longer be white, it would be gone."
The Falcons remain lucky---Delhomme starts. For the most part, they're good. Matt Ryan throws TD passes to Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, and Delhomme tosses two interceptions.
Atlanta wins 24-17.
NY Giants @ Houston (-3)
The Giants got back in the win column with a 17-3 dismantling of the Bears, sacking Jay Cutler 10 times in the first half alone. Now, at 2-2, the Giants are tied for first in the NFC East, and face a Texans team looking for another shot at an NFC East team after losing to Dallas in week 3.
"I'm far from being considered nimble afoot," said Matt Schaub, "but I've never suffered 10 sacks in one game, much less one half. Here in Texas, we've got a name for that---it's called ???David Carr-nage.'
But we've got something the Bears don't, and that's a running game, featuring Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher. And on defense, we have something the Bears don't, and that's a linebacker who blamed a positive drug test on overtraining. On second though, we do have something the Giants have---a ???train' wreck."
Despite their respectable record, the Giants are a team bordering on collapse, with a shaky offense and a number of disgruntled players, plus one perpetually disgruntled coach. And, with running back Ahmad Bradshaw nursing a sore ankle, the G-Men may have to lean more heavily on Eli Manning to conquer the Texans.
"Unfortunately," said Tom Coughlin, "Eli is no Peyton Manning. In fact, I'm not even sure he's Archie's kid. Eli's great one minute, and terrible the next. We should call him ???Half-Man-ning, Half-Amazing.'"
Houston wins 26-24.
New Orleans @ Arizona (+6 ??)
In a rematch of last year's divisional round playoff game, Arizona welcomes the defending Super Bowl champion Saints to Glendale, home of the 2-2 Cardinals. Despite their .500 record, the Cardinals are struggling defensively and offensively, and just suffered a 41-10 beating at the hands of the Chargers. In that game, Arizona kicked a field goal, down 41-7, with just over three minutes left in the game.
"With a field goal or touchdown in that situation," Ken Whisenhunt said, "it would still be a four-score game. That's called playing the averages. What else do I call ???playing the averages?' Well, choosing a quarterback, because no matter whom I select, he's no better than average.
Kurt Warner may be out of football, but I've found enough religion to make up for his absence, because I take a heavenly leap of faith each time I name a starter at quarterback.
Of course, it's hard to keep our receivers happy with subpar quarterbacking. In fact, our ???game-changing' wide receiver has become a ???name-changing' wide receiver. That's right, Larry Fitzgerald has legally changed his name to Larry Fitzbetter (With Another Team)."
The Saints win the coin toss, and elect to receive, although Neil Racker's kick is delayed when Sean Payton expends a time out right before kickoff. Rackers then boots the kickoff clear through the uprights, and the Saints march 80 yards for a touchdown, and don't look back.
New Orleans wins 34-23.
Tennessee @ Dallas (-6 1/2)
After week 3's win at Houston, the Cowboys enjoyed a bye week to savor the occasion, a win over a favored team high on itself. Ironically, that's what the Titans will try to do, by crashing Cowboys Stadium and pinning a loss on the confident Cowboys.
"Lest we forget," said Jeff Fisher, "Dallas has won but a single game. And they celebrated with a $55,000 dinner courtesy of Dez Bryant. That's a lot of food, which I'm sure makes them full, of themselves. Should they still be hungry, they can eat dust, courtesy of Chris Johnson.
We're expecting big things from Johnson, otherwise we might ask for a new contract. A 600-yard day should put him back on pace for a 2,500 yard year. To this point, he's only been mediocre. Until he shows us otherwise, instead of ???CJ2K,' we'll be calling him ???CJOK.'"
The Titans self-destructed last week against the Broncos in Tennessee, committing ten penalties that contributed to Denver's comeback win. So frustrated was Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil with one particular call, he flipped off the referee, incurring a $40,000 fine levied by the NFL on Tuesday.
"If it's not Cecil flipping the bird," said Jerry Jones, "it's owner Bud Adams flashing his middle finger. I hate to quote rap lyrics, especially those that have never been rapped, but those turkeys have ???mad digits.'"
Dallas wins 28-24.
San Diego @ Oakland (+5 ??)
The red-hot Chargers, winners of three in a row, head to Oakland's Black Hole for the 2010 renewal of one of the AFC West's most heated rivalries. Make no mistake---each team wants to pummel the other, physically and emotionally. The 1-3 Raiders desperately need a division win to keep pace in the West.
"We expect Raider Nation to be on their worst behavior," said Darren McFadden. "The Chargers aren't used to a home crowd quick like ours. See, in San Diego, the home crowd is characterized as ???sun-drenched with IPads.' Here in the Black Hole, it's ???blood-drenched with eye patches.' Sometimes, the fans wear the black and silver better than we do."
The Chargers lead the NFL in total offense, and are second in total defense, yet have only a 2-2 record to show for it.
"Apparently," said Norv Turner, "we can't be stopped, except on the scoreboard, or by the Jets in the playoffs, or by A.J. Smith at the negotiation table. He wouldn't give up Vincent Jackson for a second and a third-round pick, yet the Vikings get Randy Moss for just a third-round pick. It seems that A.J. ended up doing the Vikes a favor anyway."
San Diego wins 27-20.
Philadelphia @ San Francisco (-3)
The 49ers lost another heartbreaker, falling 16-14 in Atlanta after racing to an early 14-0 lead. San Fran seemed to have the victory sealed when Nate Clements picked off Matt Ryan with less than two minutes remaining, but Roddy White stripped Clements, and the Falcons recovered.
"And the rest," Mike Singletary said, "is history. It's just another example of the White man keeping a brother down. And speaking of ???history,' there may be more heads rolling before this season is over. Before it's over, they may be calling this city ???Can Francisco.' My change at offensive coordinator looked like it worked, for one possession."
In last week's 17-12 home loss to the Redskins, the Eagles felt not only the sting of defeat, but saw two of their offensive stars go down with injuries. Michael Vick has a rib cartilage injury, and LeSean McCoy broke a rib in the game. Vick will likely miss the San Francisco game.
"I don't want to speak to soon," said Andy Reid, "and name Kevin Kolb the starter. Lord knows, I've been guilty of ???premature infatuation' before. But Kevin will start, and Vick will spend his time rehabbing, and learning the quarterback slide."
Can the 49ers fall to 0-5? It's possible, and if it happens, the biggest fault line in San Francisco will lead directly to Singletary. But the 49ers play inspired, and smart, and do way with the mistakes that cost them in their last two inspired performances.
Frank Gore rushes for two scores, and Clements picks off Kolb late, then takes a knee.
San Francisco wins 23-16.
Minnesota @ NY Jets (-5 1/2)
The 1-2 Vikings have had a solid two weeks to rest and regroup in advance of Monday night's showdown with the Jets. Minnesota is only one game out of the loss column in the NFC North, and with upcoming games against the Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots, a win in the New Meadowlands is crucial.
"The bye week was very important for me, especially," Favre said. "It gave me a chance to work on the chemistry between myself and my receiving corps. As Vikings, we're well aware that the best way to do that is to charter a boat on Lake Minnetonka. It worked like a charm. Let me tell ya,' there was a whole lot of male bonding, to females.
But nothing pleases a quarterback like the arrival of a new receiver eager to prove his many doubters wrong. Randy Moss is back in Minnesota, and the ???Randy Ratio' is back, as well. What's that ratio? It's 3 to 1. In other words, it took three Vikings to drag me out of retirement, when it would have taken only one Moss to do the trick.
To say I'm excited about Randy's arrival is an understatement. I may ???lay down' for Michael Strahan, but I'll ???stand up' for Randy Moss."
After being held to ten points in week 1, the Jets have averaged over 32 points in their last three games. Last week, in a 38-14 drubbing of the Bills, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
"As soon as the plight of Lawrence Taylor fades from memory," said Rex Ryan, who's contemplating a deal to become spokesman for Orbit chewing gum, "we can start calling LaDainian ???L.T.' For the sake of a respectable nickname, let's just hope Ladainian doesn't ???run away' with the NFL rushing title.
Now, Darrelle Revis will get another shot at Moss. But he won't be the only team facing a new receiver. Santonio Holmes is back for us after serving his four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. You could say Santonio ???cleared the system.'"
Vikings win 20-17.