Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-3)
It's a homecoming of sorts for Michael Vick, only the "home" is coming to him, to his new home of Philadelphia. The Falcons bring a 4-1 record and the NFC South lead to Philly to face the 3-2 Eagles, who are locked in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East.
"It would be way too obvious to call this a ???dogfight,'" said Mike Smith, "so let's just say the game has the feel of a bowl game, probably one called the ???Pit Bowl.'
Honestly, I was touched by Michael Vicks heart-to-heart conversation with Jim Mora, Jr. on NFL Network. That interview moved me...away from my television. Heck, I'd much rather see an interview run by Jim Mora, Sr., in which he asks the questions, all relating to the playoffs. Playoffs!? Playoffs?! I'm asking you about playoffs?"
The Falcons nipped the Browns in Cleveland 20-10, overcoming the Dawg Pound and a determined Browns squad. The task gets significantly harder in Philadelphia, where there is no Dawg Pound, but there is an in-house jail.
"That in-house jail has served us well," said Andy Reid. "And me especially. It made a nice day care facility for my misbehaving sons."
"But let's talk about the Falcons and Eagles. Alfred Hitchcock once made a movie called The Birds. No, it wasn't a cinematic portrayal on the history of obscene gestures in the Tennessee Titans organization. Actually, I'm not sure what it was about, but I'm sure it had something to do with birds. The point is, there was suspense. And there's suspense every week when I announce my starter at quarterback, suspense about just how many announcements I'll make."
Vick starts, but is clearly not himself, unable to display the same elusiveness that allowed him to run a major East Coast dog-fighting operation under the Falcons very noses for years.
Atlanta wins 26-23.
Seattle @ Chicago (-7)
The 4-1 Bears, fresh off a 23-6 win at Carolina, host the 2-2 Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll, who has Seattle in the thick of the NFC West race. Of course, "in the thick of it" isn't that impressive of a statement, seeing that the 0-5 49ers are still "in the thick of it."
"Okay, so the Bears might underestimate us," said Carroll. "Guess what? Two can play that game. We certainly have the right to underestimate the Bears. Their four wins have come against teams with a collective 5-14 record. That also happens to be my record against the NCAA.
But we've got a new weapon, running back Marshawn Lynch, whom we acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills. You might not know this, but I recruited Marshawn when I was head coach at USC. Well, I finally got my man, and just like at USC, I had to pay to get him."
Jay Cutler returns to the Bears lineup after missing the Carolina game with a concussion. His replacement, Todd Collins, tossed four interceptions against the Panthers and posted a quarterback rating of 6.2 for the game.
"Todd's performance had us all asking ???What gives?'" Cutler said. "The answer, of course, is ???Todd.' Obviously, as a Bear quarterback, you don't necessarily need a concussion to have no clue.
But, as a Bear quarterback, you need to have a good defense, one that takes no offense at ???no offense.'"
Chicago wins 27-17.
Kansas City @ Houston (-5)
Hallelujah! The surviving members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins can breathe easier, or at least as well as their deteriorating lungs will allow, after the Colts hung a 19-9 defeat on the previously unbeaten Chiefs. Kansas City was the league's last remaining undefeated team, and will look to rebound against the 3-2 Texans.
"I think we accounted for ourselves well against the Colts," said Todd Haley. "We held Peyton Manning without a touchdown pass, the first team to do so this year. So, as moral victories go, we're still undefeated this year.
But moral victories really don't matter in this league. But amoral victories do. Texting a picture of your weiner to an unwilling female and getting away with it? That's what's called an amoral victory. Apparently, Jenn Sterger ratted Favre out for his unwanted advances. Of course, it's clearly not the first time a ???pass' from Favre has been intercepted.
But what is the NFL going to do about it. Not much judging by the urgency of an investigation. The NFL, in this case, is a lot like Ines Sainz at a Jets practice-they're ****-footing around."
The Texans are 3-2, along with everyone else in the AFC South, the AFC's most competitive division. They are 2-0 on the road, but only 1-2 at Reliant Stadium.
"Things are wide-open in the AFC South," said Matt Schaub. "And that can mean only one thing: the Colts just aren't the same. Now, we're a lot like the Chiefs. People aren't sure whether we're playoff material, or whether we'll fade late in the season. So, the more we win, the more we make believers. Should we lose, our post-season aspirations simply become ???make-believe.'"
The Houston defense makes a stand, as Mario Williams sacks Matt Cassell twice, and the Texans force four turnovers.
Houston wins 27-17.
Baltimore @ New England (-3)
Randy Moss has been out of New England for almost two weeks, yet his impact is still being felt in Foxboro. Word around the campfire is that Tom Brady and Moss engaged in a shouting match in which Brady told Moss to shave his beard. Moss countered by telling Brady to cut his hair, because he looked like a girl.
"In Randy's defense," Bill Belichick said, "he did say Tom looked like a ???very attractive' girl. In Tom's defense, Randy's beard was getting a little nappy. When I see cornrows and a hobo's beard, one image comes to mind: homeless rapper.
But whether the conflict actually happened or not matters not; it will still go down as the greatest ???hair versus hair' match since Ric Flair and Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin squared off in 1981. In actuality, when we traded Moss, it became a ???loser leaves town' match."
The 4-1 Ravens lead the AFC North, relying on their usual brand of punishing defense accented with an improving offense showing signs of explosiveness. In last year's wildcard round of the playoffs, the Ravens dismantled the Patriots 33-14, and expect the Patriots to seek a measure of revenge.
"With no Randy Moss," said Ray Lewis, "the Patriots have no vertical threat. That means I'll have to keep an extra keen eye on Wes Welker. I'm sure Welker will be working his usual underneath routes, which is the area I patrol, and once I lay a shoulder into his sternum, he immediately becomes a ???horizontal' threat."
The Patriots replaced Moss with Deion Branch, whom they acquired from the Seahawks for a fourth-round pick. So who got the better end of that deal. That's easy---the Ravens.
Baltimore wins 26-20.
San Diego @ St. Louis (+7)
Despite 29 first downs and 506 total yards, the Chargers still lost in Oakland, falling 35-27 to the Raiders, who scored on a fumble return, a blocked punt, and a safety on a blocked punt. San Diego's top-rated offense is outgaining opponents by an average of over 200 yards per game, yet they're 2-3 and floundering at the bottom of the AFC West.
"This offense is so potent," said Philip Rivers, "it even scores for the other team. That's potency. So I guess what we need is some impotency, which I thought is what we acquired when we got rid of Antonio Cromartie, whom they call ???Daddy Day Care.' Cromartie's with the Jets now. So really, nothing's changed for him. Just like when he was a Charger, he won't be tackling Jets.
The good news is I'm on pace to throw for 5,632 yards this year, which would shatter Dan Marino's record of 5,084. The bad news is Kyle Orton is on pace to shatter that record as well, which would break my heart. Incidentally, the Chargers and Broncos are on pace not to make the playoffs."
After a 2-2 start, the Rams came tumbling back to reality in a 44-6 loss at Detroit, becoming the Lions first victims. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford threw two interceptions and looked confused against the Lions defense.
"Nobody ever said there wouldn't be growing pains," said Bradford. "But I'd rather have growing pains than groin pains, which occur when you're busted texting pictures of your nether regions to an acquaintance. What does one expect in return when doing that? A photo spread. Brett Favre should be careful, lest he see part of his season snatched away from him."
San Diego wins 37-20.
Miami @ Green Bay (-3)
After last Sunday's 16-13 overtime loss in Washington, the Packers have lost two of their last three and don't resemble the team that many have pegged for postseason glory. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion against the ???Skins, adding to the Packers already serious injury situation.
"Aaron was knocked for a loop on a helmet-to-helmet hit," Mike McCarthy said. "We want to be cautious, and Aaron's been through the requisite concussion test, which we call ???cheese grading,' so he will likely miss Sunday's game. Yeah, I know Brett Favre would have sniffed some smelling salts and wobbled back on the field, but look at what he's become. The man is senile. He texted pictures of his crank to an innocent lady. For Christ's sake, this is Brett Favre. You would think he would put a little more thought into it before he made such a decision."
The Dolphins have had two weeks to digest their second half collapse in a 41-14 loss to the Patriots, a loss that led to the firing of their special teams coach, John Bonamego.
"That was truly the worst special teams performance I've ever seen," said Tony Sparano. "It was so bad, I had to resist my Italian urge to take Bonamego to the Everglades and wack him, and instead simply fire him.
Now John wasn't too happy about his firing. I think it was completely justified, but he didn't. He even got a lawyer involved, and tried to file an injunction, but it was blocked."
The Packers are hurting. There are so many injuries on the team, it's like a veritable ???Lambeau Leaper Colony.' And Miami's Brandon Marshall is due for a big game. Otherwise, we might see the NFL's version of "Eminem"---a "Marshall Meltdown."
Miami wins 19-16.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (+4)
Somewhat lost in the hoopla surrounding the Chiefs 3-1 start is the identical record of the upstart Buccaneers, who, at 3-1, are challenging for the division lead in the NFC South. Tampa stunned the home-standing Bengals 24-21 last week, turning a late interception of Carson Palmer into Connor Barth's game-winning 31-yard field goal.
"Carson Palmer's passing is a lot like Brett Favre's version of events," said Tampa cornerback Aqib Talib, whose name translates loosely to "Say What?" in Arabic. "It's riddled with inaccuracies."
We know the Saints are hurting, but we know they'll give us everything they've got, and more. We'll have all of Tampa pulling for us to come through. There will be upwards of 65,000 people jammed into Raymond James Stadium. We know Ray J's been in a lot of people, but not nearly as many people as have been in Ray J.
We like our chances, but I won't go so far as to guarantee a Buccaneer win. Should we lose, then I'd look like a pillage idiot."
The Saints are in the midst of the "Super Bowl hangover," an affliction riddled with turnovers, a terribly unbalanced offense, and shanked 29-yard field goals, among other things. Drew Brees threw three interceptions that contributed to a 30-20 loss to the Cardinals, leaving the Saints 3-2.
"It's one thing to text a single photo of your ****," said Sean Payton. "It's another thing when you send another. That makes you a ???re-peter.' But, what do you know, that's what we want to be, just without the obscene photos."
Tampa jumps to an early 10-0 lead, but the Saints play like Super Bowl champs, at least for the last four minutes of the game, and win 27-24.
Detroit @ NY Giants (-9 1/2)
The roller coaster ride that is the New York Giants is cresting, this time after a 34-10 dismantling of the home-standing Texans gave the G-Men their second straight impressive win. Eli Manning threw for 297 yards, and completed 12 passes to his favorite target Hakeem Nicks, including two touchdowns. New York looks to keep the momentum on the upswing with a win over the visiting Lions.
"Hakeem has become my go-to guy," said Manning. "It would make sense to call him ???The Dream.' That's been taken, so I prefer he go by Hakeem ???New York' Nicks.
Now, things are looking good for the Giants. Our defense is playing lights out, which means Tom Coughlin is still not smiling, but frowning less. If he were purple and worked for McDonalds, they'd call him ???Grimace.'
The Giants secondary will have to contend with Calvin Johnson, Detroit's 6'5" wide receiver whose hands are unusually large, yet still too small to grasp the NFL's arcane rules involving the "process" of catching the ball.
"Yes, the Giants defense is clicking," Johnson said. "And I'll give them their due, especially their secondary, when I declare them the ???toast of the town,' once I make my first jump ball touchdown catch in the right corner of the end zone."
Johnson has a big game, catching two touchdown passes. But Shaun Hill faces a mountain of problems with the Giants front four, which sacks him six times. Four Lions turnovers lead to 20 New York points.
Giants win 38-23.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-11 1/2)
Ben Roethlisberger returns to action, just a week after his most impressive completion, of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy. The Steelers are 3-1 and hoping to keep pace with the division-leading Ravens.
"I'm looking forward to getting back on the field," said Roethlisberger. "Trust me, I like to watch, but it's been difficult watching my teammates and not being able to contribute. I know the Browns are hoping my game is a little rusty, but I truly expect to play well, and I expect a convincing Steelers victory, which will allow me to call one of my favorite plays----the kneel-down."
The Browns may face the formidable Steeler defense with Jake Delhomme running the show at quarterback. Delhomme, still bothered by the effects of a sprained ankle, was pressed into duty last week, taking over after Seneca Wallace was hurt in Cleveland's 20-10 loss to the Falcons. Delhomme promptly threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for the game-clinching score.
"We've had our share of quarterback problems," said Eric Mangini. "Wallace's injury left us no option but to insert Delhomme. You could say we had ???no choice' but to play Delhomme, which is also what we say when Jake is our first option.
But we're going to start rookie Colt McCoy this Sunday. Sure, it's asking a lot to throw a rookie into his first start against one of the league's most feared defenses. That's why I'm not telling him until kickoff. Anyway, weren't Sundays made for sacrifice?"
McCoy gets the start, and the nerves show. The Longhorn becomes the "green horn." If you thought McCoy's voice was high-pitched in his pre-draft interview with John Gruden, then you won't be surprised to hear that his play-calling on Sunday shattered the windows in several luxury boxes.
Pittsburgh wins 26-9.
NY Jets @ Denver (+3)
The pass-happy Broncos welcome the Jets to Mile High Stadium at Invesco Field, where Josh McDaniels' fist-pumping exuberance faces little resistance in the thin air of Denver. The Broncos are 2-3, and chasing the upstart Chiefs in the AFC West standings.
"It will take more than just air to stifle my enthusiasm," McDaniels said. "I wish I could say the same about our running game.
But what better time to throw than now against the Jets, with Darrelle Revis slowed by a hamstring injury? Heck, he might not even play. If he does, we'll be sure to run some deep patterns on him, just to test that hamstring. If he's not totally healthy, then we'll see something from him that you're not likely to see from Antonio Cromartie, father of eight children---a noticeable ???limp."
The 4-1 Jets lead the AFC East and are playing like a team on a mission to win the Super Bowl. In last Monday's 29-20 win over the Vikings, New York's defense stifled the Vikes for much of the game, and moved the ball consistently with a balanced attack.
"We're confident running the ball," said Rex Ryan, "and we're confident passing the ball. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene are too very different running backs. On the other hand, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are two similar receivers. They both have ???chronic' problems."
Jets win 23-22.
Oakland @ San Francisco (-6 1/2)
After last week's 27-24 loss to the Eagles, the struggling 49ers are one of only three winless teams in the league, along with the Bills and Panthers. Again, turnovers killed San Fran's chances, with five giveaways dooming their chances to register in the win column. Rumors are swirling about the security of head coach Mike Singletary's job, although team president Jed York gave the team a vote of confidence when he guaranteed the 49ers would win the division.
"I could stand here," said York, "and tell you that Singletary's job is so shaky it registered on the Richter scale. Or, I could tell you that we've changed the name of this region to the ???Bay Err-ea.' Or, I could resign my self to firing off words that are synonymous with ???quitting,' but I'll surrender that thought, hang it up, my coat, that is, and leave the coaching to Singletary.
Mike's a stand-up guy, and he's taken accountability, just as you would expect from a bald-headed, bespectacled former linebacker in a form-fitting mock turtleneck."
Tom Cable knows all about tenuous coaching positions. He's been coach of the Raiders for three years now, and faces questions about his future almost on a daily basis.
"I'm a lot like Al Davis," Cable said. "I wake up every day not knowing if it will be my last.
But I know what Singletary is going through. There's intense pressure to win, and you have to make tough decisions regarding your staff. With Mike, it's whether or not to fire a coach. With me, it's whether or not to punch a coach."
Only in the NFC West can you be 0-5 and have a win put you right back in the hunt. It's time to man up. The 49ers have let wins slip away. It's like they've been shooting themselves in the foot with a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and it can blow your head clean off, not to mention your foot. So, the Niners have to ask themselves one question: "Do we feel lucky?"
They do, punks. Joe Nedney's 49-yard field goal attempt hits the crossbar and goes through, giving San Fran a 23-20 win.
Dallas @ Minnesota (-1 ??)
So, did Brett Favre text explicit photos of himself to Jenn Sterger back in 2008 when Favre was a Jet and Sterger was a Jets employee? Did the text come with a message that read "You've got male?" Did Sterger text Favre back, asking "I thought you were big in New York?"
"It doesn't make no never mind to me if Brett sent pictures of himself to her," said Randy Moss. "All I care about is whether Brett can get me the ball. Not via a text message, but on the field.
But I have to know one thing: when Brett took those pictures, were his famous words ???Say dick cheese?'
Anyway, if Brett did, in fact, send those pictures, I can't fault him for anything but his method of delivery. Obviously, when sending pictures of your business, you should utilize the proper social networking channels, such as Facebook, or Tweiner.
As you know, the Cowboys famously passed on me in the 1998 NFL draft. I've played for three teams in my NFL career, but that has to be the fastest I've ever worn out my welcome."
The 1-3 Cowboys are reeling after a 34-27 loss to the Titans in Dallas, a loss attributable to penalties and turnovers, which have plagued the team all year.
"First of all," said Tony Romo, "I wouldn't think of texting such photos to a female. Oh no, I'm more of a hand-delivery guy. See, our offensive line aren't the only ones with a holding problem."
It's not often fans are treated to a game between the two best 1-3 teams in the NFL, but that's what we've got, and it all goes down in Mall Of America Stadium. One team will emerge at 2-3, while the other will tumble to 1-4. Of course, that's assuming there's no tie. If the Vikes have anything to say about it, there won't be a tie. Last Monday's game in the Meadowlands showed us that Minnesota inexplicably goes for the tie in the third quarter, and not the fourth, when it matters.
But there will be no tie. The Vikings unleash their pass rush on a helpless Romo, and Favre, despite his numerous distractions, plays a manly game. After all, he's a Wrangler guy, and let's face it, Romo's a Jordache guy.
Minnesota wins 30-24.
Indianapolis @ Washington (+3)
Suffice it to say Peyton Manning has never texted photos of anything to a female acquaintance, unless you count snapshots of a particularly confusing zone defense he encountered against New England that he sent to a friend, asking for her advice.
"I'll reluctantly admit this," Manning said, "but once I took a Polaroid of my package, taped it to the top of my sneaker, and told Eli to look at my shoe. I must have been 11 at the time, but I remember that moment fondly as my first ???check down.'
We know the Redskins are tough to beat at home. And their defense is playing well. Now, I can't say I'm unhappy with Albert Haynesworth's limited role in the defense. He knows me very well from his days as a Titan, and he was always a tough player to game plan for. So, Mike Shanahan isn't the only one that's called Albert a ???nuisance.' So what if Albert doesn't endorse a defense as well as he endorses a check. He can still be very disruptive."
No one prepares for a game like Manning. From the film study, to the practice repetitions, to the team meetings, down to the Gatorade spritz before the game, no one is as ready as Manning.
Manning throws for 245 yards and two scores, and Indy wins 26-21.
Tennessee @ Jacksonville (+3)
There's a four-way tie in the AFC South, forged when the Texans lost last week while their three division counterparts all won. On Monday, the Titans and Jags square off to remain on top, while Houston and Indy face tough tests against Kansas City and Washington, respectively.
"We're 3-2," said Jeff Fisher, "so we can count our wins and losses on one hand. Even more impressively, we can express our opinion of officials with one finger. Between owner Bud Adams and defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, this franchise has the quickest trigger fingers in the game."
Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio knows the key to the Jaguars fortunes is stopping Vince Young and Chris Johnson, the Titans dynamic duo.
"Johnson may have danced on the Dallas star," said Del Rio, "but there will be no jig on the Jag. I may or may not have put up a bounty on Johnson to encourage my defense to hit Johnson in the teeth. So, the first Jaguar to ???strike gold' may or may not win a cash prize."
The Jags contain Johnson, but Young throws for two scores and runs for another.
Tennessee wins 27-21.