Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Cincinnati @ Atlanta (-5)
The Falcons return home to the Georgia Dome, hoping to bounce back from a 31-17 defeat in Philadelphia, a game in which the Eagles piled up 474 yards of offense, including 326 and three touchdowns through the air. The Falcons defense will have to be much better against the visiting Bengals, fresh off a bye week and eager to reclaim their status as a legitimate playoff hopeful.
"I understand Chad Ochocinco plans to raise his game with more trash talk," said Mike Smith. "I guess that means his mouth will be the only thing that's open.
But it would be foolish to discount the abilities of Ochocinco and his counterpart, Terrell Owens. Call me foolish, then. But seriously, you have to be aware of their talent and their eccentricities, and that makes it doubly tough on a coach. I think Charlie Daniels said it best when he sang ???Aww hell's broke loose in Georgia.' If we win, to heck with the shiny fiddle made of gold, we'll still be on top in the NFC South."
"Smith thinks he's got it tough as an opposing coach dealing with Owens and Ochocinco?" said Marvin Lewis. "That's nothing compared to what I deal with as their head coach. I'm like a circus ringmaster---I have to monitor those clowns 24-7.
As head coach, I have to take account of those two. What that means is I have to take their Twitter accounts and disable them. I'm baffled by Twitter's popularity. 140 characters? I have my hands full with two."
Carson Palmer will look to strike downfield against a Falcons secondary missing headhunting bozo Dunta Robinson, who, like the Steelers' James Harrison, knocked out two guys last Sunday. Palmer finds Ochocinco for a seven-yard TD pass, and the fun-loving Ocho teams up with Owens to celebrate by removing their headgear and banging them together. Thus, the "helmet-to-helmet' celebration, which, oddly enough, is not penalized.
Ultimately, the Bengals will win with their ground game, as Cedric Benson's 118 yard, 27 carry day leads Cincy to the win.
Bengals win 24-20.
Buffalo @ Baltimore (-13)
The Ravens fell in overtime 23-20 in New England last Sunday, a loss that dropped them out of first in the AFC North. Now 4-2, Baltimore looks to regain their swagger against the struggling Bills.
"If Stella got her groove back," said John Harbaugh, "and did so without the presence of Ed Reed, then we should have no problem reclaiming our groove with Reed. As you know, Ed's been on the physically-unable-to-perform list after offseason hip surgery. Upon his return, he can proudly proclaim to be from ???the ???PUP.' Nobody puts ???the U' in ???PUP' quite like Ed.
Now Ed gives us a playmaker in our defensive backfield, something we've been missing all year. He adds another dimension to this defense, and always seems to be in the right place at the right time, except for those times when he's blindsided by Hines Ward.
Against the Bills, we plan to pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick with our front four, and allow Ed to read the quarterback and react to the ball. Fitzpatrick is an Ivy Leaguer, but I imagine the only intelligence he'll manage on Sunday is when he picks himself up off the ground and says ???That smarts!'"
The Bills are 0-5 and coming off a bye week, so, at the very least, they should be well-rested when they face the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Buffalo has struggled mightily on defense, surrendering an average of 32 points per game.
"In the darkest of hours," said Chan Gailey, "there is light at the end of the tunnel. At least for the team known as the ???Chilean Miners.' Now, our tunnel ends with daylight, as well. Unfortunately, it's daylight on the playing field at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens will undoubtedly be playing angry after a loss.
Now, the Carolina Panthers are also 0-5, so we're not alone in our misery. I myself may soon have company; should Wade Phillips lose his job, he'll join me and others in the fraternity of ???former Dallas head coaches.'"
Joe Flacco throws for 251 yards and a score, and the Baltimore defense sacks Fitzpatrick five times and forces four Buffalo turnovers.
Ravens win 30-10.
San Francisco @ Carolina (+3)
After last week's 17-9 victory over the Raiders, San Francisco is in the win column, 1-5 in the NFC West. Those elusive wins are hard to come by. So hard that the 49ers will have to travel clear across the country to get their next one. That's assuming the 49ers win at Bank Of America Stadium, where the only teeth shown by the Panthers are on their helmets.
"In San Fran," said Mike Singletary, "they were calling the Raider game a ???win ore else' game. And we won, so the ???else' doesn't apply. If it did, I would be elsewhere.
But we won't take the winless Panthers lightly. On the contrary, we have great respect for winless teams. After all, we were one, and we certainly don't want to forget our roots.
Despite our 1-5 record, we're right back in the NFC West race. The division of the West is much like the region of the West, circa the early 1800's---it's unsettled. Division and conference wins are likely to be imperative in deciding the division winner, especially if all four teams end the season at 7-9. That's a huge ???if.'"
Panthers head coach John Fox faces a dilemma similar to the one Eagles head coach Andy Reid faces: choosing a starting quarterback. Unfortunately, his choices are limited to Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore, and not Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb.
"Moore and Clausen are far from lottery picks," said Fox. "That is, until I personalize two ping pong balls, place them in a cylindrical basket, give it a few spins, and choose my starter. Hence, my starter becomes a lottery pick. And the starter is.......Matt Moore, #1 lottery pick."
Moore starts, and his first pass, a screen to DeAngelo Williams, goes for a 75-yard touchdown. Carolina controls the game on the ground, and unleash a rested defense on Alex Smith.
Carolina wins 26-17.
Washington @ Chicago (-3)
The Redskins dropped out of a tie for first in the NFC East after last Sunday's 27-24 loss to the visiting Colts, a loss in which the ???Skins certainly had their chances to win. An intriguing matchup in Chicago awaits, as Donovan McNabb returns to his hometown, and Mike Shanahan faces Jay Cutler, who played under Shanahan for two years in Denver.
"I've certainly got the book on Cutler," said Shanahan. "As last week's 17 of 39 passing day for Cutler would indicate, that book is incomplete. And, as Cutler's subpar progressions show, it's ???not a good read.'
But, let's not write off Cutler just yet. Lesser quarterbacks, talent-wise, have led the Bears to Super Bowls before. That's not to say Cutler is better than Rex Grossman, or Jim McMahon, for that matter. Let's just say if Cutler tried to moon a helicopter, he'd miss. Honestly, though, I like our prospects against the Bears. Cutler gives me a better chance to win when he's on the opposing team."
The ???Skins are 3-3, and sport a defense that surrenders an average of 420 yards per game, worst in the league. In last week's 27-24 loss to the Colts, Washington gave up 170 yards on the ground to the Colts, who previously ranked near the bottom in rushing.
"Albert Haynesworth could really help this team on the defensive line," said McNabb. "He can really fill the middle. No, I'm not referring to his eating habits, but to his skills in the 3-4 defense. I'm not sure why Albert's so reluctant to adopt the 3-4 defense. He's got 21 million reasons to ???buy in' to the scheme. Maybe such huge sums of money have left him averse to ???change.'"
The Redskins load the box and force the Bears to throw. Cutler quakes in the face of numerous blitzes, and plays right into Washington's hands, literally, by throwing three interceptions.
McNabb throws for two touchdowns, and the Redskins win 24-21.
Pittsburgh @ Miami (+3)
Ben Roethlisberger's triumphant return to the Steelers was an arousing success, as the formerly-suspended signal caller threw for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns, overshadowing signs of rust with displays of brilliance. Pittsburgh, now 4-1 and atop the AFC South, heads to Miami to face the 3-2 Dolphins.
"I claim to be a changed man," Roethlisberger said, "but apparently I'm back to being my old self. If I truly am a changed man, then that means my right arm isn't the only part of me that's ???rusty.'
With three touchdown passes, I singlehandedly doubled our TD pass output. That's called ???multiplication.' James Harrison, on the other hand, specializes in ???subtraction.' He KO'ed two Cleveland players last Sunday with head butts that surely made Andre The Giant spin in his grave. There haven't been any ???blackouts' at Heinz Field lately, but last week, we saw two ???Brown-outs."
Miami won in Green Bay last week, 23-20 in overtime, improving their record to 2-0 against teams currently or formerly quarterbacked by Brett Favre. The ???Fins will have to execute in all phases to beat the Steelers, with their aggressive defense and improving offense.
"I'll have this team ready for the Steelers," said Tony Sparano. "The question is, will this city be ready for them. We're winless at home, and that has to change. We'll need this city to give it's all, and that includes the fans at the game, the people watching at home, as well as the people that keep this city moving. But mostly, we'll need the owners of Miami's world class nightclubs to do their part, and promote Sunday as ???Ladies' Lock-up,' in honor of Roethlisberger."
Harrison, who entertained the silly and selfish notion of retirement, is mercilessly booed by the Dolphins Stadium fans. Luckily, he "comes out of it" and plays like a man possessed.
Roethlisberger gets an earfull from the Miami faithful, but, like the word "no," it goes in one ear hole and out the other.
Steelers win 20-13.
Philadelphia @ Tennessee (-3)
The Eagles travel to LP Field to face the 4-2 Titans, and Andy Reid has already named a starter at quarterback. Kevin Kolb, after a 326-yard, three-touchdown day against Atlanta, will start, while Michael Vick nurses sore ribs.
"Can I get that in writing?" said Kolb. "Look, I'm no fool. I realize that had I played poorly against the Falcons, Coach Reid would right now be praising Vick's amazing recuperative powers.
But Coach is in an enviable position having two capable quarterbacks. Heck, if the Phillies can have a three-man rotation, what's wrong with the Eagles utilizing a two-man rotation?"
Vince Young sprained his knee early in the Titans 30-3 win in Jacksonville on Monday night. Kerry Collins took over, and played near flawlessly, completing 11 of 16 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown. Collins will start Sunday as the Titans go for their third straight win.
"I guess the much-anticipated Vick versus Young showdown may never materialize," said Collins. "Instead, fans could get the unanticipated Kolb versus Collins matchup. Who wants to see that? I guess that's why they're having ???black outs' in Nashville and Philadelphia. This game turned ???white' faster than Michael Jackson."
Kolb will be without dynamic wideout DeSean Jackson, out with a concussion, a casualty of the NFL's "cheap shot" Sunday. Philly will move the ball, but the Titans red zone defense will keep it close until Chris Johnson explodes in the fourth quarter for two scores.
Tennessee wins 26-20.
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay (-1)
The Rams rebounded from week 5's 44-6 loss to the Lions with a shocking 20-17 win over the Chargers, who boasted the league's top-rated offense. The Rams sacked Philip Rivers seven times, and will need to pressure Tampa's Josh Freeman in that same manner.
"The Chargers were expecting to come here and have their way with us," said Steve Spagnuolo. "They left with a loss, and an 0-4 record on the road. It just goes to show that there's only one road warrior in this building, and that's linebacker James Laurinaitis, son of professional wrestling legend Road Warrior Animal. Laurinaitis is impressive, and easily impressed, I might add, especially by our running game. No matter the gain, Laurinaitis, after every Ram carry, growls enthusiastically ???What a rush!'
Anyway, when that kid is up for a contract renewal, I expect some pretty intense negotiations with his manager, Precious Paul Ellering.
But defense is back in St. Louis. Now, when I stop and ask people on the street to name a Rams defender, they still ask ???Who are you?,' but they can, in fact, name a Rams defender. Never mind that ???Jack Youngblood' is the name fans most often cite. That's still progress."
The upstart Bucs came crashing back down to earth, losing 31-6 to the Saints, overwhelmed by the potent New Orleans offense. Now, the Bucs, like the Rams, need a win to maintain positioning in their respective divisions.
"We're not as good as we thought we were," said Raheem Morris. "Obviously, the pirate ship in the end zone didn't intimidate New Orleans the least bit. I hear those cocky Saints were referring to it as the ???Good Ship Bubble Pop' after the game. Now, at times, we did look as helpless as boat people."
Tampa recovers, and Josh Freeman scores on a late bootleg to give the Bucs a 26-21 win.
Cleveland @ New Orleans (-14)
The Saints returned to form last Sunday, overwhelming the Buccaneers 31-6 in Tampa to pull into a tie in the NFC South lead with Atlanta, who lost in Philadelphia. Drew Brees tossed three touchdown passes, and the Saints regained the look of a Super Bowl champion.
"You've probably heard that my wife and I are soliciting names for our newborn son," Brees said. "We've got tons of suggestions from fans, and when this kid is old enough, he'll be in for the shock of his life when we tell him he was ???conceived by a stranger.' After a few minutes of confusion, we'll reveal that it was his name that was conceived by a stranger. Then we'll tell him he just got Punk'd."
The Browns lost a physical 28-10 battle to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, in a game marked by two James Harrison hits that knocked out Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi. But Colt McCoy showed the poise of a grizzled rookie, playing well in the face of danger.
"I'm just thankful I survived being sacked by James Harrison," McCoy said. "He claims he only intends to hurt, not injure, opponents. Obviously, Harrison's honesty is exceeded only by his compassion.
Harrison puts the ???ass' in ???assassin.' Hence, you can call his finishing maneuver the ???head butt.'"
The Saints defense gets physical against the injury-depleted Browns, although they politely abstain from concussion-inducing, helmet-to-helmet hits, which, in New Orleans, is called getting "Super-domed."
Brees throws for two scores and the Saints win 34-17.
Jacksonville @ Kansas City (-6 1/2)
After blowing a 10-point, fourth quarter lead in Houston, the Chiefs dropped a 35-31 decision to the Texans that derailed a 4-1 start and what would have been a comfortable three-game cushion in the loss column in the AFC West. Now, Kansas City looks to end their two-game skid with a win over the Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs are 2-0.
"We didn't close the deal," said Todd Haley. "And that's taken some of the luster and shine from our fast start, which is to be expected when you don't ???finish.'
Of course, the referees didn't help. The pass interference call on Brandon Flowers was a ???blooming' disgrace. It's amazing what the officials see that's not there, and what they don't see that's there."
The Jags may be without David Garrard, who suffered a concussion in Monday night's loss to the Titans. If Garrard can't play, Trent Edwards will get the call.
"We don't lose a thing with Edwards in," said Jack Del Rio, "except games."
Chiefs win 24-13.
Arizona @ Seattle (-3 1/2)
Yes, it's true. The winner of the Cardinals-Seahawks contest assumes sole possession of the NFC West, while the loser falls to .500 and the consolation of knowing that .500, when all is said and done, will probably be good enough to win the NFC West.
"Don't sleep on teams in the West," said Pete Carroll. "They're dangerous....to their opponents strength of schedule.
Whichever team wins the West will make for a great story, and an easy wildcard playoff game win on the road for the second-place team in the East, North, or South."
The Cardinals will head into battle at Qwest Field with Max Hall at quarterback, the Cards 25-year-old rookie out of Brigham Young. Hall showed toughness in Arizona's week 5 win over the Saints.
"I've become a big Max Hall fan," said Larry Fitzgerald. "Before the season, if you would have mentioned ???Max Hall,' I would have assumed it was a dormitory at the University Of Phoenix.
Max may be a rookie, but he's got a mature 25 years under his belt. You know, he did missionary work going door-to-door trying to convert people. Well, he's continuing that work. Earlier this year, he converted Matt Leinart into a Texan.
Hey, I'm all for the volunteer work Max does in the name of the church. Ask anybody, they'll tell you I'm very passionate about my missionary position."
Two months from now, followers of the NFC West will look back on this game and say "Why are we looking back on this game?"
This game could be close, but I'll take the veteran quarterback at home over Max Hall any day.
Matt Hasselbeck throws for 204 yards and a score, and the Seahawks defense confuses Hall with a mix of unique coverages and stunting blitzes.
Seattle wins 27-19.
New England @ San Diego (-3)
Week 5's 42-14 win in Miami proved that the Patriots could win without Randy Moss, as Moss went without a catch in the win. In a dramatic 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens, the Patriots proved again that they could indeed win without Moss, this time with Moss not even on the roster.
"You could say that on both occasions," Bill Belichick said, "that Moss was ???somewhere else.'
Legendary boxer Roberto Duran once famously stated ???No mas.' I recently stated ???no Moss' and sent Randy packing to Minnesota. You could argue that Randy was our best player. That makes the term ???good riddance' even more appropriate."
San Diego, despite boasting the NFL's top-rated offense and defense, is 2-4, and plagued by turnovers and quarterback protection issues. Philip Rivers has already eclipsed 2,000 yards passing for the year, but has been sacked 18 times, second only to Jay Cutler's 23.
"Apparently," said Rivers, "the five guys charged with protecting me constitute an offensive dotted line. But I'm a Catholic, so I'm keenly aware of lack of protection issues."
Rivers fires up his teammates with a stirring pre-game speech, then jaws with Tom Brady during warm-ups, with Rivers claiming that Brady's long hair and marriage to a Brazilian supermodel is clearly the work of the devil, albeit a pretty darn cool devil.
Brady engineers an opening drive for a score, but he Chargers defense stiffens for the balance of the game.
San Diego wins 31-24.
Oakland @ Denver (-6 1/2)
The Broncos are seething after a questionable interference call on fourth down deprived then of a 20-17 win over the visiting Jets last week. Instead, New York left with a 24-20 win, and fell in a three-way tie for second in the AFC West, 1 ?? games behind the Chiefs.
"Call it ???Mile High-way robbery,'" said Josh McDaniels. "All I can say is ???ol??, because that was ???bull.' And all this just days after John Elway said he lost $15 million in a Ponzi scheme. Elway was famously ???helicoptered' in Super Bowl 32; it seems he's been taken for a ride again."
Raiders quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell are both listed as questionable for Sunday's game in Denver.
"Obviously, one of our quarterbacks will have to play with pain," said Raiders owner Al Davis. "They can follow the example of Kenny Stabler. He was a Raider tough guy who was man enough to play hurt. ???Doubtful' wasn't in his vocabulary. Nor was ???questionable.' And ???probable' was just a word used to describe the likelihood of Kenny shooting whiskey before the game."
Broncos win 27-20.
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-3)
It couldn't have worked out any better for the Vikings last week. With a win over the error-prone Cowboys, and losses by Chicago, Detroit, and Green Bay, Minnesota picked up a full-game on each of its NFC North competitors. Now, the 2-3 Vikes travel to Lambeau Field to face the 3-3 Packers.
"I'm sick of the ridiculous scandal surrounding Jenn Sterger," Brett Favre said. "One would think I would contradict the rumors were they untrue. I met with the NFL's vice president of security Milt Ahlerich on Tuesday, and until I'm advised to do so, I can't speak on the subject. When I do, I'll surely text the details and location of the press conference. Suffice it to say it won't take place at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
But all ???texticles' and ???she-mails' aside, my attention is centered squarely on the Packers. If I had one eye on Jenn Sterger, then I've got two on the Packers."
The Packers have lost two straight games in overtime, falling to the Redskins and Dolphins in the last two weeks.
"Overtimes can be draining," said Aaron Rodgers, "especially when you lose. So, we're hoping to win convincingly, in the allotted 60 minutes. Come Monday, we're hoping the headlines read ???Green Bay In Regulation.'
We know the Vikings are dangerous. But what's more likely? The Vikes exposing us, or themselves? Considering the controversial actions of Favre and Randy Moss through the years, it's likely we'll see total nudity.
I know fans around the country are excited about this matchup. My only advice is to keep your pants on."
Packers win 28-27.
NY Giants @ Dallas (-3)
After last week's 24-21 loss in Minnesota, the Cowboys are 1-4, dead last in the NFC East, and in danger of imploding, exploding, and/or spontaneously combusting. Dallas outgained the Vikings and controlled time of possession, but still lost, in part due to three turnovers and 11 penalties.
"Mistakes are killing us," said Jerry Jones. "And no, I'm not referring to my hiring of Wade Phillips. From turnovers to holding penalties, down to excessive celebration penalties, we're killing ourselves. It angers me to see Miles Austin leapfrog Roy Williams. It's one time I can realistically say I have ???mad hops.' Of course, now the NFL says the flag was thrown because Sam Hurd and Williams displayed the ???Hook'em Horns' sign. That's even more ridiculous.
One would think it's a perfect time for heads to roll. And Wade Phillips would be a perfect candidate, because, let's face it, his head is perfectly round and would roll straight and true. But I'll reiterate, again, that Phillips job is safe. As you know, I've maintained my support for Phillips through all the trials and tribulation. Heck, I know we have a good defense, but I'm probably the best ???defender' on this team."
Sure the Cowboys don't have a winning record overall, but they are 1-0 in must-win games after two losses. That was a win at Houston. So, obviously, what the Cowboys need is exactly what they've got---another game in Texas.
Dallas gets after Eli Manning, and DeMarcus Ware collects two sacks. Manning throws two interceptions, and Tony Romo passes for two scores and scrambles for another.
Dallas wins 31-24.