Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Jacksonville @ NY Giants (-9)
Tom Coughlin and the Giants face the Jaguars, a team Coughlin coached from 1995-2002, with the hopes of ending a two game skid in which the G-Men have lost divisional games to the Cowboys and Eagles. Four Eli Manning turnovers doomed the Giants in last week's 27-17 loss in Philadelphia, as New York fell out of a tie for the division lead.
"I still question whether the ground can cause a fumble," said Coughlin. "But there's no question whether Eli can cause a turnover. Usually, when a quarterback 'takes a dive,' it benefits the Giants. Just ask Michael Strahan."
Jacksonville nipped the Browns 24-20 last week, buoyed by a 75-yard screen pass to Maurice Jones-Drew that set up Jones-Drew's game-winning 1-yard TD run. The Jags have won three straight, are tied with the Colts for the AFC South lead, and hold the tiebreaker over Indy.
"If I say 'Hail Mary' one more time," Jack Del Rio said, "I'll be legally obligated to sign the Virgin Mary to a contract. It seems we've put the fear of God into our opponents."
Hakeem Nicks is out for three weeks with a leg injury, giving Manning one less receiver to target, and yet another reason to throw interceptions. But this time, Manning limits his turnovers and employs a new trick he learned from Derek Jeter, the feet-first slide, and the Giants end their skid.
New York wins, 27-21.
Tennessee @ Houston (-3)
The Titans fell in overtime 19-16 to the visiting Redskins, as two unsportsmanlike penalties on the Titans aided Washington's drive for the winning score. That wasn't the biggest meltdown of the day, however, as Vince Young tossed his jersey and shoulder pads into the stands and stormed out of LP Field without talking to reporters or teammates.
"In a case of 'fight or flight,'" Jeff Fisher said, "it appears Vince chose 'flight,' with another weak 'pass' that again validated the notion that he's a good 'running' quarterback. But Vince got a little too emotional when he tossed his pads and jersey into the crowd. Now, there's no truth to the rumor that they landed right beside Brandon Jacob's helmet.
We've put Vince on the season-ending injured reserve list. Hopefully, this will give him time to think and reflect. We'll be fine without him. And I hope Vince Young will remember, this old man don't need him around, anyhow."
The Texans fell to 5-5, as a near-comeback from a 23-7 deficit became a heartbreaking 30-27 loss. Houston's defense allowed the Jets to march the length of the field for the game-winning touchdown with ten seconds left.
"Our prevent defense failed us," said Gary Kubiak. "Of course, as being the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL will attest, we're possibly the only team in the NFL that plays prevent defense all the time. Now we're 5-5 and well on our way to a final record of 8-8, which would give us our third such record in the last four years. The Bears may claim to be, but it's apparent the Texans are the true 'Monsters of the Midway.'"
The struggling Texans could slip right back into the division race with a win. And, if they can't win at home against a divided Tennessee team starting Rusty Smith at quarterback, then they don't deserve to be on the same field with Randy Moss.
Houston wins, 24-20.
Green Bay @ Atlanta (-1)
The Packers pasted the Vikings 31-3 in Minnesota, led by 4 touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers. On Sunday, Rodgers will face his youthful counterpart in Atlanta, Matt Ryan, who has the Falcons atop the NFC South with an 8-2 record.
"As the Green Bay quarterback," said Rodgers, "I'm always being measured against Brett Favre, just not with a ruler. But I've finally done something Favre couldn't, and that's get Brad Childress fired."
Atlanta's stellar start has the town of Atlanta talking Super Bowl, in between lap dances and visits to the Waffle House. Ryan has clearly established himself as the team's leader, and his team will need every bit of that leadership against the hot Packers.
"Not that I want to mention Favre again," Ryan said, "but he started his career as a Falcon before being traded to the Packers. Obviously, Rodgers had bigger shoes to fill than me. And I think we've both done very well. Apparently, we both fill shoes better than Favre can 'fill' a text message picture. However, Rodgers and I are a lot like Favre in one way, in that we 'won't settle.' We're both thinking Super Bowl."
Packers win, 30-27.
Carolina @ Cleveland (-11)
The Browns return home to Cleveland Stadium after a tough 24-20 loss in Jacksonville last week, a loss that dropped Cleveland to 3-7. They'll be heavily-favored against a struggling Panthers team dealing with numerous injuries and an unsettled quarterback situation.
"Homes games at Cleveland are a big deal," said Eric Mangini, "mostly for the fans, but also for Shaun Rogers, as home games mean no travel, and thus no airport security screening. But let's be serious. Rogers is a greater threat to national security than he is to the Panthers offensive line."
The Panthers hung tough against the Ravens last week before two Brian St. Pierre interceptions were returned for touchdowns by Baltimore.
"It's a little known fact," John Fox said, "that 'St. Pierre' is also the French patron saint of 'surrender.' Brian certainly lived up to his namesake, surrendering 14 points to the Ravens. I never thought I'd say this, and I'm sure the Browns organization would agree, but it looks as if we'd have been better off keeping Jake Delhomme. It's an even less-known fact that Jake shares his surname with the patron saint of fried chicken and interceptions."
Colt McCoy injured his ankle in last week's loss. If he can't play, Delhomme will start, and the Panthers will be able to say, for the first time in years, that they're happy about it.
Browns win, 19-14.
Minnesota @ Washington (-3)
It's a battle of gun-slinging quarterbacks, as Brett Favre, who's not afraid to whip it out, leads the Vikings to FedEx Field to face the Redskins and Donovan McNabb, who's been known to throw it up. The 3-7 Vikings looked terrible in last week's 31-3 loss at home to the Packers, and the meltdown led to Brad Childress' firing on Monday. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was named interim head coach.
"This was a popular decision in the locker room," said Percy Harvin. "Our bulletin board was littered with Old West-themed 'Brad Childress: Not Wanted' posters. Vikings' ownership obviously didn't consult with players on this decision. Had they done so, Chilly would have been gone sooner, because we gave up on him long ago.
"Anyway, this calls for a celebration, and celebrations in Minnesota call for chartered boat excursions on Lake Minnetonka in the vessel known as the SS Natch. Frazier seems like a coach who would gladly condone such a voyage as long as things don't get out of hand. So, if he'll turn one cheek, we'll gladly spread the others. And if he cares to join us, he's more than welcome. It surely wouldn't be the first time a 'Leslie' has been on the Natch."
McNabb and the 'Skins are 5-5, and still cling to slim playoff hopes. A home win over the struggling Vikes will certainly enhance those aspirations.
"I think I've proven," McNabb said, "that I can competently run the 'two minute offense.' But really, is our 'two-minute offense' that different from our 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, or 12-minute offenses. They all end in field goals anyway."
The Vikings rally around Frazier, and Tarvaris Jackson takes a few snaps at quarterback, scoring on a 4-yard run in the second quarter.
Minnesota wins, 26-17.
Pittsburgh @ Buffalo (+5)
The Steelers bounced back from Week 10's 39-26 loss to New England by overwhelming the visiting Raiders 35-3, buoyed by a big day from James Harrison. The Steelers are 7-3, tied with the Ravens for first in the AFC North, with a week 13 showdown in Baltimore looming.
"I'm not sure what Big Ben said to Seymour," said Harrison, "but he was obviously talking 'smack.' Anyway, I'm just happy our offensive line was there to help Ben up. There's nothing unusual by that. Even when Ben's surrounded by five offensive lineman, there's still a great chance he'll get knocked down.
"But Jason Campbell is no Tom Brady, nor is Ryan Fitzpatrick. But Fitzpatrick is a Harvard graduate, so we know he's got a good head on his shoulders. I humbly graduated from Kent State, so, in a 'meeting of the minds,' Fitzpatrick would probably win. Unless we're wearing helmets."
After a 0-8 start, the Bills have won two in a row, the last a 49-31 whipping of the Bengals in Cincinnati. Ryan Fitzpatrick blistered the Bengals for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns, and will likely be forced to attack the Steelers through the air.
"I hear the Steelers," Fitzpatrick said, "upon hearing of my Ivy League education, took to nicknaming me 'Ryan Leaf.' Haha. They should not underestimate me. In two games against AFC North competition, I've thrown for 690 yards and 8 touchdowns. Heck, the only think more offensive in Buffalo are C.J. Spiller's Twitter comments."
Steelers win, 31-13.
Kansas City @ Seattle (+1)
The Chiefs ended a two-game skid with a convincing 31-13 win over the Cardinals to run their home record to 5-0. Now the Chiefs face the up-and-down Seahawks, who are 3-1 at Qwest Field and, at 5-5, lead the NFC West.
"Seattle is always tough at home," Todd Haley said, "but we certainly have no fear about facing them. There's no trepidation in my voice, and Josh McDaniels will vouch for me, when I say 'I'm not shaking.'
"Now, as for Dwayne Bowe's proclamation that 'We're going to win it all,' I think that's code for 'I'll pay the shipping costs on the planeload of escorts due in town the week of the Denver game.' But let's be serious. Whose bulletin board would a Dwayne Bowe quote be posted on, besides his own?"
Seattle lost to the Saints 34-19 last week, and with a win, hope to put some distance between themselves and their NFC West counterparts.
"The Chiefs are coming to town," Pete Carroll said, "and their reputation precedes them, as does Bowe's mouth. But we'll be more than ready. We're 3-1 at Qwest Field, so, to paraphrase Bowe's quote, I doubt Kansas City will be winning 'at all.' When teams pay a visit to Seattle, they lose. Now, when I paid for a recruit to visit USC, we both won."
Matt Hasselbeck throws for 2 scores, and the Seahawks defense limits the Chiefs rushing attack to 99 yards.
Seattle wins, 23-13.
Miami @ Oakland (-3)
The Raiders look to rebound from last week's 35-3 beat down in Pittsburgh, a loss that snapped Oakland's three-game winning streak and dropped them out of a tie for first in the AFC West. In that game, Richard Seymour slapped Ben Roethlisberger, drawing an ejection from officials and cheers from women. Seymour avoided a suspension, but was fined $25,000 on Monday.
"If you heard my apology," Seymour said, "you probably noticed the insincerity in my voice. If you didn't, then the background music of the Gap Band's 'Oops Upside Your Head' certainly made it abundantly clear. I say to Roethlisberger, 'I don't like you.' And, no matter how hard you try, you can't 'force' me to like you. Not even in a bathroom."
Miami's season has taken a downward turn since injuries sidelined Chad Pennington and Chad Henne. Tyler Thigpen filled in last Thursday, but was ineffective in a 16-0 loss to the Bears.
"As you know," said Tony Sparano, "Miami historically has seen more quarterbacks than the NFL Combine. There will never be another Dan Marino; hopefully, there won't be any more Tyler Thigpen.
"Our two Chad's, Henne and Pennington, are so injury prone, they wouldn't last a minute in Oakland. And I'm not even talking on the field; I'm talking about in the stands of the Black Hole."
Raiders win, 26-16.
Philadelphia @ Chicago (+3??)
It's a showdown of 7-3 NFC powers as the East-leading Eagles and Michael Vick head to the Windy City to face the Bears, who share the North's top spot with the Packers. The Bears, who shut out Miami 16-0 last Thursday, will have their hands full with Vick, who has the Eagles primed for a deep playoff run.
"If you ask me," Andy Reid said, "I think the stellar play of Vick has made us all forget what's happened in the past. Think I'm wrong? Who remembers Kevin Kolb?"
The Bears defense was dominant against Miami, and if a win over the Eagles is in the cards, the Chicago defense will have to limit the effectiveness of Vick.
"What's more dangerous than Vick's feet?" Lovie Smith said. "Jay Cutler's right arm. There's no in-between when Cutler throws. It's either a whizzing bullet for a completion, or a lazy, across-the-body throw into traffic that's intercepted. That's why I can say he's 'scary good' and mean it. One of the perils of having a rifle arm is the danger of shooting yourself in the foot."
For every step forward the mighty Bears defense takes, the offense takes two back. Against a gambling Eagles defense, that won't cut it. Although Cutler doesn't lead the NFL in interceptions, he probably leads in passes that should have been intercepted.
Vick throws for 3 touchdowns, and the Eagles force 3 Cutler turnovers.
Philadelphia wins, 22-16.
St. Louis @ Denver (-4??)
Despite a 4-6 record, the Rams are only one game behind the Seahawks, who lead the NFC West with a 5-5 record. A tough matchup with the up-and-down Broncos awaits at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.
"They say Josh McDaniels is a players coach," Sam Bradford said. "I hear players dream of playing for Josh McDaniels. And I hear even more players dream of being traded by McDaniels.
Me? I'm happy right where I am in St. Louis, where a 4-6 record is not only tolerated, it's celebrated. I can't imagine what 5-6 will feel like. It doesn't make us bowl-eligible,' but it could make us 'NFC West-leading eligible.' Of course, playing in Denver is never easy. There's the chance someone could run up the score on you. And that applies to the home team, as well."
The Broncos bounce back from Monday night's defeat, and Kyle Orton tosses 2 touchdown scores, while Champ Bailey picks off Bradford and returns it for a score.
Denver wins, 30-16.
Tampa Bay @ Baltimore (-9)
The Ravens pummeled the injury-riddle Panthers 37-13 last week, as the Baltimore defense matched the offense in touchdown production, with two. With a win over the Bucs and a Steeler win in Buffalo, Week 13's Pittsburgh-Baltimore showdown at M&T Bank Stadium will be for the outright AFC North lead.
"Defense wins championships," John Harbaugh said. "Just ask Brian Billick. But no matter how pumped we are to host the Steelers next week, we can't look past the Bucs. If they are the NFC's best team, then we are clearly in the wrong conference."
The Bucs are 7-3 in the competitive NFC South, and have won two straight after last week's 21-0 victory in San Francisco. Tampa Bay is 4-1 at home, while Baltimore is undefeated in four games at M&T Bank Stadium.
"I still contend we're the best team in the NFC," Raheem Morris said. "Some may beg to differ, while others may forego the begging and just differ. Either way, I stand by my words. They say talk is cheap, but if it isn't, then it looks like we'll be meeting the Chiefs in the Super Bowl."
Baltimore wins, 30-23.
San Diego @ Indianapolis (-3)
The Chargers continue to dig themselves out of an 0-2 start, and, at 5-5, trail to Chiefs in the AFC West by only a game. They'll face the Colts in a battle of the NFL's top two passing teams in a game that is sure to have playoff seeding implications. The Colts are coming off a 31-28 loss at New England, while the Chargers have won three straight after defeating the Broncos 35-14 on Monday.
"I'm impressed by Rivers' competitiveness and desire," Manning said. "Some people may be turned off by that attitude, but I respect it. I'm in the minority, though. But for Chargers fans and God, everyone else hates Rivers. Amazingly, Rivers is on pace to break Dan Marino's yardage record, set in 1984. And he's also on pace to match Dan Marino's Super Bowl wins milestone.
As you know, the Manning's and San Diego don't mix. My brother Eli refused to play for them, and that just happens to be the only time Eli's ever been compared to John Elway. And I haven't faired too well against the Chargers, even throwing 6 interceptions in a game in San Diego back in 2007. Apparently, there was still a little bit of Eli in San Diego."
Vincent Jackson returns to action for the Chargers, finally hitting the field after a long contract dispute. He'll be sorely needed, as the Bolts are faced with several injuries at the wide receiver position.
"Vincent is a vital component to our success," Norv Turner said. "Hence, his new nickname, 'Germane Jackson.'
This is a crucial game for the Colts, not only for their AFC South aspirations, but also for playoff seeding importance. A win could be the difference in a playoff game on the road, or at home in Lucas Oil Stadium. Manning deciphers Ron Rivera's defensive scheme 1:48 into the first quarter, and picks apart the Chargers defense for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robert Mathis forces a late fumble to preserve the win.
Indianapolis wins, 30-24.
San Francisco @ Arizona (-3)
NFC West bottom-feeders face off on Monday Night Football as the 3-7 Cardinals host the 3-7 49ers in a game that even John Gruden is having trouble getting excited about. ESPN is expecting the lowest ratings ever for a Monday night game, and although the game will be televised locally, the rest of the country may experience a blackout.
"I doubt 'big brother' will even be watching," Ken Whisenhunt said. "But don't discount the importance of this game. Sure, we're both 3-7, but a win keeps the victor in the division race, as sad as that sounds. The NFC is wide-open. I count six legitimate NFC Super Bowl contenders, six if you include teams from the NFC West. There's parity in the NFC, as well as in the NFC West, where the teams are equally bad. And there will be equality when the division is settled, because the NFC West winner will have an equal number of wins and losses."
As it turns out, quite a few people are "watching," and they see the fired-up Cardinals turn 3 49er turnovers into 17 points. Arizona wins, 27-14, and afterwards, it's rumored that the 49ers are "looking" for a new coach