Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Buffalo @ NY Jets (-2 1/2)
Rex Ryan returns to MetLife Stadium, this time as head coach of the Bills. Buffalo is 4-4 in the AFC East after last week’s 33-17 win over the Dolphins.
“Our defense was much better than it was against the Jaguars in London,” Rex Ryan said. “I watched tape of our defense against Jacksonville, and it was difficult to watch. Normally, creepy video is a big turn on for me.
“I’m sure my old team wants nothing more than to see me fail. That seemed to be the case last year particularly.
The Jets beat the Jaguars 28-23, led by a defense that forced four turnovers and sacked Blake Bortles six times.
“I don’t fear Rex Ryan,” Todd Bowles said. “Rex is overrated just like his twin brother Rob. Their father, Buddy Ryan, knew he couldn’t have a son that could live up to his expectations, so he instead had two, and each was arguably half as good as Buddy.
Ryan named IK Enemkpali captain for Thursday’s game. He’s the guy that broke Geno Smith’s jaw back in August. Not surprisingly, Enemkpali calls “heads” at the opening coin toss, but it’s the Jets that KO Enemkpali and the Bills.
Jets win 26-20.
Detroit @ Green Bay (-11 1/2)
After their week 8 45-10 loss in London to the Chiefs, the Lions organization made drastic changes, firing general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand. Jim Caldwell remains as head coach.
“Just when you thought unemployment couldn’t get any higher in Detroit,” Jim Caldwell said.
“Martha Ford had seen enough. For a 90-year-old woman, she can be pretty feisty. And she puts the ‘axe’ in ‘battle axe. The Ford family is primarily known for their cars, but Martha is also the granddaughter of the founders of the Firestone Tire empire. That’s good, because I was ‘spared.’”
The Packers lost their second straight game, losing 37-29 to the Panthers in Charlotte, one week after a lopsided loss at Denver.
“To my knowledge,” Rodgers said, “no one in this organization has been fired. If there’s anything that’s been let go on this team, it’s the ball from Eddie Lacy’s hands.
“Two losses have tried this team’s patience. You probably saw some of the members of our defense scuffling on the sidelines. That just goes to show that nobody gets pushed around like our defense, on or off the field.
“I expect you’ll see our defense step up and play much better. I need to see some killer instinct in that unit, and Dom Capers has promised it. Do I doubt him? Of course not. Nothing says ‘killer instinct’ like a 65-year-old white man.”
Green Bay wins 30-23.
Dallas @ Tampa Bay (-2)
The struggling Cowboys lost 33-27 in overtime to the Eagles last week, falling to 2-6 on the year. Matt Cassel threw three touchdowns, but tossed a crucial pick 6 early in the fourth quarter. Without Tony Romo, Dallas is 0-6.
“I’m not sure we can simplify our offense anymore,” Dez Bryant said. “It’s so simple now, even a monkey could understand it. My pet monkey ‘Dallas Bryant’ Humans and monkeys share about 99% of their DNA. Just for reference, that’s 99% more DNA than the Tallahassee Police Department can handle correctly.
The Bucs lost to the Giants 32-18 last week and dropped to 3-5 in the NFC South.
“Jameis Winston had zero turnovers,” Lovie Smith said, “but he was constantly harassed by the Giants defense, particularly Jason Pierre-Paul. Jameis was understandably rattled. He’s been pursued by defensive lineman for several years, but never by one wielding an oven mitt.
“On Sunday, Jameis will have to be on the lookout for Greg Hardy. No offense to JPP, but Hardy is a handful.”
In a game pitting two teams at the bottom off their respective divisions, the outcome rides on the ability of one team to “out last” the other. The team that accomplishes that will be the loser.
Dallas wins 24-16.
Carolina @ Tennessee (+4)
The Panthers whipped the visiting Packers 37-29 last week, building an early lead and holding off a furious Green Bay rally.
“I set the tone early,” Cam Newton said, “by ripping down a Packers banner. As they say, ‘Not in my house.’ That reminds me of what my father used to say to college recruiters: ‘Not in my house, without a proper and sizable finder’s fee.’ I think that was written on our welcome mat, as well.
“Hopefully, there won’t be any mountain climbers swinging from the upper deck at Nissan Stadium. In years past, if you saw something swinging from the upper deck in Nashville, chances are it would have been Bud Adams’ middle finger.”
Marcus Mariota returned as starter after two games missed due to injury and led the Titans to a 34-28 overtime win over the Saints. Mariota passed for 371 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
“When you combine Rob Ryan’s belly and the Saints defense,” Mariota said, “you get the ‘Big Easy.’
Jonathan Stewart rushes for two short scores, and the Panthers contain Mariota.
Carolina wins 27-19.
Chicago @ St. Louis (-7 1/2)
The Rams had their two-game winning streak snapped in a 21-18 overtime loss to the Vikings. Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner knocked out Teddy Bridgewater with a shoulder to the head as Bridgewater slid on a scramble in the fourth quarter.
“I can assure you,” Jeff Fisher said, “there is no bounty program in St. Louis. Now, if you ask defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, you might get a different story. If you ask him under oath, you’re likely to get an even better story.
“Let’s be clear. I hired Williams for results, not for his ability to answer truthfully. If he wants to pay our players for big hits, then it’s his job to keep it on the down low. If he doesn’t, then the league will knock some ‘cents’ into him in the form of a hefty fine.”
“With that touchdown,” Cutler said, “I passed Sid Luckman for the all-time Bears TD pass list. I think it would be appropriate to say I ‘intercepted’ him.
“After my late-game heroics, my wife Kristin Cavallari called me ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter’ on Twitter. Let me tell you, that’s better than my old nickname, ‘Mr. Four Quarters.’ They called me that because while under pressure, I was ‘money,’ but not that much money.”
Rams win 26-21.
New Orleans @ Washington (+1)
The Redskins lost 27-10 at Gillette Stadium last week, as two early turnovers put the ‘Skins in a hole from which they could not recover.
“You can’t give the Patriots any advantage,” Jay Gruden said. “If you give them an inch, they’ll add ‘pounds per square’ to it. If you give them a millimeter, they’ll take eight, as in secret video filmed on 8mm film.”
One week after exploding for seven touchdown passes against the Giants, Drew Brees passed for only three scores in the Saints 34-28 overtime loss to the Titans.
“I you’re talking about ‘Titans’ and ‘Giants’ in the NFL,” Brees said, “you certainly wouldn’t mention the defenses of those two teams.
“Once again, our defense let us down. And that falls on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. As we say here in New Orleans, we was ‘Rob’d.’
Washington wins 28-24.
Miami @ Philadelphia (-6)
Sam Bradford’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews lifted the Eagles to a 33-27 win at AT&T Stadium over the Cowboys in overtime. Philly is 4-4, just behind the 5-4 Giants in the NFC East standings.
“After an 0-2 start,” Chip Kelly said, “we’ve bounced back, and are now on the cusp of the division lead. Here in Philly, you can call me the second coming of the ‘Round Mound Of Rebound.’”
After two convincing wins after Joe Philbin’s firing, the Dolphins have lost their last two by a combined 69-24 margin, punctuated by last Sunday’s 33-17 drubbing by the Bills. Miami is 3-5, last in the AFC East.
“After my first two games,” Dan Campbell said, “fans were asking for ownership to remove the ‘interim’ from the ‘interim head coach’ title. Now, they’d like the ‘head coach’ part removed.”
Eagles wins 27-23.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-4 1/2)
The Browns dropped a 31-10 decision to the Bengals last Thursday night, falling to 2-7, last in the AFC North. Johnny Manziel was 15 of 33 for 168 yards and one touchdown in the loss.
“Did Johnny do enough to keep the starting job,” Mike Pettine said. “He did well considering the number of people who have doubted his ability. Johnny’s been questioned by everyone, including the police.”
The Steelers edged the Raiders 38-35 last week, powered by 17 receptions for 284 yards from Antonio Brown. Ben Roethlisberger left the game in the fourth quarter with a foot sprain, and will be out for 2-3 weeks.
“I’m not sure who will be dealing with more pain,” Mike Tomlin said, “Ben or Antonio.
“We’ll start Landry Jones, and Michael Vick will be his backup. Michael lobbied aggressively for the starting job, but I stood firm. This went on for hours. It’s what some people would call a ‘Ron Mexico standoff.’”
Pittsburgh wins 27-24.
Jacksonville @ Baltimore (-5 1/2)
The Jaguars lost to the Jets 28-23 as Blake Bortles was sacked six times and forced into three turnovers. Jacksonville is 2-6 in the AFC South.
“We’re only a game-and-a-half behind the Colts for the division lead,” Gus Bradley said. “I like our positioning in the standings, and also the 2016 Draft.
“But let’s be serious. We’re still very much alive for a playoff position. But I tell you it’s strange when you can say you’ve got a better chance to win the division than a wildcard berth.”
The Ravens had a week 9 bye, and enter week 10 at 2-6. To have any chance at a playoff berth, Baltimore will likely have to go 8-0 in the second half of the season.
“You can’t do any better than 8-0,” John Harbaugh said. “’Never more,’ quoth the Raven.
“We lost Steve Smith for the season to an Achilles injury. Steve was our leading receiver. When he played for the Panthers, a teammate of his was the leading receiver, of punches to the face.”
Harbaugh brings in Ray Lewis to present the Ravens with his signature pregame inspirational speech, and, as performances go, Lewis “kills” it. The Ravens respond, and jump to a quick 17-0 lead and cruise.
Baltimore wins 34-20.
Minnesota @ Oakland (Even)
Despite 301 yards passing and four touchdowns from Derek Carr, the Raiders lost 38-35 to the Steelers at Heinz Field. Antonio Brown burned the Oakland defense for 17 receptions and 284 yards receiving.
“We kept Brown out of the end zone,” Charles Woodson said,” but I believe he touched every other part of the field. Brown had so many receptions, you couldn’t count them on two hands. You could count them on two sets of Jason Pierre-Paul’s hand, because at 8 ½ fingers per set, you get a total of exactly 17.’
“Jack Del Rio has turned this team into a contender, and everyone has taken notice, even Nike. They want to start an advertising campaign called ‘Rio Knows.’”
The Vikings beat the Rams 21-18 in overtime last week, moving into a tie with the Packers in the NFC North at 6-2. Adrian Peterson rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown, while Teddy Bridgewater was knocked cold on a fourth quarter hit.
“Teddy will be okay,” Mike Zimmer said. “He’s a good kid. I’ve always said, ‘He’s got a good head on his shoulders. That still applies.
“Even at age 30 years of age, Peterson still amazes. He says he thinks he can play until he’s 40. And I believe he can. If anyone can beat the effects of aging, it’s Adrian.”
Oakland wins 25-22.
New England @ NY Giants (+7 1/2)
Tom Brady passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots cruised to a 27-10 win over the Redskins last week. The Pats face the Giants in a rematch of Super Bowl 42, won 17-13 by New York.
“I’ll never forgive the Giants for ruining our quest for the perfect season,” Brady said. “I keep a football from Super Bowl 42 to remind me of that one loss. I keep it just slightly deflated, to remind me that my ultimate goal was not ‘full-filled.’”
The Giants beat the Buccaneers 32-18 last week at Tampa Bay. Eli Manning passed for two touchdowns and the Giants defense forced three Bucs fumbles, returning one for a touchdown.
“As was the case in 2007,” Manning said, “oddsmakers in Las Vegas aren’t giving us much of a chance against the Patriots. If I’m not mistaken, the odds are 18-1.”
Prior to kickoff, the Giants welcome Super Bowl hero David Tyree to midfield, where he ceremoniously glues a football to a helmet.
Patriots win 37-27.
Kansas City @ Denver (-7)
The Broncos lost to the Colts 27-24 last week, falling from the ranks of the unbeatens. Denver is 7-1
“Aquib Talib had two late penalties that basically cost us any chance of a comeback,” Manning said. “I’m shocked that Aquib would do such a thing. Is he not aware of his own criminal history? How can you shoot yourself in the foot when you’re waving the gun in the air?
“I can guarantee I will pass Favre on Sunday for the most passing yardage in NFL history. And when I do, I promise, in honor of Favre and my Papa John’s franchises, I’ll text a picture of my sausage, one of the many toppings we offer on our pizzas.”
The Chiefs are rested after two weeks off, riding the momentum of their 45-10 destruction of the Lions in London in week 8. With a loss, the Chiefs would fall a full four games down to the Broncos in the AFC West.
“We can’t play much better,” Alex Smith said. “In fact, we can’t play much worse, because the Lions are the worst.”
Broncos win 24-19.
Arizona @ Seattle (-3)
The Seahawks host the Cardinals in a crucial NFC West matchup. With a win, the Seahawks would be within one game of the division lead.
“I think the key for us is to establish the running game,” Pete Carroll said. “Marshawn Lynch has been battling nagging injuries all year. He’s seen enough of the doctors and trainers. It’s not ‘Beast Mode,’ it’s ‘Beast Med.’”
Seahawks win 20-18.
Houston @ Cincinnati (-11)
“Eifert is quite a weapon,” Dalton said. “Now, considering this franchise’s history of brushes with the law, let’s reconsider before we say ‘The Bengals have weapons.”
The Texans enjoyed a bye week, resting, healing, and reflecting on the first half of the season.
Dalton throws three touchdown passes, two to A.J. Green, and the Bengals win 31-24.