Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Minnesota @ Arizona (-7)
The Vikings were shut down 38-7 by the visiting Seahawks last week. Adrian Peterson was held to just 18 yards rushing on eight carries, while Teddy Bridgewater managed just 118 yards passing.
“The ‘Legion Of Boom’ battered us into submission,” Peterson said. “Unfortunately, that’s gonna leave a mark.
“I’m not thrilled with the amount of carries I had. The rest of the team is upset with the amount of yards I had. But I’m not so upset that I don’t want to remain a Viking. I’m not asking for a trade. I’m not asking for change. And, by all means, I’m not asking for a switch. I just want the ball. In simpler terms, I want Coach Zimmer to ‘Appease AP’s appeal.’”
The Cardinals stymied the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome last week, shutting down the Rams offense in a 27-3 win. Carson Palmer passed for two touchdowns
“I agree with Jeff Fisher,” Palmer said. “I would never question the Rams effort. If I did, according to Fisher, I should kiss his ass. There are a lot of cracks in the Rams organization, and that’s the last one I want to address. No thanks. I want no part of Fisher’s fissure.”
The Cardinals, as you would expect, load the box in anticipation of a heavy dose of Peterson, but the Vikes surprise them and come out throwing. Minnesota puts an early TD on the board. However, the Arizona defense adjusts accordingly, and keeps the Vikings offense in check.
Palmer tosses two touchdown passes and rushes for another score, then celebrates by presenting the ball to a young fan holding a sign that reads “In Pelvis We Thrust.”
Arizona wins 27-13.
Buffalo @ Philadelphia (+2)
The Bills are clinging to wildcard playoff hopes after a solid 30-21 win over the Texans last week. Tyrod Taylor passed for three scores and ran for another as Buffalo improved to 6-6.
“LeSean McCoy is making his return to Philadelphia,” Rex Ryan said. “I think the team will welcome him with open arms. I hear the Eagles defensive backfield is pretty accommodating as well, because their welcoming arms are not only open, they’re wide open.”
The Eagles stunned the Patriots 35-28 at Gillette Stadium last week, handing the Pats their second consecutive loss. The Eagles returned an interception, punt, and blocked punt for touchdowns, while Sam Bradford threw two touchdown passes in his return from injury.
“We’re brimming with confidence,” Chip Kelly said. “I’m sure that comes as a surprise to most people. Everyone knows how difficult it is to leave Foxboro with an inflated ego.
“DeMarco Murray met with owner Jeffrey Lurie about his lack of playing time. Demarco showed better speed running to the owner than he does running past the line of scrimmage. I think his teammates would side with me on this issue. We took a vote, and the result was unanimous: Sunday will be ‘Free Snowball Day’ at Lincoln Financial Field, and we’re encouraging DeMarco to wear a Santa Claus suit.”
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Eagles tenuously holding on to a four-point lead, a scrambling Bradford runs into Bills defensive tackle Marcell Darius and fumbles, leading to the infamous “Buff Fumble.” The Bills recover, and McCoy scampers 26 yards on a screen pass to give the Bills the win.
Buffalo wins 27-24.
San Francisco @ Cleveland (-1 1/2)
The Browns were lifeless in a 37-3 home loss to the Bengals last week. Austin Davis had two turnovers and was generally ineffective.
“There was some throws we’d like Austin to make,” Mike Pettine said. “Based on his completion percentage and his alma mater, he earned the nickname ‘Southern Miss.’
“Johnny Manziel will start against the 49ers. He celebrated his 23rd birthday on Sunday. I hear he got ‘Money.’ Thankfully, it was a low-key party. In fact, no one showed up at first. Later, former Brown Trent Richardson showed up as the only party-goer. As expected, the guestbook registered a ‘gain of one.’
“But I’m not going to mince words. I want to see Johnny put in the time to become a great quarterback. That means doing his homework and studying diligently. Right now, Johnny is a ‘textbook douchebag.’ I can say that, because I’m the coach, and I tell it like it is. That’s why they call me the ‘Cleveland Plain Dealer.’”
The 49ers stunned the Bears at Soldier Field in overtime, winning on Blaine Gabbert’s 71-yard TD bomb to Torrey Smith with 12:50 left in overtime.
“Blaine is drawing comparisons to Joe Montana,” Mike Tomsula said, “because the only shoes he can afford are Skechers. Colin Kaepernick once tried to ‘draw a comparison’ to Montana, so he went to the tattoo parlor for some new ink. We’re still paying handsomely for ‘old ink,’ which is the contract extension Colin signed back in 2014.
Cleveland wins 30-15.
Detroit @ St. Louis (-1)
The Lions lost on Aaron Rodgers’ 61-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers on the final play of the game. The play followed a face mask penalty on the previous play, which gave the Packers an extra down.
“We barely touched Aaron Rodgers,” Jim Caldwell said. “We touched even less of Richard Rogers.
“I guess we found a new way to lose. This loss should probably result in someone else in this organization getting fired. That should be the architect who decided not to suspend a giant scoreboard over midfield.”
The Rams lost 27-3 to the visiting Cardinals in the Edward Jones Dome. Arizona limited Todd Gurley to 41 yards on the ground, and Nick Foles completed only 15 of 35 passes.
“It’s not easy for me to choose a quarterback,” Jeff Fisher said. “Given a choice between the two of them, I’d take a seasick crocodile.
“We’re going with Case Keenum against the Lions. Like Foles, Keenum is a game changer, in that they make me want to make a change during the game.”
Detroit wins 23-17.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (-4)
Jameis Winston ran for a score and tossed the game-winning TD pass to Mike Evans in Tampa’s 23-19 home win over the Falcons. With a win over the Saints, the Bucs will have swept all four games with Atlanta and New Orleans.
“The Falcons and Saints comprise the lower half of the NFC South standings,” Lovie Smith said. “Yep, we’re talking ‘low lifes and bottom feeders,’ not to be confused with Jameis and his legal team.
“In my opinion, Jameis is the leading candidate to win the NFC Offensive Rookie Of The Year award. If he does, in fact, win it, I’d have to say that out of all the citations he’s received, that would probably be his favorite.”
The Saints lost a 41-38 shootout to the undefeated Panthers in the Superdome last week. Drew Brees passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns, but was outgunned by Cam Newton, who threw for 331 yards and five scores.
“If you’re talking terrible defense,” Brees said, “just say ‘NO.’ This season, our team has exclusively employed the ‘Interstate’ defense, because there are no stops.
“Saints fans are ashamed to be seen supporting this team. But they aren’t wearing brown paper sacks anymore. They’re wearing Wrangler jeans, because I’m giving them ‘fits.’”
Tampa wins 34-23.
Tennessee @ NY Jets (-7)
The Titans avenged their 19-13 week 11 loss to the Jaguars with a wild 42-39 win at Nissan Stadium. Marcus Mariotta passed for 268 yards and three scores and rushed for 112 and a TD. It was Tennessee’s first win at home.
“Marcus is battling Jameis Winston for the NFL’s Offensive Rookie Of The Year award,” Mike Mularkey said. “Marcus has more touchdown passes and fewer interceptions, so I’d say it’s both of their ‘passed records’ that give Marcus the edge.”
The Jets completed a come-from-behind, overtime win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium last week. Randy Bullock drilled a 31-yard field goal in OT, and the Jets won when Josh Brown’s 48-yard attempt sailed wide right.
“I passed for 390 yards and two touchdowns,” Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “Odell Beckham, Jr. can make some catches look extraordinary, but the Giants defense makes every catch look routine.
Jets win 27-22.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-3)
The Steelers blew out the Colts 38-10 at Heinz Field, piling up 522 yards of total offense. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns as Pittsburgh solidified their hold on second place in the AFC North.
“I’ve placed the Colts defense in concussion protocol,” Roethlisberger said, ‘because their heads are still spinning.
“Antonio Brown was flagged for his goal post celebration after his punt return touchdown, and rightly so. Hey, I’m the first person to advocate the ‘crotch-first’ approach to anything, but you’ve got to set realistic boundaries. Mine are four bathroom walls.”
The Bengals blasted the Browns 37-3 in Cleveland last week, improving to 10-2, atop the AFC North as well as the AFC rankings. Cincy can clinch the AFC North with a win over the Steelers, who are second in the division at 7-5.
“We’re also chasing a first-round bye in the playoffs,” Marvin Lewis said. “If we get that first-round bye, we’ll be assured of avoiding the ‘first-round goodbye.”
The Bengals pile up 172 yards on the ground, and hold on for a 24-21 win.
Seattle @ Baltimore (+6) 38
The Seahawks went on the road and spanked the Vikings 38-7 last week, improving their record to 7-5 and solidifying their playoff hopes. Seattle held the Vikes to only 125 yards of total offense, and limited Adrian Peterson to 18 yards on the ground.
“We knew we had to stop the run first,” Pete Carroll said. “If you let Adrian Peterson get into a rhythm, he’ll beat you like a drum.
“But we never dreamt we would dominate the Vikes so easily. I think we all were surprised that we had a 35-7 fourth quarter lead. And, we were even more surprised that we kept it.
“It’s always draining making a cross country trip. We call it going ‘East Mode.’ We know the Ravens are struggling, but we won’t take them lightly.
The Ravens lost 15-13 at Miami last week as Matt Schaub threw a pick-6 for the second game in a row. It was Schaub’s 14th pick-6 of his career of his nine-year career.
“Yet, much like a defender,” Schaub said, “I keep returning.’
“I’m no Joe Flacco. Joe has a Super Bowl ring. He’s also known for his cool demeanor and for being a University Of Delaware Blue Hen. I took the ‘Blue’ from ‘Blue hen’ and combined it with Joe’s laid-back demeanor, arriving with the nickname for Joe of the ‘Cobalt Lounge.’ I was told that wasn’t a good idea.”
Seattle wins 28-9.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville (Even)
The Jaguars fell just short to the Titans in a 42-39 offensive slugfest at Nissan Stadium. Blake Bortles passed for 331 yards and five touchdowns, and broke the franchise record for TD passes in a season.
“It’s great to see my name in the record book,” Bortles said, “even though it’s in a losing effort. That’s called ‘going down in history.’
“We’re 4-8 and only two games out of the lead in the AFC South. That’s something we’re used to saying in September, not December.”
The overmatched Colts were hammered 45-10 by the Steelers last week. Matt Hasselbeck had three turnovers, and the Indy offense managed only 240 yards of total offense.
“If there’s a miracle cure for a lacerated kidney,” Chuck Pagano said, “this is it. Hasselbeck showed his age. That was in the form of his passer rating of 61.5.”
Indianapolis wins 27-24.
San Diego @ Kansas City (-10)
The Chiefs picked off Derek Carr three times in the fourth quarter to rally for a 34-20 win at O.co Stadium. Alex Smith turned two of the turnovers into Jeremy Maclin scoring strikes, while Tyvon Branch clinched the win with an interception return for a TD.
“This team is resilient,” Andy Reid said. “I think if we can get into the playoffs, we can do some damage…..to our fans psyche.”
The Chargers lost to the Broncos 17-3, as San Diego lost for the seventh time in the last eight games. Philip Rivers was sacked four times and tossed an interception as the Chargers failed to score a touchdown.
“I’m disappointed in myself,” Rivers said, “and I felt like I disappointed the Chargers fans in attendance at Quallcomm Stadium. Luckily, I was able to apologize to all seven of them personally.”
Chiefs win 27-23.
Washington @ Chicago (-3)
The Redskins lost to the Cowboys 19-16 on Monday night, and now sit in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East with the 5-7 Giants and Eagles, with Dallas one game back at 4-8.
“We made some mistakes that probably cost us the game,” Kirk Cousins said. “If you personally asked me how to lose a game, I would reply, ‘Like that, you.’ If you wanted to hear me louder, ‘You mic that.’
“On the bright side, we’re still tied for first. We just have to regroup and prepare the same way we have all year. I promised the team I would play better and put this team on my back. Like I told my center Kory Lichtensteiger, ‘You hike that, I’ll take care of the rest.’ He said if I score a touchdown, ‘You spike that.’
“We’re in a favorable situation. Even at 5-7, we’re in position to make the playoffs. We don’t want to lose out of that endeavor. Heck, we could theoretically ‘lose out’ and still make the playoffs.”
The Bears lost 26-20 in overtime to the 49ers at Soldier Field, losing a game they needed to win to remain a legitimate wildcard contender. Chicago is 5-7 in the NFC North.
“I think we underestimated the 49ers,” Jay Cutler said. “I bet people find it hard to believe that Jay Cutler, of all people, could think something is better than it actually is.”
Chicago wins 26-17.
Atlanta @ Carolina (-7)
Atlanta’s red zone troubles continued at Tampa, as the Falcons failed to score touchdown in two of three trips in a 23-19 loss to the Buccaneers. After the game, Julio Jones expressed frustration in his usage in potential scoring situations.
“To quote Keyshawn Johnson,” Jones said, “’Give me the damn ball!’ That was the title of Johnson’s autobiography. That book didn’t sell many copies. From what I hear, it was a lot like Keyshawn—never open.
“We had a players only meeting last Monday. Every single player was there. Everything ‘met,’ except expectations.”
The Panthers remained undefeated, knocking off the Saints in the Superdome 41-38. Cam Newton had five touchdown passes for the second straight game, and Carolina improved to 12-0 while clinching the NFC South.
“Even though he was fired a few weeks ago,” Newton said, “Rob Ryan’s influence is still felt by the Saints defense. The Saints have the worst passing defense in the NFL, and possibly in history.
“Mercury Morris said no one would care if we become the second team to go undefeated for a season. Morris is entitled to his opinion, but it’s way too early to talk undefeated season. We’re worried about 13-0 right now, then 14-0, and so forth. If we get to 17-0, like the Dolphins, then we can talk undefeated season. I like our chances to get to 17-0, especially if we played the 1972 Dolphins 17 times.
“Anyway, we’ll need some luck to remain undefeated for the season. Of course, the ’72 Dolphins had some luck—-they went undefeated despite having Garo Yepremian on the team. It was like God was looking down upon them sprinkling some magic powder over them. Morris liked to call it ‘angel dust.’”
Carolina wins 27-24.
Oakland @ Denver (-7 1/2)
The Broncos defense dominated the Chargers in a 17-3 win at Quallcomm Stadium, holding Philip Rivers to 202 yards passing. Brock Osweiler passed for one touchdown, and is now 3-0 as a starter.
“We call Brock the ‘Big O,’” Gary Kubiak said. “We call Peyton Manning the ‘Little P,’ because that’s what the thought of him starting does to us.
“Manning is out of his boot and is doing better. He’s walking with little or no pain. He’s going to take up running soon. Then, he’s going to start passing, maybe with a physical.”
The Raiders held a 20-14 fourth quarter lead over the Chiefs last week, but three Derek Carr interceptions spelled doom in a 34-20 loss.
“Something large, puffy, and black came over Derek,” Jack Del Rio said. “It was either JaMarcus Russell, or a cloud.”
Denver wins 28-24.
Dallas @ Green Bay (-7 1/2)
The Packers pulled out a miraculous Thursday night win at Detroit, overcoming a 20-0 deficit to win of Aaron Rodgers’ 61-yard Hail Mary heave that landed in the hands of Richard Rodgers. The 27-23 moved Green Bay back into a tie atop the NFC North standings with Minnesota, who lost to Seattle.
“I threw that ball so far,” Rodgers said, “it almost hit the scoreboard. When it landed, it definitely hit the scoreboard.
“Eddie Lacy missed curfew early in the week before the Lions game and was disciplined. Eddie has to understand that we have to be able to rely on him. By that same token, we have to realize that Eddie has his own needs. That’s why we’re changing some terminology. From this point forward, ‘curfew’ will be known as ‘buffet.’”
The Cowboys beat the Redskins 19-16, winning on Dan Bailey’s 54-yard field goal with nine seconds left. The 4-8 Cowboys are only one game behind the division lead.
“The title of ‘NFC East Division Champions’ comes with great responsibility,” Jason Garrett said. “It also comes with its share of perks. The East champ gets: 1) a wildcard round home game, and 2) destroyed by the Seahawks in that very game.”
Green Bay wins 27-14.
New England @ Houston (+3 1/2)
The Patriots were stunned 35-28 by the visiting Eagles, done in by three Philly return touchdowns. With the loss, New England is currently the AFC’s No. 3 seed behind Cincinnati and Denver.
“It was an awkward handshake with Chip Kelly after the game,” Bill Belichick said. “Not for me, but for Kelly—he was quite taken aback by someone congratulating him on a job well done.
“Here’s more bad news: I hear a shank was found in Aaron Hernandez’s jail cell. I can certainly understand his need for protection. I find it interesting that, even in jail, Hernandez is determined to remain a tight end. In a related story, a skank was found in Rob Gronkowski’s room.”
The Texans four-game winning streak ended in a 30-21 loss to the Bills in Buffalo. Houston’s sturdy defense faltered, surrendering 390 yards of total offense, including 187 on the ground.
“I went sackless in that game,” J.J. Watt said. “I know I have to be better for us to have any chance to beat the Patriots. I’ve never been more pumped up for a game. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around Tom Brady, and say ‘Take me with you.’”
New England wins 28-19.
NY Giants @ Miami (+2)
The Giants blew a 20-10 fourth quarter lead and eventually lost 23-20 in overtime to the Jets. The game turned on Tom Coughlin’s decision to go for it on fourth down deep in Jets territory. Eli Manning threw an interception on the play.
“We probably should have kicked the field goal,” Coughlin said. “But hindsight is 20/20. If our season was 40 games long, we’d be lucky to finish 20-20.
“Jason Pierre-Paul revealed that doctors originally told him he’d lose his entire right hand after his July 4th fireworks accident. Luckily, JPP blew off that physician’s diagnosis. JPP got a second opinion. But he didn’t stop there—he got more opinions. When all was said and done, he had three-and-a-half opinions.”
The Giants overcome a slow start, and Eli Manning, sick of hearing all the talk about Odell Beckham, Jr. and his amazing catches, completes 21-31 passes, all one handed, and throws for three touchdowns.
New York wins 27-20.
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