Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
Tampa Bay @ St. Louis (-1)
Tampa’s wildcard playoff hopes were damaged, as Jameis Winston and crew suffered a 24-17 loss to the Saints. A win would have left the Bucs at 7-6, one game behind the 8-5 Vikings and Seahawks, who currently hold the wildcard positions.
“’That’s one we’d like to have back,’” Winston said. “I often hear that same thing from loss prevention officers at grocery stores.
“But all will be better if we win on Thursday night. I’m like a coupon—I can be redeemed, and I help myself to discounted goods at the grocery store.”
The Rams snapped a five-game losing streak with a 21-14 win over the Lions last week. Todd Gurley exploded for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
“Gurley is the building block of this franchise,” Jeff Fisher said. “Many say that the problem with this franchise is not the block, but the building, namely the fact that my office is in the building. We were 6-10 last year, and are headed there again this year. . I was supposed to turn this team around. I think I’ve succeeded, in the 360 degree turnaround.”
Bucs wins 19-17.
NY Jets @ Dallas (+4)
It’s a special Saturday night edition of Thursday Night Football as the 4-9 Cowboys host the 8-5 Jets. New York creamed the Titans 30-8 last week, led by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s three touchdowns.
“I know a number of Jets, current and past,” Todd Bowles said, “that absolutely love a ‘Saturday Night Special.’ They might deny that they own one, but if you ask the police, there definitely will be a charge of possession.
“If we take care of business at AT&T Stadium, we’ll be one step closer to a wildcard berth. I hear that’s where Jerry Jones does his business, because that’s where his throne is.”
The Cowboys are still alive in the NFC East race, despite last week’s 28-7 loss to the Packers. Matt Cassel was held to 114 yards passing, completing only 13 of 29 passes.
“We’re mathematically alive,” Dez Bryant said. “But I don’t care much for numbers, except the number 1. That represents my belief in my ability, and the one count of domestic battery I had for assaulting my mother. She was asking for it—-money, that is.
“I’ve offered to help the NFL define what a reception is. It seems that in the league’s definition of a reception, there’s always a catch.”
The Jets force two Cassel turnovers, and Antonio Cromartie wins his personal battle with Bryant, boasting that he has way more “X’s” than Bryant.
New York wins 23-16.
Chicago @ Minnesota (-5)
The Vikings lost their second straight game, falling 23-20 at Arizona. Teddy Bridgewater’s fumble with 13 seconds left prevented the Vikes from attempting a long field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
“That’s a defeat that stings,” Mike Zimmer said, “and the pain won’t soon go away. In fact, I can feel it down to my very scrotum.
“And speaking of sacks, you just can’t take one in that situation. It was risky to call a pass in that situation. We should have given the ball to Adrian Peterson. I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly feel safe when A.P. has a leathery object in his right hand.”
After winning at Green Bay in week 12, the Bears have lost two consecutive home games, the last a 24-21 defeat at the hands of the Redskins.
“That basically ended our playoff chances,” Jay Cutler said, “and, by extension, our Super Bowl chances. So, once again, there’ll be no remake of the ‘Super Bowl Shuffle.’ But that doesn’t mean I can’t share the lyrics I’ve written for the occasion when we do make the Super Bowl. Here goes: ‘My name is Jay, and I played at Vandy. If there’s a word to describe me, it would be ‘dandy.’ People tell me, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team.’ I say to that, ‘There’s an I-N-T.’ I didn’t come here to feathers ruffle, come playoff time, I’ll pack my duffle.’”
Peterson rushes for 97 yards and two scores, and Bridgewater wins the game with his legs when he takes three knees to end the game.
Minnesota wins 27-16.
Atlanta @ Jacksonville (-3)
Atlanta’s blowout 38-0 loss to the Panthers was the Falcons sixth straight, and they’re now 6-7.
“Fans aren’t flocking to see us play,” Matt Ryan said, “but ornithologists are. They heard about a new species of Falcon; it’s one that lays goose eggs. Now, these birds are rare. That means they appear more often that Julio Jones in the end zone.
“Our owner Arthur Blank called our performance ‘totally unacceptable.’ He said Dan Quinn’s job is safe, but Mr. Blank was not happy. He met with the coaching staff and expressed his anger with some colorful language. They got Blanked and bleeped.”
The Jaguars scored 42 second-half points to turn a close game against the Colts into a blowout 51-16 win. Blake Bortles overcame two early fumbles to throw for 250 yards and three touchdowns, and also added a rushing score.
“It doesn’t take a genius to know that you have to learn from your mistakes,” Bortles said. “It also doesn’t take a genius to know that I should be a genius from learning from my mistakes.
“I really think we could challenge for the AFC South title. We’re only one game behind the Colts and Texans. Can you imagine a playoff home game in Jacksonville? That would be great for the Jaguars, great for team owner Shad Khan, great for the city of Jacksonville, and even better for the AFC’s No. 5 seed.”
Atlanta wins 30-27.
Houston @ Indianapolis (Even)
The Colts took a pounding in a 51-16 loss to the Jaguars at EverBank Field last week. It was Indy’s first division loss since December of 2012.
“The Jaguars dropped 50 on us,” Matt Hasselbeck said. “I dropped 40 on the Jaguars. Jacksonville is a young team.
“I’m pretty beat up now. I’m sore, but there’s no major damage. Plus, my kidneys are working just fine. How do I know that? Because the Jaguars defense knocked the piss out of me.”
The Texans offense sputtered in Sunday night’s 27-6 loss to the Patriots. Brian Hoyer suffered a fourth quarter concussion, his second of the year.
“Brian had an experience similar to that of Ryan Mallet,” J.J. Watt said. “He woke up, and wasn’t the quarterback anymore.
“I’m not sure what ‘concussion protocol’ entails. I assume there are a lot of questions, and answers given to throw the interrogators off the trail. It must be a lot like the police interviewing Ray Lewis.”
First place is on the line at Lucas Oil Stadium. The winner will have the inside track to the division title, and an outside chance of winning a playoff game.
Houston wins 25-20.
Carolina @ NY Giants (+5 1/2)
The Giants are chasing the NFC East crown, and after beating the Dolphins on Monday night, New York is 6-7 and still tied with the Redskins and Eagles. Odell Beckham, Jr. had seven receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 84-yard score late in the fourth quarter.
“Adele says ‘Hello,’” Eli Manning said. “Odell says ‘Goodbye.’ Were the Dolphins even covering him? You can’t say Miami ‘employed’ a defense, because it ‘didn’t work.’
“Anyway, we’re at a point where we need to win our remaining three games. Motivation is important. That’s why Lawrence Taylor told us to go out there like a bunch of ‘crazed dogs.’ I could be wrong, but I think what L.T. means is we should sniff everything in sight.”
The Panthers remained undefeated, blowing out the Falcons 38-0 last week at Bank Of America season. Carolina improved to 13-0 and clinched a first-round playoff bye.
“The Giants ended the Patriots undefeated run back in 2007,” Cam Newton said. “And I know they want to do the same to our undefeated run. But can they? If the Giants defense wants to disrupt me, they’ll have to disguise their coverage and pressure schemes. That suits me just fine, because I don’t want anyone on that team to ‘show their hand.’”
Carolina wins 29-27.
Tennessee @ New England (-14)
The Patriots ended a two-game losing streak with a 27-6 win over the Texans last Sunday night. Tom Brady passed for two scores while the Patriots defense held the Houston offense to only 189 yards total offense.
“The loss to the Eagles left a bad taste in our mouth,” Brady said. “That makes your breath stink. It’s not so bad when you inhale, but it really causes problems when you let that air out. “
The Titans were pummeled 30-8 by the Jets at MetLife Stadium last week, as Marcus Mariota struggled against the Jets defense while Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed three touchdowns.
“Playing against Fitzpatrick is one thing,” Mariota said. “Facing Tom Brady is another. I grew up admiring Brady. If I could be half the quarterback Brady is, I would choose the lower half, because he’s married to a Brazilian supermodel.”
Tom Brady passes for three scores, and the Pats defense forces three Mariota turnovers.
New England wins 34-11.
Buffalo @ Washington (+1)
The Redskins won for the first time on the road, beating the Bears 24-21 at Soldier Field. Washington is 6-7, tied atop the NFC East with the Eagles and Giants.
“I think our road troubles are just a mental issue,” Kirk Cousins said, “and we finally overcame it. And how do you do that? You psyche that. I repeat, you psyche that.”
The Bills lost 23-20 at Philadelphia in a disappointing result for LeSean McCoy, who was traded from Philadelphia to Buffalo in the offseason. McCoy left the stadium without talking to the media after the game.
“I think that shows just how talented LeSean is,” Rex Ryan said. “He’s just as fast running with his tail between his legs. I don’t mind at all that Shady didn’t talk to reporters after the game, because there’s only room for one media whore on this team.”
Redskins win 24-21.
Kansas City @ Baltimore (+8)
The Ravens were pounded 35-6 by the visiting Seahawks last week at M&T Bank Stadium. Russell Wilson torched the Baltimore defense for five touchdown passes, while Jimmy Clausen started for the injured Matt Schaub.
“Schaub was dealing with a chest injury,” John Harbaugh said. “That’s unfortunate for Matt. If it’s not his picks, it his pecs.
“We signed Ryan Mallett on Tuesday. Ryan promised us he’s dealt with the issues through counseling that led to his dismissal in Houston. That would be ‘professional help,’ which is a far cry from what Ryan brings to this team.”
Chiefs win 27-13.
Cleveland @ Seattle (-15)
Johnny Manziel passed for 270 yards and a touchdown as the Browns whipped the 49ers 24-10.
“Let’s face it,” Mike Pettine said, “it’s been a disastrous season. That being said, I thought Johnny played well. It was the best performance in a ‘Trainwreck’ since Lebron James.
“A lot of talk centers around Johnny Manziel and the future. No, video didn’t surface of Johnny partying with the rapper Future. And what do you know—Future has a son with Ciara, who is currently dating Russell Wilson. Not only is Wilson a good passer, he seems to be a good rebounder as well.”
Russell Wilson remained hot, passing for five touchdowns as the Seahawks hammered the Ravens 35-6 at M&T Bank Stadium last week. Wilson has 16 TD passes in Seattle’s last four games.
“Russell is in the zone,” Pete Carroll said. “I would trust him to throw with the Super Bowl on the line.
“They say Manziel could possibly be traded in the offseason, so it behooves the Browns for him to perform well. Maybe that’s why he played so well. So, if Johnny busts a move, the Browns will be able to move a bust.
Seattle wins 31-13.
Green Bay @ Oakland (+3)
The Packers pounded the Cowboys 28-7 at Lambeau Field as James Starks and Eddie Lacy both posted rushing scores. Green Bay is 8-5, tied with Minnesota atop the NFC North.
“We didn’t need a Hail Mary to beat the Cowboys,” Rodgers said. “We didn’t even need Mary to beat the Cowboys. Heck, we don’t need Jack to beat the Cowboys.
“We rushed for 230 yards as a team. Lacy accounted for 124 of those yards. More importantly, at curfew, Eddie accounted for his whereabouts.
“Mike McCarthy is taking over play calling duties. That means more run calls. And that means more of Lacy and Starks. They both welcome the heavier workload, but I’d say Eddie is the hungrier of the two.”
Green Bay wins 26-24.
Denver @ Pittsburgh (-6)
The Broncos faltered in the second half and suffered a crucial 15-12 home loss to the Raiders. Brock Osweiler was sacked five times by Khalil Mack, and the Broncos rushed for only 34 yards.
“We let the AFC No. 1 seed slip through our hands,” Osweiler said. “DeMaryius Thomas and Vernon Davis can certainly relate to that feeling. In their defense, they’re probably not used to catching a spiral.
“Peyton Manning may be healthy enough to return, but I’ll be starting, and my hometown of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is rejoicing. Idaho may be one of the poorest states in the nation, but that hasn’t stopped an outpouring of support. Nationwide may be on Manning’s side, but double-wide is on my side.
“Let’s put it this way: Peyton has a foot in the door. But the issue for the Broncos isn’t the door, it’s the window, and it’s closing.”
The Steelers picked up a huge road win, beating the Bengals 33-20 in Cincinnati to pull within two games of Cincy in the AFC North standings. DeAngelo Williams rushed for two scores, and the Steelers defense forced three turnovers.
“There was a lot of trash talk going on,” Mike Tomlin said. “And there was nothing sanitary about it.
“This team is playing with the confidence of a squad that knows it can win the Super Bowl. Heck, we celebrate routine plays like we won the Super Bowl. A lot of those shenanigans take place on the sidelines, and I don’t have a problem with it at all. In fact, I’m all for it. Everybody knows I encourage ‘tripping’ on the sidelines.
Denver wins 30-27.
Miami @ San Diego (-1 1/2)
With last week’s 10-3 loss to the Chiefs, the Chargers have dropped eight of their last nine games, and have posted a total of six points in their last two games.
“Some people say we’re running the ‘Manti Te’o’s girlfriend’ offense,” Philip Rivers said, “because it doesn’t exist.”
San Diego wins 28-20.
Cincinnati @ San Francisco (+4 1/2)
Cincinnati’s 33-20 home loss to the Steelers came with a heavy price: Andy Dalton was lost for the season with a broken thumb, dealing a heavy blow to the Bengals playoff chances.
“Here’s the good news,” Marvin Lewis said, “surgery isn’t required and Andy will just be in a cast. The bad news is Pete Rose is charging him $100 to sign it.
“But Andy wasn’t our only casualty. Tyler Eifert suffered another concussion. Here’s a story I bet you didn’t know. Pacman Jones took Eifert out for a night on the town, As you know, Pacman and Tyler come from different sides of the track, so it was no surprise that when Pacman asked him to ‘Take a hit,’ Tyler said ‘I can’t.’
“We’re confident A.J. McCarron can get the job done. Sure, we expect him to be nervous. That’s called the ‘Alabama Shakes;’ that’s the same thing Kenny Stabler got when he didn’t get his whiskey.”
Cincinnati wins 26-12.
Arizona @ Philadelphia (+3 1/2)
The Cardinals beat the visiting Vikings 23-20 last week and are now on the cusp of clinching the NFC West title. With a win over the Eagles, or Seattle loss to Cleveland, Arizona takes the division crown.
“It’s was long flight from Glendale to Philadelphia,” Carson Palmer said, “which left ample time for David Johnson to speak with our owner, Bill Bidwell. Bidwell always flies first class, and like a good owner, he told Johnson to get back to Coach.”
The Eagles beat LeSean McCoy and the Bills 23-20 in McCoy’s return to Philadelphia.
“Supposedly,” Chip Kelly said, “I called McCoy’s phone number and got a click. That’s usually more than I get when I call DeMarco Murray’s number.
“In DeMarco’s eyes, he joined the ‘Mile High Club’ on the flight back from Foxboro couple of weeks ago, because he had discourse with Jeffrey Lurie at 30,000 feet.’”
Arizona wins 27-24.
Detroit @ New Orleans (-3)
The Saints upset the Buccaneers in Tampa, winning 24-17 behind 312 yards passing and two touchdowns from Drew Brees.
“It’s difficult to define this game,” Brees said, “because it has no meaning.”
“But our offense has heated up lately. In our last two games, we’ve averaged 31 points. Slowly but surely, we’re catching up to our defense.”
Since Detroit’s 45-7 Thanksgiving Day win over the Eagles, the Lions have lost two in a row, including last week’s 21-14 loss at St. Louis.
“We were confident we could beat the Rams,” Jim Caldwell said. “We knew they probably weren’t capable of duplicating what Aaron Rodgers did a few weeks back. In other words, we didn’t think Case Keenum could pass for 61 yards.”
Detroit wins 27-24.