Texans 13, Jaguars 10Houston continued its undefeated season against teams from Florida, an impressive streak that might actually mean anything if the Texans weren't 0-6 against every team not from Florida this year.
"If only we had the Buccaneers on the schedule," head coach Gary Kubiak wished aloud, "we just might be able to finish the season 4-12." On the plus side, even without Tampa Bay in their future, the Texans have already impressed fans and experts with their third win, which is—paradoxically—four more than anyone predicted they'd have.
Steelers 38, Saints 31Now that the season is half over, the Steelers have decided to start playing football. Willie Parker drew comparisons to "Frenchy" Fuqua—which, to clarify for non-Steeler fans, is a good thing—running for 213 yards and two touchdowns. The single game total was equal to about one third of what he got in the entire first half of the season combined.
"All part of the plan," laughed Parker. "We just have to save our energy and when the playoff come around and everyone else is tired... we POUNCE!" Parker's extended plan involves putting all the Steelers into cryogenic freezers and thawing them just before the playoffs begin. When it was pointed out the Steelers would end the season 3-13 by virtue of forfeit under his plan, Parker shrugged and dismissed critics. "So we'll be a wild card. We won it all last year as a wild card too."
Broncos 17, Raiders 13Oakland committed a bunch of penalties that completely blew their shot at winning this game, including one really stupid one that almost handed the win to Denver. I didn't watch the game or bother reading any recaps, but I've seen the Raiders play before and feel pretty safe that my summary is accurate. Just looking at the score, I'm also willing to go out on a limb and say Jake Plummer threw a few interceptions that kept Oakland in the game, but the Broncos defense stepped up and held of the silver and black to secure the victory.
Go ahead, prove me wrong.
Panthers 24, Buccaneers 10When last these two teams met, Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms was tackled so hard his spleen exploded like an overripe pumpkin dropped from a fifth story window. Monday night, his jealous teammates did everything they could to join him and leave this 2-7 nightmare.
"Whenever I ran a route across the middle, I tried to keep my ribs exposed," receiver Joey Galloway explained, raising his arms over his head to demonstrate, "and when I wasn't running routes across the middle, I ran across the middle anyway... and called the safeties' mothers rude names."
Ravens 27, Titans 26Steve McNair's triumphant return to Tennessee was capped by an impressive game-winning rally from 19 points down to give Baltimore its best start in team history. The former Titan's three touchdown passes reminded many fans of a time when their team didn't suck major ass week in and week out.
Capitalizing on the good feelings generated by McNair's return, former Titans tight end Frank Wychek convinced a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly to accept his "Buy Two, Get One Free" coupon for Irish Spring, despite its having expired October 31st.
Seahawks 24, Rams 22Someone outside of St. Louis and the Pacific Northwest noticed these two teams were playing one another, with Seattle hoping to help lock up the NFC West. Noticed, but didn't necessarily care. The Shaun Alexander/Matt Hasselbeck-less Seahawks posted their second straight win and took a two game lead in the division, though without those stars in the lineup, not many have noticed.
"Aw," groaned one of the few fans to pay attention to the game, "Josh Brown only kicked one field goal? And it wasn't even a very long one! He only got me six points in my fantasy league. I knew I should have started Rian Lindell!"
Eagles 27, Redskins 3Washington running back Clinton Portis set the tone for his team's game with Philly early when he broke his hand in the first quarter, likely eliminating him from play for the remainder of the season. The loss of the team's star rusher was an emotional blow, or at least that's the excuse his teammates used to explain why they were steamrolled by the Eagles.
"I had so many tears in my eyes from thinking about Clinton, sobbed quarterback Mark Brunell, "that I couldn't even see who I was throwing that costly interception to. The same goes for the 49% of my incomplete passes. Oh, woe is me!" "Yes," echoed safety Sean Taylor, a teammate of Portis's at the University of Miami, "I too was terribly shaken, which is why I couldn't keep Donte Stallworth from getting behind me for an 84-yard touchdown. That is the reason—boo hoo."
49ers 19, Lions 13San Francisco won its second straight game, a feat Detroit was likewise trying to do after knocking off the Falcons the week before. Unfortunately, the Lions haven't won back-to-back games in nearly two years, though receiver Roy Williams claims it's because the Lions play their best against their best opponents, as evidenced by their loss of only 27 points to Chicago earlier this year.
"I didn't say we play well," Williams clarified, "I said we play our best. Our best is just slightly less awful than our worst." In case Williams's theory holds true and Detroit does in fact play down to the level of Arizona this coming weekend, NFL officials have ordered the game be played in a completely dark room with no cameras present to protect against fans gouging their eyes from their sockets.
Bears 38, Giants 20More than anything else, this battle of two NFC division leaders showed just how mediocre the NFC has become. Bouncing back from having their asses handed to them by the horrendous Dolphins, the Bears beat up on New York for their eighth win in nine games.
"This was a big game," said quarterback Rex Grossman, "and we proved a lot out there. I think everyone pretty much has to admit we're the odds on favorite to lose the Super Bowl to a vastly superior AFC team. It might be Baltimore or Denver or Indianapolis or New England, even San Diego or Cincinnati. That uncertainty is what makes this such an exciting time to be an NFC player bound for AFC domination in the playoffs."
Chargers 49, Bengals 41LaDainian Tomlinson's streak of screwing you in fantasy football continued as he ran for four touchdowns. In the previous two weeks, he'd run for two and three touchdowns, meaning at this rate he'll have five next week and by the time you face him in your league's divisional championship, he'll be primed to drop nine touchdowns on your sorry ass.
Of course, the rest of your opponent's team will score a total of eight points, but you'll still lose and have to listen to his trash talk where he somehow he makes it seem like Tomlinson was some diamond in the rough that only his keen eye for football was able to discern. Yeah, yeah, yeah, asshole, you had the third pick and made the obvious selection after the first two guys took Johnson and Alexander. You're the friggin' master of pigskin strategy.
Jets 17, Patriots 14With the last three AFC East titles already on their shelf, the Patriots pretty much expected to cruise to a fourth unchallenged. With their upset win, the Jets, however, are just a game behind New England in the standings, a fact that caught many off guard.
"Wha—someone's within a game of us?" asked linebacker Tedy Bruschi. "You'll have to forgive us for being on cruise control, but if you had the Dolphins and Bills and a team led by Chad Pennington and Kevan Barlow as your division opponents, you'd sleep through to January too."
Browns 17, Falcons 13NFL public relations officers would like you to remember that the Atlanta Falcons are one of the league's best teams, due largely to the masterful play of quarterback Michael Vick. To this end, please ignore the fact no team can be considered "good," much less "one of the league's best," if it loses back to back games to Detroit and Cleveland, two teams that will never be described as "good" or even "average."
Please also note that Vick's awful two interceptions and unfortunately timed game-losing fumble were not the result of mindless "panic-running," but "brave, noble, strategically sound, MVP-caliber panic-running."
Dolphins 13, Chiefs 10The return to Miami was a bittersweet one for Kansas City quarterback Damon Huard. The former Dolphin back up would have liked to leave town with a win, but even after being tagged with a loss, no one will be able to take away his memories.
"It seems like only yesterday I was over there holding a field goal attempt for Olindo Mare," Huard sniffled. "Then I'd walk over there and sit on that bench just hoping Jay Fiedler might get injured and get me some friggin' playing time, maybe catch a nap. Man, those were some wild times."
"You mean Huard used to be on this team?" asked former teammate Zach Thomas. "If you count his wife, kids, and parents, that means there were at least seven people who gave a rat's ass about this game."
Colts 17, Bills 16Indianapolis proved it can win low scoring, tough minded football games as well as the high-flying air shows. "Hooray," sighed one Bills fan, "not only did I get to see my guys lose, but I didn't even get to see Peyton Manning play a particularly exciting game in defeating them. I should have given the money I spent on this ticket to charity."
To their credit, Buffalo played a smart game, double teaming the outside receivers and taking away the deep passing game in which Manning thrives. It's unclear whether the Bill thought this really gave them a snowball's chance in hell of winning this game. "Seriously, those are the Colts... and you guys are the Bills... so that's... I don't know how better to explain this," babbled a sideline reporter. "I mean... they're the Colts, y'know? You're not going to beat them if you're the Bills. I think there's a math equation I could use to show it, but I'd need some chalk."
Packers 23, Vikings 17With its third win in its last four games, Green Bay showed it wasn't ready to just concede second place in the NFC North to Minnesota without a fight. "Being 4-5 at this point and tied for second place," smiled Packers receiver Donald Driver, "is like a dream come true." Unfortunately, Driver tends not to dream very big as he proved by sharing a longtime fantasy of being the assistant to the undersecretary of an educational oversight committee.
"What's really exciting about being in second place," sighed back up Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers, "is that we can continue to milk outlandish hope of making the postseason, thus justifying our starting a relic under center instead of looking toward next year, securing a good draft position, and giving our quarterback of the future a couple of snaps in a live game."
Cowboys 27, Cardinals 10Arizona continued to squander the goodwill and positive publicity of its new stadium and subsequent season ticket sales bump by losing its eighth straight game and beginning the second half of the season as the clearcut favorites to have the first pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
"I'm really looking forward to screwing that up," grinned head coach Dennis Green. "I haven't decided yet whether we should take a flier on an unproven underclassman who will never amount to anything or if we should draft a receiver or quarterback, creating tension in the only two positions where we don't need help. I guess we won't really know what to do wrong until after the combine."
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Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.