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Panthers 26, Bucs 24

Carolina bounced back from two straight losses thanks to the "get right" Bucs, who are proving to be the self-esteem boost every faltering team need. All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith returned to the Panthers lineup after missing the first two games of the season with hamstring problems, but was a game time decision, so you probably didn't start him in your fantasy league, got screwed out of his seven catches for 112 yards and lost by three points because you had to start Dennis Northcutt instead. Dammit.

Due to a hard tackle, Tampa Bay's Chris Simms was hospitalized after the game and had to have his spleen removed. Upon hearing he would miss at least four to six weeks, the quarterback asked, "What if you take my pancreas too? What's it going to take to keep me off that team until 2008?"

Packers 31, Lions 24

Brett Favre notched his 400th career touchdown in the first quarter, joining Dan Marino as only the second quarterback in NFL history to find the end zone as many times. The milestone was cause for much celebration-at least for Marino, who had an excuse to talk about himself and his playing days. Were you aware he played for Don Shula? Because if you weren't, he'd love to casually mention it to you in passing.

Farve, on the other hand, downplayed the big four-oh...oh, saying winning was more important than records, a statement contradicted by the fact that Favre returned to a terrible Packers team following the worst season of his professional career while he's within easy striking distance of several records, but will be lucky to win three games, two of which will only be by virtue of the fact that Green Bay plays Detroit twice.

Bengals 28, Steelers 20

The last time these teams met, Ben Roethlisberger had an appendix and felt safe riding a motorcycle without a helmet, while Carson Palmer had his original ACL. Quarterback medical histories aside, this match up maintained one consistency as the road team won for the fourth straight time and for the sixth time in the last seven games. "I'm sure that's very significant," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said, rolling his eyes. "If only we'd known that piece of trivia, we could have saved several hours of studying game film and running practice with the scout team, hit the strip club, and chalked up the W."

Bears 19, Vikings 16

The season may have 14 weeks remaining, but Chicago all but clinched a playoff spot with its defeat of Minnesota. It may be a little early to crown the undefeated Bears the kings of the NFC North, but considering the other two teams in the division are Detroit and Green Bay, this win over Minnesota is most likely the division title clincher that will set up Bears fans for an emotionally crushing first round defeat at the hands of some wild card team that makes it in by virtue of another team losing its season ender. Sorry, Chi-town, it's called irony.

Eagles 38, 49ers 24

You're having a bad game when your starting running back strains his abdomen and fumbles away the ball while attempting to stretch for a touchdown, you lose your first round draft pick for at least a month to a broken leg, or a 292-pound defensive lineman runs a fumble back 98 yards for a touchdown without any of your players getting near him. You're having a terrible game when all three happen on the same play. 49ers Frank Gore and Vernon Davis were both hurt on a fumble that was recovered by Philly's Mike Patterson and returned to midfield before most of the Niners even realized what was happening.

Fantasy owners who took a chance on injury-prone Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will also be braying about his 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Let them have their fun, as this is the Eagles' equivalent to Groundhog' Day. Prognosticators see 13 weeks of Westbrook rushing for 40 yards a game and fumbling every other Sunday in the future.

Redskins 31, Texans 15

For years after Roger Maris hit his 61st home run in 1961, Major League Baseball hung an asterisk on the record to indicate that Maris set the record in a 162-games season while Babe Ruth hit the previous record 60 in a 154-game season. Likewise, the NFL might want to consider a similar asterisk for records-like Mark Brunell's 22 consecutive completed passes-that are set against the Houston Texans.

Broncos 17, Patriots 7

New England may already be regretting its decision to trade away receiver Deion Branch as the offense struggled to put up points, going into the fourth quarter down 10-0 and falling behind 17-0 before finally scoring 50 minutes into the game. Meanwhile, Bree told a story about finally experiencing her first orgasm, which wasn't part of the football game, but is worth recapping since most TVs switched over to Desperate Housewives instead of watching this snoozer, especially on the heels of Jacksonville's 9-0 win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football last week. At this rate, look for the Saints or Falcons to score a safety in the second quarter of tonight's game and follow that with about 40 three-and-out series.

Dolphins 13, Titans 10

Miami announced a sellout crowd for this game, but at least 20,000 seats sat empty. This means roughly 25 percent of the people who paid an average of $52 a ticket chose to eat that money instead of watching the clash of two winless teams. The Dolphins and Titans did everything they could to justify those fans' decision, piling up twice as many turnovers as touchdowns. Tennessee has won only one of its last 13 road games, and made the decision not to play first round pick Vince Young, who'd shared playing time in the team's first two games. "We're afraid something like putting an electrifying playmaker on the field to show what he can do might do something like drum up support and energize our fan base," explained Titans coach Jeff Fisher. "Look at our team for the past four years and you'll see we just can't have that."

Jets 28, Bills 20

Look, Chad Pennington was coming off consecutive 300-yard games and he was really developing chemistry with both Laveranues Coles and Jericho Cotchery. You were fully justified in starting him in your fantasy league over Brett Favre or Jon Kitna. There was no way to guess he'd only get 183 yards and one touchdown. Stop beating yourself up, buddy. You're still a good person.

Rams 16, Cardinals 14

Kurt Warner won two MVP awards for the Rams in 1999 and 2001, and probably deserves another for his performance in Sunday's game. "When Marc Bulger fumbles that ball in the final two minutes setting us up beautifully for a chipshot field goal," Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner described, wringing his hands in excitement, "I was all like, 'Nuh-uh! Not in our house!' and went right back out there to fumble it back!" Warner turned the ball over four times on three interceptions and the loss-clinching fumble with 1:47 to go. St. Louis is now 2-1, but owes their wins to their kicker setting a team record for field goals in a game and a beat up quarterback with no offensive line turning over the ball three times in the Rams' red zone.

Colts 21, Jaguars 14

Jacksonville thought it had the key to defeating the Colts-who'd beaten the Jags in four of their last five meetings and who've won 10 straight division games-with a ball control offense heavy on running and keeping possession. The plan didn't quite work out, as Indianapolis scored "only" 21 points-in other words, just six fewer than the Buccaneers have scored in their first three games combined. "I'm very proud of my players," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told the press. "This could possibly have been the most boring week of football in the last five years, and the NFL owes that in no small part to our dragging Indy down to the level of Cleveland and Buffalo."

Seahawks 42, Giants 30

For a third straight week, Eli Manning put up impressive numbers in a rally after the Giants fell behind, prompting the question of just how many NFL coaches have the New York quarterback on their fantasy rosters. Mike Holmgren's Seahawks took a 42-3 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to Matt Hasselbeck's five TD passes. In the final quarter of the game, Manning managed three touchdown passes and 136 passing yards, half his total yardage for the entire game. "Oh, what's it hurt if one guy happens to put up some good numbers well after our team has secured a solid win?" Holmgren asked rhetorically. "Maybe he scores an extra 24 points plus whatever the equation is on Yahoo! for his completion percen-uh...never mind."

Ravens 15, Browns 14

Baltimore continued its undefeated season, though it's hard to get too excited when those wins have come against Tampa Bay (0-3), Oakland (0-2) and Cleveland (0-3), making the three straight wins roughly on the same level as beating up kids in wheelchairs for candy. "3-0 is a big deal, baby!" Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis shouted while eating a fistful of candy, the origin of which he declined to disclose. Sadly for Cleveland fans, only three teams in NFL history have ever bounced back from an 0-3 start to make the playoffs, though, let's be honest Cleveland fans. Even if your team was 3-0 right now, no one would really believe your team was going to the playoffs.




Jake Bell is a former NBC sportscaster and head writer for Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge.

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