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
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
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
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
's 22 consecutive completed passes-that are set against the Houston Texans.