Today we learn that a man who can communicate with bears is still a mere mortal capable of missing a football game due to an injury. We also learn that being a Seahawks fan requires equal parts delusion and hope.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
And we begin with the expected but still notable Ray Lewis injury update.
We all thought Lewis was such a screaming maniac that he’d play with a severed limb. We were wrong, and the toe injury that forced him to miss practice earlier this week will indeed keep him on the sidelines today during a key divisional game.
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reported Friday that Lewis will likely miss two games, meaning the Ravens defense could be without their veteran anchor against the 49ers and a rushing attack averaging 130.9 yards per game. And since often we’re very much in the business of
blatant trolling rumor mongering, we’ll also pass along the baseless rumors that Lewis could be done for the year.
One more item in a game filled with developing injury activity: A.J. Green is ready for some football, but the Bengals’ team doctors might not agree with his self diagnosis.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Tony Grossi had a question in his weekly mailbag that illustrates the depressing lows reached this season by both the Browns, and Andy Reid. A reader is already wondering if the Browns should ditch the newly-hired Pat Shurmur nine games into his tenure as the coach of a crappy team, and chase after Reid this offseason.
The answer? A definitive “no.”
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions
Sure, the Lions crushed Tim Tebow and the Broncos 45-10 back in Week 8. But Tebow still ran for 63 yards, exposing Detroit’s inability to contain a mobile quarterback.
That will be a focus and likely a problem again today against Cam Newton, the Panthers rookie quarterback who has seven rushing touchdowns, and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers
Despite his inconsistent accuracy and a linger thumb injury, there’s been one constant this year for Josh Freeman: his ability to stay upright. As Mike Spofford of Packers.com notes, prior to last week he hadn’t been sacked more than twice in a game, and the Bucs offensive line is tied for first in the NFC, allowing just 15 sacks.
This game likely won’t end well for Tampa, but at least we’ll have an intriguing matchup to watch with Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji chasing a quarterback who doesn’t go down often.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
The league-leader in sacks allowed is Buffalo’s offensive line (just 10), and much of that is the result Ryan Fitzpatrick’s penchant for releasing the ball in a prompt and timely manner. The challenge facing Miami’s defense today is to create pressure despite the quick rhythm of the Bills’ passing offense.
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings
Jared Allen has been credited with at least half a sack in every game, and with 13.5 sacks he’s still on pace to break Michael Strahan’s single-season sacks record. What’s most impressive is that Allen’s getting to the quarterback at a record-setting pace while playing on a bad team that isn’t allowing him to thrive in typical high-leverage pass rushing situations.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
LeRon Landry’s Achilles has flared up and it’ll keep him out of Washington’s defensive backfield today, which shifts the focus up the middle to O.J. Atogwe. The Redskins’ offseason acquisition has four interceptions in his four career games against the Cowboys.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
John Skelton’s stats during his two games as Arizona’s starting quarterback this year don’t leap off the page. But if Tim Tebow has thought us anything, it’s that winning easily overshadows a limited sample size that should restrict our judgment.
That’s where the problem will begin for the Cardinals when Kevin Kolb is finally healthy. Kolb has had seven tries to win a game as a starter in a Cards uniform, and he’s been successful just once. Meanwhile, Skelton has had six tries, and he’s been unsuccessful just twice.
The odds of Skelton beating the NFC West leading 49ers today are slim, but if he does then he could force Ken Whisenhunt to put production over paycheck.
Oh, and for the fantasy addicted, Frank Gore is expected to play, but his workload will be limited.
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
Maintaining a level head is difficult while supporting a team that wins games it has no business winning, and loses games it has no business losing, and the latter could happen today. Godspeed, Joseph Okabe of 12th Man Rising.
Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons
The sacks a team allows and the average per game rushing total offensively are two stats that rely heavily on the offensive line. Logical and reasonable thinking leads to the conclusion that if a team excels in one area, it’ll be at minimum efficient in the other, and anything less is a little baffling.
Friends, met your 2011 Tennessee Titans, a team that’s allowed the third fewest sacks, but ranks last in rushing. Thanks, Chris Johnson.
San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears
Apparently someone in Chicago bought a billboard this week featuring a picture of an intense and focused Ron Burgundy alongside the words “go f— yourself San Diego.” I would like to kiss this person’s toes.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka will get to run after Vince Young tonight, with the former Titan replacing Michael Vick. Kiwanuka doesn’t have fond memories of his first opportunity to sack Young during his rookie season.