This week the Ravens clash with the Chargers in a battle of disappointing teams. The Browns look to get back on track against the high-flying Cardinals, and the Steelers and the Bengals face off for an important AFC North showdown.
Baltimore Ravens vs San Diego Chargers: Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Eugene Monroe sits out practice; Kelechi Osemele limited participant
The Ravens are in a good news/bad news situation with their injury report. After losing Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele during Monday night's game, they at least got Osemele back on the field, in a limited capacity, on Wednesday. They'll have to hope both can somehow work their way onto the field Sunday though, so they can take advantage of the Chargers' run defense that gives up a league worst 5.3 yards per carry.
Despite talent, Ravens aren't getting it done
10 of the Ravens' starting 22 players are ranked in the top 10 at their position by Pro Football Focus. For comparison, the Patriots have nine, and yet here the Ravens are at the bottom of the NFL standings. This brings up the question of are the coaches the problem? Well they aren't free of blame, but with each of the Ravens' losses coming by, at most, eight points it isn't like they've been completely out of games. There have been instances that they've been out coached, yes, but also instances of offensive players giving up in two minute drills and late game turnovers. It really has been a perfect storm that makes it more likely that the Ravens just aren't clutch this year.
Ravens struggle in turnover battle
It is one of the generic keys to any game: Win the turnover battle. The Ravens have done that only once this season, ironically against the Bengals, and they still lost. This is a trend that can be blamed on both sides of the Ravens' team. The offense has turned the ball over 12 times in seven games. However, the defense has only taken the ball away four times, with no interceptions in their last four games. Considering how close all of those games were, one turnover could've easily made a difference.
Cleveland Browns vs Arizona Cardinals: Sunday 1:00 p.m.
McCown resting; Browns defense geting healthy
Josh McCown, who coach Mike Pettine hopes to start Sunday, sat out practice Wednesday. With Johnny Manziel grabbing attention for his off the field incident, it feels like Pettine wants to avoid answering any more questions about Manziel than he has to. While McCown was sitting out though, Joe Haden, Tashaun Gipson, and Craig Robertson all practiced. That gives a huge boost to the Browns' secondary and some much needed depth at linebacker. Unfortunately the secondary probably won't be much help if teams can run for 5.1 yards per carry on them. McCown did practice in a limited role on Thursday.
Manziel investigated by NFL for October incident
It looks like Manziel won't be receiving any punishment from the NFL for his October 12th incident with his girlfriend. There is some outrage to this, but with little to no proof either way it is hard to say what really happened. In a country where everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it would've been hard for the NFL to do anything about this. This should serve as a wake up for Manziel, that he should start watching what he does off the field more closely, something he should've already learned, if he ever hopes to become the starting quarterback for the Browns or any NFL team.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals: Sunday 1:00 p.m.
Ben Roethlisberger full participant; Stephon Tuitt held out of practice
Despite Ben Roethlisberger trying to temper expectations on him returning Sunday against the Bengals, he was a full participant on Wednesday. It will be important to track this leading up to Sunday though since last week he said the swelling after practice was the worst part of his injury. Still, it will be hard to believe the Steelers will be without Roethlisberger with such an important game this weekend. Someone they might be without is Stephon Tuitt, who has been a major part of their defense this year leading the Pittsburgh pass rush. It was obvious, without him in the lineup last week, that they struggled to pressure one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the league -- Alex Smith. If Tuitt can't return to the practice field, it would be a huge blow for this defense, and would make it easier for Andy Dalton to sit back and pick apart the Steelers' defense.
Ben Roethlisberger will get the Bengals' best shot Sunday
Suggesting the Bengals defense would purposely take out the Steelers' quarterback is just silly. After all Kimo Von Oelhoffen doesn't play for the Bengals. In today's NFL though it has become impossible for such actions to be taken. First of all you can't go low on quarterbacks in the pocket without being flagged. Also no one really wants to give Steelers fans an excuse for when the Bengals beat them. With the Steelers' offensive line struggling and the Bengals' defensive line looking better than ever, it would be hard to expect Roethlisberger not getting hit a few times. Especially with his lateral movement limited by the MCL sprain, Roethlisberger will have some trouble getting away like he normally does. Even if he does have a full set of weapons around him, it could be hard for Roethlisberger to make use of them with defenders in his face.
NFL fines Pittsburgh Steelers' DeAngelo Williams, William Gay for uniform violations
I understand the NFL has uniform rules they want to enforce because if you become lax on them, players could take advantage. This is different though. Why is the NFL fining its players for acts of cancer and violence awareness? No one would notice these tributes if it weren't for the NFL fining these players. It gives no competitive advantage to the players either. Plus the NFL, just by letting the players do it without being fined, and maybe shining some light on it, would end up looking 100 percent better in the court of public opinion than they would by punishing these players. Especially given how they have dealt with these issues recently.