Heading into Week 10, the AFC North is completely up in the air. The Ravens and Steelers are tied at 4-4 for the lead, but the Bengals are only a half of a win behind because of their tie. The Browns will look to pull off a shocking upset to get their first win of the season over the Ravens. The Steelers are looking to end their three game losing streak against the Cowboys who have been dominating the NFL this season.
The Cleveland Browns (0-9) at the Baltimore Ravens (4-4): Thursday, November: Thursday, November 10, 8:25 p.m. EST
OUT: CB Jamar Taylor (groin)
OUT: LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), CB Shareece Wright (thigh)
DOUBTFUL: G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Kenneth Dixon (chest)
Thursday night games really suck for banged up players. Because the games are on Thursday, there aren’t as many days to rest up. In this case, a team like the Ravens who are coming off a physical win against the Steelers look like they’ll be without guard Marshal Yanda. Elvis Dumervil had missed the two games prior to this Week 10 matchup, but there was little chance he’d return with the short week.
The Browns, however, seem to be fairly healthy. A big concern is Joe Thomas not practicing at all before Thursday, but he could just have been given rest. The Browns also look like they’ll be without starting corner Jamar Taylor who is dealing with a groin injury.
The Browns have decided to stick it out with Cody Kessler, and this is really a no brainer. Cleveland is 0-9 and may not be mathematically eliminated yet, but they have no playoff hopes. This is the point in the season where young guys will get to show what they have. What is the point in playing Josh McCown now? Maybe he gives you a slightly better chance at winning, but Kessler has played fairly well when he has been out there. The Browns want to see if they have something here. Don’t be surprised if we see McCown again, just because that offensive line isn’t protecting anyone.
If the Browns have a shot at winning a game this year it might have to be a game like this. The Browns are coming off a beating by the Cowboys. The Ravens are flying high after taking the division lead again from the Steelers. This has let down game written all over it.
Don’t forget the Browns pulled out to a huge lead when these teams played earlier this season. It took McCown playing through injury and almost three full quarters for the Ravens to recover, and barely pull out a win.
The Browns probably won’t be able to pull it off though. The Ravens won’t take the Browns lightly after almost losing to the division bottom dweller in Week 2. Even though the Ravens’ offense has been struggling, the Browns’ defense has been more than happy to let teams get going against them. They hardly even covered the Dallas receivers last week.
Still, division games are always weird. The Browns are also close to that point in a losing team’s season when they say screw it and start going all out by gambling on fourth down more often. It would be fitting though for the Ravens to beat the division leading Steelers one week and then lose to the worst team in football the next.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4) vs the Dallas Cowboys (7-1): Sunday, November 13, 4:25 p.m. EST
Maurkice Pouncey had a procedure done on his thumb Tuesday.
“In all likelihood it’s going to table him at the early portions of the week but he’ll have an opportunity to practice as we push toward Thursday and Friday,” said Tomlin told the media. “Specifically Friday and we’ll see where that participation takes us in terms of game availability.”
Ben Roethlisberger will probably be limited all week, but if Pouncey can’t go Sunday it would have to cause some concern for Roethlisberger’s protection and well being for the game. Roethlisberger looked like he rushed back last week based on performance and mobility. The Steelers will have to focus on getting the run game and short passing game going this week to keep Roethlisberger from hitting the deck too often.
After losing last week, Antonio Brown demanded more help from his fellow pass catchers. He cited the fact he was facing triple coverage at point, and he was frustrated that didn’t lead to more success from his teammates.
Now it is time to see if anyone will be able to answer that call. The receivers have been inconsistent outside of Brown. In fact, the next leading receiver after Brown is Le’Veon Bell with 36 catches. Bell also missed the first three games of the season. Sammie Coates has 20 catches and averages 21.3 yards per catch, but he dropped what would have been a huge touchdown last week while also failing to catch a single pass. Eli Rogers had a bounce back game last week after being punished the week before, but most of his contribution came in garbage time.
The answer may be Ladarius Green, the former Charger tight end. Green hasn’t made his Pittsburgh debut yet, but this week is looking like the week when it could finally happen. Although, banking on Green adding the dimension that the Steelers need is risky. Green has been injured for the entire offseason, and his chemistry with Roethlisberger may not be there yet. It will be interesting to see if he is able to answer the call.