There'll be a lot of talk about him ahead of the Bengals' game against the Steelers, but Vontaze Burfict has had a pleasantly quiet year so far.
While Green and Collinsworth each caught 1,000 yards and combined for 15 touchdowns as rookies, Boyd has caught only one score and is on pace for 647 yards. But he’s making his mark as a crafty slot receiver and heading into Sunday’s game at Paul Brown Stadium (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) against his hometown Steelers, Boyd is in the NFL’s top ten for third down catches with 21 and leads all rookie receivers in the category. Since A.J. Green (hamstring) has been out, Boyd is averaging five catches on any down and if he finishes the season like that he’ll have 63 balls, four shy of Collinsworth in 1981 and two shy of Green 30 years later.
The first round of the fantasy playoffs is over (for most), and now we move on to the 2nd round where both teams, and the start/sit questions, get harder. Matt Forte and Melvin Gordon were injured last week, leaving their owners scrambling to the waiver wire in the hopes of finding their replacement. The Bears get Alshon Jeffery back, which seems to be the good news they can get these days.
Bengals color commentator Dave Lapham talks about the job and shares stories with beat writer Paul Dehner Jr..
Ken Zampese kept his evaluation of Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier short and to the point: Active, fast, instinctual and, well, really good. “There’s a reason they picked him so high,” the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator said. In 2014 the Steelers plucked the Ohio State product at No. 15 overall, and he has been wreaking havoc around the NFL ever since.
Bengals beat writers Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski look at the meaning of Sunday's game against the Steelers, the streak of struggles against winning teams and offer predictions. Plus, hear from Dre Kirkpatrick on his impending free agency, Pro Football Focus on Le'Veon Bell and Bengals radio team of Dave Lapham and Dan Hoard on their relationship and spot on the front lines of the Bengals relationship with fans, clients.
In an era where teams in the National Football League prefer to pass first (and oftentimes second) the idea of the old school, “workhorse” running back has drifted into mythology. Teams have number one running backs, but they try to keep them free of consistent pounding by working in one or two other backups to relieve some of the pressure. That is not the case in Pittsburgh.
A common thread over the last two weeks – the first back-to-back victories by the Cincinnati Bengals in over a year – is that the team has played with early leads on a consistent basis for the first time. Prior to the victory over Philadelphia two weeks ago, the Bengals enjoyed a first quarter lead against Denver, Miami and Cleveland. They took a lead into the half against Miami, Cleveland and Buffalo. They finished 2-2 in those games.
So, I'm saying they have a chance. And as I did on Twitter this week, you all sent me gifs from Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) in Dumb and Dumber. Yep, the odds are about as slim as hooking up with Lauren Holly, although to be fair, Carrey and Holley did get married in September of 1996. They divorced in July of 1997. Sad when a marriage never gets to experience training camp together.
Cincinnati Bengals rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd doesn't actively think about the late-game fumble that ended any chance of a comeback against the Steelers in Week 2. But when it comes up, it's clear the fumble still bothers him.
AFC North Bytes
Perhaps Vontaze Burfict should learn the five D's of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge Antonio. In a lighthearted moment with NBC Sports Radio this week, host Mike Florio asked Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown which player he would target in a game of dodgeball among these choices: Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict or Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.
Cleveland Browns guard Alvin Bailey has been suspended two games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, NFL spokesperson Alvin Bailey announced Thursday, per the Browns. Bailey, 25, was arrested for a DUI earlier this year and pleaded no contest, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, leading to the suspension.
Steve Smith Sr. wasn’t in the mood for mistakes during the Baltimore Ravens' practice Thursday, even by his Pro Bowl quarterback. Smith tossed his helmet and kicked a football after Flacco overthrew him on back-to-back deep passes along the sideline. After the outburst, Smith walked off the field as Flacco and the rest of the offense continued the passing drills.
The John Fassel era is off to a tough start, as the Los Angeles Rams were soundly beaten by the Seattle Seahawks 24-3 on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field. With the win, Seattle clinched the NFC West title for the fourth time since 2010.
The New England Patriots have added yet another weapon. The Patriots officially claimed Cardinals wideout Michael Floyd off waivers on Thursday. To make room on the roster, New England cut receiver Griff Whalen. Floyd was released this week by Arizona following his Monday arrest on DUI charges. The 27-year-old pass catcher was previously arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence.
The NFL is looking into the New York Giants' sideline use of walkie-talkies during their Week 14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the league's plans. The hand-held communication device was used for four or five plays on an early fourth-quarter drive that ended in an interception to Victor Cruz, Rapoport added, per a source informed of the Giants' situation. As the team worked to fix Ben McAdoo's communications equipment, the head coach was handed a walkie-talkie as a replacement for the malfunctioning headset.
"My heart hurts. I just lost on that Dixon score." Got a lot of texts, tweets and emails like that last week, as underperforming superstars -- or facing Le'Veon Bell -- ended a lot of fantasy seasons, including two of mine.
Craig Sager was a king who dressed like a court jester and mixed with royalty and commoners alike. He also was a reporter. Let's not forget that. It will get lost amid all the tributes and colorful video now that he succumbed to cancer, but Sager could gather information and tell stories with the best of them.