It looks like Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther won’t have WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion, knee) again for Sunday’s season finale (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) against the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium, which means more of rookie linebacker Nick Vigil.
The playoffs may not be on the line, but a "no plays off" streak will be for one Bengals player. Right guard Kevin Zeitler has played 100 percent of the 1,019 offensive snaps this year.
In what has been a staggering season for their proud special teams, the Bengals are staking their claim to a consolation prize in the form of the AFC kick return title. Rookie wide receiver Alex Erickson, who got his second wind in the season’s second half, holds a tenuous lead heading into Sunday’s regular-season finale (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) against the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium with Jacksonville wide receiver Marqise Lee needing two returns for his 30.3-yard yard average to qualify for the title and trump Erickson’s 28.4-yard average.
As with any NFL season, there are highs and lows. Our goal in fantasy football is to not just weather the storm; rather, we try to outsmart everyone else and be the last boat left in the fleet. The problem is that injuries, depth chart moves, and benching/promotions are often things we cannot predict. So, what do you do you ask? You follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and I gave you the inside information before those big-box websites announce it.
It is Game 168 for Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, 11th most all-time in Bengaldom, one more than the great wide receiver Isaac Curtis and one fewer than the prolific punter Lee Johnson. Fitting of course on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) it is against Terrell Suggs and his Ravens. Suggs, the Ravens’ all-time sacker, has never nicked Whitworth for one of them, which shows you just how much Whitworth has meant to the Bengals while protecting the blindsides of Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton in the rough and tumble frontier of the AFC North.
Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green might not end his season on injured reserve, but it will officially conclude Friday afternoon when the team declares him "out" for Sunday's finale versus the visiting Baltimore Ravens.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski isn't the only one who has had a tough year with injuries. Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert underwent back surgery Tuesday, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in an interview on SiriusXM. Eifert was put on IR this week after playing in only eight games because of ankle and back injuries.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, running back Jeremy Hill and tight end Tyler Kroft all did not practice for a second straight day on Thursday leaving their availability for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Baltimore Ravens in question.
Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was mentioned by Washington, D.C. radio host Chris Cooley as possibly jumping to serve in the same role for the Washington Redskins in 2017, but Guenther said he's planning to return to the Bengals.
AFC North Bytes
If you wrote all of the plays from the Steelers-Ravens game Christmas evening at Heinz Field on slips of paper, then drew one of them at random, you would be likely to pull a play that could be considered pivotal to the game. In a tense rivalry, under the high-pressure stakes of a winner-take-all matchup, it seemed like any play could have shifted the outcome, had it gone the other way.
The attitude of Browns fans has made a disturbing change in recent years. A long-lost generation used to say, “I don’t care if they lose all the rest as long as they beat the Steelers.” Now I hear this sentiment: “It would be just like the Browns to beat the Steelers and blow the No. 1 pick in the draft.”
Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta led the team in receptions with 75 this season. But will his hips keep him from coming back next season?
No one knows yet what the offseason plans to fix the Jets are going to yield, but to a man it seems, they agree plenty needs to change. Following up a promising 10-win season with a disaster of a 4-11 season that has brought about speculation about coach Todd Bowles’ job and plenty of infighting, the Jets know that things have to be different next year.
The road forks for Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins on Sunday. In one direction is a win over the Giants, a wild-card berth, perhaps a victory (or at least a strong performance) on the road in the playoffs, and then long-term riches for Cousins and confident strides in the right direction for the Redskins franchise.
As speculation continues to link Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson to his former team, the free-agent-to-be said he's focused on "finishing strong" this season.
No less than eight games in Week 17 carry playoff implications. Of course, you know "Eight is Enough" as the "Family Ties" or "Full House" of the '70s, not as a phrase related to the 2016 NFL postseason. But much like Dick Van Patten went from being the quintessential 1970s dad to the Druish King in the epic "Spaceballs," several of the teams that prevail this week will go on to greater things in January, and perhaps February. The games that matter range from the almost-but-not-quite-inconsequential Panthers-Bucs contest to a winner-take-all matchup between the Packers and Lions.