Tag: Thursday Night Football
Tomorrow’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Defense
QB – Ryan Tannehill – Tennessee Titans
UT – A.J. Brown – Tennessee Titans
UT – Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts
UT – Corey Davis – Tennessee Titans
UT – Jonnu Smith – Tennessee Titans
D – Tennessee Titans
NFL Top Fantasy Picks from Dolphins vs Jaguars Game
QB – Gardner Minshew II – Jacksonville Jaguars
RB – James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars
WR – DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins
WR – DJ Chark Jr – Jacksonville Jaguars
WR – Keelan Cole – Jacksonville Jaguars
TE – Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins
Preview: Packers at Seahawks
The Green Bay Packers have been making fans of the home team happy this season, as they are 4-0-1 at Lambeau Field and, well, 0-4 everywhere else. The Packers look to put an end to their road woes on Thursday as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Seahawks, who begin a stretch of five home games in the next seven weeks.
“I like our chances at home, but we’ve got to win some road games or we’re going to be at home in January — for good,” said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who tossed two touchdown passes to Davante Adams in Sunday’s 31-12 romp over Miami. The two-time NFL Most Valuable Player has thrown 10 scoring strikes against zero interceptions in the last five weeks overall and has seven TD passes without getting picked off in his last two Thursday games. Seattle has answered winning four of five by dropping two hotly contested matchups versus the Los Angeles contingents. Russell Wilson tossed three touchdown passes in a 36-31 setback at the Rams on Sunday heading into his return to CenturyLink Field, where he has 13 scoring strikes against one interception in his last six games.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Seahawks -2.5. O/U: 49
ABOUT THE PACKERS (4-4-1): Affectionately known as the “other” Aaron, running back Aaron Jones is making his presence felt after rushing for 306 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games — including a career-high 145 yards with two scores on a season-high 15 carries against the Dolphins. “He’s a great player. We just need to continue to give him more opportunities,” Rodgers said of the 23-year-old Jones, who aims to exploit the Seahawks’ rush defense that has been gashed for 5.0 yards per carry this season. A promising ground attack could create more opportunities for Adams, whose 31 touchdown receptions since 2016 are tied for the most in the league.
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (4-5): Seattle appears to be getting healthier as running back Chris Carson (hip), right guard D.J. Fluker (calf) and strong safety Bradley McDougal (knee) are in line to be available for Thursday’s game. Carson rejoins a backfield that saw first-round rookie Rashaad Penny rush for a career-best 108 yards and a touchdown against the Rams while fellow running back Mike Davis had his first career receiving score. “It’s a good group, it’s a good problem. Not a great problem for the running backs, but it’s good for us and we’ll try to make the most of it,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters ahead of facing a Packers defense that has surrendered at least 123 rushing yards in each of the last four weeks.
1. Seattle WR Tyler Lockett has a touchdown reception in seven of nine games this season.
2. Packers TE Jimmy Graham has just six catches for 90 yards in his last three contests heading into a tilt with the Seahawks, with whom he collected 18 touchdowns in three seasons.
3. Seattle LB Bobby Wagner has recorded back-to-back 13-tackle performances and has 29 tackles in his past three home games.
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New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns Preview
People were likely snickering as soon as they saw it on the NFL’s primetime schedule: Week 3, Jets at Browns. Typical Thursday night snoozer. The team that so many said could go winless last season against the team that actually did go winless.
And even now there’s not much to get excited about, right? The Browns still haven’t won, although they have scared the Saints and bungled a winnable game into a tie against the Steelers. The Jets won their opener in Detroit, but it’s hard to be impressed given how bad the Lions look. And they wasted a strong defensive performance in a loss last week, a familiar theme from a year ago.
Still… are we sure these teams can’t be good? The Jets turn the ball over a lot, not unexpected for a team starting a rookie quarterback, but they also take it away and rank fifth in total defense. The Browns could be 2–0 if not for kicker Zane Gonzalez, who was waived after missing two field goals and two PATs in a three-point loss to the Saints on Sunday after having the potential game-winning kick blocked in overtime against the Steelers in Week 1.
New York at Cleveland
Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
Spread: Browns -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Riding the rookie roller-coaster
Sam Darnold hasn’t been perfect in his first two NFL starts, but he has been exciting. He bounced back in the season opener after throwing a pick-six on his first NFL play. He threw for 334 yards against the Dolphins last week but tossed a costly interception early and got the Jets into the end zone only once. He’ll have his hands full with a Browns defense that kept Drew Brees in check last week and forced six turnovers against the Steelers in the opener, including three interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger.
2. The Browns’ defense might be for real… if it’s healthy
Granted, Cleveland gave up a ton of yards in Week 1 to the Steelers, but the six turnovers made up for it. The Browns followed that up by holding Brees and the Saints to 275 yards in the Superdome. No team held New Orleans under 300 yards anywhere last season. In fact, you have to go back to 2012 to find a game in which the Saints didn’t gain at least 300 yards at home. So they could give a rookie passer fits… if they are at full strength, which is unlikely. Four starters — including both cornerbacks — are questionable for the Jets game, and on a short week it’s a safe bet they won’t all be active. Life becomes easier for Darnold if corners Denzel Ward and Damarious Randall can’t go.
3. Tyrod Taylor is who we thought he was
He’s uncharacteristically thrown interceptions in each of his first two games as a Brown, but Taylor otherwise is doing pretty much what he always has done as a starting quarterback. He takes a few more sacks than you’d like (10 through two games) but he also extends drives and drives defenses crazy with his legs (103 yards on 8.6 ypc and a touchdown so far this season). How long will that be enough to hold off top overall pick Baker Mayfield? A win would help, because the longer Cleveland is winless the sooner it will look to the future. Taylor usually found success against the Jets as a starter for the Bills (three wins in five starts with eight TDs and two INTs), but again, the formula for his success was familiar: He’s 3–0 against the Jets when his defense allows 17 or fewer points. It’s a safe bet the interceptions will disappear, but will he win enough games to delay the Baker Mayfield era?
Despite the hints that these teams might be on the rise, they’re not there yet. Also, the Jets opened the season on a Monday night, meaning this is their third game in 11 days. In addition to the physical challenges, that’s a lot to throw at a rookie quarterback. This could swing the other way if none of the banged-up starters on the Browns’ defense can go, but we’ll take the home team to finally get in the win column.
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Thursday Night Football
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview
When the Bengals and Ravens last met, Cincinnati stunned Baltimore on New Year’s Eve with an unlikely upset thanks to a 49-yard Andy Dalton-to-Tyler Boyd touchdown pass on 4th-and-12 in the final minute. The play knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs and put Buffalo in.
Baltimore got its revenge on the Bills last week with a 47–3 blowout that turned into an extra preseason game in the second half. Now the Ravens look to pay back the Bengals, who rallied to beat the Colts 34–23 thanks to 17 fourth-quarter points. Because the Browns and Steelers played to a tie in Week 1, the winner of this one will have at least a half-game edge on the rest of the AFC North.
Is that enough juice to keep this one from being a typically sloppy, early-season Thursday night game? Probably not. But at least there’s no rain in the forecast, so the weather will be better than it was for many of the games in Week 1.
Baltimore at Cincinnati
Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 13 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
Spread: Bengals -1
Three Things to Watch
1. Baltimore’s new weapons
The Ravens revamped their receiving corps in the offseason, adding Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead, and all three caught touchdowns from Joe Flacco in Week 1. That’s a good sign, but the game got out of hand so quickly that it’s hard to read much into it. Six different players caught at least three passes, and none totaled more than 49 yards. Will anyone emerge as a true go-to guy who can be trusted to make plays in a close game? Will the depth help Flacco silence his critics who are eager to see Lamar Jackson take over? We’ll start to get answers this week.
2. Joe Mixon becoming a workhorse?
Mixon has always had the skill set to be an every-down back for the Bengals, but they have also had Giovani Bernard around to handle most of the third-down back duties. If the Week 1 win over Indianapolis is any indication, that’s changing. Bernard got just two touches (one carry and one catch), while Mixon carried 17 times and caught five passes on seven targets. Last season, Bernard got more than 30 percent of the carries between the two and was targeted 60 times in the passing game to Mixon’s 34. On a short week, it’s certainly possible Bernard spells Mixon a little more often, so don’t expect another 149 yards from scrimmage for Mixon. But if Mixon finds success again against a tough Baltimore defense, he could be set up for a big season.
3. Is Lamar Jackson the new “Slash?”
Jackson ended up playing quarterback for most of the second half because the Ravens had jumped out to a 40–0 lead, so his seven carries for 39 yards are not an indication of how the Ravens intend to use him. But he was on the field often in the first half, carrying the ball once for no gain and throwing an incomplete pass after taking a handoff from Flacco on another play. While it’s very unlikely that the Ravens would risk their potential quarterback of the future by giving him that many carries or throwing him passes regularly as the Steelers once did with Kordell Stewart, there’s no doubt that they are going to get him on the field to at least give defenses something else to worry about.
Given the glorified preseason nature of the Ravens opener, it’s tough to put too much stock in it. While the new-look offense produced a couple long scoring drives, the final score is misleading as Baltimore also had drives of eight, minus-three, 14 and a single yard all result in points. That’s 20 points for 20 yards. It’s tough to lose a game like that. The Bengals will be a much tougher test, especially in their home opener.
Redskins versus Cowboys Preview
The Dallas Cowboys are a decidedly different team than the one that coasted to a 33-19 win against the Washington Redskins last month, especially considering Ezekiel Elliott rolled up a season-high 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns in that outing. With Elliott suspended, the Cowboys’ overall offense hasn’t been as potent and mustered just 22 points during the team’s three-game losing skid heading into Thursday’s contest versus the visiting Redskins. The Redskins versus Cowboys will be broadcast at 8:25pm on NBC. Play this game as part of Thursday GoW cross sports contest starting at 8:25pm ET.
The Redskins reached 30 points in back-to-back losses before tightening their defense in a 20-10 win over the sputtering New York Giants on Thanksgiving. Kirk Cousins (NFL second-best 3,038 yards), who tossed a pair of touchdown passes against the Giants, has thrown for 625 passing yards, six TDs and no interceptions in his last two encounters with the Cowboys.
ABOUT THE REDSKINS (5-6)
While coach Jay Gruden was pleased to see left tackle Trent Williams (knee) participate in practice in a bid to end a one-game absence versus Dallas, the coach doesn’t have high hopes for the return of tight end Jordan Reed. Reed has missed each of the last four games with a hamstring injury. Rookie running back Samaje Perine has looked healthy with 217 rushing yards in his last two contests, and a season-best 130 scrimmage yards (100 rushing, 30 receiving) last week.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (5-6)
Dak Prescott and the Dallas passing game have taken a hit with the threat of Elliott removed from the offense. Prescott tossed five interceptions in his last two games to eclipse his total of four during his rookie season in 2016. Wideout Dez Bryant has struggled to get untracked without Elliott, failing to crack 40 yards receiving in two of the last three games.The Cowboys are averaging a solid 4.4 yards per carry in Elliott’s absence.
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Los Angeles Rams vs Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are trying to put the pieces together after a lopsided loss while the Los Angeles Rams are attempting to tackle a much bigger puzzle with an interim head coach at the helm during a short week. The first-place Seahawks look to capture the NFC West title for the third time in four years and remain perfect in the Pacific Northwest on Thursday night when they host John Fassel and the reeling Rams (Enter Contest).
Seattle, which needs just a win or an Arizona loss to clinch the division crown, hardly looked like a playoff contender on Sunday as Russell Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions in a 38-10 setback in Green Bay. He threw for 254 yards back on September 18 against Los Angeles. The Seahawks suffered their third straight loss to the Rams with a 9-3 decision. The 28-year-old Wilson was hampered by an ailing ankle.
The Rams parted ways with Jeff Fisher on Monday. They temporarily handed the keys to special teams coach Fassel just hours after the club sustained its eighth loss in nine games with a 42-14 shellacking by Atlanta. Fassel’s task is a formidable one as Los Angeles ranks last in the NFL in points (14.9 per game) and total yards (286.2), and 30th overall in both rushing yards (81.1) and turnover differential (minus-11).
ABOUT THE RAMS (4-9)
Todd Gurley has been limited to 3.3 yards per carry and five touchdowns in 13 games this season after an impressive 4.8 average and 10 scores in his rookie campaign. Top overall pick Jared Goff is still getting his feet wet after sitting in favor of Case Keenum, throwing two interceptions on Sunday before finishing with respectable numbers (24-of-41 for 235 yards) due in part to the game being out of hand in a hurry. Both Goff and Gurley scored a rushing touchdown last week, with the former’s serving as his first of his career.
Wide receiver Kenny Britt has reeled in a touchdown pass in two of his last three games and resides 63 receiving yards shy of his first 1,000-yard campaign. He owns a career-best 63 receptions this season. Linebacker Alec Ogletree ranks fourth in the NFL in tackles (117) and recorded nine along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the first meeting with Seattle.
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (8-4-1)
Seattle entered Sunday’s game versus Green Bay as the league’s top defense but saw that designation shredded after surrendering a season high in points in the first contest without former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas (broken leg). Seattle limited Gurley to just 51 yards on 19 carries with linebacker K.J. Wright collecting a team-high nine tackles in Week 2 and 49 with two sacks and a forced fumble over his last six games at home. Wideout Doug Baldwin has 20 receptions in his last three contests, but was limited to season lows in catches (three) and yards (20) in the first meeting with the Rams. Linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the NFL with 139 tackles while defensive end Cliff Avril ranks fourth in the NFC with 10 sacks.
Thursday Night Football
Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs Preview
Derek Carr’s spirited play during the Oakland Raiders’ six-game winning streak has placed the third-year quarterback in the lively discussion for NFL MVP honors. Carr has thrown seven touchdown passes over his last three games and 12 during the winning streak as the first-place Raiders head into an AFC West showdown with the host Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night (Enter Contest).
Carr rallied Oakland from a 15-point halftime deficit in Sunday’s 38-24 victory over Buffalo, all while working exclusively out of the shotgun/pistol to protect his injured right pinkie finger. He’ll look to avenge a far less effective performance in Week 6 when he threw for 225 yards in a 26-10 loss to Kansas City. The Chiefs kept Carr in park with a successful ground game, highlighted by Spencer Ware rolling up a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown. The 25-year-old Ware, who will look to light up the 29th-ranked Raiders’ run defense that is yielding 124.8 yards per contest, also found the end zone in Sunday’s 29-28 victory at Atlanta. Kansas City’s plus-14 turnover differential is tops in the NFL while Oakland (plus-12) is ranked third.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS (10-2)
While Carr is being mentioned in NFL MVP discussion, defensive end Khalil Mack is hearing his name bandied about for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Mack has registered at least one of his team-leading 10 sacks in each of the last seven games, while also recording four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception in that span. Latavius Murray, who has three touchdowns in his last four encounters with Kansas City, scored twice last week to increase his rushing touchdown total to 11. It’s good enough for a tie for third in the league.
Second-year wideout Amari Cooper collected 10 receptions for 129 yards in the first meeting with the Chiefs, but was limited to just two catches on Sunday versus the Bills. Oakland can end its 13-year playoff drought with a win on Thursday and either a loss or tie by Miami or a loss by Denver.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (9-3)
Alex Smith, who has thrown 18 touchdowns against three interceptions in his last nine starts versus the Raiders, is expected to see the return of trusted target Jeremy Maclin on Thursday. Maclin was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and is in line to end a four-game absence due to a groin injury. Tight end Travis Kelce recorded his third straight 100-plus-yard performance after reeling in eight receptions for 140 yards versus the Falcons, but was limited to three catches for 32 yards in the Week 6 win over Oakland. Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford registered two of his team-leading 10 sacks in the last meeting with the Raiders.
Dallas Cowboys vs Minnesota Vikings Preview
The Dallas Cowboys have not lost since the season opener but cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal as they prepare to visit the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night (Enter Contest). Riding a 10-game winning streak and leading the New York Giants by two games in the NFC East, Dallas has a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Minnesota and some help. The Cowboys are trying to navigate through their most rugged stretch of the season, with Thursday’s matchup marking their third game in 12 days.
Minnesota also will be playing for the third time in 12 days and will be without head coach Mike Zimmer, who underwent surgery on Wednesday night for a torn retina. The Vikings have dropped five of their last six, including a 16-13 loss at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day to fall one game behind the Lions in the NFC Central.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (10-1)
Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is the league’s leading rusher with 1,199 yards and has rushed for 11 touchdowns. The Ohio State alumni has rushed for six touchdowns and 400 yards over the last four games. Elliott has thrust himself into the MVP conversation, and one of his competitors may be fellow rookie Dak Prescott, who has 18 TD passes against only two interceptions and has posted a passer rating of at least 100 in nine of the last 10 games. Dallas ranks 31st in pass defense (280.4 yards) and has made only four interceptions.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (6-5)
Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes has as many interceptions as the Cowboys and is part of a defense that ranks second in the league with 17.5 points allowed and paces the NFC with a plus-12 turnover differential. With a stagnant running game and an offense that has been limited to 16 points of fewer four times in the last six games, quarterback Sam Bradford is pushing for the coaches to open the playbook and take shots downfield. He split a pair of decisions against the Cowboys last season with Philadelphia, throwing for 295 yards and a TD in the last meeting. Bradford (ankle) has been limited in practice this week but hopes to have the services of leading wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who had 40 receptions over a four-game stretch prior to sitting out last week’s loss against the Lions with a knee injury.
TNF Recap – New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers
This time, the Carolina Panthers figured out to finish the job. In danger of squandering a double-digit lead for the second time in five days, the Panthers held on for a 23-20 victory against the New Orleans Saints on TNF at Bank of America Stadium (Enter Contests). The Panthers (4-6) scored on a few short drives after first-half mistakes by Saints, and they emerged with the victory despite producing only 223 yards of total offense.
The Saints, who trailed by 20 points midway through the third quarter, pulled within 23-20 with 2:52 left on tight end Coby Fleener’s 8-yard touchdown catch of a Drew Brees pass. New Orleans (4-6) didn’t take another snap until the 14-second mark at their own 14-yard line after a Carolina punt. Cam Newton threw for one touchdown, completing 14 of 33 passes for 192 yards without an interception. Brees threw two touchdown passes and connected on 35 of 44 throws for 285 yards and one interception. The Saints were held to three points through three quarters. The outcome came days after the Panthers wasted a 17-point lead in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Panthers won for the third time in four games, forging a split of the season series with New Orleans. Carolina played the final minutes Thursday night without star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was taken from the field on a cart with 4:41 remaining to be evaluated for a concussion. His status is still unclear. For a team on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, the potential downgrade from Kuechly to A.J. Klein could be the death knell for the defending NFC champions.
Next up for the Panthers is a Sunday afternoon matchup against the explosive Oakland Raiders team. The Saints will try to get back on the winning side versus the Los Angeles Rams.
Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens
The confidence for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t waver after two interceptions stalled potential scoring drives. Instead, Flacco and the rest of his offensive squad bounced back with their most impressive outing of the season. Flacco threw three touchdown passes and Baltimore kept the Cleveland Browns winless with a 28-7 victory on Thursday night. Cleveland is 0-10 for the first time in its 66-year history. Baltimore (5-4), meanwhile, has won two straight and extended its lead atop the AFC North (Play Now).
Flacco completed 30 of 41 passes for 296 yards. He was also picked off twice inside the red zone. Terrance West had 65 of the Ravens’ 119 yards on the ground. The 28 points were a season high for Baltimore. The Ravens took a 13-7 lead when Flacco found Darren Waller on a 4-yard pass with 9:36 left in the third quarter. Baltimore had gone 17 consecutive drives without a touchdown before that score. It was also the first career touchdown for Waller, a second-year player from Georgia Tech.
Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown took over for rookie Cody Kessler on the next possession and threw an interception to Baltimore cornerback Jerraud Powers. Flacco could not take advantage of this turnover as Joe Haden got his second interception of the game in the end zone. However, he redeemed himself with a 11-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith. A two-point conversion on a slant to Kyle Juszczyk boosted the margin to 21-78 with 2:05 left in the third quarter. On the Ravens’ next possession, Breshad Perriman caught his first career touchdown pass on a 27-yard lob from Flacco that was upheld after a review.
Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is playing with a torn biceps, forced a fumble on the Cleveland 30 to continue the misery for the Browns. Cleveland has been outscored 157-51 in the second half this season, including an overtime loss to Miami. The Ravens now lead the all-time series 27-9. Baltimore, which relocated from Cleveland in 1996, has also won five of the past six games, including a 25-20 victory on Sept. 18. The Ravens hope to maintain their momentum next week against Dallas.
Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens
The Cleveland Browns will be looking to avoid moving one step closer to a dubious league record when they visit the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night (Enter Contest). The Browns not only are attempting to avoid matching the worst start in franchise history, but also end the chances of joining the Detroit Lions as the only team to finish 0-16.
One of the reasons the Browns are in this predicament is a 25-20 loss to Baltimore in Week 2, when they blew a 20-2 first-quarter lead. Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta had nine catches for 102 yards (both season highs) in that game. John Harbaugh’s team were mired in a slide of their own heading into their bye, but snapped a four-game skid with a 21-14 win over visiting Pittsburgh on Sunday. That victory moved Baltimore back to the .500 mark and, more importantly, into a tie with the Steelers atop the AFC North.
ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-9)
Cleveland has had a revolving door at quarterback, losing starter Robert Griffin III in the season opener and watching Josh McCown suffer a broken collarbone against the Ravens. While McCown returned to the lineup in a narrow loss to the New York Jets in Week 8, coach Hue Jackson went back to Cody Kessler on Sunday and will stick with the rookie Thursday despite a nondescript effort against the Cowboys. The Browns managed only 45 yards rushing versus Dallas, including four on six carries by Isaiah Crowell, who ran for a season-high 133 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since catching two TD passes against Baltimore. The Browns are yielding 421.7 yards and 30.3 points per game, each ranking 31st in the league.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (4-4)
Baltimore’s defense came up big in the win over bitter rival Pittsburgh, holding the Steelers to 277 total yards and 36 on the ground to build a 21-0 lead in the third quarter. There remain plenty of concerns over the offense, which produced one touchdown scored by wideout Mike Wallace. They’ve also labored on the ground, rushing for 50 yards on 29 carries. Baltimore ranks 28th in the league with 81.8 yards rushing per game and is averaging 2.2 yards per carry over the past three contests. It’s a full two yards less than in the first five games. Quarterback Joe Flacco has more interceptions (seven) than TD passes (six) and a paltry 76.0 passer rating. The Ravens have won 15 of the past 17 meetings, although Cleveland won at Baltimore last season.
Dolphins (1-2) vs Bengals (1-2)
Adam Gase may be a first-time head coach, but the 38-year-old was quick to light a fire under his underachieving team. He benched former first-round pick Ja’Wuan James after he got burned on a rush that led to a strip sack during last week’s contest. Gase hopes his aggressive action will provide a jolt for the sputtering Miami Dolphins, who will look to prevent their third 1-3 start in five years on Thursday when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals (Enter Contest).
About the Dolphins
With veteran Arian Foster still nursing a groin injury, Gase will be using rookie Kenyan Drake as the starter in a four-tier running back carousel. Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead. will round out the carousel. Ajayi had an 11-yard touchdown run in overtime last week. The Dolphins’ 25th-ranked ground attack is mustering just 83 yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill leads his team in that department with his 54 yards accumulated. Fortunately for the Dolphins, the air game fairs much better. Tannehill continues to click with trusted target Jarvis Landry (AFC-leading 314 yards receiving) and fellow wideout DeVante Parke. Miami will go with Dion Sims this week because fellow tight end Jordan Cameron nurses the fourth concussion in his six-year career.
The sputtering Dolphins’ defense allowed 169 yards rushing last week and an NFL second-worst 147.3 yards per game. In the last meeting with the Bengals, DE Cameron Wake recorded three sacks. The final sack resulted in a safety during overtime and led Miami to a 22-20 victory.
About the Bengals
While Miami was fortunate to walk away with its first win, Cincinnati has followed its impressive season-opening victory over the New York Jets with a 24-16 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 2 and a 29-17 setback to Denver on Sunday. Mercurial Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is eager to stop the bleeding when he makes his season debut on Thursday after serving a three-game suspension for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.
Running Back Jeremy Hill scored twice last week. He had 10 rushing touchdowns in his last 11 games. Andy Dalton (AFC-best 938 passing yards) has been limited to just 206 yards passing last week versus the Broncos. After an amazing first week, A.J. Green collected just 10 catches for 115 yards combined in his last two games. Cincinnati Pro Bowl TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) is not expected to make his season debut. CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) has been held out of both practices this week, leaving his status for Thursday’s game in question.