We’re approaching the halfway mark of the NFL season. At this point in the year, you are who you are in regards to team identity. In a season that has witnessed the league’s major stars succumb to season-ending injuries, health can not be taken for granted. If you’re a Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers fan you can extend that ideology to winning a game—sudden upsets or miracle plays can alter the outcome in a heartbeat. With that said, here are your news and notes from your NFL ProCanes entering week seven.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts 1PM EDT
In many circumstances, pulling down the quarterback for two sacks and stuffing the run for two tackles for loss usually constitute a good day for a defender. Unfortunately, DE Calais Campbell’s stellar afternoon last Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams occurred in a losing effort. Personally, Campbell is putting together the best statistical season of his career. Currently with eight sacks after six games, Campbell needs to take down one more QB to tie his career best of nine sacks. Playing against the Colts this week, the likelihood that he surpasses that mark are relatively high.
It’s a frustrating situation for many of the Jaguars’ receivers this season. QB Blake Bortles has been underachieving for most of the season, at the expense of playmakers like WR Allen Hurns. With the season-ending injury to WR Allen Robinson, there was belief that Hurns would see an uptick in targets and receptions. The past three weeks has seen Hurns get just three targets when the Jaguars needed to get the passing game going.
While we celebrated RB Frank Gore taking over seventh on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, it could take a while before Gore surpasses Jerome Bettis’ 13,662 rushing yards for sixth on the all-time list. Gore is currently 309 yards behind Bettis. As good as Jacksonville has been against the pass, they rank only ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers with 145.7 rushing yards allowed per game. The Colts like to give Gore carries early in the game, later choosing to go with the hot hand. Should Indianapolis be in the game late, we could see the Colts give more carries to their ageless wonder running back.
Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns 1PM EDT
The drought has to end at some point. For the Cleveland Browns who are winless this season, they have to wonder when. For the few positives that the team has going for it, there remain glaring holes that won’t be addressed until after the season. Last week was a miserable day for the ProCanes of the Browns. Both TE David Njoku and RB Duke Johnson, Jr., were unable to gain positive yards receiving. QB Kevin Hogan was all over the field in his first performance as starter for the Browns because the offense just could not find any rhythm last Sunday.
It’s difficult to forecast what head coach Hue Jackson and the Browns organization have going through their heads from week-to-week. The Browns announced that QB DeShone Kizer will start the game this week. Regardless of who starts at QB, they would be best served to get the ball to their playmakers on offense. Despite last week, Njoku remains a legitimate red zone threat, while Johnson’s catching ability coming from the backfield remains an advantage that the Browns need to capitalize on more frequently.
Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers 4:25PM EDT
The Chargers are getting close to regaining the services of LB Denzel Perryman. Despite Perryman’s absence, the lighting bolts kept Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders’ run game in check last week in an important AFC West division win. Riding a two-game win streak, the Chargers look to make it back-to-back wins in the division as they square off with the Broncos.
Even with last week’s stunning loss to the New York Giants, the Broncos defensive backs remain an obstacle to WR Travis Benjamin having a big day. Benjamin will likely be shadowed by Denver CB Bradley Roby when the Chargers go to their three wide receiver set. When you factor in that Benjamin was targeted just once last week against the Raiders, with three targets the week before that, it appears that the threat of throwing to the speedster is more valuable than actually throwing to Benjamin, since the receiving options that run routes closer to the line of scrimmage have more room to work with the defense concerned with Benjamin as a deep threat.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 4:25 PM EDT
The Steelers appeared to find their groove on offense a week ago, helping the 1972 Miami Dolphins remain the lone perfect team in NFL history by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs. Steelers’ CB Artie Burns did not register a stat last week and will likely be pressed into action against WR AJ Green and the Bengals’ receiving corps. Pittsburgh does not run a match-up based defense, so there will be plays where WR Brandon Lafell will also lineup across for Burns. The Steelers enter Sunday’s game as the stingiest pass defense in the NFL, allowing a paltry 153.5 passing yards per game. Before their week six bye, Cincinnati flashed the promise on offense that was expected. While the Steelers’ offense has been praised, this game could come down to a ProCane’s ability to make Sunday afternoon a difficult day against one of the best wide receivers in the league.
Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants 4:25PM EDT
The Seahawks are rested and hopefully relaxed coming off a bye in week six. Here’s to hoping that Seattle’s offense will not forget to go to their playmaking tight end, Jimmy Graham. Since week three, Graham has seen his targets increase, once again proving his value to the Seahawks’ offense. With the Giants coming off an impressive showing in a win against the Broncos from a week ago—if Giants’ CBs Eli Apple, Janoris Jenkins and Ross Cockrell are able to flumex Seattle’s wide receivers—Graham could serve as the ace-in-the-hole for QB Russell Wilson and Seattle’s offense.
Last Sunday’s game against a talented Denver Broncos defense did not go too badly for LT Ereck Flowers. Flowers held up well against LB Shaq Barrett and Von Miller at times. Flowers’ performance is still not at the point where folks will give him the benefit of the doubt, but he has shown improvements as the season progresses. This week poses another test with DEs Michael Bennett, DE Marcus Smith and Frank Clark rushing against Flowers this afternoon. Should the Giants continue to establish the run game, producing their first 100-yard rusher a week ago, then we could hear the criticism of Flowers die down… or maybe that is just wishful thinking.
ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week
WR Allen Hurns
This week’s fantasy pick has more to do with quarterback Blake Bortles than WR Allen Hurns. The Colts are coming off a short week in which they played the Titans on Monday Night Football. The Colts rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing an average of 294 passing yards per game. If not now, then when, if you’re Jacksonville? They could stick to the script and just hand it off to RB Leonard Fournette, but this has the potential to be a good spot for Hurns if Bortles can get his act together.
- Dolphins WR Rashawn Scott could be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, after practicing for the first time this week.
- Jacksonville Jaguars’ center Brandon Linder has been limited to conditioning the past two weeks because of what the team designates as an illness.
- ICYMI Oakland Raiders’ Guard Jon Feliciano’s journey to the NFL was spotlighted by ESPN.com.
- QB Brad Kaaya was released by the Carolina Panthers this past Tuesday. Kaaya was re-signed by the Detroit Lions on Thursday.
- Atlanta Falcons’ LB Jermaine Grace is dealing with hamstring injury that forced him to miss last week’s game.
- In an away from the field story, LB Ray Ray Armstrong avoided what could have been a disastrous situation.
- Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller released his latest 2018 NFL Draft Board Update. RB Mark Walton was listed as sixth among eligible RBs.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!