Six weeks. That’s all remain before the conclusion of the NFL regular season. As we alluded to last week, some teams are fighting for jobs more than jostling for a playoff spot. Regardless of the situation, there is something to play for, aside from financial compensation, for each player. For the ProCanes, continuing the legacy of productivity is a goal that goes without saying. With that, here are some key matchups featuring Hurricane alumnists.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cleveland Browns 1PM EDT
The juggernauts that are the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to truck everything that comes into their path. Jacksonville is riding a three-game win streak, wherein they’ve been dominant on defense. Last week was one of the rare occasions where the team referred to as #Sacksonville was held without a sack against wily Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers.
DE Calais Campbell remains at 11 sacks on the season, only half a sack behind NFL lead Demarcus Lawrence. Even though he was unable to get to Rivers, Campbell was recognized by Pro Football Focus as the Player of the Game based on the his ability to pressure the QB with 4 QB hurries, as well as owning his one-on-one battle with the Chargers’ offensive line. The Browns’ offense allows the ninth most sacks on offense with 27 on the season. If you missed Cleveland’s gaff before halftime last week, then you missed what has been a microcosm for the team on offense: all the opportunity to capitalize, yet continuing to shoot themselves in the foot with mistakes.
#FreeDukeJohnson. It’s no secret that Duke Johnson is not being utilized in a manner that suits his skill set. Johnson finished with his most carries to date this season with 10 carries for 54 rushing yards and snagging all six of his passing targets for 34 yards receiving. The Jaguars remain the best team in pass defense, allowing 165 passing yards per game and snatching 11 interceptions so far this season. Can Johnson find some separation on passing routes against the Jags to make this matchup interesting to watch?
The targets have been there for TE David Njoku; however, he has not been able to find real chemistry with QB DeShone Kizer. Njoku caught just one of his six targets for three yards last week, and has averaged around two receptions per game. Considering the Browns have remained winless, if Njoku can find his groove, it would be a huge boon for an offense that is 24th in the NFL in passing offense with an average of 206 passing yards per game and a putrid 5.8 yards-per-pass average. Cleveland drafted Njoku with the hopes that he would provide an explosive dimension to the offense. Combine this with their treatment of Duke Johnson and it appears that the culture in Cleveland is light-years away from being productive.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Houston Texans 1PM EDT
When rookie QB Deshaun Watson was ruled out for the season with a torn ACL, there were premonitions that the Texans’ offense would be unable to sustain the explosive pace on offense with QB Tom Savage. Those predictions came to fruition against the LA Rams last week. Watson’s threat as both a runner and a passer that can throw the deep ball kept defenses on their toes. With that element removed, the onus falls on RB Lamar Miller to pick up the slack. Miller has carried the ball an average 15.6 rushing attempts per game. The offensive lines of the Texans have been better that what they were at the start of the season. The Cardinals are ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game average, allowing 97.7 yards per game. For Miller and the Texans, there is no room for error. At 3–6 on the season, they can’t afford to lose another contest if they hope to play football past January. For that to happen, Houston is going to need to play ball-control football, employing a productive running game and keeping the offense as balanced as possible—especially since the Texans will be at a disadvantage playing from a deficit.
Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Chargers 1PM EDT
Finding themselves in a similar position, the Chargers need to start stringing together some wins if they, too, hope to make the playoffs. Last week’s loss in overtime to the Jaguars was crushing, but this is no time to dwell on the past. The Chargers host the Bills, who are trying to hold onto hopes of earning a wildcard berth in the playoffs. WR Travis Benjamin was quiet on offense a week ago, unable to secure a catch last week and only rushing once for 13 yards. Against a Buffalo defense that has flashed some games and floundered others, the Chargers will look to make the latter description a trend for the Bills. When on offense, Benjamin will line up across from rookie CB Tre’Davious White, who has been exceptional most of the season for the Bills. Though he likely hasn’t seen many players who possess the speed that Glades Central High School alum Benjamin is able to kick into another gear.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks Monday 8:30PM EDT
Six touchdown receptions in the past five games has TE Jimmy Graham looking like the version of himself that we saw during his days with the Saints. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has been sure to look for his six-foot-seven target in the red zone early and often. Graham is a mismatch for every defense, and has reminded people why he was viewed as the best tight end in the NFL not named Rob Gronkowski. On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks will be playing their first game without CB Richard Sherman manning the secondary. With the Falcons struggling to find their offensive identity, it may be the week that Julio Jones breaks out for a monstrous evening against a shuffling Seattle secondary. Even if the game does not turn out to be a shootout, Graham is finally the fixture along the offense that many envisioned upon his arrival to the Pacific.
ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week
The most obvious answer to go with would be TE Jimmy Graham for the reasons we explained above. However, we don’t take the easy way out. For this week, the PFPW is WR Travis Benjamin. If you’re still fighting to make the fantasy playoffs, this selection will not have much appeal to you—yet Benjamin is worth a flier in deep leagues as a flex in a game with plenty at stake for the Chargers, and your fantasy team as well.
ProCane Reactions to Miami’s 44–28 win over Virginia on Saturday
Some familiar faces are hangin’ sideline pic.twitter.com/kGUI43PR1H— Miami Hurricanes (@MiamiHurricanes) November 18, 2017
Best safety in the Country *don’t @ me https://t.co/ewDpoEhmFS— Adrian Colbert (@AdrianColbert25) November 18, 2017
It’s Great to Be a Miami Hurricane!!— Allen Bailey (@AllenBailey57) November 18, 2017
Undefeated at the crib mane!!! #itsGreatToBeAMiamiHurricane— Tyriq La Flare (@Riq_The_Freak) November 18, 2017
- Minnesota Vikings guard Danny Isidora was active last week against the Redskins, but did not play the entire game.
- Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Hurns was spotted with crutches and a walking boot after getting hurt last weekend. He is expected to miss week 11 and could miss more time this week.
- Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen ruffled the horns of the Minnesota Vikings this week when he went in to meet with coaches and players ahead of his broadcast debut on FOX NFL Sunday. Olsen will be part of the game broadcast of the Rams vs. Vikings. The Panthers are on a bye the week.
- Linebacker Jermaine Grace was released by the Falcons, however was signed by the Indianapolis Colts later in the week.
- Former Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson was honored by the city of Houston. This Sunday in Houston will officially be known as ‘Andre Johnson Day’!
- Current Miami Hurricanes RB Travis Homer is being projected as a top tailback for the 2019 NFL Draft, according to the MMQB’s Albert Breer.
Ereck Flowers hasn't allowed a sack since Week 2— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) November 13, 2017
282 pass blocking snaps - Longest active streak among OTs in NFL
ICYMI from earlier in the week.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!