The countdown begins. There are only five games remaining on the schedule for most teams. Injuries are piling up, wins are either elusive or coming in abundance and games in December mean more than they did in November. It’s crunch time in the NFL, with plenty of ProCanes feeling the stress to get a win whether to stay afloat in the playoff push or to secure their position on a NFL roster for 2018.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans 1PM EDT
It’s all over for the Texans. Well, not quite, but it might as well be. With Monday’s 23–16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Houston was eliminated from playoff contention, sitting at 4–7 entering week 13. Texans’ QB Tom Savage could not withstand the pressure from the Ravens’ defense, and has been a sore spot for the team since sensational rookie QB Deshaun Watson went down with a torn ACL. RB Lamar Miller put forth a great effort against a tough Baltimore defense that has been vulnerable against the run this season, rushing for 51 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. Miller is going to need to have an extraordinary five-game stretch to close out the season if he hopes run for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, as his rushing total stands at 655 yards. The Texans will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014 where the team finished 9–7, barely missing the postseason in Bill O’Brien’s first season as head coach.
Against the Titans this week, Miller will square off against the fifth best run defense that has allowed an average of 87 rushing yards-per-game. Miller is also in danger of not having a 100 yard rushing game in a season for the first time since his rookie season in 2012. The Texans obviously need more out of QB Tom Savage to help their ground game, especially against the blitz, but by now Miller has to be used to the loaded boxes. However, after Frank Gore was able to find room against the Titans’ defense a week ago, this could be a prime spot for Miller to eclipse the 100 yard mark.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 1PM EDT
The Colts were the other AFC South squad officially eliminated from playoff contention last weekend—but, if you watched a game all season, you could have come to that conclusion on your own accord. In spite of the loss, the Colts are still playing hard late in the season as the front office evaluates the talent on the roster.
Frank Gore continues to be the lead back for the Colts, rushing for a team high 62 yards on 17 carries. It’s surprising that Gore has staved off rookie RB Marlon Mack for most of the season, given how the league tends to favor younger options, especially at the running back position. However, Gore continues to grind forward, moving up the the all-time rushing list. Gore is 26 yards behind former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis for sixth on the prestigious list. With his TD run last week, the 34-year-old back is tied with Tony Dorsett for 22nd on the NFL’s all-time rushing TDs list with 77 touchdowns. With five games left in the season, Gore could make a run into the top 20 group.
If Gore is going to make it into that group, he’ll have to do it against a Jaguars defense that is coming off of a bitter loss to Arizona last weekend. DE Calais Campbell did not secure a sack in the game against his old club, but managed to limit Cardinals’ RB Adrian Peterson on the ground and pressure Blaine Gabbert as much as possible with a QB hit and three QB hurries. Oh and he recovered a fumble for a touchdown, just another day in the office for Calais. In Campbell’s last meeting with with the Colts, the lineman picked up two sacks and forced a fumble, so expect Campbell to add to his season totals this week against an overmatched Colts’ offensive line.
Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Chargers 4:05PM EDT
It will be an on-field reunion this weekend with the most active ProCanes in a game for week 13. TE David Njoku and RB Duke Johnson continue to hunt for their first win of the season as the Browns search for any positives in the season. Njoku caught four receptions for 47 receiving yards against the Bengals last week, while Johnson rushed for 35 yards on 6 carries and added four receptions for 32 receiving yards. Inconsistency at quarterback has kept the Browns from finding success on offense this season. The good news is that they’ve decided to stick with DeShone Kizer at quarterback, going with the ebb and flow as he tries to figure out the NFL game as a rookie. Last week it was the defense that let Cleveland down against the Bengals, allowing RB Joe Mixon to rush for his first 100 yard career game. Playing against QB Philip Rivers and a Chargers’ offense that is peaking right at this moment, the Browns will likely need to make this game a shootout to have a chance at an upset victory.
As much praise as Chargers’ pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Boa receive, when LB Denzel Perryman returned last week, the defense played as an elite unit in the league. With 16 tackles since his return from injured reserve, Perryman provides a solid wrap-up tackler in the middle of the defense at either inside linebacker spot for a Chargers’ defense that has turned up the heat on opposing quarterbacks since Perryman’s return.
WR Travis Benjamin continues to deliver when his number is called. Benjamin’s 46-yard receptions helped the Chargers find the endzone. Benjamin has not seen the same volume of receptions as he did when was with the Browns, yet still manages to contribute as big of a spark for an offense. With the Chargers finding their footing on offense, those four-straight losses to start the season appear to be an aberration.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Seattle Seahawks 8:30PM EDT
The two best streaks going in the NFL will look to keep moving forward in primetime. Seattle Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham has been virtually unstoppable in the red zone. Graham has single-handedly carried the ProCanes scoring streak, reaching the endzone in six of his last seven games. Graham has equalled his previous two seasons with Seattle in just this season alone with eight touchdowns. However, that streak is in jeopardy.
The Eagles are soaring high on their own streak, winning nine in a row heading into the big matchup. QB Carson Wentz is playing at an MVP level in just his second season in the league. For a Seattle defense that only has one active member of the Legion of Boom in S Earl Thomas able to play, it will be a tall task for the Seahawks’ defense to limit a potent Eagles’ offensive attack that is third in total offense, averaging 381 yards-per-game.
It could set up to be a shootout this week for Graham and the Seahawks. The Eagles are perched atop the NFC East standing, with a pretty good chance of securing either the first or second seed in the NFC playoff field. Of the two teams, Seattle needs this game the most as they’re currently on the outside looking in. With the Rams ahead of them in the NFC West division, Seattle needs to keep pace to either secure the division or a wildcard spot. Given how hot Graham has been, it would be a good idea to ride the ‘Human Torch’ down the stretch.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals 8:30PM EDT
The Black and Yellow of the Pittsburgh Steelers reigns supreme in the AFC playoff picture. Currently ranked as the top seed, Pittsburgh controls its own destiny. However, it appears that a couple AFC North rivals are beginning to nip at the heels atop the standings. One of those clubs is the Bengals, who are in the playoff bubble after demolishing the Browns a weekend ago.
Monday Night Football will serve as the stage for the second game between the two border state rivals after Pittsburgh won the first matchup 29–14. In that meeting, the Steelers’ secondary picked off Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton twice, with Steelers’ RB Le’Veon Bell carrying the ball 35 times to wear down the Cincy defense. This time around, Artie Burns will be the best corner on the field for the Steelers as CB Joe Haden will miss another game due to a fibula injury—meaning that Burns will see plenty of Bengals’ WR AJ Green, who has scored a touchdown in two of his last four games. Pittsburgh is in the midst of a four game win streak, however there are grumblings about the play of the secondary.
For all the good that Burns is able to do in coverage, whether in man or zone, it’s his porous tackling that has the Steelers’ faithful enraged. While Burns has plenty of room to improve in that area, we’re wondering if it’s more a business decision, saving himself for the playoffs than making the riskier one-on-one tackle. We’ll certainly get more answers on Monday night.
ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week
He’s nowhere close to the streak that Jimmy Graham has put together, but Lamar Miller has found the endzone in two straight games, one receiving and the other on the ground. The best running option the Texans currently have on the roster, you could do worse for a flex option this late in the fantasy season.
This week you will notice many players with decrotaive footwear as part of the ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ week. Along with their NFL brothers, here are some causes that the ProCanes will be championing this weekend.
It’s been a blessing taking veterans up in the sea plane thru the Wounded Warriors Project this season. Cant wait to represent on the field! pic.twitter.com/X3wiOa4U05— Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) November 30, 2017
#MentoringMatters and that’s why I’m supporting the @TheCGProject for #MyCauseMyCleats. They are doing good things to groom inner-city teenage boys into upstanding gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/3ymLKgSedS— Lamar Miller (@millertime_6) November 30, 2017
“You have two hands. One to help yourself, the second to help others.” This Sunday, I’m very proud to represent @NgwaNational which focuses on youth empowerment and rural healthcare improvement in Nigeria on Sunday #MyCauseMyCleats pic.twitter.com/QdlIz0FjfF— Ufomba Kamalu (@Nightmare1147) December 2, 2017
In honor of my fellow Miami Hurricane , soccer player ⚽️ Jordan Roseboro, and her lost partner, Stanford graduate and my former teammate , Konrad Reuland, who suddenly passed from a #BrainAneurysm , I proudly join the @lisafoundation as they lead the way in raising awareness and saving lives from this silent killer. In the U.S. up to 15 million are estimated to have an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. 1 out of 20 Americans are estimated to have a brain aneurysm. #lisafoundation #mycausemycleats #nfl
#MyCauseMyCleats is to raise awareness and pay my respect to my queen and all of the single mothers out there that's overcoming everyday struggles to raise their children to be the best and chase their dreams. pic.twitter.com/fRGuvuxouP— Allen Hurns (@A1hurns) November 30, 2017
- The ProCanes TD streak continues for a third week. Can we make it four?
- After being pulled from the game last week, Carolina Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen had X-Rays on his foot. They returned negative for any damage. Olsen could be held out this week for precautionary reasons.
- LB Ray-Ray Armstrong was claimed on waivers by the New York Giants
- San Francisco 49ers FS Adrian Colbert broke his thumb a couple weeks ago. He is doubtful for week thirteen.
One the of the greats stopped by today. pic.twitter.com/Jb112fkbRc— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) November 29, 2017
- On November 27th, 2017 many payed homage to the late safety Sean Taylor, who passed away 10 years to the day. He is sorely missed by family, friends and fans the world over. #RIPST26
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U