While the University of Miami edges closer to the finish line of the regular season, the NFL still has seven more weeks remaining before the postseason. The contingent of UM alumni in the NFL are either narrowing their focus on securing a position in the playoffs or on a roster spot in the near future. If the 10 weeks previous didn’t shake out the pretenders from the contenders, then this week certainly will.
As we do each week, we’ve got your game previews — or ill-fated fantasy selections — and news and notes from ProCanes across the league. Let’s get into it.
Atlanta Falcons (4-4) vs Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) 1PM EDT
It seems like ages ago when we talked about Cleveland being sleepers in the race to win the AFC North crown. My how that has went south quickly. The Browns have lost their last four contests, have an interim head coach and are once again on track to have a top ten pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
If there’s a positive in all of this, it has to be that the ProCanes on the Browns’ offense were finally featured in week nine. RB Duke Johnson scored his first and second TDs of the season. TE David Njoku was second only to Johnson in the receptions department. The expansion of targets for the ProCane duo should expand this week against a Falcons’ defense that allows 304.2 passing yards-per-game. The Falcons were able to put the vise grip on the NFC East-leading Redskins a week ago, extending their win streak to three games.
DE Chad Thomas has been ruled inactive for much of his rookie season. The expectation is that this will continue into week 10 as he bides time carving out a role in Cleveland.
In punter news, Atlanta’s Matt Bosher is graded by PFF as a 68.1 player at the position, with 11 of his punts being downed within the 20. The Falcons have been clicking on offense, which should provide Bosher with a good spot on the sideline to watch this game unfold.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) vs Indianapolis Colts (3-5) 1PM EDT
The good news for each of these teams is they’re both coming off a bye week. The bad news is that the Houston Texans were able to pad their lead atop the AFC South, winning their sixth straight. This is a must-win game if either of these clubs have real ambitions of playing football in January.
Jacksonville enters week 10 having lost their last four games. They’ve benched QB Blake Bortles, and appear to be in full meltdown mode. ProCane DE Calais Campbell has played peacekeeper and teams spokesperson as the Jaguars try to resolve their issues internally. They’ll need to find the remedy to their problems before they travel to Naptown to square off with QB Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense.
Campbell has been one of the few bright spots for Jacksonville, tallying five sacks and nine TFL to date. The King of Duval County has thrived in his previous two matchups with the Colts, sacking the QB three times over the course of two games in 2017. Of course, Andrew Luck was not the QB at that time for the Colts. He will provide a tougher challenge to the beleaguered Cats of Duval.
Colts’ TE Erik Swoope suffered a knee injury in week eight after scoring his third touchdown in as many games. Even with the rest afforded to him from the bye in week nine, that injury will keep him off the field for yet another game.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Colts, Al-Quadin Muhammad hasn’t put up the stats to grab anyone’s attention —11 tackles and two TFLs. Yet, he is receiving more playing time this season than he did in his rookie year as a member of the Saints. According to PFF, AQM has been on the field for 194 snaps to date, which is 170 more than he received in the Crescent City. It would be nice for a player that picked up seven sacks in his two seasons with the Canes to find his first career sack this week.
Arizona Cardinals (2-6) vs Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) 1PM EDT
It’s been a miserable season for the Cardinals — and Hurricane fans can relate. For the Cards’ fans, it’s only going to get more woeful as their team takes on the red hot Chiefs. Can ProCane DT Olsen Pierre slow down the Chiefs’ offense? Highly unlikely. However, Pierre will see plenty of chances to get his hands on KC QB Pat Mahomes.
The Cardinals rank 11th in the NFL in total defense, forcing 17 turnovers on the season. It would be the biggest upset of the season if Arizona were to come into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs, which is likely the only motivation to watch this game… at least until halftime.
On the other side of the field will be Pierre’s former teammate at the U, now Kansas City Chief, DE Allen Bailey. Bailey’s sack streak ended at four-straight games a couple of weeks ago, but given that KC is currently ranked second in the league in total defense, we’re sure he can live with his superlative stats taking a small dip in quantity.
Miami Dolphins (5-4) vs Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) 4:25PM EDT
Miami RB Frank Gore moved up to sixth all-time in total yards from scrimmage in a career, surpassing former Lions’ great Barry Sanders. Gore remains roughly 800 yards behind Sanders on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, but continues to inch his way to that third spot on the list. In the meantime, the Dolphins are in the mix to for the wildcard in the AFC, within shot of New England. Miami’s rushing game ranks 22nd in the league, with Gore leading the team with 438 rushing yards and 4.2 YPC. Going against a Green Bay squad trying to control their playoff fate, the Phins will look to ‘run up’ the Packers’ 119.6 rushing yards allowed average.
TE Jimmy Graham continues his resurgence with the Pack in 2018. Graham hasn’t found the endzone as much as he did in his final season with Seattle last year, yet he continues to be a weapon for the offense outside of just being a red zone threat.
ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week
In an attempt to test out theories of a jinx, this week’s fantasy selection is Cincinnati RB Mark Walton. The rookie has not received the workload nor the production for anyone to carry him on their roster. Despite injuries to Joe Mixon and Giovanni Bernard, Walton has seen less than a handful of carries in each game. The Saints aren’t a great matchup for any running back, holding opponents to a league-best 76.4 rushing yards a game. This is optimism at its highest level.… Perhaps bordering on insanity as well.
News and Notes
Michael Badgley Gets Promoted from the Practice Roster
After PK Caleb Sturgis misses two extra point attempts and a 42-yard field goal attemp, the Los Angeles Chargers have promoted PK Michael Badgley from their practice squad to the 53-man active roster. The rookie ProCane has made all three of his FG attempts in the two games he started for the Bolts.
RK McIntosh Active for the First Time in 2018
After being placed on the non-football illness list since joining the New York Giants, DT RJ McIntosh will finally be active this week for the G-Men. The following is a quote via Big Blue View from Giants DC James Bettcher, outlining the expectations for the young man moving forward.
“We realize that this is like the second week of OTA worth of practices for him and we know that. There’s going to [be] fundamentals and techniques and some of those things everyday that we’re just going to keep hitting him with and keep hitting him with and the thing that I’ve been the most encouraged with him about is just his work mentality,” Bettcher said. “He’s been studying film, he’s been great with what Gary’s (Emanuel) been asking him to do and you could see some of the things that we’re really trying to work on in individual carry over and he’s very aware of the things that he needs to continue to work.”
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!