Behind Enemy Lines – Week 11
They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Behind Enemy Lines brings you your weekly recap of the rest of the AFC North, as the Ravens strive to be back on top of the division.
Result: L 12-16 vs. Buffalo
The most crushing takeaway from this game for the Bengals was losing A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard to injuries. Green may be back before the end of the season, but it appears he may miss a few weeks with a hamstring injury. The impact?
So the Bengals lost AJ Green and Gio Bernard. That's 45% of their targets this season. Wow.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) November 21, 2016
The rest of the Bengals offense does very little to strike fear into opponents. Jeremy Hill has been up and down all year. He finished the game with 16 carries for 62 yards. He offers very little in the passing game and, barring a free agent signing, the only other RB on the roster is Rex Burkhead…I’ll pause while you google him.
The receiver the Bengals will go to now will be rookie Tyler Boyd (who was a favorite of mine during the pre-draft process). He already proved he can step into a bigger role by catching six balls for 54 yards and a TD. However, he’s no Green. The reality is that the Bengals offense got a lot less dangerous without their two biggest playmakers.
The pass defense looked much better on Sunday and they did a good job of shutting Tyrod Taylor down. He finished with only 166 passing yards and 1 INT and added only 39 yards on the ground. The Bengals secondary is starting to improve after a very slow start, particularly with their playmaking abilities. They picked off Eli Manning twice last week and added another this week.
It was the rushing attack of the Bills that kept the sticks moving and won the possession game (32:11 for the Bills vs. 27:49 for the Bengals). Vontaze Burfict led the group with 13 tackles and added a sack, while Dre Kirkpatrick grabbed the Tyrod INT.
Tyler Boyd – 6 catches, 54 yards, 1 TD – not a stat line that will blow you away, but he did a good job when becoming the #1. Boyd will likely draw Jimmy Smith (if healthy) this week.
The Bengals travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens in a key divisional matchup. The Ravens have a great opportunity to play an aggressive style of defense with Green and Gio on the sideline. A healthy mix of blitzes and press coverage against a team that is lacking a speedy playmaker is the right medicine for the Bengals. The Bengals OL will need to come prepared.
On defense, the Bengals will try and get to Joe Flacco early and often. With the Bengals DBs making plays as of late, Joe will need to protect the ball and make smart choices – something he’s not done consistently this year. I expect the Bengals defense to have a much better performance against the struggling Ravens offense.
Result: W 24-9 @ Cleveland
The Steelers offense was expected to have a field day against one of the worst defenses in football. Oddly enough, the Browns defense held the Steelers to only 24 points, which is the lowest allowed by the Browns this year (2nd lowest was Week 2 against the Ravens when Baltimore scored 25).
Le’Veon Bell was an absolute animal on Sunday. He carried the ball 28 times for 146 yards, 1 TD and caught eight passes for 55 yards. Antonio Brown added eight catches for 76 yards, but outside of that the Steelers couldn’t conjure much offense.
This has been the story of the Steelers 2016. They have two of the best playmakers in the NFL in Bell and Brown, but other than that, it’s pretty mediocre. They may want to consider involving DeAngelo Williams a bit more and splitting Bell out in the slot. He is a great pass catcher and it would get another guy who can run the ball on the field. However, I think Ravens fans are perfectly okay with the Steelers racking up a few more losses.
The Steelers pass rush was on full display on Sunday. They got to Browns quarterbacks a whopping eight times from six different rushers. This would be a big step for the Steelers as they need to relieve some of the pressure off their DBs.
Artie Burns also added another interception, giving the rookie two this season. The Steelers defense was dominant, allowing just one TD when Gary Barnidge finally found the end zone for the first time this year. They will look to continue the defensive momentum against a Colts offense that will likely be without Andrew Luck. No Luck and a putrid Colts OL means the pass rush may have another field day.
Le’Veon Bell – 28 carries, 146 yards, 1 TD and 8 catches, 55 yards – Bell was unstoppable.
The Steelers host the un-Luck-y colts on Thursday who will likely start Scott Tolzien and his whopping two career starts at QB. The Colts usually win in shootouts and don’t have much of a defense. Without Luck it’s going to be very difficult to do that.
Result: L 9-24 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I’ve been praising Cody Kessler all year to the point that I got accused of being his cousin. I don’t think Kessler has any family in Canada, so I think we can safely say there is no relation.
As good as his rookie season had been (considering he’s on the Browns), he was pretty bad on Sunday before exiting with a concussion. He’s already been ruled out for Week 12 and Hue Jackson alluded to sitting him for the rest of the season.
Josh McCown came in relief and put together a pretty decent game, totaling 118 yards and 1 TD, but did give up a fumble.
The Browns running game was completely ineffective, rolling for just 33 yards on 13 carries. This has become a consistent problem and moving forward it really does not bode well for the team. The defense is so bad they need to win in shootouts. With Kessler out and no rush defense, it’s hard to find a team on the schedule that they could beat.
The Browns defense finally shut down a QB! Ben Roethlisberger was held to 0 TD and only 8.58 fantasy points, which is relevant because he almost single-handily lost Week 11 for my fantasy team. Outside of Brown and Bell, the Pittsburgh pass catchers only had seven receptions.
The issue for the Browns this week was the inability to stop Bell. Pittsburgh ran the ball and controlled the clock and there wasn’t much the Browns could do. Credit the pass defense, but the run defense gets a slap on the wrist this week.
Terrelle Pryor Sr. – 5 catches, 97 yards – It was difficult to find someone this week. It was a pretty bad performance from all levels of play. Even the OL, which is one of the better units in the league, was absolutely awful. Pryor continues to add to this offense. They’ll need to lean on him moving forward in search of the elusive first win.
The Browns host the Giants in what is sure to be a field day for Eli Manning, who is finally on the same page as his WRs. Look for another beat down of the Browns defense and if you can, pick up Eli Manning in fantasy for Week 12.