WEEK 9: BALTIMORE RAVENS - BYE
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2015
OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-3) AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-4)
Here is a look at the statistical leaders for the both the Steelers and Raiders heading into the Week 9 contest at Heinz Field.
Oakland will travel to Pittsburgh for a battle of second-place teams. The Raiders have won back-to-back games and aim to reach the season's hallway point with a record above .500 for the first time since 2001, when Oakland started 6-2 en route to a 10-6 record and an AFC West title.
"I think we're getting better each week," says Oakland head coach JACK DEL RIO. "The process that we work so hard at, I feel like the coaches are doing a good job game planning, the players are doing a great job coming and being purposeful about our work, learning about each opponent and preparing to come out here and compete."
Pittsburgh welcomed quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER back to the lineup last week, as he became the first Steeler to reach 40,000 career passing yards. But the Steelers could not hold their fourth-quarter lead against the Bengals, as Cincinnati preserved its undefeated record with a 16-10 victory at Heinz Field.
"We needed one more stop," says Pittsburgh defensive end CAMERON HEYWARD. "We've got to grow from this. If we talk about being the team we want to be, you've got to step up in critical situations. We have to learn from this."
STEELERS: In past 4 vs. Oak., QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER has completed 101 of 147 (68.7 pct.) for 1,212 yards with 10 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 107.9 rating. Last week, became 5th-fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards (163 games)…In 2 starts at RB for Pit, DE ANGELO WILLIAMS is averaging 112 scrimmage yards per game (204 rush, 20 rec.) & has 3 rush TDs…WR ANTONIO BROWN aims for 3rd in row with 7 catches & 80 rec. yards vs. Oak. Since 2013, leads NFL in catches (291) & receiving yards (3,915). Last week, TE HEATH MILLER posted season-highs in catches (10) & receiving yards (105). WR MARTAVIS BRYANT has 4 TDs in past 4…LB RYAN SHAZIER has 2 sacks in past 3, incl. .5 sack vs. Cin, & aims for 4th in row with .5 sack. DT STEVE MC LENDON posted 1st sacks of season last week. LB LAWRENCE TIMMONS leads team with 58 tackles. LB BUD DUPREE leads AFC rookies with 4 sacks, incl. 1 last week vs. Bengals.
RAIDERS: In past 6, QB DEREK CARR has completed 143 of 217 (65.9 pct.) for 1,732 yards with 15 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 107.5 rating. Has 2 TDs in 5 of past 6, incl. 4 last week vs. NYJ. Aims for 4th in row on road with 2 TD passes…In past 9, RB LATAVIUS MURRAY is averaging 93.8 scrimmage yards per game (657 rush, 187 rec., 844 total) & has 3 rush TDs. RB TAIWAN JONES scored 1st career TD last week (59-yard catch)…WR AMARI COOPER (No. 4 overall) leads NFL rookies in catches (38) & receiving yards (565). Has 100 receiving yards or TD catch in 4 of past 6. WR MICHAEL CRABTREE led team with 7 catches for 102 yards & TD vs. Jets. Aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. WR ANDRE HOLMES tied career-high with 2 TD catches last week, incl. 49-yarder…LB KHALIL MACK has 4 sacks in past 5, incl. 1 last week. In only career meeting (12/19/11 with SF), LB ALDON SMITH had 2.5 sacks. S CHARLES WOODSON posted 65th career INT last week, surpassing ED REED (64) & tying KEN RILEY (65) for No. 5 all-time.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2015
CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-0) 31, CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-7) 10
Eifert scores 3 TDs as perfect Bengals beat Browns
Johnny Manziel gave the Browns a brief spark, but the Browns ultimately were little more than supporting players in the battle of Ohio on Thursday night. These Cincinnati Bengals are making undefeated look easy.
Tight end Tyler Eifert caught three touchdown passes for the 8-0 Bengals in a 31-10 victory over their division rivals. This is the type of clinical, balanced, mature performance we've come to expect from the Bengals. Cleveland and Cincinnati traded long drives in the first half before the Bengals absolutely dominated the second half. The Bengals had 12 first downs and 17 points before the Browns picked up a first down in garbage time. Eifert has proven to be a difference maker in the red zone and could be the second-best tight end in football.
Andy Dalton completed 21 of 27 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns, yet it didn't even feel like one of his best outings of the year. He only completed one pass downfield all game because he didn't need to throw deep. The Browns' secondary played a soft zone, and Dalton simply took what the defense gave him. The Bengals rushed for 152 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown on a reverse from Mohamed Sanu.
It was a night where offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was one step ahead of Browns coach Mike Pettine. The Bengals didn't turn the ball over and only punted twice in the first 56 minutes of the game. While the Browns' offense gets most of the attention, Pettine's defense has been far more disappointing this year. They have taken a big step back from last year's early promise.
Manziel rightfully got most of the attention before the game. We believe the Browns made the right decision to start him if there was any choice in the matter. He looked better than he did a season ago, yet it's debatable whether he did enough to keep the starting job over Josh McCown. The final numbers aren't great: 15-of-33 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown. But his receivers did not help with a number of drops. Manziel made several plays outside of the pocket in the first half, showing flashes of his old college magic. Still, he did not always see open receivers early in the down. He is at his best improvising and that might not be enough at the pro level. It still makes sense to keep starting Manziel to see what they have.
At 2-7, the Browns have not always made it easy on their opponents this season. They have competed well for a half against top-level teams like the Cardinals and Bengals, but they haven't been competitive for a full 60 minutes. After starting last season 7-4, Mike Pettine's Browns are 2-12 in their last 14 games.
Cleveland is searching for an identity, while the Bengals are secure in who they are. Dalton plays point guard with tons of talent around him, free to take the occasional big shot. The defensive line gets after it weekly and Adam "Pacman" Jones leads a deep secondary. The Bengals have dispatched second-tier opponents easily this season. We don't need them to win in January before declaring this the best team of the Marvin Lewis era.