Friday, September 11, 2009
AFC North: Final Word
By James Walker ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend's games:
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images
Bad news for Chiefs QBs: Terrell Suggs will have fresh legs for Sunday's game with Kansas City.
Ravens get favorable matchup: Of all the teams in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens should have the easiest matchup this weekend at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. Baltimore is a defense-oriented team facing a team that just fired its offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey and may be without quarterback Matt Cassel. The Ravens are big favorites in this game and rightfully so.
Suggs itching to make impact: After missing all of training camp with a heel injury and playing just a few snaps in the final preseason game, look out for a well-rested Terrell Suggs. The Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker is accustomed to sitting out in the summer and still getting off to a fast start. The past two seasons Suggs was franchised and didn’t sign his tender until late. The result was fresh legs and solid production.
Cleveland’s QB question:Brady Quinn is expected to start for the Browns Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, but that’s only half the story. The other part is how Cleveland’s starting quarterback will perform in its season opener. Browns coach Eric Mangini had a long, drawn-out process to determine his starter this year. In fact Mangini didn’t notify Quinn or Derek Anderson until Tuesday -- just five days before the season opener. If the Browns get poor play from their quarterback position Sunday and it results in a loss, expect Mangini to get a lot of the blame because the decision could have been made two weeks ago after the third preseason game.
Favre and AP: Cleveland’s defense has a lot on its plate trying to slow Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and tailback Adrian Peterson. Favre arrived late but is viewed by many as the missing link to making Minnesota a Super Bowl contender. He will keep Cleveland’s defense honest, preventing it from stacking the box. And Peterson led the league in rushing. He's a threat every time he touches the football. The Browns don’t have the personnel to match up with Minnesota, so they will have to play extremely efficiently in all three phases.
The Ocho vs. The Champ: Two of the NFL’s top players at their respective positions will face off when receiver Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals meets Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. Both stars are coming off down years in terms of injuries and performance in 2008. But Ochocinco in particular looks to be in great shape and has given Bailey trouble in the past. This matchup could go a long way to determining the outcome of Sunday’s game.