Friday, October 21, 2011
Final Word: AFC North
By Jamison Hensley
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:
Go deep in the desert: If you're the Cardinals' secondary, the last wide receiver you want to see right now is Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, who has caught one pass for at least 40 yards in five straight games. That's the longest such streak in the NFL since Terrell Owens in 2004, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Arizona has had trouble keeping receivers in front of its defensive backs, allowing 26 passes over 20 yards in five games this season (an average of 5.2 per game). Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in 2011, has difficulty with the deep ball.
Steelers receiver Mike Wallace has a catch of at least 40 yards in five straight games.
Rough up the rookie: It's no secret that the Ravens want to rattle first-year Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, especially after he was sacked five times last Sunday at Pittsburgh. The Ravens apply as much pressure as any defense in the NFL, and they come from all angles. Seven players already have at least one sack for Baltimore. Expect the Ravens to attack the edges because the Jaguars' starting offensive tackles could be sidelined for a second straight game. Jacksonville might have to go with undrafted rookie Cameron Bradfield at right tackle and Guy Whimper, who had one start in the previous four seasons, at left tackle.
Big-time for Little: One of the bright spots for the Browns' offense has been the emergence of wide receiver Greg Little. The rookie second-round pick has a team-leading 20 catches, including 12 in his past two games. Cleveland will need someone to step up in the passing game because Seattle has given up the fewest yards per carry (3.1) and the Browns could be without injured running back Peyton Hillis. The Seahawks have allowed a wide receiver to produce 100 yards in three of the past four games.
Take it away: The Steelers' defense ranks first in yards allowed but last in takeaways. Pittsburgh has forced two turnovers (one fumble and one interception) in six games this season. After this point last season, the Steelers had taken the ball away 17 times. It's time to get back on track for the Steelers against Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb, who has thrown five interceptions in three games.
Easy road for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco: One of the reasons they call him "Joe Cool" is because of his poise on the road. Since his rookie season in 2008, Flacco has led Baltimore to an NFL-best 18 wins away from home (including the playoffs). In those road games, he has thrown 22 touchdown passes and five interceptions, and has a passer rating of 95.5. Jacksonville should have a louder crowd than usual because it's a Monday night game, but the Jaguars still have lost their past two home games by double digits.