Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals
1:00 pm EST, FOX
A battered Bengals team welcomes the underwhelming Bears to Cincinnati, and a closer look shows two teams in the throes of different stages of development. With their playoff hopes all but dashed and several key players injured, the Bengals are completely unpredictable, but they can certainly cobble together a win against the hapless, inconsistent Bears, whose struggles with rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky have some questioning his selection. The Bengals can play conservatively and still win this one handily.
Bears – Trubisky, LB Pernell McPhee, LB Leonard Floyd
Bengals – WR A.J. Green, DE Carlos Dunlap, CB William Jackson III
Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns
1:00 pm EST, FOX
The Browns are officially a team in transition again (!) after jettisoning Browns vice president Sashi Brown in favor of “football man” John Dorsey, whose evaluation and scouting align more to traditional methods than Brown’s did, and presumably Sabermetrics guru Paul DePodesta. Which brings one to ask how the Browns envision these different philosophies working together. Regardless, we won’t see any changes on the field this week, as the Browns host the Packers in a game featuring a team with a distinct (albeit unrealistic) playoff path against a team that’s…well, winless.
Packers – QB Brett Hundley, WR Jordy Nelson, DT Kenny Clark
Browns – RB Isaiah Crowell, WR Ricardo Louis, LB Jamie Collins Sr.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
8:30 pm EST, NBC
With the NFL’s outrage over a violent AFC North game in prime time last week, it’s a minor wonder this game wasn’t flexed out of prime time to avoid offending some viewers. This will be a typical hard-hitting, offensively-challenged contest between rivals whose strengths are designed specifically to be effective against each other. While Pittsburgh awaits news of LB Ryan Shazier’s condition and future, they intend to tighten their hold on the AFC North title, and doing it in Baltimore simply adds motivation. Baltimore is going to have to prove that last week’s adequate offensive performance wasn’t a fluke.
Ravens – WR Mike Wallace, CB Marlon Humphery, S Tony Jefferson
Steelers – RB Le’Veon Bell, DE Stephon Tuitt, S Sean Davis