Older AFCE

Older AFCE

Speaking of which…

Speaking of which…
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Four games left.

 

That’s all, folks.  Four more weekends, and pro football will be on hiatus for another seven months, at least for (probably) three of the four teams in the AFC North, with nothing but the annual hopes of the draft to sustain them.  These next four weeks will determine a division winner, a possible wild card, and draft position for two (possibly three) teams, so this would be an opportune time to tune and and watch.  Speaking of which…

 

This is strictly my take, but the NFL’s ratings are most likely improving in the wake of late-season “flex” scheduling.  The quality of the matchups has significantly improved since the doldrums of the league’s early-season schedule.  These last four weeks are stocked with excellent games, most of which we’ll actually see without having to purchase special packages.  As viewers, we couldn’t be happier.  Speaking of which…

 

Cleveland fans should be happy about the return of “barely knew ye” QB Robert Griffin III for one reason:  He’s at the top of the depth chart, and he’s starting.  Griffin was on the field for very little time this season, and given the large slate of quarterbacks the Browns have been forced to roll out in his absence, it’ll be interesting to note whether he represents improvement.  Speaking of which…

 

This year’s rookie class is starting to establish themselves.  Notable in the AFC North are Steelers CB Artie Burns, who showed excellent instincts and positioning against the Giants last week, and Ravens CB Tavon Young, who’s outplaying his size and showing a real mean streak in his open field play.  Given the dearth of solid CBs in the NFL currently, it’s nice to see some solid contributors this early in their careers.  Speaking of which…

 

Where are the second-year players?   Very few of the AFC North’s 2015 draft picks have contributed much, despite several of them serving in starting capacities.  Steelers LB Bud Dupree has been somewhat injury prone, despite showing progress on the field.  Ravens WR Breshad Perriman has defied many doubters (including me) by getting on the field, but his play has been barely adequate there.  OL Cedric Ogbuehi’s appearances and progress appear to be minimal for the Bengals, and Browns DT Danny Shelton has been maddeningly inconsistent, showing excellent skills one moment, and total lapses in concentration the next.  Here’s hoping these guys figure it out.  Speaking of which…

 

Browns LT Joe Thomas plods on, despite the team’s struggles.  And why not?  Thomas is the rarest of players these days; one that does his job well, consistently, and without much fanfare.  He’s remained at the top of his game despite the obvious roster and injury issues the Browns have experienced.  Enjoy this guy for his last few years, Cleveland – you may never get another one like him.  Speaking of which…

 

He hasn’t commented on it lately, but this season could very well be the last for longtime Steelers LB James Harrison, who has remained productive in a part-time role the last couple of seasons while serving as a mentor for the teams’ new cadre of linebackers.  As Harrison’s legacy is determined, it’s important to realize that he contributed little during the first five years of his career while struggling to hold a roster spot.  It’s pretty safe to say that he’d receive Hall of Fame consideration with a bit more longevity.

 

Happy Midweek.

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