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  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Colts at Steelers
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

    • Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - TV: CBS

      *TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson

      *Keys to the game: Blitzburgh no more, the Steelers are trying to find pressure without further loosening a defense that has many gaps. Head coach Mike Tomlin sees Andrew Luck as a more dangerous quarterback when he escapes the pocket and coverage breaks down. The Steelers will drop seven or eight and try to find a hot hand among CBs William Gay, Brice McCain and Cortez Allen to contain the AFC's leading receiver, T.Y. Hilton (47 receptions for 711 yards).

      The two teams to beat Luck's bunch this season -- Denver and Philadelphia -- outscored the Colts. That's easier said than done, considering the Colts limit opponents to a 26 percent conversion rate on third down and have 21 sacks and 12 takeaways. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's offensive line is spotty, but it can plow, and the team's top two backs are over 5.0 yards per carry. Starter Le'Veon Bell was held in check Monday by the Texans but broke loose catching passes, an avenue that could open again this week facing a 3-4 defense for the fifth time in eight games.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

      --Out: WR Reggie Wayne (elbow)

      --Questionable: TE Jack Doyle (knee), RB Trent Richardson (hamstring)

      --Probable: CB Darius Butler (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (ankle)

      PITTSBURGH STEELERS

      --Out: DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), CB Ivan Taylor (forearm), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

      --Doubtful: T Marcus Gilbert (concussion)

      --Probable: DE Brett Keisel (not injury related), S Michael Mitchell (not injury related), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related), LB Ryan Shazier (knee)

      *Matchup to watch – Colts CB Vontae Davis vs. Steelers WR Antonio Brown: Brown needs more help, but his production and reliability are the one constant for the Steelers. Roethlisberger looks for Brown first and Davis, one of the most underrated cover men in the NFL, has speed and the strength to redirect at the line.

      *Player spotlight – Colts WR Donte Moncrief: The speedy rookie, along with Hakeem Nicks, will see more targets this week with Reggie Wayne (elbow) likely to be limited or out. Moncrief caught nine of 11 passes Luck threw in his direction through the first seven games.

      *Fast facts: With a win, Roethlisberger would have 100 wins in 150 career starts. ... The Steelers have won eight of the past 10 meetings. ... Luck is gunning for a franchise-record sixth consecutive 300-yard passing game.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Bell becomes the focal point for the Steelers, who grind out a home victory to set up a primetime slugfest with AFC North rival Baltimore in Week 9.

      *Our pick: Steelers 27-23

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Eagles at Cardinals
    By The Sports Xchange

    Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (5-1)

    • Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. - TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale

      *Keys to the game: The Cardinals are third in the NFL with a plus-seven turnover ratio, which keeps them in every game and pinches opponents who are loose with the ball. The Eagles (minus-1) spread the ball around but their pace-based offense thrives on the running game. It finally got what was expected of LeSean McCoy, who averaged 95.3 yards from scrimmage in three career games against the Cardinals, before the bye week.

      The Eagles are known for their shotgun offense, but QB Nick Foles was under center for 22 of 71 offensive plays in Week 6. Thirteen of those plays were McCoy runs, providing him more time to read the defense and for coach Chip Kelly to implement more cut-back runs to keep the defense honest.

      Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is 10-2 in his past 12 starts and while he's not running the level of flammable offense Foles does for the Eagles, Palmer has settled in as a perfect extension of coach Bruce Arians. While veering away from LB Connor Barwin (six sacks in his last three games), Palmer should have time to look for his diverse collection of pass catchers. Jitterbug rookie WR John Brown is elusive after the catch but the Eagles will try to stick him off the snap to disrupt Palmer's timing. The Eagles expect to be in plenty of nickel and dime packages with Arizona’s ability to go to four- and five-receiver sets.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

      --Out: WR Brad Smith (groin)

      --Questionable: C Jason Kelce (hernia), LB Mychal Kendricks (calf), RB Darren Sproles (knee)

      --Probable: RB Chris Polk (hamstring), LB DeMeco Ryans (groin), CB Jaylen Watkins (wrist)

      ARIZONA CARDINALS

      --Out: TE Troy Niklas (ankle)

      --Questionable: DE Calais Campbell (knee)

      --Probable: WR John Brown (ankle), RB Andre Ellington (foot), S Rashad Johnson (knee), DT Frostee Rucker (calf)

      *Matchup to watch – Cardinals RB Andre Ellington vs. Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks: Philadelphia's top defensive player could return just in time for a grueling workout, shadowing three-down back Ellington and emerging backup Stepfan Taylor, the focal points of the Arizona offense who are more dangerous as receivers than runners. *Player spotlight – Eagles TE Zach Ertz: So committed to the running game are the Eagles that they've moved away from Ertz in base packages, leaving him to play just over half of the offensive snaps because he is a liability as a blocker. But he's also a knockout in the red zone and caught two touchdowns last season in a win over Arizona.

      *Fast facts: Of the teams to start 6-1 since the 1970 merger, 89 made the playoffs, only 17 did not. ... The Eagles have converted just 40 percent of their red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. In the past 10 years, only one team has reached the postseason with a red-zone touchdown rate lower than 40 percent.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Arizona's underrated home-field edge could come into play but only if the steady Cardinals keep the game close into the fourth quarter. A back-and-forth game would eventually see the Cardinals tap out.

      *Our pick: Cardinals 27-23

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Packers at Saints
    By The Sports Xchange

    Green Bay Packers (5-2) at New Orleans Saints (2-4)

    • Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans - TV: NBC

      *TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

      *Keys to the game: Unleashing Eddie Lacy on the ground in front of a big throng of family and friends as he plays his first NFL game not far from his New Orleans-area home would make for a nice story. Yet, QB Aaron Rodgers, who has an 18-1 TD-to-INT ratio, and his potent receiving cast led by Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb will look to go to town against the Saints' injury-ravaged pass defense, provided the quarterback is able to continue to dazzle inside and outside the pocket in the face of New Orleans' exotic pressure packages.

      Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will get some notes from his brother Rex, whose Jets defense sacked Rodgers a season-high four times -- but was toasted for three TDs and 346 yards.

      Drew Brees has enjoyed meetings with Rodgers, throwing for no less than 323 yards in all three head-to-head matchups. But to give his defense a breather, Brees and the Saints must get the ground game going. RB Pierre Thomas is gone for 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury, putting the onus back on Mark Ingram in his second week back from a month-long absence with a thumb injury. The Packers are 31st in the NFL at 147.9 rushing yards per game allowed. Ingram and Khiry Robinson would love to see TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) back on the field, the one player the Packers defense would follow with multiple defenders, but his availability is highly questionable.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      GREEN BAY PACKERS

      (Green Bay did not practice on Friday. The Friday practice report is an estimation)

      --Out: DE Datone Jones (ankle)

      --Doubtful: CB Sam Shields (knee)

      --Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (calf)

      --Probable: RB James Starks (ankle)

      NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

      --Out: C Jonathan Goodwin (knee, ankle), LB Kyle Knox (ankle), RB Khiry Robinson (forearm), RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder)

      --Questionable: DT Brodrick Bunkley (concussion), TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder), LB Ramon Humber (ankle), CB Keenan Lewis (knee, shoulder)

      --Probable: CB Patrick Robinson (hamstring)

      *Matchup to watch – Packers WR Randall Cobb vs. Saints DB Rafael Bush: Bush is a safety who plays the slot in nickel packages. He could be in for a long night the way Cobb is piling up numbers. He leads all receivers with a career-best eight touchdowns.

      *Player spotlight – Saints LT Terron Armstead: In just his eighth career start, Armstead's feet are held to the fire against a four-linebacker rotation that features Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews. Armstead is quick and athletic, but he'll also need supreme discipline with little help expected on the flanks.

      *Fast facts: Rodgers enters with no interceptions in his past six games, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr's 50-year-old team record. ... The Saints are 6-0 in home Sunday night games and have won 19 straight in the building with coach Sean Payton on the sidelines.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      New Orleans is more desperate but ill-equipped to withstand a shootout with the Packers unless Graham can have an impact and the defense shows more fight than it has to date.

      *Our pick: Packers 34-24

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    NFL roundup: Bengals' Green doubtful vs. Ravens
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens after sitting out Friday's practice.

    • Green has missed the past two games due to the toe injury he originally suffered in the Bengals' season-opening victory over the Ravens.

      He was back on the rehab field Wednesday and was hopeful of playing Sunday, but he sat out the following two days.

      The Bengals were hoping Green could return to give a jolt to an offense that began last week's game with eight consecutive three-and-outs and finished with 135 yards in a 27-0 loss. But head coach Marvin Lewis said his team's offensive woes will have no bearing on the timetable for Green's return, even in a game as important at this one is with the Bengals looking at the possibility of falling three games behind Baltimore in the win column.

      "It's up to when he's physically ready to go," Lewis said midweek. "That decision is not in my hands. When he is significantly healed, he'll be ready to play. He'll know it, I'll know it, and then he'll be ready to move forward.

      "He's had the best people in the world -- at least in our country -- examine this, and they've been consistent with their message to him," Lewis continued. "He's seen the people that every NFL player sees, every professional athlete sees, and they've been consistent with the message, and so we've felt pretty good about that."

      The Bengals ruled out linebacker Rey Maualuga with a hamstring injury, and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson is questionable with a knee injury.

      ---Baltimore Ravens tight end Owen Daniels will not play this week and appears doubtful for the next game, too, after undergoing minor surgery on his left knee, coach John Harbaugh said Friday.

      Daniels, who has replaced the injured Dennis Pitta as Baltimore's top tight end, will miss the Ravens' big division battle at Cincinnati on Sunday.

      "After that, he has a chance to come back," Harbaugh said. "So, it'll be week to week after that and it won't be many weeks at all. It could actually be next week (at Pittsburgh). That'd be the optimistic approach, but it could happen."

      ---Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush is listed as doubtful and wide receiver Calvin Johnson as questionable for their game against the Atlanta Falcons in London on Sunday.

      Bush missed practice for the second straight day Friday with an ankle injury, but he told the Detroit Free Press that he will play against the Falcons at Wembley Stadium.

      Johnson practiced on a limited basis the past three days after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. He has struggled with the issue most of the year.

      The Lions also may be without three tight ends for the game. Eric Ebron (hamstring) and Joseph Fauria (ankle) have been ruled out while starter Brandon Pettigrew (foot) has been designated as doubtful.

      ---Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas, who was limited in Friday's final practice in London, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

      Douglas missed four games and 10 straight practices as a result of a Week 3 foot injury.

      ---Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Friday that he won't decide whether Robert Griffin III will play Monday against the Dallas Cowboys until just before game time, but the quarterback told reporters he will not rush his return from the ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 2.

      Griffin has been practicing on a limited basis, but the Redskins are poised to go with Colt McCoy as their starter if Griffin is not ready.

      "I've been there for Kirk (Cousins) and Colt as much as I possibly can," Griffin said, "and being there for this team to make sure they're as ready as possible during this process. It sucks that I can't get out there and play with them and help them get wins, but I've been listening to the doctors, listening to the trainers, listening to the coaches and we're not going to rush my ankle."

      ---Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who has an elbow injury, will not be available for Sunday's game against the Steelers at Pittsburgh.

      Wayne, who had a torn ACL in 2013, is second on the team with 38 catches and 434 yards, with one touchdown.

      The Colts also may be without running back Trent Richardson, who is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. In addition, tight end Jack Doyle (knee) is listed as questionable.

      ---The Carolina Panthers continue to run short at running back as Chris Ogbonnaya suffered a groin injury at practice Friday.

      If Ogbonnaya cannot play Sunday, Jonathan Stewart and Darrin Reaves would be the only healthy running backs against the Seattle Seahawks. DeAngelo Williams will miss a fourth straight game with an ankle injury, and Fozzy Whittaker is out with a quadriceps issue.

      The Panthers also will be without both starting guards as left guard Amini Silatolu (calf) and right guard Trai Turner (knee/ankle) will be replaced by undrafted rookie Andrew Norwell and journeyman Fernando Velasco.

      ---Seattle Seahawks return specialist Bryan Walters is among seven injured players who will miss the team's game at Carolina on Sunday.

      Walters suffered a concussion in practice this week and has been ruled out, along with fullback Derrick Coleman, tight end Zach Miller, center Max Unger, linebacker Bobby Wagner, cornerback Byron Maxwell and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.

      Wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson will handle the returns at Carolina, coach Pete Carroll said.

      Coleman had surgery on his broken foot Wednesday and is expected to miss six weeks, Carroll said. Robert Turbin will play fullback at Carolina as he did last week in St. Louis.

      Wagner, who suffered a toe injury against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, will see a foot specialist this weekend, Carroll said.

      ---New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson will join Pierre Thomas on the inactive list Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

      Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) both were injured in the Saints' 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday. Thomas reportedly will miss two or three games.

      Mark Ingram -- back after missing four weeks with a hand injury -- is expected to start, with Travaris Cadet taking Thomas' role as the top pass-catching back.

      Tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) is questionable for the second straight week. He played against Detroit but did not catch a pass.

      ---Houston Texans rookie pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney could return to action Sunday for the first time since having knee surgery last month.

      "He did what he had to do this week. I think he has a good shot to play on Sunday," coach Bill O'Brien said.

      If Clowney does play against the Tennessee Titans, it will be on a limited basis, according to the team.

      ---The Oakland Raiders will place pass rusher LaMarr Woodley and safety Usama Young on injured reserve Saturday, interim coach Tony Sparano told reporters Friday.

      Last Sunday against Arizona, Woodley suffered a torn biceps and Young suffered ACL and MCL tears. Both will miss the rest of the season.

      ---Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning went off on the scoreboard operator at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in his post-game press conference Thursday night, saying, "It wasn't his best night."

      Manning, four days after setting the NFL's all-time passing touchdown record, wasn't happy when he heard the boos when the scoreboard operator showed San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' face.

      "I have no problem with our fans, our fans are great. I've got a problem with our scoreboard operator. I've got to have a little talk with him," a serious Manning said. "I'm not sure what he's doing. He's playing music and showing our players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don't think we should be doing that. I don't think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought that was kind of disrespectful."

      ---The New England Patriots added two players to their practice squad on Friday, re-signing linebacker Ja'Gared Davis and signing rookie wide receiver Jonathan Krause.

      Davis played in three games for the Patriots before he was released Wednesday. The 24-year-old began the season on the practice squad after he was cut at the end of training camp.

      Krause signed with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt on May 12 and was released on Aug. 25.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Raiders at Browns
    By The Sports Xchange

    Oakland Raiders (0-6) at Cleveland Browns (3-3)

    • Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland - TV: CBS

      *TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

      *Keys to the game: Injuries at the heart of the offensive and defensive lines caused a major letdown at Jacksonville last week and the Browns are still making adjustments. The massive defensive line combo of Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin is unlikely to be back, which suits the Raiders just fine. Interim head coach Tony Sparano wants to be physical and establish the run, and Cleveland was flattened by a weakling running game of the Jaguars a week ago. A steady diet of Darren McFadden will be thrown at the Browns' 32nd-ranked run defense (155.2 yards per game), until they establish they can stop Oakland's downhill attack.

      Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr is becoming a strong leader with poise and presence despite a lackluster supporting cast. The Browns are solid in the secondary but with a makeshift front seven, Carr could have more time to pick his spots.

      The Browns have a no-nonsense rushing attack ranked sixth in the NFL at 133.5 yards per game and use their backs to finish drives with a league-best eight touchdowns. Jacksonville thwarted the inside running game with speed, and took away the anticipated counter-punch of play-action passes from Brian Hoyer. Hoyer is just 24 for 58 in the past two games, and an early bout of inaccuracy could bring Johnny Manziel into the equation. Watch for TE Jordan Cameron, who has just 10 catches all season, to be heavily targeted in the first half.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      OAKLAND RAIDERS

      --Out: TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps), S Usama Young (knee)

      --Questionable: G Khalif Barnes (quadriceps), RB Marcel Reece (quadriceps), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), DE Justin Tuck (knee)

      --Probable: G Austin Howard (neck)

      CLEVELAND BROWNS

      --Out: WR Rodney Smith (hamstring), DE Phillip Taylor (knee)

      --Questionable: S Jim Leonhard (ankle), DE Billy Winn (quadriceps)

      --Probable: DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), DT Ahtyba Rubin (ankle), CB K'Waun Williams (concussion)

      *Matchup to watch – Browns FS Tashaun Gipson vs. Carr: Carr is careful with the ball. The rookie second-round pick has thrown eight touchdowns compared to five interceptions in six games. Gipson preys on mistakes and forced throws with four interceptions already in 2014 - three a direct byproduct of QB pressures - and seven picks in his past nine games.

      *Player spotlight – Raiders DE Benson Mayowa: With LaMarr Woodley (biceps) out the Raiders will turn back to Mayowa, a noted athlete with pass-rushing skills who was strong against the run last week when Woodley went down. He spent last season with the Seattle Seahawks and made the Raiders primarily because of his athleticism. "You have to do it all," Mayowa said. "You can't be a one-trick horse these days. To stay around, it's play all three downs."

      *Fast facts: The Browns have won five of the past seven meetings. ... Raiders PK Sebastian Janikowski has 46 career field goals of 50-plus yards, six shy of Jason Hanson's NFL record.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Cleveland gets back to the winning ground game to move over .500 with another one-win team (Tampa Bay) visiting next week.

      *Our pick: Browns 27-20

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Texans at Titans
    By The Sports Xchange

    Houston Texans (3-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-5)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville - TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa

      *Keys to the game: A revived Arian Foster is the last thing Tennessee wants to see right now. The Titans are a dust storm of injuries and lineup changes as they spiral toward a third consecutive losing season. Foster is averaging 102.5 yards per game on the ground and is getting yards in bunches with 16 carries of at least 10 yards. Strong starts have been common under the heavily scripted Bill O'Brien's watch -- Houston led 13-0 in the second quarter Monday before falling at Pittsburgh -- and the Titans have been outscored 37-13 in the first quarter.

      Watch for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started 10 games for the Titans last season, to throw on first down to take advantage of the Titans' scheme slanted to stop Foster, then use play-action to take his shots down the field. LG Ben Jones will be largely responsible for keeping Titans DL Jurrell Casey (14.5 sacks in his past 20 games) at bay.

      The Titans are turning to Zach Mettenberger, the third starting quarterback for the team this season, as Jake Locker isn't ready to come back from a three-game absence because of a thumb injury and the team wants to get a good look at the rookie. The Titans will feature the running game, but the Texans are going to stack the line to challenge the confident Mettenberger to throw over the top. Third downs are the ongoing bugaboo for Tennessee, which is just 19 for 67 since Week 1.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      HOUSTON TEXANS

      --Out: CB Darryl Morris (ankle), LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee)

      --Questionable: LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), LB Brian Cushing (knee), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB John Simon (ankle)

      --Probable: LB Akeem Dent (wrist), DE Tim Jamison (groin), WR Andre Johnson (ankle), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), LB Mike Mohamed (calf), DT Jerrell Powe (shoulder)

      TENNESSEE TITANS

      --Doubtful: CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee), TE Taylor Thompson (knee)

      --Questionable: LB Quentin Groves (ankle)

      --Probable: RB Shonn Greene (hamstring), QB Jake Locker (right hand), DE Ropati Pitoitua (hand)

      *Matchup to watch – Titans LT Taylor Lewan vs. Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney: With Mettenberger likely to see exotic looks designed to confuse, the Texans could slide the pass rushers around. Clowney, the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, and Lewan (11th) have tangled before, in the 2013 Outback Bowl between Michigan and South Carolina when Clowney made the infamous helmet-propelling hit on RB Vincent Smith. Lewan is making his third consecutive start. Clowney returned to practice this week. The coaches are hoping he can return and play 20 to 30 snaps on passing downs to work his way back into football shape on the weak side.

      *Player spotlight – Texans WR Andre Johnson: The all-time great has been quiet against the Titans, but Tennessee now lacks a lock-down cover man. Johnson has gone seven games since scoring in the series (Dec. 19, 2010), but seemed to click with Fitzpatrick late in last week's game.

      *Fast facts: The Texans have 17 losses since the start of last season -- 12 by seven or fewer points. ... The Titans have one first-quarter touchdown and two in the fourth quarter this season.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Unable to sustain drives and cash in red-zone chances, the Titans must gamble to get an upper hand. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and Tennessee are whiffing at a high percentage, leaving the door open for Houston to land the knockout blow.

      *Our pick: Texans 21-13

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Seahawks at Panthers
    By The Sports Xchange

    Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte -- TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell

      *Keys to the game: The Seahawks are eager to see if the offensive chemistry that developed over the second half of last week's loss at St. Louis carries over. Following the Percy Harvin trade, Seattle is focused on returning to a run-first scheme that filters in the read-option with QB Russell Wilson when teams overplay RB Marshawn Lynch. One area of concern is fullback, where Lynch's backup, Robert Turbin, saw snaps for the first time in his life after Derrick Coleman suffered a broken foot in pre-game warmups last week. Turbin could see more action as a lead-blocker Sunday, which in turn would lead to more carries for Christine Michael.

      WR Doug Baldwin caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown back in the slot position he produced from so consistently last season. Carolina's run defense has plummeted to 26th, but the Panthers will attempt to bottle up Lynch and Wilson between the tackles and force the Seahawks' receivers to gain separation.

      Seattle's coaches have taken note of the improved mobility shown by Panthers QB Cam Newton in recent weeks. Carolina is still searching for a more consistent ground presence with Jonathan Stewart averaging just 3.8 yards per carry last week, and gaining positive yardage on first and second down will be key. The Seahawks have struggled to generate pressure much of the season, but coach Pete Carroll indicated tweaks to the scheme to free up pass rushers -- potentially through increased blitzes.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

      --Out: RB Derrick Coleman (foot), DT Jordan Hill (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), TE Zach Miller (ankle), C Max Unger (foot), LB Bobby Wagner (toe), WR Bryan Walters (concussion)

      --Probable: DE Michael Bennett (toe), S Kam Chancellor (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related), CB Tharold Simon (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (shoulder), DT Kevin Williams (not injury related), TE Luke Willson (groin)

      CAROLINA PANTHERS

      --Out: CB Bene' Benwikere (ankle), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), WR Corey Brown (concussion), G Amini Silatolu (calf), G Trai Turner (knee), RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh), RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle)

      --Questionable: RB Chris Ogbonnaya (groin), LB Jason Williams (hip)

      --Probable: T Byron Bell (elbow), T Nate Chandler (thigh), LB Thomas Davis (not injury related), S Roman Harper (not injury related)

      *Matchup to watch -- Seahawks CB Richard Sherman vs. Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin: The rookie Benjamin leads Panthers wide receivers with 34 catches for 477 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-5, 240, he presents an interesting physical matchup for the 6-3, 195-pound Sherman, who has yet to record an interception this season.

      *Player spotlight -- Seahawks DL Michael Bennett: The team's most consistent pass rusher last season, Bennett has three of the team's seven sacks this season but Carroll is looking to spring him for more pressure with increased snaps inside on passing downs.

      *Fast facts: Wilson has won both career meetings against Carolina. ... The Panthers have allowed 37-plus points in four of their past five games and a total of 195 through seven games. They allowed 241 all of last season.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Both teams rolled through the regular season to earn first-round byes in 2013 but enter this week battered, bruised and in need of a victory to avoid slipping further behind in the NFC. The defending champs showed life in the second half last week -- something the Panthers' defense hasn't displayed in more than a month.

      *Our pick: Seahawks 27-23

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Rams at Chiefs
    By The Sports Xchange

    St. Louis Rams (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. -- TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Dick Stockton, Donovan McNabb, Kristina Pink

      *Keys to the game: The Rams are increasingly relying on their impressive rookie class, including RB Tre Mason, who logged 18 carries for 85 yards against Seattle last week. Second-year QB Austin Davis, who had struggled with bouts of poor decision making under pressure, thrived with a more conservative game plan as he completed 17 of 20 passes and a pair of touchdowns. Twelve of those completions went to backs and tight ends. The Rams will be content to play a field position game and rely on their high risk/high reward special teams to come up with a game-changing play or two.

      Chiefs QB Alex Smith has an enormous experience edge on his counterpart and has been playing excellent football over the past month. He, too, will take what the defense gives him as Kansas City has no desire to let the Rams' resurgent defensive line dictate the game. Smith has to be careful against St. Louis' aggressive young secondary that tends to gamble -- leading to big plays one direction or the other. RBs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combined for 35 touches last week and are the best counter-weapons to a d-line that likes to get upfield, often leaving the league's 28th-ranked run defense exposed.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      ST. LOUIS RAMS

      --Out: C Tim Barnes (shoulder), CB Brandon McGee (foot)

      --Questionable: CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), CB Trumaine Johnson (knee)

      --Probable: WR Kenny Britt (ankle), RB Benny Cunningham (knee), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), DE William Hayes (illness), S T.J. McDonald (concussion), T Rodger Saffold (knee), DE Ethan Westbrooks (hand), K Greg Zuerlein (illness)

      KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

      --Out: WR Donnie Avery (groin), CB Christopher Owens (knee)

      --Questionable: S Eric Berry (ankle), WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring)

      --Probable: RB Cyrus Gray (hand), LB Justin Houston (ankle), TE Travis Kelce (ribs), CB Sean Smith (groin)

      *Matchup to watch -- Rams DT Aaron Donald vs. Chiefs RG Zach Fulton: Donald worked his way into the starting lineup two games ago and wreaked all kinds of havoc against Seattle last week, including five tackles and a sack. Fulton is a sixth-round rookie who has started all six games, but is still learning on the fly. He'll have a difficult time contending with the quickness of the 6-1, 285-pound Donald, but the Chiefs will be hard-pressed to protect Fulton much while also coping with Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and William Hayes up front.

      *Player spotlight -- Rams LG Greg Robinson: Robinson also moved into the starting lineup two weeks ago. At 6-5, 332, his future is at left tackle while the Rams give the 22-year-old a softer landing spot inside. Raw but supremely athletic for his size, Robinson has upgraded the interior run-blocking.

      *Fast facts: Rams leading rusher Zac Stacy (240 rushing yards) logged only one offensive snap last week and had no carries. ... Smith has a 110.4 passer rating with eight TDs and 1 INT over his past three games.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      The Rams unloaded the special teams bag of tricks at home last week and still barely held off rival Seattle. On the road against a solid playoff contender, St. Louis' youth is too much to overcome in the din of Arrowhead.

      *Our pick: Chiefs 28-20

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Vikings at Buccaneers
    By The Sports Xchange

    Minnesota Vikings (2-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa -- TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Justin Kutcher, David Diehl, Laura Okmin

      *Keys to the game: The Vikings hit the road determined to improve the protection for rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has been sacked 13 times the past two weeks. They will also see former head coach Leslie Frazier, who now oversees a Bucs defense ranked last in points allowed (34.0 per game), total yardage (422.8) and pass defense (294.5). Tampa Bay ranks 25th in sacks per pass play, and no individual has more than two. That's music to the ears of the Vikings' offensive line, which ranks last in sacks allowed per pass play.

      The Bucs had a bye week to digest their latest embarrassing effort, a 48-17 setback to the Ravens in Week 6. For Tampa Bay to push the game into the fourth quarter, it must run the ball effectively behind Bobby Rainey, who has been far more effective than Doug Martin (2.9 yards per carry). QB Mike Glennon has played well at times, but the offensive line doesn't hold protection for long. A quick start is critical -- Glennon has a 30.2 passer rating on his first 10 pass attempts of games and the Bucs have too often found themselves staring at massive early deficits.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      MINNESOTA VIKINGS

      --Out: TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin)

      --Doubtful: LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring)

      --Questionable: G Vladimir Ducasse (knee), S Antone Exum (ankle), CB Josh Robinson (ankle)

      TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

      --Out: LB Brandon Magee (knee)

      --Questionable: LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), T Anthony Collins (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (rib), QB Josh McCown (right thumb), S Keith Tandy (hamstring)

      --Probable: CB Johnthan Banks (neck)

      *Matchup to watch -- Vikings LT Matt Kalil vs. Bucs DE Michael Johnson: Kalil is tied for the league lead in both sacks allowed (eight) and pressures (27). Johnson is tied for the team lead in sacks, but that's not saying much with just 2.0. The Bucs clearly expect more production for the five-year, $43.75 million deal they gave Johnson over the offseason.

      *Player spotlight -- Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon: The former triple-option quarterback at Georgia Southern has impressed with his big-play potential and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. However, at just 5-9 while still learning the intricacies of the position, he also ranks as the league's worst pass-blocking back, according to Pro Football Focus.

      *Fast facts: The Bucs have won the past six meetings dating back to 2002, the final season the teams were NFC Central rivals. ... McKinnon has been charged with two sacks allowed and five pressures in 24 snaps as a pass protector, per Pro Football Focus.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Bridgewater has shown poise and good decision-making when given decent time to survey the field. The Bucs don't rush the passer well, and therefor are limited in their ability to exploit the Vikings' biggest weakness.

      *Our pick: Vikings 28-20

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Dolphins at Jaguars
    By The Sports Xchange

    Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla. -- TV: CBS

      *TV announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein

      *Keys to the game: The Dolphins continue to run the ball very effectively -- averaging 136.3 yards per game despite the season-ending injury to Knowshon Moreno. Third-year back Lamar Miller remains undersized for a true lead back role, but has improved his blocking and receiving skills, and the ground attack is complemented by Daniel Thomas and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who scampered for 30 yards on a read-option on 3rd-and-1 last week. The versatility of the ground game is working to keep the pressure of Tannehill to make pinpoint passes, though he hit 14 in a row last week for the second time this season. The Jaguars' defense is steadily improving as several new parts begin to mesh, and the 15th-ranked run defense must step up against Miller despite the season-ending injury suffered by MLB Paul Posluszny last week.

      Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is the new best friend of Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles after rushing for 127 yards on 22 carries last week. It served as the long-awaited help from the ground game that Bortles desperately needs to keep the chains moving. The Dolphins sport a deep and fast defensive line capable of blowing up the pocket, so Jacksonville must stay in manageable down and distances.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      MIAMI DOLPHINS

      --Doubtful: S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

      --Questionable: LB Koa Misi (ankle)

      --Probable: T Branden Albert (elbow), TE Charles Clay (knee), LS John Denney (knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (neck), CB Brent Grimes (groin), DT Jared Odrick (neck), C Samson Satele (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck), LB Philip Wheeler (shoulder, thumb)

      JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

      --Out: CB Alan Ball (biceps), DE Andre Branch (groin)

      --Questionable: CB Dwayne Gratz (hip)

      --Probable: C Luke Bowanko (ankle), RB Toby Gerhart (foot), S Craig Loston (hamstring)

      *Matchup to watch -- Dolphins Ss Louis Delmas and Reshad Jones vs. Jaguars TE Clay Harbor: Miami interchanges its safeties, and Delmas and Jones will alternate staying back and moving forward in run support depending on the situation. Jones has been lauded by the coaching staff for his performance in two games since returning from suspension, including 16 tackles and a pick. Harbor is emerging as Bortles' safety blanket in the absence of injured Marcedes Lewis, catching all six of his targets last week for 34 yards following his first touchdown of the season in Week 6.

      *Player spotlight -- Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry: The rookie from LSU continues to develop as one of Tannehill's favorite targets. Landry has 22 receptions for 232 yards and one touchdown -- three more receptions and 37 more receiving yards than veteran Brian Hartline, who logs far more snaps.

      *Fast facts: The Dolphins have lost 11 player games to suspensions this season. ... The Jaguars' defense is second in the NFL with 22 sacks.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Miami has quietly played three very solid games in a row and has the defensive line depth to pressure Bortles (5 TDs, 10 INTs) into multiple mistakes.

      *Our pick: Dolphins 26-16

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Bears at Patriots
    By The Sports Xchange

    Chicago Bears (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. -- TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Sam Rosen, John Lynch, Pam Oliver

      *Keys to the game: The Bears chalked last week's post-game locker room drama involving WR Brandon Marshall calling out good friend QB Jay Cutler to heat-of-the-moment passion. But the fact is that Cutler has multiple turnovers in each of Chicago's four losses and one total in their three victories. RB Matt Forte continues to lead the league in catches, and coach Marc Trestman needs to be consistent in getting him touches to keep the chains moving and Cutler out of the pressure that leads to so many of his mistakes. The Patriots will be minus sack leader Chandler Jones (4.5).

      New England continues to shuffle its offensive line due to injuries and effectiveness, but the pressure on QB Tom Brady has subsided significantly from the start of the season. The Patriots had 37 pass attempts vs. 15 rushes last week, but the underneath passing attack complements the ground game and Shane Vereen's versatility led to leading the team with 43 rushing and 71 receiving yards in Week 6. The Bears can bring pressure from all four spots up front, but the rushers must be cognizant of Vereen and WR Julian Edelman in motion slipping out of the backfield and generating big plays. Rob Gronkowski could feast on a defense allowing almost 15 yards per catch to tight ends.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      CHICAGO BEARS

      --Out: S Danny McCray (knee)

      --Doubtful: LB Jon Bostic (back), LB Lance Briggs (ribs)

      --Questionable: T Jordan Mills (foot)

      --Probable: TE Martellus Bennett (hamstring), S Chris Conte (shoulder), CB Kyle Fuller (hip, hand), DT Jay Ratliff (not injury related), WR Chris Williams (illness)

      NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

      --Out: DE Chandler Jones (hip)

      --Questionable: G Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique Easley (shoulder, knee), S Nate Ebner (finger), T Cameron Fleming (finger), WR Matt Slater (shoulder), C Bryan Stork (concussion), RB Shane Vereen (illness)

      --Probable: QB Tom Brady (ankle), CB Brandon Browner (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), LB Dont'a Hightower (knee), S Devin McCourty (rib)

      *Matchup to watch -- Marshall vs. Patriots CB Brandon Browner: Much was made of Marshall's five-inch height advantage over Dolphins CB Cortland Finnegan last week, but Marshall finished with just 48 yards while catching six of the 10 passes thrown his way. Browner (6-4, 221) is nearly the physical identical to Marshall, but showed significant rust last week in his first game back from suspension and injury. Browner played 41 snaps and was called for two penalties, but his workload should ramp up this week.

      *Player spotlight -- Patriots RB Jonas Gray: Promoted from the practice squad hours before New England's Week 7 victory over the Jets, the former undrafted rookie had three carries for 12 yards while seeing 17 combined snaps on offense and special teams. At 5-10, 225 pounds, coach Bill Belichick likes his size as a complement to the 205-pound Vereen.

      *Fast facts: Chicago's opponents have scored a total of 37 points off Cutler's turnovers this season. ... Edelman has caught at least four passes in 13 consecutive games.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      The Patriots have a 12-game home winning streak and Brady has found a smooth rhythm with his reworked receiving corps. The Bears are alternately explosive and inconsistent on offense, and have too many breakdowns defensively to knock off one of the AFC's better teams on the road.

      *Our pick: Patriots 27-24

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Ravens at Bengals
    By The Sports Xchange

    Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati -- TV: CBS

      *TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn

      *Keys to the game: The Ravens have found the offensive balance that escaped them last season thanks to unlikely production from RB Justin Forsett, who enters averaging 5.8 yards per carry. That has alleviated pressure from QB Joe Flacco, who has been sacked just eight times. The offense has found its rhythm since a season-opening 23-16 home loss to the Bengals, as the Ravens have averaged 35.4 in the five ensuing games. Cincinnati's defense has fallen to 31st in yards allowed while struggling through playing several youngsters due to injury and must avoid the assignment breakdowns that have led to far too many big plays on the ground.

      The Bengals' approach will hinge largely on the availability of WR A.J. Green (toe), who could be a game-time decision. With or without Green, QB Andy Dalton needs the ground game to get untracked and for the offensive line to hold the fort better after struggling mightily with the Colts' speed packages last week, when Dalton was pressured on 30 percent of his dropbacks.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      BALTIMORE RAVENS

      --Out: DE Chris Canty (wrist), TE Owen Daniels (knee)

      --Probable: T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Daryl Smith (not injury related), WR Steve Smith (not injury related)

      CINCINNATI BENGALS

      --Out: LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring)

      --Doubtful: WR A.J. Green (toe)

      --Questionable: DT Brandon Thompson (knee)

      --Probable: RB Giovani Bernard (ribs), TE Kevin Brock (neck), LB Vontaze Burfict (neck), DE Robert Geathers (toe), DE Wallace Gilberry (eye), CB Leon Hall (back), LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder), T Marshall Newhouse (back), G Mike Pollak (knee), T Andre Smith (shoulder)

      *Matchup to watch -- Ravens NT Brandon Williams vs. Bengals C Russell Bodine: Bodine, a rookie out of North Carolina, gives up nearly 30 pounds in this battle, and will work with OGs Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler in an attempt to move Williams and clear more running lanes than the Bengals' backs have seen in recent weeks.

      *Player spotlight -- Bengals WLB Vontaze Burfict: It was back to basics for Burfict this week after he was forced out of last Sunday's game due to a neck injury. Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is stressing tackling with his head up, as Burfict has managed to play in just 33 percent of the defensive snaps this season. The Ravens had 77 yards in the 29 minutes Burfict played in the opener, but 232 in the 31 minutes after he left with a concussion.

      *Fast facts: The Bengals will play home games three consecutive weeks for the first time since 1997. ... Sunday will mark the first time since 1974 Cincinnati will finish a season series against a division rival before playing another team from within its division.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      As poorly as they have play over the past three games, the Bengals are 11-0-1 in their past 12 home games and are desperate to avoid falling three games behind the Ravens. Of course, having Green available would help immensely in that effort.

      *Our pick: Bengals 26-21

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Falcons at Lions
    By The Sports Xchange

    Atlanta Falcons (2-5) vs. Detroit Lions (5-2)

    • Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, at Wembley Stadium, London -- TV: FOX

      *TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Charissa Thompson

      *Keys to the game: It's Football 101, but the Falcons simply have to be productive on first and second down. With five offensive linemen on injured reserve, QB Matt Ryan doesn't have the time to allow vertical routes to develop, so he needs the support of the ground game to set up manageable third downs. Problem is, Detroit enters with the league's second-ranked run defense while the Falcons are averaging just 98.1 rushing yards per game -- a figure bolstered by a few big runs from Antone Smith, who has only 16 carries on the season. Atlanta expects a heavy dose of man coverage as opponents sit on underneath routes, but WR Roddy White said it's simply up to the Falcons' receivers to win their battles and break tackles after the catch to help out their quarterback.

      The Lions might be without WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) for the third consecutive game, but Golden Tate has stepped up in his absence and leads the team with 48 catches for 649 yards. That reliability has not been there in the past when Johnson was out of the lineup. Detroit's offensive plan needs to be more safe than exotic, as QB Matthew Stafford threw a pair of interceptions last week. RB Joique Bell had 20 touches last week and will again combine with Reggie Bush to help control field position and force the Falcons to prove they can drive the length of the field.

      OFFICIAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      DETROIT LIONS

      --Out: TE Eric Ebron (hamstring), TE Joseph Fauria (ankle)

      --Doubtful: RB Reggie Bush (ankle), TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot)

      --Questionable: WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), T LaAdrian Waddle (concussion)

      --Probable: DE Ezekiel Ansah (toe), RB Theo Riddick (hamstring)

      ATLANTA FALCONS

      --Questionable: DE Jonathan Babineaux (foot), WR Harry Douglas (foot)

      --Probable: G Justin Blalock (back), WR Julio Jones (ankle), LB Prince Shembo (knee)

      *Matchup to watch -- Lions DTs Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh vs. Falcons C James Stone/Harland Gunn: The Falcons will start their third different center of the season following season-ending injuries to Joe Hawley and Peter Konz. James Stone finished last week's game, playing 56 of 66 offensive snaps, and has been working diligently with Ryan studying film. No film can prepare the undrafted rookie for the size, speed and strength the Lions' interior tandem will bring Sunday. Gunn has also been taking snaps at center in the event the Falcons don't feel comfortable going with Stone, who coach Mike Smith acknowledges, "just doesn't have any experience."

      *Player spotlight -- Lions DE Ziggy Ansah: He'll face plenty of one-on-one opportunities against rookie Jake Matthews, who is battling a nagging ankle injury.

      *Fast facts: Falcons DE Osi Umenyiora was born in London. ... Tate has three 100-yard receiving games over the past four weeks.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Since the injuries really started to mount four games ago, the Falcons' have scored 28, 20, 13 and 7 points. The regression is stark, yet understandable. And playing the league's top-ranked defense, which can dominate healthy offensive lines, isn't going to help.

      *Our pick: Lions 24-16

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Week 8 Preview: Bills at Jets
    By The Sports Xchange

    Buffalo Bills (4-3) at N.Y. Jets (1-6)

    • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. - TV: CBS

      *TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

      *Keys to the game: Buffalo bounds into New Jersey with a backfield consisting of players who might have needed nametags to be recognized by most of the Bills' offense a month ago. With Fred Jackson (groin) and C.J. Spiller (collarbone) out, Anthony Dixon is likely to start and share the load with the more explosive Bryce Brown. QB Kyle Orton was sacked six times last week, a fact that has Jets coach Rex Ryan licking his chops to unleash a blitz-heavy attack. To calm the wobbly offensive line and protect himself, Orton is unlikely to launch many deep throws and lean on his backup running back tandem to move the chains. Orton is third in the NFL with a 68.5 completion percentage because he works within his comfort zone -- passes of 7-15 yards.

      The Bills are having no issue getting the quarterback, but must gear up to corral RB Chris Ivory, who found his legs against New England with a 107-yard game. The Vikings found inside running lanes to exploit last week but Buffalo is fourth in the NFL against the run at 80 yards per game. If they hem in the running game, QB Geno Smith will be tested. The Bills lead the NFL in sacks with 24, and if they can generate pressure against a veteran Jets offensive line, Smith shows questionable decision-making and has nine turnovers while taking 15 sacks in seven games.

      OFFICAL FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

      BUFFALO BILLS

      --Out: RB Fred Jackson (groin), LB Ty Powell (ankle)

      --Doubtful: WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring)

      --Questionable: WR Marcus Easley (knee), S Aaron Williams (neck)

      --Probable: CB Ron Brooks (groin), LB Brandon Spikes (ribs), WR Sammy Watkins (groin), DE Mario Williams (thumb)

      NEW YORK JETS

      --Questionable: LB Trevor Reilly (knee), WR Greg Salas (ankle, wrist)

      --Probable: T Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), G Willie Colon (knee), WR Eric Decker (hamstring), LB David Harris (shoulder), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (foot), CB Darrin Walls (knee)

      *Matchup to watch – Bills OGs Erik Pears and Kraig Urbik vs. Jets DL Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson: Urbik was reinserted to the starting lineup at left guard this week for Cyril Richardson. ProFootballFocus.com rates the Bills' guard play as the NFL's worst by a wide margin. Richardson and Wilkerson can win with power and agility, and against Ryan's blitz packages, there is little help to offer inside.

      *Player spotlight – Jets WR Percy Harvin: At halfback, wide receiver and on returns, Harvin's speed invites attention. As a decoy or in a select package of plays, the Jets' need for playmakers is too steep not to involve the 26-year-old newcomer as heavily as possible.

      *Fast facts: New York is the only team in the AFC East the Bills have an all-time winning record against, but the Jets have won four in a row in New Jersey. ... Wilkerson has 9.5 sacks in his past 11 home games.

      WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

      Well rested and fighting for positives to snap a six-game losing streak, the Jets find points on special teams and defense to win for the first time since Sept. 7.

      *Our pick: Jets 22-20

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    KR Walters joins Seahawks' injured inactives
    By The Sports Xchange

    Seattle Seahawks return specialist Bryan Walters is among seven injured players who will miss the team's game at Carolina on Sunday.

    • Walters suffered a concussion in practice this week and has been ruled out, along with fullback Derrick Coleman, tight end Zach Miller, center Max Unger, linebacker Bobby Wagner, cornerback Byron Maxwell and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.

      Wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson will handle the returns at Carolina, coach Pete Carroll said.

      Tight end Luke Willson will start after missing the last game, at St. Louis, with a groin injury. Cornerback Tharold Simon recovered from an ankle injury suffered in his NFL debut last week and will start again for Maxwell, who could return next week.

      Coleman had surgery on his broken foot Wednesday and is expected to miss six weeks, Carroll said. Robert Turbin will play fullback at Carolina as he did last week in St. Louis.

      Wagner, who suffered a toe injury against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, will see a foot specialist this weekend, Carroll said.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    NFL Injury Report for Sunday games
    By The Sports Xchange

    BALTIMORE RAVENS at CINCINNATI BENGALS

    • BALTIMORE RAVENS

      --Out: DE Chris Canty (wrist), TE Owen Daniels (knee)

      --Probable: T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Daryl Smith (not injury related), WR Steve Smith (not injury related)

      CINCINNATI BENGALS

      --Out: LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring)

      --Doubtful: WR A.J. Green (toe)

      --Questionable: DT Brandon Thompson (knee)

      --Probable: RB Giovani Bernard (ribs), TE Kevin Brock (neck), LB Vontaze Burfict (neck), DE Robert Geathers (toe), DE Wallace Gilberry (eye), CB Leon Hall (back), LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder), T Marshall Newhouse (back), G Mike Pollak (knee), T Andre Smith (shoulder)

      BUFFALO BILLS at NEW YORK JETS

      BUFFALO BILLS

      --Out: RB Fred Jackson (groin), LB Ty Powell (ankle)

      --Doubtful: WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring)

      --Questionable: WR Marcus Easley (knee), S Aaron Williams (neck)

      --Probable: CB Ron Brooks (groin), LB Brandon Spikes (ribs), WR Sammy Watkins (groin), DE Mario Williams (thumb)

      NEW YORK JETS

      --Questionable: LB Trevor Reilly (knee), WR Greg Salas (ankle, wrist)

      --Probable: T Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), G Willie Colon (knee), WR Eric Decker (hamstring), LB David Harris (shoulder), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (foot), CB Darrin Walls (knee)

      CHICAGO BEARS at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

      CHICAGO BEARS

      --Out: S Danny McCray (knee)

      --Doubtful: LB Jon Bostic (back), LB Lance Briggs (ribs)

      --Questionable: T Jordan Mills (foot)

      --Probable: TE Martellus Bennett (hamstring), S Chris Conte (shoulder), CB Kyle Fuller (hip, hand), DT Jay Ratliff (not injury related), WR Chris Williams (illness)

      NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

      --Out: DE Chandler Jones (hip)

      --Questionable: G Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique Easley (shoulder, knee), S Nate Ebner (finger), T Cameron Fleming (finger), WR Matt Slater (shoulder), C Bryan Stork (concussion), RB Shane Vereen (illness)

      --Probable: QB Tom Brady (ankle), CB Brandon Browner (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), LB Dont'a Hightower (knee), S Devin McCourty (rib)

      DETROIT LIONS at ATLANTA FALCONS

      DETROIT LIONS

      --Out: TE Eric Ebron (hamstring), TE Joseph Fauria (ankle)

      --Doubtful: RB Reggie Bush (ankle), TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot)

      --Questionable: WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), T LaAdrian Waddle (concussion)

      --Probable: DE Ezekiel Ansah (toe), RB Theo Riddick (hamstring)

      ATLANTA FALCONS

      --Questionable: DE Jonathan Babineaux (foot), WR Harry Douglas (foot)

      --Probable: G Justin Blalock (back), WR Julio Jones (ankle), LB Prince Shembo (knee)

      HOUSTON TEXANS at TENNESSEE TITANS

      HOUSTON TEXANS

      --Out: CB Darryl Morris (ankle), LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee)

      --Questionable: LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), LB Brian Cushing (knee), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB John Simon (ankle)

      --Probable: LB Akeem Dent (wrist), DE Tim Jamison (groin), WR Andre Johnson (ankle), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), LB Mike Mohamed (calf), DT Jerrell Powe (shoulder)

      TENNESSEE TITANS

      --Doubtful: CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee), TE Taylor Thompson (knee)

      --Questionable: LB Quentin Groves (ankle)

      --Probable: RB Shonn Greene (hamstring), QB Jake Locker (right hand), DE Ropati Pitoitua (hand)

      INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS

      INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

      --Out: WR Reggie Wayne (elbow)

      --Questionable: TE Jack Doyle (knee), RB Trent Richardson (hamstring)

      --Probable: CB Darius Butler (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (ankle)

      PITTSBURGH STEELERS

      --Out: DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), CB Ivan Taylor (forearm), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

      --Doubtful: T Marcus Gilbert (concussion)

      --Probable: DE Brett Keisel (not injury related), S Michael Mitchell (not injury related), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related), LB Ryan Shazier (knee)

      MIAMI DOLPHINS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

      MIAMI DOLPHINS

      --Doubtful: S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

      --Questionable: LB Koa Misi (ankle)

      --Probable: T Branden Albert (elbow), TE Charles Clay (knee), LS John Denney (knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (neck), CB Brent Grimes (groin), DT Jared Odrick (neck), C Samson Satele (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck), LB Philip Wheeler (shoulder, thumb)

      JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

      --Out: CB Alan Ball (biceps), DE Andre Branch (groin)

      --Questionable: CB Dwayne Gratz (hip)

      --Probable: C Luke Bowanko (ankle), RB Toby Gerhart (foot), S Craig Loston (hamstring)

      MINNESOTA VIKINGS at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

      MINNESOTA VIKINGS

      --Out: TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin)

      --Doubtful: LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring)

      --Questionable: G Vladimir Ducasse (knee), S Antone Exum (ankle), CB Josh Robinson (ankle)

      TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

      --Out: LB Brandon Magee (knee)

      --Questionable: LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), T Anthony Collins (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (rib), QB Josh McCown (right thumb), S Keith Tandy (hamstring)

      --Probable: CB Johnthan Banks (neck)

      OAKLAND RAIDERS at CLEVELAND BROWNS

      OAKLAND RAIDERS

      --Out: TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps), S Usama Young (knee)

      --Questionable: G Khalif Barnes (quadriceps), RB Marcel Reece (quadriceps), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), DE Justin Tuck (knee)

      --Probable: G Austin Howard (neck)

      CLEVELAND BROWNS

      --Out: WR Rodney Smith (hamstring), DE Phillip Taylor (knee)

      --Questionable: S Jim Leonhard (ankle), DE Billy Winn (quadriceps)

      --Probable: DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), DT Ahtyba Rubin (ankle), CB K'Waun Williams (concussion)

      PHILADELPHIA EAGLES at ARIZONA CARDINALS

      PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

      --Out: WR Brad Smith (groin)

      --Questionable: C Jason Kelce (hernia), LB Mychal Kendricks (calf), RB Darren Sproles (knee)

      --Probable: RB Chris Polk (hamstring), LB DeMeco Ryans (groin), CB Jaylen Watkins (wrist)

      ARIZONA CARDINALS

      --Out: TE Troy Niklas (ankle)

      --Questionable: DE Calais Campbell (knee)

      --Probable: WR John Brown (ankle), RB Andre Ellington (foot), S Rashad Johnson (knee), DT Frostee Rucker (calf)

      SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at CAROLINA PANTHERS

      SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

      --Out: RB Derrick Coleman (foot), DT Jordan Hill (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), TE Zach Miller (ankle), C Max Unger (foot), LB Bobby Wagner (toe), WR Bryan Walters (concussion)

      --Probable: DE Michael Bennett (toe), S Kam Chancellor (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related), CB Tharold Simon (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (shoulder), DT Kevin Williams (not injury related), TE Luke Willson (groin)

      CAROLINA PANTHERS

      --Out: CB Bene' Benwikere (ankle), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), WR Corey Brown (concussion), G Amini Silatolu (calf), G Trai Turner (knee), RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh), RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle)

      --Questionable: RB Chris Ogbonnaya (groin), LB Jason Williams (hip)

      --Probable: T Byron Bell (elbow), T Nate Chandler (thigh), LB Thomas Davis (not injury related), S Roman Harper (not injury related)

      ST. LOUIS RAMS at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

      ST. LOUIS RAMS

      --Out: C Tim Barnes (shoulder), CB Brandon McGee (foot)

      --Questionable: CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), CB Trumaine Johnson (knee)

      --Probable: WR Kenny Britt (ankle), RB Benny Cunningham (knee), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), DE William Hayes (illness), S T.J. McDonald (concussion), T Rodger Saffold (knee), DE Ethan Westbrooks (hand), K Greg Zuerlein (illness)

      KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

      --Out: WR Donnie Avery (groin), CB Christopher Owens (knee)

      --Questionable: S Eric Berry (ankle), WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring)

      --Probable: RB Cyrus Gray (hand), LB Justin Houston (ankle), TE Travis Kelce (ribs), CB Sean Smith (groin)

      GREEN BAY PACKERS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS on Sunday night

      GREEN BAY PACKERS

      (Green Bay did not practice on Friday. The Friday practice report is an estimation)

      --Out: DE Datone Jones (ankle)

      --Doubtful: CB Sam Shields (knee)

      --Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (calf)

      --Probable: RB James Starks (ankle)

      NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

      --Out: C Jonathan Goodwin (knee, ankle), LB Kyle Knox (ankle), RB Khiry Robinson (forearm), RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder)

      --Questionable: DT Brodrick Bunkley (concussion), TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder), LB Ramon Humber (ankle), CB Keenan Lewis (knee, shoulder)

      --Probable: CB Patrick Robinson (hamstring)

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Saints down two RBs vs. Packers
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New Orleans Saints' running back rotation has rotated yet again, as Khiry Robinson will join Pierre Thomas on the inactive list Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

    • Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) both were injured in the Saints' 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday. Thomas reportedly will miss two or three games.

      Mark Ingram is expected to start, with Travaris Cadet taking Thomas' role as the top pass-catching back. The Saints also could make a move to elevate running back Edwin Baker from the practice squad.

      Ingram just returned last week after missing four weeks with a hand injury. He rushed 10 times for just 16 yards.

      Tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) is questionable for the second straight week. He played against Detroit but did not catch a pass.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Texans' Clowney 'has a good shot to play'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Houston Texans rookie pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney could return to action Sunday for the first time since having knee surgery last month.

    • "He did what he had to do this week. I think he has a good shot to play on Sunday," coach Bill O'Brien said.

      If Clowney does play against the Tennessee Titans, it will be on a limited basis, according to the team.

      The top pick in the draft this year, Clowney suffered a torn meniscus in the season opener and has not played since.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Redskins' Griffin says he won't rush return
    By The Sports Xchange

    Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Friday that he won't decide whether Robert Griffin III will play Monday against the Dallas Cowboys until just before game time, but the quarterback told reporters he will not rush his return from the ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 2.

    • Griffin has been practicing on a limited basis, but the Redskins are poised to go with Colt McCoy as their starter if Griffin is not ready.

      "We're still preparing for Colt to be the starter and Robert is continuing with his practice exertion," Gruden said. "He's getting more and more reps. As far as the status for Monday, we will announce that on Monday."

      McCoy relieved Kirk Cousins against the Tennessee Titans last weekend and led the Redskins to a last-play victory, prompting Gruden to bump him up to interim starter while Griffin is still out.

      Speaking Friday for the first time since the day after the injury, Griffin said he has been "listening, learning, growing as a player in this offense" while recovering.

      "I've been there for Kirk and Colt as much as I possibly can," Griffin said, "and being there for this team to make sure they're as ready as possible during this process. It sucks that I can't get out there and play with them and help them get wins, but I've been listening to the doctors, listening to the trainers, listening to the coaches and we're not going to rush my ankle."

      --Gruden announced Tom Compton will get the start at right tackle over veteran Tyler Polumbus. Compton has been used as an extra blocker reporting as a tight end.

      "He's got some reps in game situations. He played well against Tennessee in the reps he got so we're going to give him an opportunity to start," Gruden said.

      --Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (knee) is not likely to be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform this week, as Gruden acknowledged a "logjam" at the position, with Alderick Robinson and Santana Moss flip-flopping on a weekly basis as to who is on the active game-day roster.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Raiders' Woodley, Young headed to IR
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Oakland Raiders will place pass rusher LaMarr Woodley and safety Usama Young on injured reserve Saturday, interim coach Tony Sparano told reporters Friday.

    • Last Sunday against Arizona, Woodley suffered a torn biceps and Young suffered ACL and MCL tears. Both will miss the rest of the season.

      Woodley, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in March, had just five tackles and no sacks in six games.

      Young had 23 tackles, one sack and two passes defended this season.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Panthers suffer another RB injury
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Carolina Panthers continue to run short at running back as Chris Ogbonnaya suffered a groin injury at practice Friday.

    • If Ogbonnaya cannot play Sunday, Jonathan Stewart and Darrin Reaves would be the only healthy running backs against the Seattle Seahawks. DeAngelo Williams will miss a fourth straight game with an ankle injury, and Fozzy Whittaker is out with a quadriceps issue.

      Coach Ron Rivera said Tauren Poole could be signed off the practice squad if necessary.

      The Panthers also will be without both starting guards as left guard Amini Silatolu (calf) and right guard Trai Turner (knee/ankle) will be replaced by undrafted rookie Andrew Norwell and journeyman Fernando Velasco.

      Also out are nickel corner Bene’ Benwikere (ankle), linebacker Chase Blackburn (knee) and kick returner Philly Brown (concussion).

      Rivera said return duties will be handled by Brenton Bersin, Reaves and/or Jerricho Cotchery.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Manning rips Denver's scoreboard operator
    By The Sports Xchange

    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning went off on the scoreboard operator at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in his post-game press conference Thursday night, saying "it wasn't his best night."

    • Manning, four days after setting the NFL's all-time passing touchdown record, wasn't happy when he heard the boos when the scoreboard operator showed San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' face.

      Manning heard the cheers when the picture immediately switched to a live shot of himself on the Broncos' sideline.

      "Our fans were great," Manning said. "But the scoreboard operator, it wasn't his best night."

      Manning also was irritated when the Broncos were trying to chew up the clock in the closing minutes of the 35-21 win over their AFC West rival and the crowd was going crazy. That forced Manning to try to quiet down a stadium of 76,907.

      "I have no problem with our fans, our fans are great. I've got a problem with our scoreboard operator. I've got to have a little talk with him," a serious Manning said. "I'm not sure what he's doing. He's playing music and showing our players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don't think we should be doing that. I don't think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought that was kind of disrespectful."

      Manning went 25 of 35 for 286 yards and three touchdowns. With the victory, the Broncos (6-1) now own a 1 1/2- game lead over the Chargers (5-3) in AFC West.

      Broncos coach John Fox said Friday there was nothing malicious at work from the scoreboard operator.

      "There is a lot of stuff that goes on at one of these games,'' he said. "There are a lot of people that work really hard to make sure that our great fans are entertained. Obviously people like when you win.

      "There are a lot of people that have a lot of responsibilities for each one of these things. And look, you're never perfect. I'm never perfect. Our product sometimes comes under attack, and rightfully so. But all in all, it's about the fans -- (that) they have a great experience.

      "Sometimes it's not perfect. You're going to make mistakes and that happens. We've moved on. We had a real big win, a nice big spotlight, and now we're on to New England.''

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Colts' Wayne out for Sunday
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne will miss his first game of the season after being declared out Friday.

    • Wayne, who has an elbow injury, will not be available for Sunday's game against the Steelers at Pittsburgh.

      Wayne, who had a torn ACL in 2013, is second on the team with 38 catches and 434 yards, with one touchdown.

      Wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief are potential replacements. A decision won't be announced on Wayne's replacement until game time.

      The Colts also may be without running back Trent Richardson, who is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. In addition, tight end Jack Doyle (knee) is listed as questionable.

      Cornerback Darius Butler (ankle), defensive tackle Arthur Jones (ankle), offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (rest) and linebacker Erik Walden (rest) are listed as probable.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Ravens TE Daniels out vs. Bengals
    By The Sports Xchange

    Baltimore Ravens tight end Owen Daniels will not play this week and appears doubtful for the next game, too, after undergoing minor surgery on his left knee, coach John Harbaugh said Friday.

    • Daniels, who has replaced the injured Dennis Pitta as Baltimore's top tight end, will miss the Ravens' big division battle at Cincinnati on Sunday.

      "After that, he has a chance to come back," Harbaugh said. "So, it'll be week to week after that and it won't be many weeks at all. It could actually be next week (at Pittsburgh). That'd be the optimistic approach, but it could happen."

      With Pitta out for the season with a hip injury, rookie Crockett Gillmore is expected to replace Daniels.

      Daniels and Pitta had combined for 43 catches for 380 yards, and Daniels had scored three times. Gillmore, a third-round pick, has three catches for 29 yards over the past two games.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Bengals WR Green doubtful to face Ravens
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens after sitting out Friday's practice.

    • Green has missed the past two games due to the toe injury he originally suffered in the Bengals' season-opening victory over the Ravens.

      He was back on the rehab field Wednesday and was hopeful of playing Sunday, but sat out the following two days.

      The Bengals were hoping Green could return to give a jolt to an offense that began last week's game with eight consecutive three-and-outs and finished with 135 yards in a 27-0 loss. But head coach Marvin Lewis said his team's offensive woes will have no bearing on the timetable for Green's return, even in a game as important at this one is with the Bengals looking at the possibility of falling three games behind Baltimore in the win column.

      "It's up to when he's physically ready to go," Lewis said midweek. "That decision is not in my hands. When he is significantly healed, he'll be ready to play. He'll know it, I'll know it, and then he'll be ready to move forward.

      "He's had the best people in the world -- at least in our country -- examine this, and they've been consistent with their message to him," Lewis continued. "He's seen the people that every NFL player sees, every professional athlete sees, and they've been consistent with the message, and so we've felt pretty good about that."

      The Bengals ruled linebacker Rey Maualuga out with a hamstring injury, and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson is questionable with a knee injury.

      The Ravens will be without defensive end Chris Canty (wrist) and tight end Owen Daniels (knee).