Joe Flacco was on his couch a month ago, waiting to see if he would get another chance to play in the NFL. When the Cleveland Browns asked the veteran quarterback to workout, they decided to roll the dice. While Flacco has had his share of wild moments, the 38-year-old quarterback has Cleveland in position to make the postseason.
The Browns want to show they have found the right mix to be a Super Bowl contender against the Houston Texans this weekend. Cleveland looked like a team destined for another rough year when it lost running back Nick Chubb for the season back in Week 2. Things seemed bleak when star quarterback Deshaun Watson followed him on the injuries list a while later.
But Flacco’s emergence has helped right the ship. The Texans have surprised most of the league by starting the year 8-6. Houston showed its toughness last week by winning without starting rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who was out with a concussion. The Texans had to rally in the fourth quarter before winning overtime over the Titans.
Ravens and 49ers is a Possible Super Bowl Preview
The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are two of the hottest teams in the NFL. The six-game winning streak San Francisco is on couldn’t be more impressive. People were questioning everything about the 49ers after they suffered a three-game losing streak.
Many people felt that Brock Purdy had hit a wall and was due for a decline after the hot start to his career. But rumors of the 49ers’ demise were greatly exaggerated. San Francisco battled some injuries to running back Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk and turned their season’s momentum around.
Baltimore had suffered through some inconsistencies due to having a first-year offensive coordinator. However, Black sports news shows that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has started to figure things out. The Ravens have won four straight games and have gained enough separation to sit in first place in the AFC North Division. Both teams are 11-3 this season and are positioned to be the top seed in their respective conferences.
A win by either side will be vital for securing that top spot.
Can Dolphins Show They are True Contenders
Miami only has a two-game lead on Buffalo with three games remaining. The Dolphins haven’t produced any high-profile victories this season, building much of their 10-4 record on beating up their weaker opposition. Miami’s games against other top contenders, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, all resulted in losses for the Dolphins.
With the benefit of hindsight, Miami’s 70-20 win over Denver in Week 3 may be its most impressive result. But the Broncos didn’t start playing well until well after that game. This final stretch of three games will allow Miami to play three teams with Super Bowl aspirations.
This week’s game against Dallas will be a unique challenge. The Cowboys are coming off a humiliating loss to the Buffalo Bills. Dallas’s high-flying offense wilted in the poor weather in Buffalo last Sunday. The Cowboys are also hoping to win their division and can’t afford any more setbacks.
Baker Looks to Keep Cooking
The Buccaneers must be more than pleased with their return on investment from veteran quarterback Baker Mayfield. During his first season, Mayfield has done enough to keep Tampa Bay in the race for the poor NFC South Division title. Against Green Bay last week, Mayfield finished with a perfect passer rating and four touchdown passes.
Now, Mayfield will have to do it again against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are in a rough stretch, having lost three straight games. The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans are now tied with Jacksonville for first place.
Since Trevor Lawrence injured his ankle in a loss to Cincinnati three weeks ago, Jacksonville has struggled. While Lawrence was able to rush back and not miss a start, playing in losses to Cleveland and Baltimore, his performances indicate he may have been better to take some time off.
Lawrence didn’t necessarily play poorly, but he could not play up to his usual potential, which led to the Jaguars offense struggling more than usual.
Lions Ready to Put End to Division Race
Summarizing the list of the Lions’ misery would take more than a few sentences. But Detroit has an opportunity to start erasing some of those bad vibes this weekend against Minnesota. The Lions, who haven’t won a division title since 1993 or a playoff game since 1991, can wrap up the NFC North Division with a win or tie against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Lions bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Bears on Dec. 10 by obliterating the Denver Broncos 42-17 last week. This Detroit team has flourished with a strong offense and an ability to keep the pressure on opponents.
The Vikings haven’t had much luck this season. A poor start to the season was compounded when Kirk Cousins went out with a season-ending injury. Minnesota attempted to right the ship by trading for veteran Josh Dobbs, but his effectiveness wore off after a few starts.
Another journeyman quarter, Nick Mullens, stepped in to lead the Vikings to a win over Las Vegas two weeks ago but wilted in the fourth quarter and overtime of a loss to the Bengals last week. Minnesota needs to win to stay in the playoff race.
Bengals Look to Put Steelers Out of Race
Cincinnati has found a solid replacement for Joe Burrow, according to up-to-date sports news. Jake Browning has the Bengals on a roll toward the playoffs. When Browning made a start against Pittsburgh a month ago, he looked like a deer in the headlights during a loss.
But both teams look different now. The Steelers’ defense has suffered several injuries and doesn’t look nearly as strong. Pittsburgh is also turning to third-stringer Mason Rudolph to start at quarterback. This is the Bengals’ chance to get revenge.
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