Monthly Archives: November 2016

Steelers vs. Giants Preview: A Star Studded Affair

Ben and Eli will face off for only the 4th time in their future Hall of Fame careers. #7 has the edge 2-1.

The elite of the elite will collide on the field in Pittsburgh Sunday when the New York Giants line up against the Steelers. Roethlisberger versus Manning. AB versus OBJ. Having five of the top three players in the NFL at their position, if you include Le’Veon Bell, on the same field has the potential to be the best game of the day, maybe even the season.

The Steelers should be very fresh after 10 days off, with a two game winning streak. But, the Giants are on a winning streak of their own at 6 games. And, they’re a much better team than they showed through two and a half quarters this past Sunday against the same winless Cleveland Browns the Steelers looked unimpressive against the week before.

Currently the Giants are a 6-point underdog to the Steelers, and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Steelers a 70% chance to win. Pittsburgh is only 2-2 at home this season, so I don’t see how anyone could think they’re a touchdown better than an 8-3 New York team, even with the home cooking.

The Steelers are flirting with the possibility of missing the playoffs with each loss. The Giants are trying to keep pace with the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys for the division title, while also jockeying for playoff position should they not win the division. So this matchup shouldn’t disappoint. Here’s what to look for come kickoff.

When the Steelers are on defense, their much maligned secondary will be challenged, not by just Odell Beckham Junior who lit up the Browns for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns, but also Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Sheppard. Sheppard averages 10.8 yards per catch and has 5 touchdowns of his own, while Cruz averages 17.1 yards per catch.

The Giants have the 12th ranked passing attack at 256.5 yards per game, and they have big strike capability with 9 plays of over 40 yards which is 5th best in the NFL.

The Steelers allow 263.5 yards per game through the air, which is 10th worse in the NFL, but due to the “bend but don’t break” strategy they’ve employed for most of the season, they haven’t given up the large amount of big strike plays like in past seasons. It will be key that they keep everything in front of them and not allow Eli’s trio to get behind them consistently for 6 points. This will be the first time you’ll hear me say the “bend but don’t break” game plan is their best option. The Steelers don’t have the type of defensive backs to stay with OBJ and crew at this point in their careers.

When the Steelers offense is on the field, Pittsburgh needs to play ball control and run the ball with Le’Veon Bell, as they have the past two games, to win the time of possession battle and keep the Giants passing game on the sideline. Even though the Giants have the 5th ranked defense against the run (89.1 ypg) and are 3rd in yards allowed per carry (3.5), Pittsburgh will need a strong effort in the running game to keep the defense off balance and protect Roethlisberger from the Giants ferocious pass rush which is 13th in sacks (25) and tied for 8th in interceptions (10).

However, the G-Men have the 9th worse pass defense allowing (264.7 yards per game), and are 6th in most plays given up of 40+ yards (9) and 20+ yards (41). So there will be some opportunities for the “Killer B’s”. They just shouldn’t give it a heavy dose. I said the same thing in my preview of the game against the Colts, but luckily I was wrong.

I expect Roethlisberger will keep a close eye on safety Landon Collins. He has the ball hawking skills of former Baltimore Raven Ed Reed, and provides strong run support like former Steeler Troy Polamalu. Collins leads “Big Blue” in tackles (87) and interceptions (5), to go along with 3 sacks.

Expect a low scoring game. I predict under 45 points combined. Kickoff is Sunday in Heinz Field at 4:25 pm.

OTHER NOTES

When it comes to the battle between Roethlisberger and his fellow 2004 classmate Eli Manning, it’s 2-1 in favor of #7. But Eli won the last meeting at Heinz Field 21-14 in the 2008 season. You’ll have to forgive Steeler Nation if they don’t remember that loss, because of how the season ended winning Lombardi number 6 in Tampa. #7 also has the edge over Eli in total wins since they entered the NFL in 2004. Big Ben is tied for 3rd in that time span, while Eli is 5th.

 

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Buckeyes in the NFL (Week 12, 2016)

Ohio State Buckeye football fans have a lot to be thankful for this season. The Scarlet and Gray held on to beat TTUN in overtime and are primed for a return to the College Football Playoff, plus several former Bucks, especially the wide receivers, shined on Thanksgiving day in the NFL, and on Sunday.

Ezekiel Elliott continues his run towards the NFL rookie rushing record, and his first League rushing title. He just missed the century mark against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day. “Zeke” scored 2 touchdowns and rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries. He also caught 2 passes for 23 yards in the 31-26 win over their division rivals. The Cowboys are now 10-1, and have won the last 10 games in a row. Safety Donte Whitner had 4 tackles for Washington.

Also on Thursday, Ryan Shazier had 6 tackles for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 28-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

New Orleans rookie wide receiver Mike Thomas caught 9 passes for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Saints 49-21 win over the Los Angeles Rams. It was Thomas’ second career game of 100+ receiving yards and 2+ touchdowns. Safety Vonn Bell had 3 tackles for the victors.

Ted Ginn Junior had 4 receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown for the Carolina Panthers in their 35-32 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Safety Kurt Coleman had 11 tackles (8 solo) for the Panthers in the loss.

On Sunday night football in an overtime thriller, Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby had 2 tackles in their 30-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Chargers rookie Joey Bosa had 7 tackles (4 solo) and a half sack in San Diego’s 21-13 win over the Houston Texans in the Lone Star State. His teammate rookie linebacker Josh Perry had 1 tackle in the win. On the Texans side, Braxton Miller had 1 catch for 12 yards in the loss. Texans linebacker John Simon missed the game with a chest injury.

New York Giants rookie defensive back Eli Apple returned to the Buckeye State against the Cleveland Browns, and lined up a couple of times against fellow OSU Alumn Terrelle Pryor. Apple had 2 tackles to help the Giants win 27-13. He left with a cramp in the 3rd quarter and did not return to the game. Defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins had 3 tackles (1 solo), 1.5 sacks and a key QB hit that forced a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Pryor had 6 catches for 131 yards for the Browns, but no touchdowns in the loss.

In New York, Darron Lee and Jalin Marshall of the Jets went up against the New England Patriots. Lee had 11 tackles (5 solo), and Marshall had 2 catches for 6 yards in the 22-17 loss. Jets 11-year Center Nick Mangold sat out the game with an injured ankle.

Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington had 2 tackles for the Buffalo Bills in their 28-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In Baltimore, Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent scored 6 points on two field goals, but missed an extra point in the Bengals 19-14 loss to the Ravens.

San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde had 65 rushing yards on 13 carries, and caught 5 passes for 30 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass in the Niners 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins in South Florida.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles plays on Monday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers. Center Corey Linsley starts on the offensive line for the Pack.

Steelers Feast on Luck-less Colts

Ryan Shazier and the Steelers D feasted on the Colts shorthanded offense in a 28-7 victory. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Just like last week when I didn’t care that it was the winless Cleveland Browns, this week I don’t care that it was Scott Tolzien, not Andrew Luck, under center for the Indianapolis Colts. Wins in the NFL are hard to come by. Steelers Nation knows this from just watching the past month. So they’ll gladly take this 28-7 victory, especially with the short week.

The performance by the Steelers defense, gave me hope this team can meet my preseason expectations. I’ve been saying all season, at some point this defense was going to have to step up and win a game for them. They finally did. Yes, the offense came out the gate swinging haymakers, but the defense set the tone.

The first play from scrimmage in the game, William Gay blitzed and stripped the ball out of Tolzien’s hand for a loss of 9 yards. Two plays later Javon Hargrave tackled Robert Turbin on 3rd down for a loss of 5 yards to force a punt. The defense was running down hill from there.

Then on the second drive, after giving up some momentum and 41 yards to the Colts, the D rose up and James Harrison sacked Tolzien at the 34-yard line on 3 and 1 to force a 52-yard field goal that future Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri missed.

It’s great to finally see defensive coordinator Keith Butler dial up the pressure on opposing offenses instead of sitting back and playing that flimsy “bend but don’t break” scheme. The Black and Yellow followed up their NFL season high 8 sacks versus Cleveland last week, with 3 against Indy to go along with 11 QB hits and two interceptions by Mike Mitchell and William Gay.

Without the injured Cam Heyward, I’m concerned about the Steelers getting an effective pass rush with just their front three against better teams. I suspect, and hope, they’ll send more linebackers and even some defensive backs to get to the QB as the season goes on.

The most impressive part of the defense to me was the two strong goal-line stands from inside the five yard line at the end of the 1st half and beginning of the 4th quarter to keep the score at 21-7. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Pittsburgh has the best red zone defense in the NFL at 42.4%. Still its impressive that they were able to hold each time. If one of those turns into a touchdown, or even if Indianapolis kick and made field goals for 6 points, it’s a different game.

Brown catches his first of three touchdowns versus the Colts in the 28-7 win. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Offensively, the Killer B’s did what we expect them to do. The first three drives ended in touchdowns, and they were quick. Each drive was 7 plays of 52, 58, 78 yards, and the longest was 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

Ben Roethlisberger was 14 of 21 for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brown had 5 receptions for 91 yards and his 8th, 9th and 10th touchdowns of the season. Once again Le’Veon Bell displayed his all-around abilities. Bell had 23 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown to go along with 4 catches for 22 yards.

I said in my preview of this matchup that offensive coordinator Todd Haley should run the gameplan through Bell even though the Colts have the worse pass defense in the NFL. The first two offensive plays were to #26. One rush for 10 yards and a first down and a reception for 2 yards. Which eventually opened up a 30-yard reception from Roethlisberger to Eli Rogers that he took down to the 8-yard line. Bell finished it off 2 plays later with a 5-yard rushing TD.
That’s the formula for this team, especially as we get deeper into the winter months when the weather won’t allow for Roethlisberger to sling the ball around as much as he’d probably like. If Bell touches the ball 25 times a game, the Steelers are going to win.

Bell rushed for 100+ yards in consecutive games for the first time in 2016. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

The lone disappointment was the penalties. Pittsburgh is 20th in the NFL in penalties and 12th in penalty yards. Against the Colts they were penalized 7 times for 67 yards, and most were on the offense during crucial periods of drives. Those penalties stalled the offense. After their first 3 drives ended in touchdowns, the next three of the next four ended in punts, the other the end of the half after the goaline stand. Clean those up, and this game wouldn’t have been as close as it was. Those penalties have to be sured up before they get back into the tougher part of the schedule.

 

Next up, the  New York Giants (7-3) on December 4th at Heinz Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25.

Just Be There 

“You don’t have to have a pulpit and a following of hundreds to have a ministry. It can be just as simple as overcoming all the obstacles, heartache and pain, and someone being inspired by your faith through it all.” – Kavis K. Peak (am I allowed to quote myself?)

Everyone doesn’t have the gift of public speaking, small talk, singing or playing an instrument. So that would more than likely rule out being a pastor, usher, praise and worship leader, member of the choir and even a church musician. All of those are positions in the church that are revered, and dare I say highly coveted. I purposely used the word coveted. Look up the definition in the dictionary, and the Tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17 to know why.

But even if God didn’t give you a gift that is on display on Sunday mornings, or whenever service is being held in the sanctuary you attend, it doesn’t mean what you do have isn’t as valuable.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10

I believe you can be blessed with the gift of availability. In sports the saying goes “the best ability is availability.” What I mean is, some people are very good at just doing the simple task of sitting in comforting silence with a person who is grieving so they don’t feel alone, or listen when a person is venting their pain and frustrations. Some are good at organization, which can help a person who feels their life is out of balance, causing them enormous amounts of stress. Others may be good at writing resumes and cover letters, and can take their time to help someone get theirs in proper order to obtain a great job. There are also those who are able to lift a person’s spirits just by saying hello and offering a friendly smile. Many are living examples of just doing the right thing.

I’ll give you a few examples from my life where my availability was used by God to help someone else. In mid 2012 to late 2013 I was in the midst of a lengthy unemployment period after leaving a career I no longer wanted to be apart of. As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, both my maternal grandfather and Dad became very ill. My grandfather was in Georgia, where my mother is from, my Dad in my home state of Ohio. My mom asked me could I go stay with my Grannie while Paw-Paw was in a nursing home waiting for a life saving surgery. Of course I said “yes.” I lived in Thomaston, Georgia for a year, finishing grad school online, while staying with my grandmother and going to the hospital with her when Paw-Paw had a few late night emergency scares. I really didn’t feel like I was doing much, but my Dad told me during those days where I felt useless, that my presence was enough to keep my grandmother at peace, as well as other family members who were concerned about her being alone had I not been there. Eventually my Paw-Paw passed and I stayed with my grandmother for half a year after that before my Dad fell even more ill.

“A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” ~ Proverbs 11:25

Then I flew back to Cleveland, Ohio where he was being treated by specialists for his condition. I was there everyday for three months, many times ten hours a day, for every surgery, medical test and doctor visit until unfortunately he passed. A couple weeks before he died, my Dad said “thanks for coming to see me everyday.” I replied “no problem, you’d do it for me.” I know being there for him provided some sort of normalcy in a scary situation, even though I couldn’t really help him with what he was going through. But in saying thanks, he assured me I was doing something helpful.

Here’s another less sad example. A while back I was at the gym working out when I saw a lady I see there often. We always speak to each other and extend pleasantries, but we never get too personal. I was walking on the track cooling off at the end of my workout and was going to be leaving in a few minutes, but I didn’t want to leave before at least saying hello. So I went by and softly tapped her on the shoulder and said “hi” while she was on the rowing machine. She smiled, waved and said “hello” in return. When I came back around the next time, she got off the machine and waved me over. She said “this may sound silly, but I was having a rough day with all my health issues and my body isn’t dealing with my mess so well… and it made my day that you would come over and say hello.” A couple days later I saw her again at the gym and she repeated how much it meant that I said hello. All I was trying to do was greet her because I hadn’t seen her in a while. I don’t say this to brag on myself, but to let you know that what you think is a simple act or small gesture, God can use to make a bigger impact.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:40

My overall point is, don’t get caught up in believing you must do something grand to have a purpose or make an impact. It really is the little things as they say. Take what you do have and make a difference.

I leave you with this, one of my favorite scriptures… “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2 

Steelers-Colts, Playing For Playoff Lives


Two 5-5 NFL teams playing against each other on Thanksgiving night doesn’t sound too appetizing, but with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts both needing every victory to win their divisions to make the playoffs, this game is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth after your dinner feast.

The last two times these teams have played, Ben Roethlisberger has put up Arena Football numbers.

Last season in a 45-10 Steelers win at Heinz Field, Roethlisberger threw for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns. Andrew Luck missed the game due to injury, and is likely to miss this week’s matchup as well. Luck is currently in the league’s concussion protocol. If he can’t play, Scott Tolzien would get the start for Indianapolis.

In 2014, the teams combined for 85 points, with the Steelers winning 51-34. Roethlisberger was 40 of 49 for 522 yards and threw 6 touchdown passes. It was apart of his NFL record steak of two consecutive games throwing 6 TDs. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 92 yards on 24 carries, and had 6 catches for 56 yards. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Luck had an impressive day as well. He was 26 of 45 for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, but 2 interceptions. TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief had their way with the Steelers secondary. Hilton had 6 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown, while Moncrief went for 113 yards and a touchdown on 7 receptions.

Pittsburgh has had the upper hand lately as they’ve won 4 of the last 5 games dating back to the 2006 Divisional playoff game. Steelers fans know it as the “Immaculate Tackle” game. The Steelers have also won the last two meetings in Indianapolis (23-20 in 9/25/11; 21-18 in 1/15/06).

The Steelers defense should have plenty of confidence coming off a NFL season high 8 sacks and 2 turnovers, while holding the Cleveland Browns to 9 points and 209 total yards. But it was the 0-11 Browns, who have the 28th ranked total offense and 30th ranked scoring offense. But that confidence will grow exponentially if Luck is held out due to a concussion. His backup Scott Tolzien, who is in his first season with the Colts, has started 2 games in his 6-year career, and has seen action in only 6 games. Tolzien last saw significant action in 2013 with the Green Bay Packers. In 3 games he threw 5 interceptions, was sacked 3 times and thew only one touchdown pass, while completing 61% of his passes (55/90) for 717 yards (239 ypg). The Steelers need to only look to last season’s December 27th matchup with the Baltimore Ravens to remind themselves not to overlook a backup quarterback with limited experience. Ryan Mallett made his first start for Baltimore against them and went 28 of 41 for 274 yards with a touchdown to beat the Steelers 20-17.

The defense will obviously focus much of its attention on TY Hilton who is 5th in the NFL in receiving yards (888) and 6th in yards per game (88.8). Of course his game will suffer without Luck in the lineup, but you still have to expect their offensive game plan to center around him.

But, they’ll need to make sure they pay close attention to 12-year running back Frank Gore who averages 3.9 yards per carry and is 12th in the NFL in rushing yards (642). Gore is still a threat out of the backfield, averaging 7.2 yards per catch. Tight end Jack Doyle will require special attention from Keith Butler’s unit as well. Doyle is the Colts second leading receiver with 37 catches for 386 yards (10.4 ypc) and 4 touchdowns. Everyone knows when a QB is in trouble he looks for the safety blankets of a sure handed tight end and a safety valve in his running back.

When the Steelers are on offense, offensive coordinator Todd Haley should continue the trend they’ve gone with the past two games by ringing the Bell, as in Le’Veon. In the last two games, against the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns, Bell has gained 134 (57 rushing; 77 receiving) and 201 (146 rushing; 55 receiving) yards from scrimmage on 26 and 36 total touches.

The Colts are 10th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (113.1) and tied for 5th in yards allowed per carry (4.5). I’m not saying Bell should get the ball 36 times, but it should be no less than 25.

Indianapolis also has the worse defense against the pass, allowing 284.5 yards per game and is 7th in yards allowed per pass (7.7). But Roethlisberger and company shouldn’t get pass happy. Run everything through Bell first and allow the passing lanes to open up even greater once the Colts D commits to stop him. 

Both teams will view this as a must-win to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans who currently lead their divisions. The AFC North and South appear to be headed towards only getting their division champions in the playoffs this season. Therefore expect a highly competitive game, which have been few and far between on Thursday nights this season.

Kickoff is set for 8:37 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Cleveland is the Remedy

Bell gained 201 yards from scrimmage vs. the Browns (146 rushing, 55 receiving). Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Saying the Pittsburgh Steelers were in a must win situation against the Cleveland Browns isn’t an exaggeration. It doesn’t matter that Cleveland is the only winless team in the NFL at now 0-11. It doesn’t matter that the Dallas Cowboys beat the Baltimore Ravens, who have the tie-breaker for the lead in the AFC North over the Steelers.

With a 4-game losing streak, and most likely needing to win the division to get into the playoffs, a loss would’ve sent this team into a greater tailspin that would have led to greater unwelcome ramifications for the coaching staff and players. I don’t care that it was the Browns, they needed something to feel better about themselves.

The smartest decision of the day was the Steelers electing to kickoff after winning the pre-game coin toss. This defense was under fire after giving up the win to the Dallas Cowboys with under a minute remaining after the offense appeared to have won it. It was imperative that defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s unit got off to a good start against the 28th ranked total offense and 30th ranked scoring offense, to gain some confidence without their best defender Cam Heyward, who is lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Even after allowing a 38-yard catch to Terrelle Pryor to convert a 3rd down, Artie Burns’ second career pick on 3rd and 17 to end the drive 3-plays later was the right dose of medicine needed to get this much maligned unit moving in the right direction.

The second drive began with a sack by Stephon Tuitt, his 2nd of the season and ended with another sack by Javon Hargrave six plays later. On the day, they finished with a season high 8 sacks, one of which led to a fumble recovered for a touchdown by Hargrave. The 8 sacks is the tied for the most in the NFL this season. They came into the game with only 13 sacks in 9 games, which was tied for dead last with the Oakland Raiders in that category. For only the third time this season they held a team under 300 total yards.

This week’s game ball goes to Stephon Tuitt and Lawrence Timmons. Tuitt had 6 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks, and will need to come close to replicating this performance weekly in the absence of Heyward. Timmons also showed his veteran leadership with 8 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and 3 hits on the QB.

Offensively, it appears Todd Haley has finally realized the best weapon he has, and in my opinion the most lethal in the entire NFL, is running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell had 11 touches (8 rushes, 45 yards; 3 receptions, 34 yards) for 79 of the 87 yards and converted 6 first downs on the first drive that started at their own 4-yard line and ended with a Chris Boswell 32-yard field goal. For the day, Bell finished with 28 carries for 146 yards and a TD, 8 receptions for 55 yards. Using Bell they way they did allowed them to play ball control, and win the time of possession battle 33:58 to 26:02 with 4 drives of over 11 plays. Most importantly, they kept the struggling Pittsburgh defense on the sideline.

But, settling for 3 field goals after two 16-play drives (9:18, 9:28), a 15-play drive (8:02), and struggling to get into the end zone from inside the 5-yard line at the end of the 1st half versus the second worse total defense in the NFL, is still highly concerning. I don’t care what the weather elements, Pittsburgh can’t go 1 of 4 inside the red zone. I don’t need to tell you that’s not going to get it done if they hope to make a playoff run, which is what this teams only focus should be.

However, a win is a win. And right now this team will take them.

Next up, at the Indianapolis Colts (5-5) on Thanksgiving Night. Last season the Steelers beat the Colts 45-10 at Heinz Field on the strength of Roethlisberger’s 24 of 39 for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns performance.

OTHER NOTES

  • Pittsburgh’s 4th sack of the day registered by James Harrison made him the Steelers all-time career sack leader with 77.5, passing fellow #92 Jason Gildon, when he sacked Cody Kessler on 2nd and goal early in the 3rd quarter.
  • Le’Veon Bell passed Jerome Bettis for the fewest games to 5,000 scrimmage yards in Steelers history. It took Bell 42 games, “The Bus” Jerome Bettis did it in 52.
  • Ben Roethlisberger passed Fran Tarkenton and Philip Rivers for 12th and 11th on the all-time completions list in NFL history. He now has 3,704.

Brown continue to set NFL records, he’s the fastest to 600 career receptions. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

  • Antonio Brown set an NFL record for the fewest games (96) to reach 600 career receptions on his 5th reception of the day. Brown had 8 catches for 76 yards against the Browns.

 

Buckeyes in the NFL (Week 11, 2016)

Fellow OSU Alumni Mike Thomas and Corey “Philly” Brown share the Buckeye love in the NFL, exchanging jersey’s after their two teams faced off. Photo Credit: NFL.com 

Well, we’re down to the wire for the current Buckeyes. it’s THE Game week, with both OSU and TTUN ranked in the top 3 of the College Football Playoffs. So I can understand if Buckeye Nation has paid little attention to the Buckeyes on Sunday. But, that’s why I’m here, to keep you up to speed.

There are two fewer Buckeyes on the NFL gridiron this week. Linebacker James Lauriniatis was waived by the New Orleans Saints from the Injured reserve list. Lauriniatis struggled with several injuries in his first season in the “Big Easy.” He’s eligible to be signed by another NFL team.

The week started of with some discouraging news for Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward. He will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Heyward has struggled with injuries throughout the season, as he only played 7 games. He was the Steelers most consistently productive player on defense this season.

Speaking of the Steelers, linebacker Ryan Shazier had a day back in the “Buckeye State” against the Cleveland Browns. Shazier had 7 tackles (6 solo), a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 hits on the QB in Pittsburgh’s 24 to 9 win over the Browns.

Cleveland’s leading receiver Terrelle Pryor started well with a 38-yard catch to convert a 3rd and long on the Browns first drive. He finished with 5 catches for 97 yards in the loss.

Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys continue to surprise the NFL by extending their win streak to 9 games, which is a franchise season record. Elliott had 25 carries for 97 yards and 4 catches for 30 yards in the ‘Boys 27-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Elliott also made history passing Tony Dorsett for the Cowboys all-time rookie rushing record.

Fellow running back Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers had 86 rushing yards on 19 carries and 24 yards on 3 receptions 30-17 loss to the New England Patriots. Special teams ace Nate Ebner had one tackle for the Pats.

Ted Ginn Junior caught his first touchdown pass of the 2016 season on a 40-yard pass from Cam Newton at the end of the first half against the New Orleans Saints Thursday night. Ginn finished with 3 catches for 46 yards and 1 punt return for 13 yards. Safety Kurt Coleman had 9 tackles (7 solo), 1 forced fumble and 1 interception for the Panthers in the win.

Rookies Mike Thomas and safety Vonn Bell lined up on the other side for the Saints. Bell had 7 tackles, while Thomas had 5 catches for 68 yards in defeat.

Rookie cornerback Eli Apple had 9 tackles (5 solo) for the New York Giants in their 22-16 win over the Chicago Bears. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins 6 tackles (5 solo), a tackle for loss, a QB hit, and a half sack for the Giants in the win.

Malcolm Jenkins had 7 tackles (4 solo) for the Philadelphia Eagles in their 26-15 loss at the Seattle Seahawks. Safety Donte’ Whitner had 10 tackles (8 solo) for the Washington Redskins in their 42-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night football. Washington is

Braxton Miller and John Simon of the Houston Texans will play against the AFC West leading Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football in Mexico City.

Darron Lee, Jalin Marshall, Nick Mangold and Devin Smith of the New York Jets were on a bye and will lineup next Sunday against the New England Patriots. Rookies Joey Bosa and Joshua Perry of the San Diego Chargers were also on a bye, they’ll play at the 6-3 Houston Texans next Sunday. Bradley Roby and his Denver Broncos were on a bye and will play the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday night on NBC in primetime. Both teams are 7-3 and currently tied for 2nd place in the AFC West.