NFL Sunday Preview: Russell Wilson Looks to Prove He’s Elite Against the Cleveland Browns

AP Photo
The Associated Press

The Steelers host the Broncos, the Giants look to make Carolina’s “0” go at MetLife, the left-for-dead Eagles travel to Arizona to continue their 2015 comeback, and Russell Wilson seeks to prove to Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine that he deserves his reputation as an “elite” quarterback.

Let’s look at Sunday’s action…

Houston Texans (6-7) at Indianapolis Colts (6-7)

Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer is out after suffering his second 2015 concussion this season in a loss to New England last week.
“He took a beating,” coach Bill O’Brien said of the Pats game.

Another quarterback who has taken a beating recently is Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck. He deals with a rib separation that causes breathing and throwing problems. Hasselbeck will play, and gets back his most important lineman back—left tackle Anthony Costanzo.

The Colts should win this game with journeyman quarterback T.J Yates starting for Houston.

Atlanta Falcons (6-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)

The Falcons are owned by Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot. His coach needs more tools.

After a strong start, the Falcons have turned into one of the NFL’s worst teams. And their problems won’t be fixed until the offseason.

Jacksonville is playing very hard for coach Gus Bradley, and should win this home game.

Chicago Bears (5-8) at Minnesota Vikings (8-5)

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is concerned with the up-and-down nature of his team. “Up one week, down the next,” Zimmer said.

What is causing this?

“It’s combination of a lot of things,” Zimmer said. The first being a young, green quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, learning on the job. However, against Chicago’s 26th-ranked run defense, the Vikings should be able to ride talented tailback Adrian Peterson to a win.

Tennessee Titans (3-10) at New England Patriots (11-2)

The Titans were blown out by the Jets last week, and their effort looked suspect.

“You know, some plays, you can see us taking some plays off,” said Titans TE Delanie Walker. Even if they player harder this week, they have virtually no chance of winning this game.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota was sacked five times last week. These protection issues should carry over against New England’s talented Front Seven, and expect an easy Patriots win.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-9)

The Chiefs field the 27th-ranked passing offense. The Ravens should get QB Matt Schaub back from a chest injury.

The Chiefs play without their pass rusher, Justin Houston. Kansas City barely beat last place San Diego last week in Arrowhead Stadium.

This game is a toss-up.

Carolina Panthers (13-0) at New York Giants (6-7)

The Giants boast the NFL’s 6th-ranked passing offense, led by QB Eli Manning. The Panthers rank 25th. So the Giants are the much better passing team.

And the run-oriented Panthers will be without star tailback Jonathan Stewart. Don’t be shocked if the Giants hand the Panthers their first loss of the season.

Buffalo Bills (6-7) at Washington Redskins (6-7)

The Bills are devastated by injuries. They play without two starters on defense (CB Stephon Gilmore and LB Nigel Bradham) and two on offense (TE Charles Clay and OT Seantrel Henderson).

But the Bills did gain a new fan this week—Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “When the Redskins play because I love to see them lose,” Nevada Senator Harry Reid said. He doesn’t like their nickname.

This comment from the demagogic Reid probably increased the Redskins’ fan base. And Washington should increase their win total against the Bills.

Green Bay Packers (9-4) at Oakland Raiders (6-7)

Not a great matchup for the Raiders. They rank 28th in passing defense, and one of the NFL’s best passers (Aaron Rodgers) comes to town. Making matters worse will be the absence of starting safety Nate Allen. The Raiders will also be without massive right tackle Austin Howard.

The Packers should win this game.

Cleveland Browns (3-10) at Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

Probably not a great idea to downplay the talent of Russell Wilson prior to a game against the Seahawks quarterback in Seattle.

“Would you put him up there with the guys that can transcend their supporting cast—the Bradys, Aaron Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger, the ones that you would consider the two, three, four elite guys? No, but he’s certainly played himself into that next tier,” said Browns coach Mike Pettine

“Obviously he’s not good at picking quarterbacks,” Seahawks DE Mike Bennett told 710 ESPN Radio. “Maybe he doesn’t know what elite is. I think that Russell Wilson is very elite. He’s been to two Super Bowls. It’s only his fourth year. I don’t think a lot of guys can say that.”

Whatever tier Wilson plays on, he should lead the Seahawks to a win over the lowly Browns.

Denver Broncos (10-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

Great match-up in Pittsburgh, featuring the NFL’s #1 defense against a Steelers attack that’s gone over 500 yards offense in three of the last five games.

The Steelers rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense. But the Broncos might not be able to take advantage of that with their pass protection issues. The Raiders’ Khalil Mack racked up five sacks last week against the Broncos’ line.

This game could go either way.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) at San Francisco 49ers (4-9)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert was sacked a franchise-high-tying nine times against the Browns last week. And making their line problems perhaps worse this week is the absence of their best lineman, guard Alex Boone, due to injury.

Even with a backup quarterback (A.J. McCarron), the Bengals should prevail, led by their defense and running attack.

Arizona Cardinals (11-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Two hot teams. The Eagles are coming off back-to-back wins over New England and Buffalo. The Cardinals have won seven in a row.
Arizona has the NFL’s #1 offense and they face the NFL’s 27th ranked defense.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, a York, Pennsylvania-native, and the former Temple football coach, should leave his home state with a win.