Live Fantasy Advice: Watch Fantasy Football Live
Bad play on offense is a big reason both teams have endured such awful seasons.
Tampa Bay ranks third-to-last in the league with 262.8 total yards per game, one spot behind Cleveland (267.1). The Buccaneers (3-11) had the NFL’s lowest scoring average before last Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss to Chicago, and are still averaging an NFC-low 13.0 points—about three fewer than the Browns (4-10).
“I’m excited about it, obviously,” Rattay said. “I don’t want to comment on hypotheticals or what ifs. I’m excited to be playing this week.”
Rattay replaced rookie Bruce Gradkowski in the second quarter of a comeback that fell short last week against the NFC-best Bears. Rattay completed 20 of 35 attempts for 268 yards with a touchdown and an interception after he entered with Tampa Bay trailing 14-3.
The Buccaneers were held without a touchdown in 13 straight quarters before Rattay helped them score 28 points in the final 16 minutes of regulation.
“It’s just common sense right now based on performance and who gives us a better chance to win a football game,” coach Jon Gruden said of his decision to start Rattay over Gradkowski. “We’d like to finish the season as strongly as we can, and I think Bruce is struggling to a degree right now.”
Gradkowski went 3-8 as the starter after Chris Simms suffered a ruptured spleen.
Rattay could face extra pressure because he might not have top rusher Carnell “Cadillac” Williams available on Sunday. Williams, who has not practiced this week, was downgraded to doubtful for this game due to a foot injury suffered in the second half last Sunday.
Williams has been limited to 798 yards through 14 games, the same number he played during his 2005 rookie season when he ran for 1,178 yards and six TDs. He’s been held to 101 yards on 42 carries over the past three games, and scored his only touchdown of the season in Week 3.
The injury to Williams should be good news for a Cleveland run defense that ranks 28th in the league, allowing 144.7 yards per game.
On offense, the Browns could give Anderson a third straight start if Frye is unable to play. Anderson has taken over since Frye suffered a bruised bone in his wrist in a 31-28 home win over Kansas City on Dec. 3.
“He (Frye) hasn’t been healthy enough the past few weeks, so we’ll see what he can do this week,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. “We’ll make determinations from there. There may be some merit to (splitting time). We’ll see.”
Anderson was 23-of-32 for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 27-17 loss last week at Baltimore, where the Browns fell to 0-6 against the AFC North this season. The additional playing time could make Anderson more comfortable—and give the Browns a tougher choice for next season.
“I saw the field real well and I had a good idea of what they were doing,” Anderson said of the Ravens. “I made good decisions for the most part. They just got me a couple of times.”
To add to their struggles, the Browns placed running back Jason Wright on injured reserve Tuesday due to a sprained knee ligament. Wright, who became the ninth Browns player to be lost for the season, had made three starts and totaled 189 yards on 62 carries.
Cleveland could go back to relying on Reuben Droughns, who has only 29 carries for 111 yards over the past four games. He had a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts while starting his first eight games of the season.
The Browns are 4-1 this season when Droughns rushes for at least 50 yards, and 0-9 when he doesn’t. The team has totaled 86 rushing yards while losing their last two games, and have been held below 100 in six of seven.
Tampa Bay is giving up 121.0 rushing yards per game.
The Buccaneers lost the first five meetings with the Browns before winning the most recent one, 17-3 on Oct. 13, 2002.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
Marvin Booker LB, Anthony Gaitor CB, Michael Smith RB, Jacob Cutrera LB, Luke Stocker TE, Nate Byham TE, Rashaan Melvin CB, Mike Williams WR, Jeff Demps RB, Doug Martin RB, Mike James RB, Michael Adams CB, Tom Crabtree TE, Jonathan Casillas LB, Russell Shepard WR