Behind the leg of Justin Tucker, the Ravens defeated the Lions 18-16 on Monday night. Tucker nailed all six of his field goal attempts. None was bigger than the game-winning 61-yard boot with 43 ticks left in the fourth quarter. It was without question one of the most clutch kicks in NFL history considering the circumstances. The Ravens are now 8-6 and trail the 9-5 Bengals by one game in the AFC North. Baltimore sits in the driver’s seat for the division crown. The Bengals and Ravens will meet in Week 17. If the Ravens win their final two games, they’ll take the division. Back to Tucker. He’s now made 33 consecutive field goals – the longest streak in the league. His 23 fantasy points on Monday night likely decided plenty of fantasy football semifinals matchups. This is a crazy game we play.
Now to the Lions. With the loss, Detroit sits at 7-7 and in third place in the NFC North. The 8-6 Bears lead the pack, while the 7-6-1 Packers are in second place. If both Chicago and Green Bay win in Week 16, the Lions will be eliminated from playoff contention. The way this team finds ways to lose if baffling. There’s far too much talent on the roster for the Lions to be missing the playoffs. Coach Jim Schwartz’s seat is now scorching hot. There’s a very real chance he gets the boot if Detroit misses the postseason.
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Ravens at Lions Quick Slants
Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions, two of which were flat-out horrible. One was a side-armed fling to nobody, and the other a bad overthrow on the final possession. Stafford has turned the ball over 21 times this season. … Joe Flacco appeared to injure his left knee in the fourth quarter when LB DeAndre Levy went low and his helmet jolted Flacco’s knee. He’ll likely be on the injury report this week. … Reggie Bush’s calf didn’t seem to be much of an issue. He showed his normal burst but may have aggravated the injury in the third quarter. Bush stayed in the game. … Calvin Johnson dropped at least three passes, possibly four. Two were really bad and killed two separate drives. One was on a third-and-15 deep in that would have resulted in a first down. The other came on second-and-nine that also would have moved the sticks. … Dennis Pitta was mostly a non-factor. He was targeted just four times. The Ravens were never really near the end zone after the first quarter. Pitta will be back on the TE1 map next week versus New England. … Ray Rice has been running better lately, but he’s still nothing more than a flex play for fantasy championship week.
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News Nugget #1
Larry Fitzgerald was a part of Arizona’s “hands” team late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Titans. He went up to try and reel in the onside kick attempt from Tennessee but took a shot and was done for the day with a concussion. The Arizona Republic reported after the game that Fitzgerald was “not OK” and was “out of it” following the hit.
On Monday, Fitzgerald’s father, Larry Fitzgerald Sr., tweeted that his son is “going to be okay” after he “passed concussion tests.” It’s a glimmer of good news, but Fitzgerald has more tests to go through before he can play next week against the Seahawks. Beat writer Kent Somers later chimed in and cautioned that it’s “premature” to believe that Fitzgerald is in the clear. Fitzgerald met with a specialist Monday evening and will have to advance through the league’s protocol.
Consider Fitzgerald up in the air for the divisional tilt with the Seahawks. We’ll need to keep a close eye on the receiver. We can expect the Cardinals and Fitzgerald to do everything they can to get him back out there with the playoffs on the line. If Fitzgerald can’t play, the Cardinals will roll with Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts in two-wide sets in a tough matchup. Jaron Brown would be the No. 3 receiver.
News Nugget #2
Cecil Shorts has been playing through various injuries all season. The groin has been the major issue. It proved to be too much for him to even play in Week 15 against the Bills. Shorts plans to rehab the injury this week in hopes of being able to play in the home finale against the Titans, but there is also a real possibility the Jaguars shut him down for the remainder of the season. Coach Gus Bradley said Shorts’ groin simply isn’t improving. Bradley, Shorts, and GM Dave Caldwell will meet later this week to discuss the situation. Shorts even admitted that being shut down may be the best option.
If Shorts is done for 2013, Mike Brown, Ace Sanders, and Kerry Taylor will likely close out the season as Jacksonville’s three-wide set. Sanders would be the only one worth of any sort of fantasy consideration. He’d be nothing more than a WR4. As long as the Jaguars are in games, they’re going to be a run-heavy offense. Jordan Todman led the team in targets on Sunday and touched the ball 29 times. Maurice Jones-Drew’s (hamstring) status for Week 16 remains foggy.
News Nugget #3
Jordan Reed (concussion) hasn’t played since suffering his head injury in Week 11. He’s practiced a few times here and there but has experienced numerous setbacks. Reed is still having headaches, and the concussion has become a long-term concern. The Redskins are reportedly considering shutting the rookie down for the rest of the season. In the event that happens, Logan Paulsen and Fred Davis will handle tight end duties. Davis caught a touchdown against the Falcons on Sunday, but that was his lone catch. Outside of Reed, there’s no fantasy value to be had here.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
The Titans signed fourth-round rookie QB Tyler Wilson off the Raiders’ practice squad. … The Packers are game-planning for Matt Flynn to be the Week 16 starter. With the Packers now controlling their own destiny due to the Lions’ loss Monday night, it’d be a surprise if Aaron Rodgers wasn’t under center against the Steelers. It’s going to be a story to watch closely. … Case Keenum has been diagnosed with a sprained right throwing thumb. … Coach Mike Shanahan insisted Robert Griffin III is still clearly the Redskins’ quarterback for 2014. … Carson Palmer doesn’t have a high-ankle sprain. … E.J. Manuel sprained his left knee in Sunday’s win over the Jaguars. … Matt Cassel will start in Week 16. … The Browns want to get Edwin Baker more work the final two weeks. … Ben Tate re-injured his ribs Sunday and underwent testing Monday. … Darren McFadden (ankle) is expected to practice this week. He’s not a fantasy option. … Donald Brown (stinger) is day-to-day. … Andre Ellington (thigh) is expected to be fine. … Zac Stacy said the hip injury he suffered Sunday is a non-issue.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Wes Welker (concussion) did not practice Monday. … Randall Cobb (leg, short-term I.R.) had a “strong” workout Monday. He’s eligible to be activated whenever the Packers feel he’s ready. … Rob Gronkowski (knee, I.R.) is tentatively expected to be ready for the start of the 2014 season. … Owen Daniels (leg, short-term I.R.) might return this week. Garrett Graham (hamstring) is “iffy” for Week 16. … Zach Ertz played more snaps than Brent Celek on Sunday. Ertz is the more talented receiver. … Jermaine Gresham injured his hip on Sunday night.