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Georgia Bulldogs in the NFL

For the second straight week a former Dawg traveled to London as A.J. Green kept the league’s best cornerback on his heels, Leonard Floyd continues to develop as a premier pass rusher on primetime television and Matt Stafford’s Lions took a gut check on the road.

Bengal’s receiver A.J. Green took his talents across the pond this week in the NFL’s last London game of the season. Against the often-self-proclaimed best cornerback in the league Josh Norman, Green gave the defense fits all over the ‘pitch.’ Norman was flagged a number of times trying to keep up with Green, who was targeted by Andy Dalton a season-high 18 times. Reeling in half of the 18 targets, Green collected 121 yards without finding the end zone. Eclipsing 100 yards for the fourth time this season, Green took the lead on receiving yards from Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones. After his stellar juggling performance last week with defenders draped over his shoulders, this week's Green highlight came halfway through the fourth quarter with the Bengals trailing the Redskins and needing a score, Andy Dalton connected with Green on a pass down the sideline to put the Bengals inside the 10-yard line. The highlight came when the pass approached Green’s bread basket, Norman grabbed the nameplate on Green’s jersey in hopes of slowing him down, but the receiver was unfazed by the contact and made the catch. In the end, the Bengals and Redskins tied after an overtime period did not produce a winner. Next week, defenders can sleep easier not having to prepare for Green with the Bengals on a bye week.

After leading three straight game winning drives, Matt Stafford and the Lions took a reality check against the Texans on the road. After trailing 14-3 at halftime and as much as 17-3 in the third quarter, the Lions’ put together a 13-play drive capped by a one-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick. The drive was kept alive after Stafford’s third-down incomplete pass to tight end Eric Ebron was penalized for pass interference. Down 20-10 later in the fourth quarter, Lions' kick returner Andre Roberts took the kick off from the three-yard line 42 yards to just five yards short of midfield. With prime field position to spur a fourth quarter comeback, Stafford only managed to get the Lions into field goal range after the drive stalled. After the onside kick attempt failed, the Lions' defense was unable to give Stafford a chance at his fourth straight comeback drive. Stafford tied his season high for attempts against the Texans, most likely due to the fact that Detroit played from behind the entire afternoon. Stafford did not light up the box score with only one touchdown and the lowest average yards per pass this season (5.85 yards), but the Lions are still very much in playoff contention in the NFC North only trailing the Vikings by a game and a half, who they’ll play in Minnesota next week.

After starting off week seven with a strong performance in primetime Thursday Night Football against the division rival Packers, Floyd capped off week eight in primetime Monday Night Football against the division rival Vikings. Floyd put pressure on Viking’s quarterback Sam Bradford all night, collecting a sack in back to back games for the first time in his career. Floyd utilized his speed to keep the Vikings’ lineman on skates. By the fourth quarter, Floyd’s impact was large enough that the Vikings sent double teams to contain the rookie outside linebacker. Floyd has moved into second place among rookies in sacks, trailing only Jaguars rookie Yannick Ngakoue by half a sack.

Coming off the bye after playing in London, the Rams will have a tough task ahead to get Todd Gurley rolling against the Carolina Panthers this week. On paper, the Panthers defense ranks 20th in total defense – one of the worse defenses the Rams will play this season. But looking at the roster, the Panthers have been held back by the defensive secondary. The Panthers have given up the 11th most passing yards this season and are tied for the second most passing touchdowns. But in rushing defense, they have given up the second-fewest rushing yards and only five rushing touchdowns this season. The front seven is still very talented in Carolina, despite what their total defense ranks – and it can be assumed that the Rams will most likely game plan to throw the ball against the Panthers, unless the gameplan is to bang their head against a brick wall. 

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