Three-and-out: NFL’s best matchups of Week 9

Division titles hopes are starting to heat up and Week 9 provides plenty of storylines with strong divisional matchups in the AFC and NFC. We highlight the top three for Week 9.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-3) 
AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (3-4)

Will he or won’t he?

Ben Roethlisberger is the man of intrigue this weekend as he hopes to re-appear as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter after suffering a knee injury that was originally supposed to keep the supersized quarterback out 4-6 weeks. Now it’s looking like he might beat even the best of that timeframe.

The Steelers could use him. They have lost their last two and Roethlisberger has nine touchdowns and three interceptions in his past five games against the Baltimore Ravens, who are now on the heels of the Steelers. But it won’t be all Big Ben, whether he is back or not. Le'Veon Bell has more than 100 yards from scrimmage in three of his past four games against Baltimore, and Antonio Brown is averaging 90.8 yards per game in his past five against the Ravens.

Yet, as strong as some of the individual performances have been against the Ravens, Baltimore has won four of the past five against Pittsburgh, including a three-point win last December, as Joe Flacco has been efficient enough against the Steelers to make it work.

Flacco has nine touchdowns and only two interceptions in his last six games against the divisional foe. The addition of WR Mike Wallace has helped the Ravens offense, as he leads the Ravens with 490 yards and three touchdowns through seven games, including 10 for 120 yards in Week 7.

The Ravens are still strong on defense and LB Terrell Suggs has the most career sacks (14.5) of any player against Pittsburgh and is the Ravens’ franchise leader with 111.5. Meanwhile, C.J. Mosley Jr. leads all NFL linebackers with three interceptions, so if Roethlisberger is able to play, those are two defenders for him to avoid.

  STEELERS RAVENS
SERIES LEADER 21-19  
STREAKS   4 of past 5
COACHES VS. OPP. Mike Tomlin: 8-10 John Harbaugh: 9-7
LAST WEEK Bye (Wk. 7: L 27-16 vs. New England) Bye (Wk. 7: L 24-16 at New York Jets)
LAST GAME 12/27/15: Steelers 17 at Ravens 20. Baltimore QB Ryan Mallett passes for 274 yards & TD. Ravens RB Javorius Allen has 112 yards from scrimmage & TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 12/27/2015
REFEREE John Hussey
BROADCAST CBS (1:00 PM ET): Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon, Evan Washburn (Field reporter). Westwood One: John Sadak, Mike Mayock. SIRIUS: 146 (Pit), 81 (Bal). XM: 383 (Pit), 225 (Bal).
STATS
PASSING Ben Roethlisberger: 145-226-1685-16-6-99.2 Joe Flacco: 189-308-1837-5-6-75.4
RUSHING Le’Veon Bell: 69-344-5.0-0 Terrance West: 96-424-4.4-3
RECEIVING Antonio Brown: 48-592-12.3-5 Dennis Pitta (TE): 38-335-8.8-0
OFFENSE 372.3 332.4
TAKE/GIVE -1 2
DEFENSE 390.1 301.9
SACKS Cameron Heyward: 3 Terrell Suggs: 5
INTs 3 tied: 1 C.J. Mosley: 3 (T3L)
PUNTING Jordan Berry: 45.8 Sam Koch: 48.1
KICKING Chris Boswell: 40 (19/19 PAT; 7/10 FG) Justin Tucker: 63 (9/9 PAT; 18/18 FG)

STEELERS

QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER has 9 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 95.8 rating in past 5 vs. Bal. QB LANDRY JONES passed for 281 yards & TD in Week 7…RB LE’VEON BELL has 100+ scrimmage yards & TD in 3 of past 4 vs. Bal. Has 589 scrimmage yards (NFL-high 147.3 per game) in 4 games in 2016. Since 2014, averages 134.5 scrimmage yards per game, most in NFL. RB DE ANGELO WILLIAMS had 153 scrimmage yards (100 rush, 53 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in last meeting…WR ANTONIO BROWN has 39 catches (7.8 per game) for 454 yards (90.8 per game) & TD in past 5 (incl. playoffs) vs. Bal. Has 100+ rec. yards in 4 of past 5 (incl. playoffs) on road. Since 2013, leads NFL with 423 catches, 5,623 rec. yards & 25 100-yard rec. games. WR DARRIUS HEYWARD-BAY aims for 3rd in row with TD. WR SAMMIE COATES leads NFL WRs with 21.3 yards per catch avg…LB LAWRENCE TIMMONS has 66 tackles (11 per game) & 2 sacks in past 6 meetings. LB RYAN SHAZIER has 24 tackles in past 2 at Bal.

RAVENS

QB JOE FLACCO is 1 of 8 QBs in NFL history to pass for 30,000+ yards (30,159) in 1st 9 seasons. In past 6 vs. Pit. (incl. playoffs), has 9 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 96.5 rating…RB TERRANCE WESTaims for 3rd in row vs. division with rush TD. In past 2 at home, has 208 rush yards (104 per game) & TD. RB JAVORIUS ALLEN had rush TD in last meeting…WR STEVE SMITH SR. ranks 9th in NFL history with 14,242 rec. yards. Needs 12 catches to reach 1,000 in career. WR MIKE WALLACE had 10 catches for 120 yards in Week 7. Leads team with 490 rec. yards & 3 rec. TDs. TE DENNIS PITTA has 38 catches, 4th most by NFL TE…LB ZACHARY ORR leads team with 63 tackles. Has 25 tackles in past 2. LB TERRELL SUGGS has most career sacks (14.5) by any player vs. Pit. Is franchise leader with 111.5 sacks. Rookie LB MATT JUDON had 2 sacks in Week 7. LB C.J. MOSLEY had 10 tackles & FF in last game vs. Pit. Leads all NFL LBs with 3 INTs.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-3)
AT NEW YORK GIANTS (4-3)

At the same time the Steelers and Ravens will be battling for at least a share of the AFC North lead, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants will be looking to decrease the two-game lead the Dallas Cowboys have on them in the NFC East.

It will be a battle of the veteran quarterback, Eli Manning, against impressive rookie Carson Wentz, who has outplayed Manning this year.

Manning has more yards (1,984 to 1,526), but Wentz has been more efficient. The rookie has nine touchdowns and three interceptions for a 92.5 rating while Manning has eight touchdowns and six interceptions and an 87.3 rating. Yet, neither of them has been able to rely on a consistent running game.

Instead, Wentz has relied on top target Jordan Matthews (36 catches for 419 yards) and a strong defense while Manning is getting in a groove with Odell Beckham Jr. of late. Beckham Jr. has 40 catches and 630 yards, propelled by an eight-catch, 222-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 6.

  EAGLES GIANTS 
SERIES LEADER   82-78-2
STREAKS 4 of past 5  
COACHES VS. OPP. Doug Pederson: 0-0 Ben McAdoo: 0-0
LAST WEEK L 29-23 (OT) at Dallas  Bye (Wk. 7: W 17-10 at Los Angeles in London)
LAST GAME 1/3/16: Eagles 35 at Giants 30. Philadelphia QB Sam Bradford passes for 320 yards & 2 TDs. Eagles S Walter Thurmond has 83-yard FR-TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 1/3/2016
REFEREE Bill Vinovich
BROADCAST FOX (1:00 PM ET): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 132 (Phi.), 82 (NYG). XM: 380 (Phi.), 82 (NYG).
STATS
PASSING Carson Wentz (R): 150-228-1526-9-3-92.5 Eli Manning: 175-270-1984-8-6-87.3
RUSHING Ryan Mathews: 71-272-3.8-4 Rashad Jennings: 53-142-2.7-1
RECEIVING Jordan Matthews: 36-419-11.6-3 Odell Beckham Jr.: 40-630-15.8-3
OFFENSE 317.7 345.3
TAKE/GIVE 6 -7
DEFENSE 328.9 361
SACKS Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham: 4 Landon Collins: 2
INTs Rodney McLeod: 3 (T3L) 3 tied: 2
PUNTING Donnie Jones: 45.2 Brad Wing: 48.0
KICKING Caleb Sturgis: 67 (16/17 PAT; 17/18 FG) Robbie Gould: 5 (2/2 PAT; 1/1 FG)

EAGLES

Rookie QB CARSON WENTZ has passed for 4 TDs with INT for 90.8 rating in 4 career road games. Has 9 TD passes, most by rookie in franchise history…RB RYAN MATHEWS had rush TD in Week 8. RB DARREN SPROLES had 103 scrimmage yards (86 rush, 17 rec.) last week. Has 4 TDs (3 rush, 1 rec.) in past 5 vs. NYG…WR JORDAN MATTHEWS has 5 TD catches in past 5 vs. NFC East. Had career-high 11 receptions (65 yards) & TD last week. TE ZACH ERTZ had 9 receptions for career-high 152 yards in last meeting…DE MARCUS SMITH aims for 3rd in row vs. NFC East with sack. LB CONNOR BARWIN has 4 sacks & 2 FFs in past 4 vs. NYG. Aims for 3rd in row with sack. LB NIGEL BRADHAM has 27 tackles (9 per game) & sack in past 3. LB JORDAN HICKS had INT in Week 8. CB LEODIS MC KELVIN has 12 PD in past 8. S MALCOLM JENKINS has 4 PD & FF in past 3 vs. NYG.

GIANTS

QB ELI MANNING is averaging 333.6 yards per game & has 10 pass TDs for 95.7 rating in past 5 at home. Has 300+ pass yards in 3 of past 4 vs. NFC East...RB RASHAD JENNINGS rushed for 170 yards & TD in last meeting. Had rush TD in Week 7…WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. has 23 receptions for 429 yards (143 per game) with 2 TDs in past 3 at home. Has TD catch in 2 of past 3 vs. Phi. WR STERLING SHEPARD ranks 2nd among NFL rookies with 31 receptions. TE WILL TYE had 5 receptions for 67 yards & TD in last meeting…DT JAY BROMLEY had 1st career sack in Week 7. DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL has 2 sacks & 2 PD in past 2 vs. Phi. Has 5.5 sacks & 2 FFs in past 6 vs. NFC East. LB JONATHAN CASILLAS had 7 tackles & INT in last meeting. Aims for 3rd in row at home with 9+ tackles. CB JANORIS JENKINS has 8 PD in past 3. CB LEON HALL has 3 PD & INT in 2 career meetings. CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE had 2 INTs in Week 7. S LANDON COLLINS had 2 INTs, including 44-yard TD, in Week 7.

 

DENVER BRONCOS (6-2)
AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-2)

While the Oakland Raiders might be one of the pleasant surprises of the 2016 NFL season, their AFC West matchup with the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos pits strength against strength.

The Raiders have the fifth-ranked offense thanks to a balanced attack that is eighth in rushing and fourth in passing. The Broncos have the third-ranked defense but is much better defending the pass – ranked first in the NFL – than the run (24th).

Much of the success of the Raiders is due to the quick ascent of third-year quarterback Derek Carr, who became the third player in NFL history with at least 500 yards passing, at least four touchdowns and no interceptions in a game with his performance last week, when he threw for 513 yards and four touchdowns.

Amari Cooper and Michael Oher are the go-to receivers for Carr. Cooper leads the team with 52 catches for 787 yards while Crabtree has 47 receptions for 569 yards and is tied for the NFL lead with six touchdowns. The Raiders also have some impressive defensive players, led by Khalil Mack, who had five sacks against Denver the last time they met.

The Broncos have been getting by with Trevor Siemian at quarterback, and he has six touchdown passes and a 104.0 rating in his last three road games, but the Broncos are built on a defense that carried them to the Super Bowl championship and has helped them win eight of the last nine against the Raiders.

Von Miller is going for his third game in a row with a sack against the Raiders and has 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception his last 10 games, and 75 sacks since 2011 – second-most in the NFL in that span. They also have a stout secondary leading the top-ranked pass defense with Chris Harris (74-yard interception return for  a TD last year against Oakland), Aqib Talib (tied for third in the NFL with three interceptions this year), Bradley Roby (49-yard interception return for a TD last week) and T.J. Ward (10 tackles and an interception last week).

Carr’s success or lack of it will likely determine the winner in this winner of a Sunday night game.

  BRONCOS RAIDERS
SERIES LEADER   60-49-2
STREAKS 8 of past 9  
COACHES VS. OPP. Gary Kubiak: 5-4 Jack Del Rio: 5-2
LAST WEEK W 27-19 vs. San Diego W 30-24 (OT) at Tampa Bay
LAST GAME 12/13/15: Raiders 15 at Broncos 12. Oakland LB Khalil Mack has 5 sacks & FF. Raiders QB Derek Carr passes for 135 yards & 2 TDs.
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/11/15: Broncos 16, Raiders 10. Denver CB Chris Harris returns INT 74 yards for TD. Broncos K Brandon McManus coverts all 3 FG attempts.
REFEREE Clete Blakeman
BROADCAST NBC (8:30 PM ET): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton. SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Den), 81 (Oak). XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Den), 225 (Oak).
STATS
PASSING Trevor Siemian: 132-214-1487-8-4-87.1 Derek Carr: 214-323-2321-17 (T3L)-3-100.9
RUSHING Devontae Booker (R): 70-298-4.3-2 Latavius Murray: 69-279-4.0-5
RECEIVING Emmanuel Sanders: 44-567-12.9-3 Amari Cooper: 52 (3L)-787 (3L)-15.1-2
OFFENSE 326.4 401.6
TAKE/GIVE 5 7
DEFENSE 301.3 (3L) 410.4
SACKS Von Miller: 8.5 (2L) Khalil Mack: 5
INTs Aqib Talib: 3 (T3L) 3 tied: 2
PUNTING Riley Dixon (R): 46.6 Marquette King: 49.0
KICKING Brandon McManus: 66 (18/19 PAT; 16/18 FG) Sebastian Janikowski: 59 (20/20 PAT; 13/18 FG)

BRONCOS

QB TREVOR SIEMIAN has 6 TDs & 104.0 rating in past 3 on road…Rookie RB DEVONTAE BOOKER aims for 3rd in row with rush TD. Is 3rd among rookies with 298 rush yards…WR EMMANUEL SANDERS has 266 rec. yards & 3 TDs in past 3 at Oak. WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS has 60 catches for 766 yards (95.8 per game) in past 8 meetings. Is 1 of 3 in NFL with 6,000+ rec. yards (6,322) & 40+ rec. TDs (45) since 2012…LB VON MILLER aims for 3rd in row vs. Oak. with sack & FF. Has 13.5 sacks, 3 FFs & INT in past 10 (incl. playoffs). Since 2011 (incl. playoffs), ranks 2nd in NFL with 75 sacks. LB SHAQUIL BARRETT aims for 3rd in row vs. Oak. with sack. CB CHRIS HARRIS JR. had 74-yard INT-TD in last game at Oak. CB BRADLEY ROBY had 49-yard INT-TD last week. S T.J. WARD had 10 tackles, sack & INT last week.

RAIDERS

Aim for 1st season sweep vs. Den. since 2010…QB DEREK CARR became 3rd player in NFL history with 500+ pass yards (513), 4+ TDs (4) & 0 INTs in game last week. Ties for 3rd in NFL with 17 pass TDs...RB LATAVIUS MURRAY has 5 rush TDs in past 6…WR AMARI COOPER had career-high 12 catches & 173 rec. yards last week. Is 3rd in NFL with 52 catches & 787 rec. yards. WR MICHAEL CRABTREE ties for 1st in NFL with 6 rec. TD. TE MYCHAL RIVERA had TD catch in last meeting…T DONALD PENN had 4th career rec. TD last week…DE KHALIL MACK tied team record with 5 sacks in last meeting. Has 14 sacks in past 15. Aims for 4th in row with sack. Since 2015, leads NFL with 20 sacks. Since 2007, S REGGIE NELSON is only active player with 30+ INTs (32) & 5+ sacks (6.5).

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