Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Bernard Scott is the Bengals' starting running back at Seattle because Cedric Benson is serving his one-game suspension. Scott, who is making his first start since his rookie season in 2009, has quite a fan club on the team, according to the team's website.
“After you look at the games over the last six weeks, you end up saying [after each game] you’d like to get Bernard a few more touches," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told Bengals.com. "This will be a great chance for him.”
Scott's carries have increased the past three games, topping out at 11 attempts in the game before the bye. Still, he's carried the ball more than 20 times in a game just once.
“Everybody’s itching to see him play because he’s dynamic with the football," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "He’s one of those guys you say is a true playmaker. You don’t know what the best part of his game is, he’s just a playmaker.”
Hensley's slant: This is a timely opportunity for Scott because Benson has struggled lately. In his past two games, Benson has been held under 60 yards and hasn't broken a run over 9 yards. The Seahawks have been strong against the run for most of the season, but they gave up 95 yards to a backup (Cleveland's Montario Hardesty) last Sunday. A big game by Scott could make the distribution of carries interesting when Benson returns.
BROWNS: Cleveland will be cautious with wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Ben Watson because both are dealing with their second concussions in a little over a year, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer. They are considered day-to-day. "Each guy's different as they come back from those," coach Pat Shurmur said. Hensley's slant: If Massaquoi is out, Josh Cribbs would take his spot in the starting lineup. The problem is the dropoff at the No. 3 receiver position. Brian Robiskie (three catches) and Jordan Norwood (two receptions) are non-factors. It would make Colt McCoy's job even more challenging.
RAVENS: Head coach John Harbaugh isn't second-guessing his decision to call for an onside kick trailing by two points with 2:02 left in the game. “Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m even more sure that it was the right thing,” Harbaugh said in his Tuesday press conference, via The Baltimore Sun. “I felt strongly about the onside kick, and the main reason was, I thought we were going to get it. And if you look at the play, we had them outnumbered at the point of attack. If that ball goes 10 yards -- which is not asking too much -- then we’re going to recover that ball. Now we’ve got the ball with two minutes plus two timeouts plus a two-minute warning to go from the 45 or 50 into close field-goal range and give us the best chance to make a kick and win the game." Hensley's slant: Got to disagree with Harbaugh on this one. The best chance for the Ravens to win was have Billy Cundiff kick another touchback to pin the Jaguars in their own territory and put it the NFL's top-ranked defense to force another three-and-out. That would have given the Ravens offense the ball with about a minute and a half left around midfield to get into field-goal range to win the game.
STEELERS: Starting nose tackle Casey Hampton could return for Sunday's game against New England after missing the past three games with a shoulder injury, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Outside linebacker James Harrison is expected to be sidelined for his fourth straight game with an eye injury. Hensley's slant: The Steelers should be happy that one of their top defensive players is returning. But they would want Harrison back more than Hampton when going against the Patriots, who rank third in the NFL with 39.5 pass attempts per game. Having a top-notch pass-rusher to go after Brady is more valuable in this game.