Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:
No 'Sizzle' for Baltimore: The Baltimore Ravens have been inconsistent rushing the passer this season, and their defense will take another big blow without the services of Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts (9-0). Suggs suffered a sprained knee in last Monday’s win over the Cleveland Browns when quarterback Brady Quinn hit him low following an interception. Suggs doesn’t believe his injury is season-ending. But he is one of the few pass-rushers for the Ravens who can command and fight through double teams. So expect Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to have some extra time in the pocket this week.
Draft status: As much as teams dislike talking about this during the season, there is a good chance the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft could be decided Sunday when Cleveland (1-8) travels to play the Detroit Lions (1-8). Of the four one-win teams, the Browns and Lions are probably playing the worst football down the stretch. The winner of this game will double its victory total and thus fall behind in the race for the top pick with just six games remaining. Detroit had the top selection in 2009 and selected quarterback Matthew Stafford out of the University of Georgia.
Going vertical: If the Browns will ever attack defenses vertically with Quinn at quarterback, this is the week to do it. Detroit's defense is ranked No. 31 in the NFL, one spot ahead of Cleveland's. The Lions are also allowing 29.3 points per game. So Quinn should have more time in the pocket to allow his receivers to get downfield. The biggest knock on Quinn since coming to the NFL is that he doesn't have the arm strength or accuracy to stretch defenses downfield. In Monday's loss to Baltimore, Quinn was 0-for-7 on throws of 10 yards or more. Several of his deep throws at the end of the game weren't even close and didn’t stay in the field of play.
Potential trap: On the surface, the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders shouldn’t be a close contest, right? The Raiders are 2-7 and starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski against the first-place Bengals (7-2). But when you look deeper, consider the fact that Cincinnati has never won in Oakland in eight attempts. The Bengals are coming off a huge emotional win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (letdown factor?), and starting tailback Cedric Benson is not expected to play with a hip injury. This has all the makings of a trap game in the NFL. The Bengals have been a mature team all season. Winning in Oakland for the first time would be another huge step in that maturation process.
Balance is key: The Steelers' offense will try to get back on track after one of the worst performances of the season against Cincinnati. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians received a lot of heat in the media this week for his unbalanced play calling last weekend (40 pass plays/18 run plays). It was a surprising stat considering the game against the Bengals was extremely close throughout and tailback Rashard Mendenhall entered the game with the hot hand. Look for the Steelers to get back to being balanced against the struggling Kansas City Chiefs (2-7). Kansas City has the No. 27-ranked defense in the NFL. So Pittsburgh should have an easier time executing.