Last Sunday, the Lions beat the Browns 31-17 in Cleveland, moving the Lions to 4-2 and dropping the Browns to 3-3. The game did not draw much national attention outside of fantasy owners. However, it was an interesting matchup – this was the first meeting between these teams since 1970 when each came into the game with a winning record. When they met on October 18, 1970, the Browns and the Lions were 3-1. After the Lions’ 41-24 victory, Detroit moved to 4-1 as the Browns dropped to 3-2.
Why is that stat significant here in Baltimore?
You can draw a comparison between the Lions and Browns to this week’s match between the Ravens and Steelers.
In the 1950’s, the Lions and Browns were the best teams in football, each winning three World Championships during the decade. They faced each other in the title game four times between 1952 and 1957. The Lions beat the Browns for the title in 1952, 1953, and 1957, and the Browns scored victory in the 1954 title game, 56-10. The Lions won their last championship in 1957. Since 1957, the Lions have become, at-best, a mediocre franchise. After 1957, the Browns made the playoffs six times before that 1970 game with Detroit, winning their last title in 1964. Since then, they made it to a few AFC title games in the 1980’s, but no championships were won.
After their 1970 week five game, the Browns and Lions have met for nine contests between 1971 and 2012, and in none of those games before last Sunday did both teams come into the game with a winning record. So, the model teams of the 1950’s have fallen on hard times since their championship days of the 50’s.
You can say the same with the Ravens and the Steelers. As the Browns and Lions were dominant in the 50’s, the Ravens and Steelers have been dominant in the AFC North. The North was formed in 2002 (basically it is the old AFC Central minus the Titans and Jaguars.) Since the formation of the division there have been 11 division winners. Nine of the 11 division winners have been either the Ravens or Steelers. The division crown has gone through Baltimore or Pittsburgh, much like the NFL championship went through Detroit or Cleveland in the 1950’s.
Week Seven in 2002 was a 31-18 Pittsburgh win—each team came into that game at three wins and three losses. Here we are in week seven in 2013… twenty-one regular season meetings later and neither the Ravens nor Steelers have a winning record. This marks the first time they have met for a regular season game that was not opening day when at least one of them did not have a winning record since that Week Seven in 2002. Could this be a sign of a changing of the guard for power in the division? If it is, we need to hope that it does not last as long as it has for the Lions and Browns. Go Ravens!
Winning picks for Week 5
Nick Foles—Eagles vs. Cowboys
Foles went 44-66 with 470 yards and threw for two scores against Dallas in 2012 as a rookie. He is completing 66.4% of his passes; he threw for three touchdowns and ran for one last Sunday at Tampa Bay. He has three multiple-touchdown passing games in the five games that he has received appreciable playing time in his career. He faces the 30th ranked pass defense of the Cowboys that is allowing 308 passing yards per game and has given up 14 scoring throws. They have allowed multiple touchdown passes in four of six contests. They will not be able to effectively cover DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Riley Cooper, and LeSean McCoy. Foles will have another big day.
Mike Tolbert— Panthers vs. Rams
Tolbert has seven rushing touchdowns on his last 55 carries. (Just about one score for every 8 carries.) He is getting Carolina’s goal line carries and DeAngelo Williams has yet to rush for a touchdown. The Rams are allowing 130 yards per game on the ground and are ranked 30th against the run. They are also giving up a rushing score per game. Even in an easy win last week against Houston, the Rams surrendered 153 rushing yards. Tolbert will find the goal line on Sunday!
Lamar Miller— Dolphins vs. Bills
Miller has disappointed his fantasy owners but has averaged 4.22 yards a carry and has scored in two games this year. Miller’s problem has been the fact that he has not received more than 14 carries in any game thus far. He will get more this week against the 28th ranked defense of the Bills. They are allowing 124 yards per game on the ground and the Dolphins should focus more on the run this week. They racked up 242 yards rushing against the Bills in 2012. Miller averaged 7 yards per carry when they faced the Bills in week 16 last year.
Harry Douglas— Falcons at Buccaneers
Douglas should be picked up no matter what format your league uses for scoring. With Julio Jones out and Roddy White slowed, Douglas is the Falcons’ best healthy wide receiver. With Matt Ryan attempting 43 passes per game and the fact that the Buccaneers are sixth against the run, that trend should continue this week. Douglas will pile up the fantasy points as the likes of Drew Davis, Kevin Cone, and Brian Robiskie will not take receptions away. He will score points the remainder of the year.
Tim Wright— Buccaneers vs Falcons
Wright, a rookie from Rutgers, has 15 receptions for 131 yards since Mike Glennon took over as the starting quarterback. The Falcons are allowing 275 passing yards a game and have given up twelve scoring throws. They have also allowed multiple touchdown passes in every game this year. Glennon is holding his own at quarterback and with wide receiver Vincent Jackson being double teamed on every play, Wright will continue to score fantasy points. He may not be a house-hold name yet, but come next year, he could very well become a top-ten tight end. Pick him up now as the Buccaneers may not win many games, but Wright will have many favorable match ups the rest of the season.
Have a great week of fantasy football!