This week’s Thursday night football matchup will be the first game that features the normal NFL officials, just 48 hours after the replacement officials blew a call in Monday Night’s Packers-Seahawks game. It was pretty widely reported not too soon prior to that game that the NFL and officials union were still very far apart in their bargaining talks, and that no progress was made in their meetings.
With the normal officials back, NFL fans can get back to hating the calls they make, as opposed to the bad calls the replacements made. Despite the fact that the replacement officials made some terrible errors, even with simple rules of the game, people seem to forget some of the things the normal officials have done. Ever heard of the “Tuck” rule? How about the Hochuli rule? Does anyone remember the Minnesota Vikings getting hosed in the NFC Championship game a few years back?
The point is, the guys who are coming back are far from perfect, and they’ll have some adjusting to do as well.
Even more importantly, tonight is a chance for NFL fans to see some more football. The Cleveland Browns are set to take on the Baltimore Ravens on the East coast, and it could get ugly pretty fast. The only thing is, the Browns have slowly progressed with their youthful offense and it’s going to take a huge upset to beat the Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
Official Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
I think the Ravens–especially at home–are going to be far too much to handle for the Cleveland Browns. If they can force some turnovers and make some plays, I think the Browns can keep up with the Ravens, but at this point, it seems like they are terribly over-matched in this game. Joe Flacco is finally playing like the first rounder he was drafted as, and the Ravens are really clicking offensively, averaging nearly 33 points per game.
QB: Joe Flacco, Ravens
Flacco could have a huge game against a Browns secondary without Joe Haden.
RB: Ray Rice, Ravens; Trent Richardson, Browns
Rice is the obvious one, but Richardson is an underrated runner and receiver in fantasy circles. That’s no surprise, since he’s a rookie, but I think he could shine on a big stage on Thursday Night.
WR: Torrey Smith, Ravens
Smith had a huge game last week, and should be able to build off of that momentum.
TE: Dennis Pitta, Ravens
Pitta is the Ravens’ leading receiver. Do the Browns have anyone who can cover him in addition to the stars on this team?
Sleeper fantasy pick: Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens
Boldin is a sleeper because of the other stars in this game. With Torrey Smith’s big game last week, the defense should be focusing in on him. Not only that, but they’ll be paying extra attention to Dennis Pitta. This could open some space on the outside for Boldin to make some plays.