AFC North Week 13 Predictions

AFC North Week 13 Predictions
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Referee Morelli demoted for this game? Bill Cowher’s reaction says it all (which is an eerily similar reaction to Morelli’s reversed call on a Troy Polamalu interception in 2006).
Welcome to the AFC North predictions page!
Each week, our AFC North feature writers will list their picks for that week and be forced to explain why they voted as they did. Keep in mind that these picks are for entertainment purposes only, and in no way should be used to influence gambling or illegal activity, unless you’re smart enough to recognize that we know more than you because we publish things.
Week 12 AFC North games:
Baltimore Ravens (4-7) @ Miami Dolphins (4-7), Sunday 1pm, CBS
Cincinnati Bengals (9-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-9), Sunday 1pm, CBS
Indianapolis (6-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5), Sunday 8:30pm, NBC
Steelers/Indy gets the AFC North game of the week honors. Watching two teams in the playoff hunt is better than watching one or none (although the Ravens are mathematically alive somehow). Indianapolis and Pittsburgh have also had an interesting history since 1995.
Last week the writers had a very good week. Ironically, if the three Ravens homers picked their own team, the group would have gone 12-0 and not 9-3. It worked out well for Mr. Thompson, as he took the Ravens and the solo lead for the first time this season.
On to the games:
Jack Crawford (record 20-17):
Ravens 17, Dolphins 27
Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub will struggle on the road, due to a lack of targets and arm strength. While Miami has its own share of problems, the have enough left to beat the hapless Ravens, whose win last week shouldn’t have happened with proper officiating.
Bengals 31, Browns 16
The Austin Davis era begins with a thud, as young quarterbacks often struggle in the face of a good pass rush – which Cincinnati has. Expect heavy use of the ground game by the Bengals to exploit a suspect Browns rush defense.
Colts 24, Steelers 37
While Colts second-string quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has done an adequate job filling in for the injured Andrew Luck, he’ll receive little help from his defense Sunday night, which simply doesn’t have the personnel to adequately cover the Steelers’ receivers. Expect the Steelers to pass often and at will.
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Paul Johansson (record 22-15):
Ravens 20, Dolphins 26
Although a trip to Miami, seemingly annually, has been a Ravens 9th home game, this year might be slightly different considering the Ravens struggles. Highlighting the struggles, QB Matt Schaub’s last start prompted the Ravens to tryout… Ryan Mallett. Jimmy Clausen is certainly not starting for any team in the NFL. Add that to the Ravens talent at WR and CB, and Miami should be able to handle anything the Ravens throw at them, and should be able to throw against the Ravens at will.
Bengals 34, Browns 17
A bad Ravens team beat the Browns (barely), and the Bengals are much more talented at nearly every position. Browns starting quarterback, Austin Davis, did look fantastic in relief versus the Ravens secondary minus horrible clock management at the end of the game. My guess is he will again have moments, but not enough to outscore the Bengals who, unlike the Ravens, can pressure the quarterback when rushing four, and can cover wide receivers.
Colts 27, Steelers 30
Steelers have struggled to convert red zone drives into touchdowns instead of settling for field goals, especially recently. Luckily they will enter the red zone early and often against the Colts defense, and will kick a field goal late for the win.
On a side note, the NFL demoted (did not suspend) referee Pete Morelli for this nationally televised Sunday night contest and instead will work the Patriots game. An interesting decision considering his recent blunders this season, and his past blunders like when he infamously reversed a Troy Polomaou interception during the 2005 playoffs (Jan 2006) against Indy. Indy/Steelers matchups have had a history of blown calls in huge games. Although this game is not as big, playoff ramifications are still quite high.
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Michael Thompson (record 23-14):
Ravens 20, Dolphins 23
Matt Schaub looked both rusty and much like the version of himself that effectively washed out of the league a few years ago in his return against the Browns. The Dolphins are a disorganized mess of a team that probably has the talent on paper to contend for a playoff spot, but that talent has not translated to wins. Whatever mojo Campbell had when he took over the team looks to have burned itself out, but it’s difficult to see the Ravens winning this on the road as their lost season enters its home stretch.
Bengals 38, Browns 10
Late season, Browns on third quarterback amid a season of dysfunction and mounting doubts that anyone in authority will hold the same position in 2016. Sounds like the same broken record the Browns have been playing since 1999. Bengals are the class of the division and, after a brief mid-season hiccup, look to start to seal up the 2nd or 3rd playoff seed in the AFC.
Colts 24, Steelers 28
Steelers have enough offense to score on the Colts’ floundering defense. Though veteran Matt Hasselback has done yeoman work in keeping the Colts’ heads above water in the weak AFC South, he won’t be able to put enough points on the boards against a more desperate Steelers team who find themselves on the outside of the wild card race looking in for the first time in several weeks.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 16-21):

Ravens 17, Dolphins 23
Two sputtering teams face off in what should be a snoozer. The edge goes to the Dolphinsfor two reasons: 1) Matt Schaub hasn’t shown that he can limit costly turnovers, and 2) Dan Campbell just fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, which may provide a spark, however transient, to a struggling Miami offense.
Bengals 27, Browns 13
Cincinnati’s defense, especially pressure up front, can be relentless. Newly named starter Austin Davis will struggle to adjust play calls and protection in his first start for the Browns.
Colts 27, Steelers 31
Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck has shown an ability to dig his team out of deep deficits in the fourth quarter against bad teams. The Steelers have been giving up yards and can surrender points in a hurry. I’ll take an offense led by Ben Roethlisberger (presumably starting) over Hasselbeck.
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“League Sources” (3-4):
Hibernating for the winter

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