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AFC North Week 14 Predictions

Weather uncertainty, in-game adjustments may be the biggest factor for the Bills and Steelers
AFC North Week 14 Predictions
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I almost went in a different caption direction, but as someone mentioned this week, this is a family site.

 

Welcome to the AFC North weekly predictions!

 

Each week, our AFC North featured 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.

 

In week 13, The AFC North writers had a decent showing with a 6-3 record, but a rare hiccup by division leader Mr. Thompson (1-2 this week) continued his recent descent back to the pack after looking unbeatable just a few weeks ago. Your’s truly was the only writer without a loss this week, intimidating the competition not just by getting all three right, but also correctly predicting wide margins of victory for each AFC North team. I’m living it up now because it is unlikely to ever happen again…

 
Week 13 Games:

 
Sunday:

Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12) 1:00 pm, CBS

Sunday:

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6), 1:00 pm, CBS

Monday:

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ New England Patriots (10-2), 8:30 pm, ESPN

 
Week 14 features AFC North versus East showdowns for division bragging rights. The games are not exactly “must-win” for the Steelers or Ravens, especially with the two battling on Christmas, but if either wants a path to the wildcard in addition to the division, it’s best to stay within arms length of the 8-win Broncos. The nearly eliminated Bengals and winless Browns play an intra-divisional matchup that still has some intrigue with the Bengals slight playoff hopes, and with the Browns stiff competition from the 49ers to grab that first overall pick.

 
On to the predictions!

 
Michael Thompson’s picks (29-11-1, 1-2 last week)

 
Steelers @ Bills
After a victory over the mighty Giants, the Steelers moved up to the commanding 8th position in the AFC playoff hunt. The Bills are on the outside looking in and with the inflated records of all of the AFCW teams, another loss by the Bills will likely end their playoff aspirations for the season. A loss for the Steelers would put them in similarly dire straits in the race for the mediocre AFCN. So this would be the proverbial ‘must-win’ for both teams. As such, rotund quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will likely be consuming extra fuel to withstand the rigors of the frigid north. Chalupas with extra beef, (and extra Reefer), are the meal of choice in the Steelers locker room this week. I suspect that this will be enough to overcome the desperate Bills, despite their homefield advantage.

 
Steelers 27, Bills 17

 
Bengals @ Browns
Obviously, the marquee matchup of the week. However, if you should feel the inspire to watch something else, allow me to suggest 1990’s version of Captain America, which pitted the star spangled hero against an Italian Red Skull. Yes, that’s right. The most famous Nazi villain of all time was ‘re-imagined’ as an Italian, I suppose, because by 1990, the writers believed that Americans had lost their interest in Nazi villains. They turned out to be incorrect as the $10 million film netted a scant $10,173 at the box office. On the other hand, if you want to watch the game, expect the Bengals to demolish the Browns, regardless of whether RGIII is at quarterback or not.

 
Bengals 37, Browns 7

 
Ravens @ Patriots
In this week’s Monday night lineup, the Ravens square off with the Patriots in a game with limited playoff implications. The Ravens defeated the Dolphins last week in a game I thought they’d lose, so this week I am loath to pick against them again, especially against the Patriots on their home field. However, even without all world tight end Rob Gronkowski, I don’t expect them to to generate another uncharacteristic offensive outburst so soon.

 
Ravens 17, Patriots 34

 

 
Paul Johansson’s picks (27-13-1, 3-0 last week):

 
Steelers @ Bills
These two teams are in playoff desperation mode, even more so for the Bills who only have a wildcard path by winning three or four plus some help. If they lose this home game against a team they are chasing, it’s likely the end of the road for Buffalo. Lucky for the Bills, the Steelers are a pass first team heading into potentially snowy and definitely below freezing Buffalo. Lucky for the Steelers, the Bills run defense is suspect at best, and their big defensive tackle Kyle Williams may not play. If it snows, I think the Bills take this game with their zone read and 5.4 yards per rush. If it’s just cold, slight advantage Steelers. Update: looks like some snow and some key inactives.

 
Steelers 24, Bills 27

 
Bengals @ Browns
The Browns have had two weeks to prepare for this in-state rivalry game, and their carousel of quarterbacks has come full-circle with RGIII getting the starting nod. Will that be enough to change their winless streak? RGIII’s one game this season resulted in a 29-10 loss to the Eagles as he threw for a buck-ninety going 12-26 with an INT, three sacks, and a fumble (recovered by the Browns)… so highly unlikely. Even Bengals kicker Mike Nugent will be hard pressed to blow this one for his team, although I’m sure he will try.

 
Bengals 22, Browns 13

 
Ravens @ Patriots
This game is not as easy to pick as it would have been a couple of weeks ago. In addition to the signs of life from the Ravens offense this past Sunday, the Pats will now be playing without TE Gronk and WR Amendola. Sal Paolantonio has been trying to convince me as well. Paraphrasing, “It’s the worst Patriots defense of the season” (although they haven’t been tested recently after playing three horrible offenses in a row), “Brady has no mobility with his knee injury, although he is still extremely accurate”, “If the Ravens stop Blount and pressure Brady, they win a field goal game”, and the ref trolling statement “depends on who is reffing and how they call offensive holding and defensive pass interference. Also, Brady may get a roughing the QB call if he is breathed on. The Flacco’s and Newton’s of the NFL don’t have the same advantage” I just can’t do it… but it will be a close game.

 
Ravens 27, Patriots 29

 

 
Jack Crawford’s picks (25-15-1, 2-1 last week):

 
Steelers @ Bills
A defense-heavy team vs. and offense-heavy team. Of course, only one is at home. I’ll go with the home team, as the Steelers’ running game will be neutralized.

 
Steelers 24, Bills 27

 
Ravens @ Patriots
All of the newfound praise for Baltimore is a little premature – after all, it was only the Dolphins!

 
Ravens 21, Patriots 31

 
Bengals @ Browns
Same old RG3, same old result.

 
Bengals 28, Browns 17

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