Merry Christmas, AFC North.
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 16 AFC North games:
Cleveland Browns (3-11) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-5), Sunday 1pm, CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-10), Sunday 1pm, CBS
Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) @ Denver Broncos (10-4), Monday 8:30pm ESPN
Bengals/Broncos gets the AFC North game of the week honors. A Bengals win will all but lock up the #2 seed, but in order to get there, they will have to fight off the Broncos as well as their primetime demons. A Broncos win could knock the Bengals out of a first round bye, and could renew the Steelers slim hopes for a division title.
Last week the AFC North writers had their 2nd best record of the season, going 15-1, as Jack Crawford ruined their bid for a 2nd undefeated week by picking against the Steelers (which apparently meant ALL writers picked the Steelers as we later learned. You will have to read the message boards to figure that one out).
On to the games:
Jack Crawford (record 28-19):
Browns 17, Chiefs 28
Much like last week, the Chiefs will win largely on the strength of their methodical, opportunistic approach. They will also win because the talent discrepancy between these teams is that large. Expect more conservative, controlled football from the Chiefs and the exact opposite from the Browns, who will be looking to escape with a victory by any means necessary.
Pittsburgh 34, Baltimore 10
The Steelers are surging and the Ravens are crumbling, although there’s really not much more damage that can be done to this inept bunch in Baltimore. The Steelers should move the ball at will against the worst secondary seen in Baltimore since the Ravens’ arrival in 1996. There will be little rushing for either team.
Bengals 24, Broncos 31
Battle of the backups: Broncos incumbent quarterback Peyton Manning remains a long shot to play Monday, so backup Brock Osweiler will continue to stake his claim to the starting job next season against the Bengals, whose injuries in the secondary could prove costly this week. The Bengals will surely run the ball often to control the clock and take pressure off of backup quarterback A.J. McCarron, but will mix in a lot of deep play action as well
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Paul Johansson (record 30-17):
Browns 20, Chiefs 31
Although the Chiefs did little offensively last week, they showed the ability to score in many ways. The Browns will most likely be more effective in holding onto the ball, but wont have enough to defeat the surging Chiefs.
Pittsburgh 37, Baltimore 17
You could say the Ravens/Chiefs final score was not indicative of the game, or you could say the Ravens lost by 20 despite a fairly effective defense. Either way, the offense won’t do much better this week and the defense will certainly do worse against the high-flying Steelers. Rivalry schmivalry this week. Emotions won’t change the result.
Bengals 23, Broncos 24
Will the Bengals win and show that its all Dalton’s fault in big games? No, because it hasn’t been. Actually, they took out a Peyton-led Broncos team last year at about the same point in the season. The difference this year will be Mile High and the Broncos defense, a group that will rebound after a tough 2nd half in Pittsburgh.
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Michael Thompson (record 31-16):
Browns 13, Chiefs 31
The Browns have fallen into a rut of allowing teams 27-31 points a game, while only scoring 10-14. I don’t expect this to change against a Chiefs team with everything to play for as they look to either sneak into a division championship with the Broncos faltering or, failing that, securing a favorable matchup against the eventual AFCS champion.
Pittsburgh 31, Ravens 14
Normally, this might be the type of game you would see the erratic Steelers lose, but with Jimmy Clausen manning the helm for the Ravens and the Ravens having packed it up for the season, expect the team from Pittsburgh to pile on the points in revenge for slights, (real or imagined), of the past.
Bengals 21, Broncos 24
Three or four weeks ago, this would have been a marquis late season matchup. Now it is one to see which of the two backup quarterbacks might be able to make some noise in the post-season. With his season record dipping to 3-2 after a second half collapse against the Steelers last week, this might be Brock Osweiler’s last stand against the inevitable return of Peyton Manning to Denver’s starting lineup.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 24-23):
Browns 16, Chiefs 27
The Chiefs will, once again, grind out another victory, capitalizing on Browns’ mistakes. The Chiefs’ pass rush is ailing right now, so Browns QB Johnny Manziel may find some time and space to make a few plays. With their playoff lives hanging in the balance, expect the Chiefs to clampdown and get the win.
Steelers 34, Ravens 16
The Ravens simply lack the talent to compete these days, and facing one of, if not, the top offense in the league won’t help this (perpetually) beleaguered defense. Whether Ryan Mallet or Jimmy Claussen starts at QB is irrelevant.
Bengals 20, Broncos 27
In an all-important game that carries playoff seeding implications for much of the AFC, two backup QBs will face off. Brock Osweiller has the strength of Denver’s defense behind him, but the Bengals’ defense should keep AJ McCarron and the Bengals within striking distance. This is a close game that could go either way; a special teams play or turnover will be the deciding factor
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“League Sources” (3-4):
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AFC North Week 16 Predictions
Merry Christmas, AFC North.