Chargers @ Bengals gets our nod as AFC North game of the week
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Each week, one of 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.
It appears as though the new format will be predictions AND comments from most if not all of our four writers currently on staff.
Expect a bounce back for the AFC North this week record-wise, as three of four week-2 games are played at home, and the opponents minus the Chargers have little chance of making the playoffs.
Revision: with the Browns curiously contemplating a Josh McCown start, the game predictions below may be… well… probably the exact same, or possibly different.
Jack Crawford (record 3-1):
@Steelers 27, 49ers 17
The Steelers will undoubtedly crowd the line of scrimmage in an effort to remove SF RB Carlos Hyde from the equation and force erratic passer Colin Kaepernick to do something he’s..well…erratic with. Defensively, the 49ers just don’t have enough left to slow the Steelers’ attack.
@Bengals 17, Chargers 13
Bengals Regular-season QB Andy Dalton could very well show up, but so could his evil counterpart, which could spell doom for a Bengals team looking to expand their early-season advantage over the rest of the division. The Chargers have historically done well on the road, but suffer a letdown here.
@Browns 20, Titans 12
Titans rookie “phenom” QB Marcus Mariota will look like a rookie against an underrated Browns defense that will find itself against the Titans, who offer little else on offense. Browns QB Johnny Manziel bounces back to show he’s settling down, resulting in no turnovers for the first time in his career.
Should Browns week one starting QB Josh McCown get the nod to play, add ten more points for the Tita – err…Browns.
Ravens 24, @Raiders 10
The Ravens, despite the loss of LB Terrell Suggs, have plenty of defensive force to more than shut down the Raiders and their middling offense. The real test will be for QB Joe Flacco and company to find some movement through the air, which was sorely lacking in last weeks’ loss to Denver.
Paul Johansson (record 3-1):
Steelers 34, 49ers 23
The 49ers will likely see a starting running back get more than three carries in the 1st half this week. Expect the Steelers to go with more of a ball-control balanced attack, which will open up big plays down the field.
Bengals 24, Chargers 17
The Bengals are in for a challenge against the Chargers, who are truly bi-polar, riding the emotional wave of QB Philip Rivers’ highs and lows. Last week was a perfect microcosm where they played poorly and found themselves down 21-3 to the Lions, only to score 30 straight for the win. The Bengals will get into Rivers’ head early with pressure up the middle, and their corners will take care of the rest.
Browns 20, Titans 16
The Browns defense has some talent, and won’t break as much as the the lowly Buccaneers unit did when rookie QB Marcus Mariota dropped back to pass. Browns 2nd year QB Johnny Manziel was able to practice with the 1st unit all week, although the unit isn’t exactly dynamic.
Ravens 27, Raiders 13
The Ravens have been in San Jose all week instead of traveling back to Baltimore, so many teams will be keeping an eye on this experiment (that really doesn’t end until after the subsequent home game in my opinion). The Ravens defense should be able to handle the Raiders, and anything the offense gives them would be a bonus (no this isn’t the 2000 season). The Raiders have shown the ability to play well at times when playing the east, however. Indianapolis and New England were happy to escape with wins over the past couple of seasons against the perennial cellar dwellers, and the Bills missed the playoffs last year after the Raiders took them out in week 15.
Michael Thompson (record 3-1):
This is the annual ‘We hate the west coast teams’ week for the NFL schedule-makers. It is much harder to travel west to east and adjust than it is to travel east to west. Expect dropoffs in performance by both the 49ers and the Chargers as they have to play games at 9:00 a.m. their time while the Ravens have the much easier task of playing a game at what for them would be 4:00 p.m.
Steelers 24, 49ers 21
I expect the Steelers to bounce back, but their defense continues to struggle compared to the past, allowing the relatively anemic 49ers offense to score 3 times. The 49ers should play this game under protest, having a short week, playing a team coming off 10 days rest, and having to travel east and start at 1:00 p.m. to do it.
Bengals 28, Chargers 17
The Chargers will struggle with the travel and the start time, while the Bengals will thrive in their home environment and their preferred starting time.
Titans 28, Browns 13
Marcus Mariota will continue to look like the best rookie quarterback of all time… at least for one more week… as the Titans will run all over the Browns’ soft run defense and Johnny Manziel will continue to struggle and gift the Titans with at least 2 more turnovers.
Ravens 21, Raiders 14
I did not see anything in week one to make me back off my belief that this Ravens team is going to have trouble putting points on the board, but they should have enough to handle a weak Raiders team.
Wernike Korsakoff (record 2-2):
Steelers 27, 49ers 17
The Steelers’ offense will carry them on Sunday.
Chargers 31 Bengals 24
Phillip Rivers has a great day and overcomes the non-primetime Bengals at home.
Browns 20 Titans 17
Mariota comes back down to earth as the Browns’ defense shows up.
Ravens 27 Raiders 20
Carr and company bounce back a bit, but the Ravens rebound and win a game that was never in doubt.