Healthy enough to play?
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 8 AFC North games:
Arizona Cardinals (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-5), Sunday 1pm FOX
San Diego Chargers (2-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-6), Sunday 1pm CBS
Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3), Sunday 1pm CBS
Steelers/Bengals is of course the AFC North Game of the Week. Finally there is a game where both teams have a shot at the playoffs. It could also be the return of Ben Roethlisberger, although there are still lingering questions regarding his health (of course a little gamesmanship is also a possibility when it comes to his status).
Last week, The AFC North writers were actually above .500 for the fist time since week 5, with the top three going 7-2, and 8-4 as a group. This week is no easy task with uncertainty of quarterback play (regardless of their health… Flacco and Manziel) and of course there is the divisional rivalry effect.
On to the games:
Jack Crawford (record 14-10):
Cardinals 27, Browns 24
The Browns and assumed starting QB Johnny Manziel hold serve for three quarters, then lose to the jet-lagged Cardinals late. Given Manziel’s recent difficulties, he impresses.
Chargers 28, Ravens 17
Enter a pro bowl-caliber QB in Phillip Rivers, exit any chance the Ravens have of winning this game. Like many have done this season, Rivers will feast on the Baltimore “secondary”.
Bengals 35, Steelers 31
This will be a classic shootout. Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger returns from injury, but it won’t be enough to deter the Bengals and wideout A.J. Green from having their way with a suspect Pittsburgh defensive backfield.
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Paul Johansson (record 14-10):
Cardinals 30, Browns 17
At first glance, Cardinals travel to Cleveland on a short week and play at 10am Arizona time despite being in the Mountain time zone (a result of AZ’s silly rule not to follow daylight savings like normal Americans). However, with the clocks moving back an hour early Sunday morning, they will only lose two hours, and the Browns will actually lose one. This “well-timed” strategy by the Cardinals (and the fact that they are stable at the QB position) propels them to victory.
Chargers 24, Ravens 23
Despite Philip Rivers’s consistency problems, he will find is stride early and often against the maligned Ravens secondary, a group that proves you don’t need faulty headsets to have communication issues. The Ravens may actually pressure Rivers, but it should be offset by his quick release and by how quickly his receivers get open. The Ravens will put up a fight, but will have enough of their usual gaffs to prevent a win.
Bengals 28, Steelers 24
To return or not to return. That’s the latest question. Either way, Ben Roethlisberger will need to be close to 100% to have success when surrounded by the Bengals pass rush, and by all indications he won’t be. The Bengals win whether he plays or not, but the game will be much closer if he does.
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Michael Thompson (record 13-11):
Cardinals 28, Browns 17
No real surprises here. The Cardinals are just a much better team than the Browns, no matter which quarterback the Browns put out on the field.
Chargers 20, Ravens 24
Ravens pull it out as the Chargers continue their downward spiral, with Rivers and the Chargers having to make the cross country trip.
Bengals 21, Steelers 27
Big Ben returns and helps the Steelers stay in the division race. Bengals are far enough ahead that they can comfortably sustain a loss and have never really had that killer instinct that would allow them to put the division out of reach this early in the season.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 9-15):
Cardinals 24, Browns 20
Nothing but traveling east suggests that the Cardinals will tested. With Browns starting QB Josh McCown still not practicing, Johnny Manziel would start. If that’s the case, look for Arizona’s aggressive secondary to focus on Travis Benjamin. Cleveland’s defense has struggled mightily this season.
Chargers 27, Ravens 24
San Diego’s oft-injured offensive line has been playing well together lately, and Chargers QB Phillip Rivers is on pace to set NFL records for passing yards, completion percentage, and attempts. While that’s partially testament to San Diego’s inability to run the ball, it doesn’t bode well for a depleted and ineffective Ravens secondary.
Bengals 27, Steelers 21
The Bengals are the more complete team, on both offense and defense. The edge goes to the Bengals, even with Steelers starting QB Ben Roethlisberger returning, because of the woes in the Steelers’ secondary. Cincinnati’s offense has too many weapons for the Steelers’ ailing defense to cover for 60 minutes.
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“League Sources” (3-4):
Saving up for a big playoff run
AFC North Week 8 Predictions
Healthy enough to play?