Welcome to the AFC North weekly predictions!
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.
In week seven, all four Sideline Report prognosticators made the same picks, meaning they all continue to get duped by a Joe Flacco led offense. The Ravens accounted for the only blemish in an otherwise predictable week. Sure the 2-1 mark across the board allowed Michael Thompson to continue his commanding lead, but its always important in society to tear down those who have found success. His picks were by far the worst of the bunch, missing the three scores by a combined 59 points. Obviously its by sheer luck that he finds himself in first. On the flip side, Jack Crawford precisely predicted the Joe Flacco effect on the Ravens offense (16 pts), and predicted that skinny people can’t succeed in Pittsburgh as proven by their QB success (16pts) and their lbs per capita.
Week Eight Games:
Washington Washingtonians (4-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-4), 9:30am, FOX
New York Jets (2-5) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7), 1:00 pm, CBS
Congratulations Cincinnati, you get to host the Snider-owned team across the pond, travel that is necessary for the DC based team, apparently so the swamp in which they currently reside can be drained (Yes their home is actually PG County, MD, the butt of an equal number of jokes, at least locally).
Its going to be a busy weekend in Cleveland with an NBA game and streets filled with Indians fans on Saturday night, presidential candidate visits and endless soliciting from pollsters, and… what am I missing… well I’m sure there is some other event in Cleveland. Perhaps there is a street cleaning gathering before the Browns host the Jets at 1pm. Speaking of, the Browns could be poised to grab their first win of the season after watching the Ravens show them what not to do when playing the Jets.
The game of the week? It has to be the over-achieving Washingtonians versus the under-achieving Bengals. After six weeks of struggle, the Cincinnati coaching staff may have finally learned the benefits of a balanced offense as they stuck to the running game to take pressure off of Mr. Dalton and Co.
Enough of the trolling and on to the predictions!
Jack Crawford’s picks (15-10, 2-1 last week):
Washingtonians @ Bengals
In another example of wasted league dollars, this London matchup features two teams who are still struggling to define themselves. The Bengals and Washington team are both inconsistent from play to play, and this extends to both sides of the football.
Expect the Bengals to test Washington cornerback Josh Norman with standout wideout A.J. Green, and also to run the ball often with resurgent running back Jeremy Hill. Washington’s run defense is the weakest aspect of their team, and should be easily exploited. Washington will counter by throwing the ball heavily, as is their best chance of winning with a suspect run-blocking offensive line. It’s doubtful this will be enough.
Bengals 28, Washington 16
Jets @ Browns
One win against a poor Ravens squad doesn’t cure everything, and the Jets have no reason to think their worries over middling quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are over. The Browns also have the element of surprise in their favor, as they sport three possibilities to start at quarterback this weekend.
The Browns should employ maximum usage of their running game to set up their short passing game, with mid-range attacks centered around short play-action throws to tight end Gary Barnidge and dual-threat back Duke Johnson. This should nullify the Jets’ biggest strength – their interior pass rush, which simply manhandled the Ravens’ porous offensive line last week. Defensively, it would behoove the Browns to be patient in zone coverage and wait for a Fitzpatrick mistake.
Browns 20, Jets 17
Michael Thompson’s picks (18-7, 2-1 last week):
Washingtonians @ Bengals
After their opening weekend drubbing by the Steelers, the conventional wisdom was that the team from DC just was not very good. Since then, they’ve beaten two of the other AFCN teams with a decent shot at going 3-0 against the Bengals. The question is whether their win last week really righted the ship for the Bengals last week or if they just took advantage of the fortunate scheduling of having a game against the team most likely to go 0-16 this year. Both games are somewhat difficult to predict this week, this one moreso because both of these teams look to be in that hazy area of ‘somewhat bad to kind of okay.’ I will go with the home field advantage in this case.
Washingtonians 21, Bengals 24
Jets @ Browns
I bet a lot of people will look at the fact that the Jets have to travel and that Josh McCown might be playing and pick this as the game that spoils the Browns’ perfect season. I, however, will stay strong and maintain the faith. It can be done. It will be done. As a viewing alternative this week, I offer up the 1988 classic “Mac and Me,” an obvious ripoff of “ET” that inexplicably took them 6 years after the release of “ET” to release. Come on, guys. Even Asylum Pictures manages to release their ripoffs within a calendar year of the real movie’s release. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still not very good, which will skew the score slightly in the Browns’ favor.
Jets 28, Browns 12
Paul Johansson’s picks (14-11, 2-1 last week):
Sniders @ Bengals
In this battle of Bengals coaches, Washington’s NFL franchise should have the preparation advantage as Jay Gruden essentially groomed QB Andy Dalton for the first three years of his career and should be able to give defensive tips on how to stop him. Fortunately for the Bengals, their WRs should be able to handle the thin and gimpy Washington secondary as long as Dalton can avoid the pressure. The running game will be key to slow down the rush.
Sniders 17, Bengals 28
Jets @ Browns
Here’s the bottom line: If the Browns lose this game, its 50-50 they go winless this season. They will likely be heavy underdogs for the remainder of the season with the possible exception of week 10 when they play in Baltimore against a bad Ravens offense playing on a short week, and week 12 when they host the Giants. For this reason of desperation (assuming the Cleveland sports fans aren’t too hungover to make the 1pm start), I’m taking the Browns.
Jets 20 @ Browns 23
Wernicke Korsakoff’s picks (15-10, 2-1 last week):
Washington Politicians @ Bengals
Ironically, the solution for the Bengals sellout issues is to play a game in England. Unfortunately wild cats have a really hard time crossing puddles, let alone an ocean. Bengals are a no-show, giving the Washington an easy and an unusually scandal-free victory.
Washington Jets @ Browns
This battle of Tweeting Bernie Kosar and Sideline-Groping Joe Namath should be one for the ages. Unfortunately the stadium will need to reroute some of its alcohol supply to the respective camps causing unrest in the Dawg Pound. The current political coverage will be overtaken by The Cleveland Alcohol Riots of 2016.