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.
Your AFC North prognosticators collectively went 11-5 last week, balancing out the 5-11 record in week three. The Raiders late comeback cost everyone but Jack Crawford, who had no faith in his hometown team (and apparently justifiably so); and the Browns loss hurt its two sympathy voters: Paul Johansson and Mr. Crawford. Collectively the writers were just two games short of their best possible outcome.
Week Five games:
New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns – Sunday, Oct 9, 1:00 pm CBS
Washington Snyders @ Baltimore Ravens – Sunday, Oct 9, 1:00 pm FOX
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Sunday, Oct 9, 1:00 pm CBS
Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys – Sunday, Oct 9, 4:25 pm CBS
This week features AFC North games involving the darlings of the ESPN family. By darlings, I mean nauseating hype or blatant ignoring and/or justifying a team’s transgressions. But enough about the Steelers. I kid, I kid… mostly. The Cowboys have taken annual lofty media expectations this decade and turned them into one winning season and a single playoff appearance. The Patriots coverage has been well documented and has been trolled sufficiently (but denial is still abundant in the northeast). The Redskins have won at least 14 preseason Super Bowls during the Dan Snyder era locally, and nationally they were perennial free agent award winners and off-season geniuses before turning into something like an SNL skit. The Jets, well, what can you say about the Jets between fans filing spygate lawsuits, to complaints about playing home games on religious holidays, to media stories on why a player’s bathroom break took longer than it should have (I may have made that one up). That’s not the team’s fault. Media members in Bristol who aren’t Patriot fans are Jets fans. How do you know when a media member is a Jets fan? Wait 30 seconds and they will tell you (yes an old joke with “vegans” likely being the most popular version, followed by a host of politically incorrect categories, but it still works).
Enough of the trolling and on to the predictions!
Jack Crawford’s picks (8-6):
Patriots @ Browns
The Brady storyline notwithstanding, the Patriots are angry after their embarrassment at the hands of the Bills last week, which resulted in the first shutout of the team since (insert hyperbole here). The Patriots feel as though there’s something to prove against an undermanned Browns team.
Patriots 31, Browns 10
Washington @ Ravens
This may or may not be the week that the Ravens offense finally arrives (I suspect not, due primarily to a weak offensive line), but the Ravens will attempt to apply excess pressure to easily-rattled Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. If they succeed, it will result in another ugly, low-scoring win for Baltimore.
Washington 13, Ravens 17
Jets @ Steelers
The Jets will try to avoid pressure on record-tying-for-futility quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, so expect extra blockers along the offensive line. The Steelers’ offense is essentially a given, even against a respectable defense like the Jets, so the onus is on the Jets to score enough points to compete. It’s doubtful they will.
Jets 17, Steelers 28
Bengals @ Cowboys
The talented but inconsistent Bengals will take the field against the talented but unproven Cowboys, whose wunderkind rookie quarterback (Dak Prescott) has yet to commit any game-changing mistakes. The Cowboys will successfully work underneath against an aggressive Bengals front seven, made more so by the return of maligned LB Vontaze Burfict.
Bengals 21, Cowboys 27
Michael Thompson’s picks (11-3):
I am sure no one has heard that Tom Brady returns from his just discipline for cheating this week. He will start his quest to enact vengeance for being caught against the Browns, who are ill equipped to stop him or Bill Belichick.
Patriots 42, Browns 3
Last year’s NFCE champions have something of a head of steam after back-to-back wins over the Giants and the hapless Browns. The Ravens are riding low after their offense failed to get the necessary 15 yards to set up all-world field goal kick Justin Tucker for a game winner over the Raiders. That would seem like a recipe for the visitors to come in and steal a victory, but the fact remains that the team from DC is not very good and the one from Baltimore is okay.
Washingtonians 17, Ravens 21
Big Ben chows down on three quiche lorraines before realizing that they aren’t pumpkin pies like he thought and takes his frustration out on the hapless Jets. Antonio Brown humps the air some more as he scores twice. Leveon Bell’s pre-game preparations reach a new level as he discovers the magic of water bongs.
Jets 17, Steelers 35
Dak Prescott seems better than I thought he would be. The Bengals seem like about what I thought they would be, which is pretty good. I think Prescott’s rookie-of-the-year campaign will suffer something of a setback against a stingy Bengals’ defense, though the game is later in the day, which always gives me pause about the Bengals’ prospects.
Bengals 24, Cowboys 21
Paul Johansson’s picks (7-7):
Patriots @ Browns
I REALLY want to take the Browns here, but as the Patriots have shown, as long as the quarterback is serviceable (see Cassel, Garoppolo), and Tom Brady is certainly that, the Patriots should be just fine. Then again, the Browns have played NE tough in the recent past WITH Mr. Brady. I’m just not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent (Dana Carvey voice), especially after picking the Browns twice this year including last week. I’ll hedge my bet and will root for them but will pick the better team… a better team with a quarterback looking to show Roger Goodell what time it is. I was going to write “the Patriots are blah blah and oh coming off a loss, but they lost 2 in a row twice last year. Another trend in the Browns favor. Next time I’ll research the Pats record after embarrassing losses that had most of the country outside of Boston laughing at them.
Patriots 31, Browns 20
Snyders @ Ravens
This is the quadrennial “I don’t care if you go 1-15, beat the %$^#@ Skins”(ok 3-13 with two victories over Pittsburgh), that ironically coincides with the political season where the PC police are out in full force (Washington’s team name needs no help there). And no, Washington, Baltimore fans don’t hate your team because of a blue collar/white collar inferiority thing as you tend to rationalize. Its because Jack Kent Cooke had the primary assist in denying Baltimore an NFL expansion team, and then tried to ram the Skins down the city’s throat as “the local team”. Its similar to why Nats fans hate the Orioles.
Yes I listened to too much DC sports radio this am.
On to the game. It should be the usual frustrating snooze-fest with the Ravens on offense as Marc Tressman and Juan Castillo collide to create poor play-calling with terrible blocking schemes, especially in short yardage situations. All of the excitement will happen with the Ravens on defense as they combine lock-down defense filled with turnovers and sacks, with a few missed assignment potentially leading to game changing plays. Luckily Washington’s defense is just as bad as Oakland’s, and their offense is more one-dimensional.
Snyders 20, Ravens 27
Bengals @ Cowboys
This is an interesting matchup with probably the most balanced offense going up against the least balanced offense. Heading into the season you’d think the Bengals two-headed monster in the backfield would take pressure off of Andy Dalton and company, but that hasn’t been the case as they are 3rd in the NFL chucking it and 28th running it. Dallas starts rookies at QB and RB and they have no issue sharing the load. It doesn’t hurt to work behind that Cowboys’ offensive line. As Pacman Jones put it, “they open holes my daughter could run through”. Not exactly team building, confidence building stuff from the Bengals cornerback heading into this one.
The rookie QB Dak Prescott makes some mistakes, but so does Andy Dalton. Dallas takes over late with their offensive line leading the way. Pacman, known for his intelligence and instincts, is once again proven to be correct.
Bengals 20, Cowboys 26
Jets @ Steelers
There isn’t too much to say here. The Steelers are too strong on the offensive side of the ball, and the Jets are too weak on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, the Steelers are “thin” at offensive line this week, but a hobbling Russell Wilson tore the Jets defense apart, so imagine what a QB the size of an offensive lineman can to do them, especially with far more weapons than Seattle, or any other team for that matter.
Jets 17, Steelers 37
Wernicke Korsakoff’s picks (8-6):
Patriots @ Browns
New England Patriot Act Title II- Enhanced Surveillance Procedures, and covers all aspects of the surveillance of NFL opponent. It allows New England to gather “intelligence information” from NFL teams. The change in definition was meant to remove a legal “wall” between what is criminal and what is simply surveillance for the purposes of gathering play signaling intelligence, which previously hampered the Patriots game preparation. The Patriot act was not extended. Advantage Browns.
Patriots 0, Browns 34
American Indians vs Ravens
In the mythology of many Northwest Indian tribes, Raven is honored as a culture hero. He is a revered and benevolent transformer figure who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Raven stories have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior causing trouble for him and the people around him. Raven is noted for negative traits such as gluttony, greed, and impatience as well as for his heroism and great deeds.
Ravens are also used as clan animals in many Native American cultures, particularly those of the Northwest Coast (such as the Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Nisgaa-Gitksan, and Salishan tribes) and the northern Athabaskan tribes (such as the Tanaina.) Raven is an important clan crest on the Northwest Coast and can often be found carved on totem poles, bentwood boxes, and other traditional northwestern art. Other tribes with Raven Clans include the Menominee tribe.
American Indians 24, Ravens 0 (can’t score when you are a totem pole)
Jets @ Steelers
Steel is a low-rent, poorly-lit superhero action is the order of the day in this film from television director Kenneth Johnson — who makes several references to his series Alien Nation throughout the course of the movie. NBA basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal stars as John Henry Irons, a weapons designer and metallurgical genius who is developing a new sonic weapon for the military with the help of Sparks (Annabeth Gish), a computer whiz. When an accident caused by unscrupulous superior Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson) leaves Sparks paralyzed, Irons quits his job in disgust. A Steeler is one who is a member of the Steel fan club.
Jets 27, Steel 12 (rotten tomato score)
Bangles @ Cowboys
The Bangles combined the chiming riffs and catchy melodies of British Invasion guitar pop with a hint of the energy of new wave. In the process, they became one of the handful of all-female bands of the ’80s to win both critical and commercial success. The critical success came first — with their self-titled debut EP and full-length album, All Over the Place — and popular success arrived once they polished their sound, added some synthesizers, and deviated slightly from their trademark jangling guitar hooks. Once they were selling at the platinum level, the Bangles didn’t stay together long, but they left several pop gems behind them.
Bangles 0, Cowboys 0 The Bangles aren’t touring in Dallas this year.