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AFC North Week Nine Predictions

AFC North Week Nine Predictions
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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 eight, not one of our four Sideline Report prognosticators predicted an obvious tie between the DC team and Bengals. Its embarrassing because there was just a tie last week yet nobody saw this coming. This is political week however, so I think its only fair that I take this failure and give it a positive spin. Although the writers are predicting the winner, I have given each writer a tie instead of a loss. After all, if its documented in an article or spoken on a mic, people will believe it much more than the actual action itself.
 
The only other game involved the Browns who, for at least the 3rd time this season, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Only the pessimistic homer, Michael Thompson has accurately predicted the Browns demise this season, reflected in his commanding lead. At this point we can stop MT, we can only hope to contain him.
 

Week Nine Games:

 

Sunday:

Dallas Cowboys (6-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-8), 1:00 pm, FOX

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4), 1:00 pm, CBS

 

The Cowboys travel to Cleveland, a city still hungover from Wednesday’s World Series game 7 (and will likely drink even more today as the Cubs hold their victory parade), bringing with them a well balanced team on both sides of the ball. The presidential candidates can only hope they close better than the Browns or their dreams will be crushed. The Browns could easily have two or three victories if not for that pesky requirement of playing for a full 60 minutes. They controlled last week’s game for the first 40 minutes before falling apart.

 

Steelers vs Ravens for first place in the division?!? What could be better! Yawn. In Baltimore, there is little to no excitement in this overly subdued Steelers week as the Ravens have dropped 4 winnable games in a row due to horrible offensive execution, coaching, and ill-timed defensive breakdowns (in an otherwise solid season by the D). The Steelers have added to the humdrum week with QB uncertainty and a two-game losing streak that started with an embarrassing loss to a bad Dolphins team.

 

The game of the week? Sadly it has to be Ravens/Steelers with little to no star power from the home team side, on pace for another 5-11 season, vs a road team that is just as likely to win 34-10 as it is to lose 34-10.
 

Enough of the trolling and on to the predictions!

 

Jack Crawford’s picks (15-11-1, 0-1-1 last week):
 
Cowboys @ Browns
The winless Browns will host the NFC’s best record-holding Cowboys, whose improbable run has included excellent play from rookie cornerstones Ezekiel Elliott (RB) and Dak Prescott (QB). The Browns welcome back rookie WR Corey Coleman, which gives their passing game a significant boost against one of the more inconsistent secondaries in the league. The Browns won’t be shut out, but it’s doubtful they’ll be able to slow the Cowboys’ well-heeled offense.
 
Cowboys 27, Browns 20
 
Steelers @ Ravens
The Steelers’ chances primarily reside in the availability of currently-injured starting QB Ben Roethlisberger, whose status has fallen into the nebulous “game-time decision” void. The Ravens, meanwhile, are desperate to ignite their anemic offense, which should look slightly more rested after the bye week. As always, expect a low-scoring, ugly affair, with plenty of extra contact and flags well between the whistles.
 
w/o Ben: Ravens 20, Steelers 16
w/Ben: Steelers 26, Ravens 20

 
 

Michael Thompson’s picks (19-7-1, 1-0-1 last week):
 
Cowboys@Browns
For this weeks entry in ‘things I would rather watch than the Browns play football,’ I offer up 1968’s Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda, a sort-of science fiction adventure that is a thinly disguised sex romp. It also gave us the name of 80’s mega-pop band Duran Duran, so it has that going for it. Somewhat charmless, it did have Fonda, who gives the idiotic antics her best shot. If one really MUST watch this game, realize in advance that the Cowboys are a good team, while the Browns are a very bad one and adjust expectations accordingly.
 
Cowboys 43, Browns 7
 
Steelers@Ravens
A tougher game to call than it probably should be, given how terrible the Ravens have been since their 3-0 start. With both teams coming off a bye and the division’s sudden slide toward borg collective-like mediocrity, they will probably somehow manage to make this a closer game than it should have any right to be. I expect the Steelers to find a way to trudge through it, however, as they attempt to regain the swagger they lost in Miami a few weeks ago.
 
Steelers 24, Ravens 17

 

 

Paul Johansson’s picks (14-12-1, 0-1-1 last week):
 
Cowboys @ Browns

I patronized Browns fans for the last time a week ago. Regardless of whether or not they have the capability or talent to win (and multiple times this season they have proven to have the ability), something about this team just doesn’t want to accept success. Its also a trap game for the Browns because they know if they look past this game, they have a shot at their first win next Thursday in Baltimore. The Cowboys come into town, struggle for a bit, then take over.
Cowboys 31, Browns 17
 
Steelers @ Ravens
Minus family, there are only two things left in this world that bring out any kind of fire in Joe Flacco: the NFL playoffs and the Steelers. The Ravens are also getting back some stability on the offensive line. On defense, they are likely without Dumervil, and with a one-armed, heavy, slow, old Suggs. Luckily Big Ben will likely start and is also heavy and slow, giving the beefy Ravens defensive linemen a better shot at containing him. The Steelers will make some big plays in their short passing game with Big Ben in the fold (I assume he will start), but IMO, the bigger game changer is whether or not Steve Smith plays in this one. Its a sad state in Baltimore that a short 37 year old receiver coming off a major injury is the glue in this offense, but as proven when he went down against DC, the game and season changed at that point. If he does play, Ravens win. If he doesn’t they lose. I’m pretty sure he shows up Sunday.
 
Steelers 24 @ Ravens 27

 
 

Wernicke Korsakoff’s picks (15-11-1, 0-1-1 last week):
 
Cowboys @ Browns
Two teams heading in the opposite direction. Dak and company prove to be too much for the Browns.
 
Cowboys 26, Browns 16
 
Steelers @ Ravens
With or without Ben, the Ravens have no offense.
 
Steelers 24, Ravens 17

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