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AFC North Week One Predictions

AFC North Week One 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.

 

Week One games:

 

Sunday:

Cleveland Browns (0-0) @ Philadelphia Eagles (0-0), 1PM

Buffalo Bills (0-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (0-0), 1PM

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) @ New York Jets (0-0), 1PM

Monday:

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) @ Washington Washingforeskins (0-0), 7PM

 

WRITER’S PREVIEW

 

Jack Crawford’s Picks:

Browns @ Eagles

Rookie QB vs. Rookie everything.  Astonishingly, the Browns retained 16 of the 17 players they drafted this year, which means a third of their roster is exceedingly experienced.  While we expected the Browns to experience a lot of growing pains this season, this is unprecedented, and it puts additional pressure on the remaining veterans.  Philly, meanwhile, will put the green Carson Wentz into the spotlight as the starting QB, which, considering the tattered remnants of the Chip Kelly era, may not be a bad move.
Eagles 16, Browns 10 

 

Bills @ Ravens
Much like head coach Rex Ryan, the Bills are a study in inconsistency, and this Sunday will be no different, while the Ravens are a team in recovery and are eager to prove that last season’s poor campaign was a fluke. There’s a lot to do for both teams, as injuries, inexplicable roster cuts, and odd roster-building have left them relatively toothless, despite their reputations being founded in stout defense.   Like most Ryan-coached affairs, this one will be ugly and close, with an added emphasis on the running game and defense.
Ravens 24, Bills 21
Bengals @ Jets
Now that the Jets have secured the services of preferred QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, the sky is supposedly the limit…if you’re a believer in Fitzpatrick, that is.  Jets head coach Todd Bowles seems to have instilled some discipline into an oddball roster, and has actually turned the Jets into a potential playoff team.  The Bengals are routinely an excellent regular season team, and this Sunday should prove no different, as they sport continuity and a time-tested culture, as well as a talented, largely headcase-free roster.
Bengals 28, Jets 24
Steelers @ Skintone team
The Steelers’ connection of QB Ben Roethlisberger to WR Antonio Brown will prove to be the difference in this game, as the Washington secondary (and really, entire defense) is suspect and easily exploited.  While the Washington offense made some strides last season, it’s doubtful that QB Kirk Cousins, the latest Washington “savior”, legitimately has the skills to compete against a playoff team, although the Steelers’ secondary is no great shakes either.  Expect a lot of yards through the air and little defense on either side.
Steelers 31, Washington 26
Michael Thompson’s picks:
Browns @ Eagles
RGIII, of course, will be providing the Browns with the Best touchdowns this season. Unfortunately, I have doubts that he will be able to provide enough of them, given that the Browns defense might compete for the honor of being the worst in league history. As Dawg recently pointed out, the Browns gave up over 400 points the last time Ray Horton was in charge of it and that was with substantially better personnel.  It is quite likely that 500 is an attainable goal for them this year. On the positive side, the Eagles might be nearly as bad as the Browns are and have a quarterback straight out of the junior league of college football without even any preseason experience starting for them this week. On the negative side, the game is in Philadelphia and home field advantage tends to matter for football more than most professional sports, basketball excluded.  Have I mentioned lately that Cleveland won a pro sports championship in basketball recently?  As Cleveland sports fans, we might be clinging to that fact very soon.
At any rate, for this game and this game alone due to the the totally green rookie qb for the Eagles thing:
Browns 21, Eagles 14
Bills @ Ravens
IN likely matchup of third place finishers of the AFC East and the AFC Central… err… North, it is tough to muster much excitement for this game.  Both teams are currently stuck in half-reboots.  The Ravens are mired in the muck of Joe Flacco’s montrous contract, while the Bills have the problem that half the teams in the league have – that being that the game has evolved to the point that success is almost wholly dependent on one position and there are not enough men on the planet who can excel at that position to go around to all 32 teams.  Thus, the Bills spent the majority of the offseason pumping up their fans into believing that ex-Ravens backup Tyrod Taylor is much better than he really is.  Don’t get me wrong.  Of all of the middle-of-the-road jobbers running around in the bottom half of the league these days, Taylor is probably among the most… adequate. However, the Bills do not have the look of a team that will break a string of playoff absences that has now stretched into all of the 21st millennium.
Ravens 21, Bills 17
Bengals @ Jets
The Jets will likely make the playoffs this year, mostly because they are a pretty good team and partially because the team that has dominated their division by hook or by crook for the past 15 years will be crippled for a quarter of the season as Tom Brady finally serves his punishment for cheating several years ago and has finally run out of ways to put off serving his discipline.  The Bengals will also likely make the playoffs this year, mostly because they are a pretty good team and partially because they have a couple players who should be serving similar punishments to Brady’s just because they are such jackasses when they play. Nevertheless, even though both teams will likely make the playoffs, I don’t see either of them winning a playoff game, mostly because I don’t believe that either of them collectively think they can. Still, in this game, basking in the glow of September and safely out of the spotlight of any pressure whatsoever, the Bengals prevail.
Bengals 33, Jets 27
Steelers @ Washington
The Steelers bring to bear an arsenal of weapons fueled by the Reefer smoke that permeates the locker room.  Big Ben has committed himself to a 3 Double-Whopper with Cheese a day diet during the off-season to add extra heft to his downfield throws and Antonio Brown has committed himself to karate-kicking his way into the end zone at every opportunity if necessary.  For those pesky games that get too close, Coach Mike Tomlin has his size 12 tripping foot fully deployed.  The Steelers are determined this year to escape the shadow of a half-decade of mediocrity by their standards and win some playoff games against teams other than the ones in their own division.  The team from Washington, helmed by one season wonder Kirk Cousins, seems ill-equipped to slow them down.
Steelers 37, Washington 14

peatwo’s picks:

Browns @ Eagles

An outstanding matchup between the Eagles’ defensive ends and the Browns’ offensive tackles will be the highlight, but watching how the Browns older-than-usual rookie QB fares against an embattled coordinator… oh wait that was 2012… This year, the opening game features a QB the Browns decided to give up for a few draft picks, vs a QB that cost another team like a dozen draft picks before landing with the Browns. Wentz vs RGIII. A QB who is a starter by default, vs a QB who is…. a starter by default. RGIII may actually have the better supporting cast, at least at WR and the left side of the line. My prediction is that more than one Eagles fan will get ejected from the stadium, and the final score will be:

Browns 27 , Eagles 24 

 

Bills @ Ravens

In what could almost be as exciting a game as Browns/Eagles (both should be bottom 10), the battle of former Ravens quarterbacks could be one for the ages. Neither put up numbers for the Ravens last year (and Flacco actually started 10 games), but this year could be different. The combo of Wallace, Smith, Perriman, and Pitta should be healthy for at least a half, and the Ravens defense actually looks ok as long as Suggs isn’t rushing the passer. T. Taylor will also put up an INT and fumble as he presses against his former team.

Ravens 31, Bills 21

 

Bengals @ Jets

Probably the funniest nickname I heard this off season was “Red Romo” describing regular season stat-man Andy Dalton. He again has the best 22-man talent in the AFC North if not the AFC, so lets see what he can do with it this year. My guess is that he will start strong and end the season early. This prediction is a stretch, I know, because it has only happened for about a half dozen straight years. With that said the Bengals win on the road against a semi-talented Jets team, but one that does not match up well against the Bengals strengths.

Bengals 30, Jets 17

Steelers @ Washington

The weight of Steelers success rests on the arm of Big Ben, and I do mean Big and Weighty. I think he asked Terrell Suggs what his offseason secret is. The Skins actually look decent on offense, very much so. With the addition of Norman, they may actually hold the Steelers to 30. Can the Steelers stop Reed, a bunch of above average WRs and a good RB? They haven’t recently. Expect about 100 combined passes between the teams and 60+ points. It might be a different result if the Steelers weren’t such cheaters, but the early season suspensions take them out on the road.

Washington 34, Steelers 31

 

Wernicke Korsakoff’s picks:

Browns 21, Eagles 17

Ravens 24, Bills 20

Bengals 26, Jets 24

Steelers 27, Washingtons 20

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