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.
Going 9-7 on week six predictions, your AFC North prognosticators looked like an overachieving NFC East team. The Ravens accounted for three losses en route to 9-7, with only Michael Thompson able to clearly see the Ravens’ ineptitude. None of your betting gurus foresaw Ben’s emergency breast reduction surgery keeping him out long term, as the Dolphins’ victory handed us four losses. What do we do when we fall off of the horse? We find a mini horse and send it into battle alone. Hammock, anyone?
Week Seven games:
Cleveland Browns (0-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-4), 1:00 pm, CBS
Baltimore Ravens (3-3) @ New York Jets (1-5), 1:00 pm, CBS
New England Patriots (5-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2), 4:25 pm, CBS
Landry “Dirty Laundry” Jones believes time heals all, and that by virtue of the sun rising and setting, he’s a better quarterback than he was last season. While the Steelers have a bye coming up, they limp into a game that could decide home field advantage in the AFC. The Patriots seem to be hitting on all cylinders while the Steelers’ defense struggled to generate any pass rush against a patchwork offensive line in Miami last week. Is a ball control, run oriented offense enough to slow down the Patriots?
The Ravens head back to Met Life stadium to take on New York’s B squad, facing the triumvirate of Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty. Experience should trump youth, but the Ravens have a penchant for shooting themselves in the foot this season, with or without their injured, geriatric core. Ravens QB Joe Flacco was held out of practice again today with an injury to his throwing shoulder, leaving Ryan “My Dog Ate My Homework” Mallett as the potential starter. Prepare for an ugly game.
The game of the week? Congratulations to the Browns and Bengals! Cincinnati has yet to get their run game going this season, and looks to be missing reliable, healthy pass catchers. Rookie Browns QB Cody Kessler looks to have potential, but Browns players continue to drop like flies. WR phenom Terrelle Pryor, one of the last standing WRs, is battling a hamstring injury. Can the Browns out-survive the Bengals in a divisional road game?
Enough of the trolling and on to the predictions!
Jack Crawford’s picks (13-9, 2-2 last week):
Browns @ Bengals
Michael Thompson’s picks (16-6, 3-1 last week):
Browns @ Bengals
Lots of Bengals’ fans are bemoaning the record of their team this season and we have returned to what used to be their favorite annual past-time of calling for Marvin Lewis’ head. All of this is just background noise, however, that distracts us from one indisputable fact: this year’s Browns team is more horrible than Megan Fox’s acting performance in nearly any film she’s in. I recommend watching Manos: The Hands of Fate and Monster-A-Go-Go in a double feature before subjecting yourself to watching any football game featuring this team. And despite everything, the Bengals remain a pretty good football team.
Browns 3, Bengals 46
Ravens @ Jets
Geno Smith, a forlorn Jets’ nation turns its lonely eyes to you, perhaps forgetting how it turned out the last six or seven, (who’s counting?), times it did so. The Ravens, after coming out of the game strong against perennial NFL powerhouses are now looking a lot like the Ravens team from last year. Suddenly, though because of Ben Roethlisberger suffering his annual ‘pulled fat’ injury, the division seems within their grasp again. Loathe as I am to place my fate back into the hands of a team that has burned me twice when I picked them to win, I will grudgingly pick the Ravens to emerge victorious over the AFCE basement dweller.
Ravens 21, Jets 13
Patriots @ Steelers
The Vengeance Quest of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady enters its third week. There is nothing he would like better than to seal it with a victory over one of the other elite teams of the AFC. Unfortunately, in this case, he faces Laundry Jones and the depleted Steelers coming off a rather uninspired effort against the Dolphins, leading this intrepid reporter to believe that perhaps a little too much of the Ganja was imbibed in the locker room prior to kickoff down there. At any rate, Big Ben has opted for this week now to take his annual mid-season colon cleansing break at the spa to flush the accumulated food toxins from his system, while his teammates marvel at the way he soldiers through all of this. Antonio Brown was spotted with backup quarterback Laundry Jones offering sage advice such as, ‘throw the ball to me, I didn’t get to dance at all last week.’ No sign of Leveon Bell in practice this week, leading many to speculate that he might be laying low and trying to avoid being randomly drug screened. At any rate, looks like business as usual for the Steelers prior to their yearly matchup against the Patriots.
Patriots 35, Steelers 12
Paul Johansson’s picks (12-10, 2-2 last week):
Browns @ Bengals
The Bengals underperformance in 2016 might have met its match as they face the winless Browns (0-6) in Champion City, USA. So far in 2016, Cleveland fans have enjoyed an NBA ring and a World Series appearance, but still find time for their time honored tradition of mocking the Browns. The Browns do have one thing going in their favor: they could easily have won 3 of those games, and they finished last week’s game with a bang. The Bengals on the other hand were embarrassed in their last two (and haven’t played well in 4 of 5), and still have no running game (although not for a lack of trying last week as their big two ran 28 times for about 3 yards a pop). If the Bengals lose, their season might not be officially over because of a relatively easy 2nd half schedule, but chants of “Marv must go” will get louder, and will continue to travel through ownership’s left year and out the right.
Browns 17, Bengals 18
In a game that without a doubt should be called by CBS’s number one team, the undefeated Ravens (before week 4) head to New Jersey to face the Jets who did really well in week 2. In staying consistent with the current political climate, the fact that the Jets have been out scored 110-34 in their last four, and the Ravens have dropped 3 in a row should really be overlooked and the data is not indicative of their true character. As a matter of fact, they data is completely false. Its a conspiracy and likely started by the Russians. America will get to see the real teams on display this Sunday. The Ravens should win this one whether Flacco plays QB or not because they are really a disciplined team that doesn’t take silly penalties, with a rock solid offensive line. If the Ravens lose, its likely because the refs have been compromised or the replay system was hacked.
Ravens 20, Jets 10
In another political contest and conspiracy, this was supposed to be a QB matchup between the denier, email/text/device destroyer, and the fat candidate with bad hair most likely to grab a woman by the crotchal region. Unfortunately one was taken out by an angry mob, and wikileaks confirmed the mob was coerced by the Patriots foundation. With only one of the two candidates left in this race, it should be a blue jersey landslide.
Patriots 31, Steelers 10
Wernicke Korsakoff’s picks (13-9, 2-2 last week):
Browns @ Bengals