No Steve Smith and an injury plagued Joe Haden could turn Browns @ Ravens into an ugly game for the viewer
This is a meaningful week for all AFC North teams so why not continue discussions from yesterday regarding Sunday and Monday games. We also had a last minute predictions entry from a fellow contributor to balance homer opinions, this time from a Steelers perspective.
The Ravens go into Sunday’s matchup with the worst wide receivers in the NFL.
My Take: The Ravens have two undrafted inconsistent WRs, a rookie drafted in the 6th round, and a newly acquired reject from the Rams, a player who had little success while being surrounded by marginal WRs. On paper, they are the worst group in the NFL, and if they tried out for other NFL teams teams, they could be 5th WRs or practice squad guys at best. That said, someone in this group will most likely have a standout performance as the Browns stack the box to stop the run.
In keeping with WR theme, what do you do with a struggling Browns defensive backfield corps? See if one your CBs can catch the ball for the offense.
My Take: At first glance Justin Gilbert should be used as depth for a struggling defensive backfield, but if he actually has the skills to catch the ball, why not see what you can get out of your 1st round and 8th overall pick in last year’s draft. He isn’t doing anything else… well besides returning kickoffs, which is a dying position. The question is: Why give up on this guy’s cornerback skills after one season?
This should be a great matchup between the high powered Bengals offense and an always confident Seahawks defensive backfield.
My Take: Surprisingly, the Seahawks have yet to record an interception, while QB Andy Dalton has thrown just one. If the Bengals offensive line can continue its dominance the Seahawks backfield will struggle despite its talent. That’s a big “IF”, of course. Getting pressure on QB Andy Dalton could be the difference between a Seattle win or loss, which will have a domino effect into Seattle’s defensive backfield either positively or negatively.
All eyes will be on QB Michael Vick and the progress he has made with the first team, especially Antonio Brown.
My Take: Antonio Brown wasn’t the issue at all, but he’s being a solid leader by taking blame. Vick started out fairly strong last Thursday versus the Ravens, but seemed to lose confidence as the game progressed. Having 11 days with the first team can only help the Steelers chances, as long as the defense can do its part to pressure and slow down Chargers QB Philip Rivers.
AFC NORTH Predictions Continued, the always solid AFC North crew.
this time from undefeated (or winless) “League Sources” (0-0):
Seahawks 19, Bengals 10
Everyone keeps saying that this is a “different” Bengals team, that this is “the” year. Well, we are about to find out, aren’t we? Two good defenses in this one, which could mean lots of field goals… which could be a problem for Cincy and Mike Nugent. Ugly game offensively for both sides, but Dalton makes 1 more mistake than Wilson.
Ravens 31, Browns 22
I really, really want to pick the upset here, but I can’t because I still have no proof that the Browns can win a big game. Starting McCown is the right move as he makes Cleveland more competitive. Unfortunately, McCown can’t help the run defense. Welcome back, Justin Forsett, I see a big game from him.
Steelers 24, Chargers 20
Two of the most enigmatic teams in the NFL meet in a battle of “which team(s) will show up”. Both teams have disturbing habit of looking great one game, drive, or play, then terrible the next. San Diego’s offensive line has a ton of injuries and might still be introducing themselves to each other, and the Steelers have shown signs of being able to rush the passer again. A defensive TD is the difference.