AFC North Week 12 Predictions

AFC North Week 12 Predictions
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Welcome to the AFC North predictions page!

Each week, one of 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.

Cleveland Browns (6-4) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
November 23, 2014 1:00pm, CBS

As it can be said for just about every team in the AFC North, there is no telling which team will show up week-to-week. The best we can do is look at the facts and try to squeeze some logic out of them. The Falcons are flying high after two straight wins, taking over the division lead, but are 0-6 outside of the NFC South. The Browns are coming off one of their most disappointing efforts of the season, but might see a boost in offensive output with some guy named Josh Gordon rejoining the team after enjoying 10 weeks of leave without pay.

What to watch:

Browns offense: After their signature win versus the Steelers in week 6, the Browns offense has been sputtering along and have since been outgained in all but one game. This week they get an adrenaline shot in the form of wideout Josh Gordon, who needed little time acclimate last season. Expect Gordon to get 10-15 targets when he isn’t pulling double teams away from his teammates. He will also help the running game as the Falcons will undoubtedly have one less in the box to defend against the pass.

Browns Defensive Front: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will be chucking it up 30-40 times as he normally does. When he has time and is in rhythm, he and his playmakers can move the ball quickly down the field. The Browns will have a host of folks playing injured or who are injury replacements, and they will have to gel quickly and pressure the QB, something they severely lacked last week in a loss to the Texans.

Bottom line:

The Falcons new found confidence has their team starting strong, fading late, but holding on for a win at home. Falcons 27-24

Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) @ Houston Texans (5-5)
November 23, 2014 1:00pm, CBS

The consistency-challenged Bengals head to Houston and take on Ryan Mallett and the Texans, who are still clinging to wildcard hopes.

What to watch:

Andy Dalton: Yes, there are many reasons for the Bengals’ inconsistency, but quarterback Andy Dalton has to be front and center, especially after getting mentally rattled by the Browns two weeks ago. Next up is the NFL’s number one QB intimidator, J.J. Watt, to disrupt Dalton’s psyche. The key for Dalton will be to complete some quick reads early and gain confidence, which would also help lower the decibel level in raucous Reliant Stadium. It would also help if his teammates assisted him by catching the ball and running solid routes. If teammates struggle, he will need to quickly put negative plays behind him for the Bengals to succeed.

Bengals Run Defense: The Texans smartly took pressure off of first-time starting quarterback Ryan Mallett by running the ball over 50 times. It didn’t hurt that they gained 4.3 yards a carry either. Expect the same strategy against the Bengals, who have been giving up yards in bunches when teams show dedication to the run. The Bengals’ run defense had a stronger showing in New Orleans last week, and that trend will need to continue for them to pull out a win.

Bottom line:

Mallett looked solid, and the Texans’ run game was the main reason. Houston is much more physical than the Saints, and those teams have more success against the Bengals. Texans 24-17

Baltimore Ravens (6-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-6)
November 24, 2014 8:30pm, ESPN

The rested Ravens try to find offensive consistency as they travel to New Orleans and play the Saints, who are suddenly vulnerable at home.

What to watch:

Ravens pass rush: Pass rush success won’t just be solely judged on number of credited sacks, but also overall containment, hits, and angles the defense is taking to pressure Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Brees might be short, but he is mobile with pinpoint accuracy. The Ravens have a history of struggling against accurate passers, especially on the road.

Ravens running game: The key to this game will be strong performances by the Ravens running backs, keeping time of possession in their favor. The Ravens not only need a strong showing to help with their important play-action passes, but it will also wear down a challenged Saints defense and keep the Ravens defense rested for the 4th quarter, where they have been susceptible to fatigue, leading to long opposition drives.

Bottom line:

While the Ravens have much more going in their favor than was expected for this game, the Saints are still a solid team, especially at home. Until they beat a solid team outside of their division, I have to pick the other way. Saints 27-21

Author’s picks:

(Note:  season totals are unbalanced due to certain authors not submitting their picks prior to publication)

Writer Game Score
Ravenous128 (18-12) Browns @ Falcons Falcons, 26-14
Bengals @ Texans Bengals, 27-17
Ravens @ Saints Saints 24-21
Peatwo (23-10) Browns @ Falcons Falcons, 27-24
Bengals @ Texans Texans, 24-17
Ravens @ Saints Saints, 27-21
DOOOMMEEEEDD (12-11) Browns @ Falcons Browns 26-17
Bengals @ Texans Texans 24-23
Ravens @ Saints Saints 27-21

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