AFC North Week 17 Predictions

AFC North Week 17 Predictions
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Merry New Year, AFC North.
Welcome to the AFC North predictions page!
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 16 AFC North games:
Baltimore Ravens (5-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals (11-4), Sunday 1pm, FOX
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) @ Cleveland Browns (3-12), Sunday 1pm, CBS
Ravens/Bengals gets the AFC North game of the week honors. Not a single AFC North team controls their own destiny, including the Browns for a #1 draft pick, but at least the Bengals are in the playoffs. The Bengals need a loss by Denver or New England for a first round bye, and the Steelers need the Bills to take out the Jets in order to make the playoffs. The Ravens will be conducting another tryout week to see of Ryan Mallett is at least their backup of the future, as he is signed through next season.
Last week the AFC North writers watched the Ravens ruin their bid for another undefeated week, but did go 6-3. The race for first comes down to week 17, but with two fairly obvious AFC North matchups on Sunday, Michael Thompson is in the driver’s seat after a late season surge.
On to the games:
Michael Thompson (record 33-17):
Steelers 31, Browns 10
Whether Manziel plays or not, the outcome of this game is likely to be the same. I don’t see Austin Rivers putting any more points up than Johnny Football and, for the past few games, 13 has been about the upper limit we can expect to see from this team. Add to that a desperate Steelers team after last week’s surprising loss to the Ravens and you have the ingredients for another end-of-season Steelers blowout of the Browns.
Ravens 17, Bengals 20
I would be tempted to call this upset, especially if backup quarterback AJ McCarron was out, but it seems as though the plan right now is for him to play in this game. As it stands, Ryan Mallett still has not had a lot of time to adjust to the Ravens offense and the Bengals still likely have to win this game to have any chance of avoiding playing on wild card weekend and a probable matchup against the Jets or the Steelers depending on how those games shake out.
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Paul Johansson (record 32-18):
Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 21
Although I think the Bengals are the better team, the only way I can at least tie for first is to pick either the Ravens or Browns. Everyone else will undoubtedly predict a Bengals and Steelers victory. The Ravens have the best shot of an upset in my opinion, but won’t catch anyone off guard this week with a QB change. Mallet will be the starter, and has the strongest arm (because he can throw the ball over 40 yards) with the quickest decision making of the three Ravens backups.
Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 13
The Steelers will rebound from their lackluster performance last week, and the Browns don’t have enough offensive firepower to outscore the Steelers even if they have another off week. The only question is whether or not Manziel is cleared to play. I’d love to go for it and pick two upsets, but the Steelers will be way too motivated…
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Jack Crawford (record 30-20):
Baltimore 17, Cincinnati 27
Ravens current QB Ryan Mallett reveals his true playing level this week when faced with a strong pass rush. Regardless of who the Bengals start at QB due to A.J. McCarron’s shoulder strain (he’s expected to play), the Bengals should have little trouble navigating through the Ravens’ suspect defense.
Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 16
The Steelers are angry about their lackluster effort in Baltimore, so it appears the playing-out-the-string Browns will suffer as a result. Browns starting QB Johnny Manziel has been sidelined with a concussion, and it’s doubtful backup Austin Davis will be able to do much more with limited weapons.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 26-24):

Steelers 31, Browns 13
The Steelers will rebound after an embarrassing loss last week when no unit, coaching included, seemed prepared. With Browns QB Johnny Manziel questionable to play (concussion), Austin Davis leads a sputtering offense.
Ravens 17, Bengals 24
Ryan Mallett didn’t face much pressure in his first start last weekend, but with Cincinnati playing for a first round bye, and potentially home field advantage throughout the playoffs, expect their starters to hurry Mallet. Look for a costly Baltimore turnover to put this game out of reach for the Ravens.
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“League Sources” (3-4):
So close to .500

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