AFC North Week 3 Predictions

AFC North Week 3 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.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
September 21, 2014 1:00pm

These are two teams coming off significant victories that most had pegged as losses.
(but not –>this guy<–)

It is still early in the season, meaning it will be difficult to predict the outcome of this game based on their last. There are too many question marks with both of those opponents. We can say that the Browns have put together six solid quarters after a rough start to the season, as have the Ravens. The Browns have overcome significant personnel losses to injury and suspension. The Ravens have a significantly improved offensive line and running game despite a suspension of their own, which has really flown under the media’s radar so this might be the first time you are hearing of it.

What to watch:

Ravens running game and ball security. The running game is an integral part of Gary Kubiak’s offense, as running success is crucial to the play-action pass and opening up the middle of the field. The Ravens also need to limit their turnovers if they expect to win. The Browns do not turn the ball over, which starts with Brian Hoyer who hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 139 attempts.

Browns run defense. What was lost in the euphoria of beating the Saints was the ease in which the Saints ran the ball. The Browns have given 301 yards and 5.0 yards per carry to two teams who weren’t known for their rushing prowess entering the season. The Browns need to improve here and live up to expectations, or the their pass rush and excellent corner backs will be less effective.

Bottom line:

The turnover battle ends up even, but the Ravens rushing attack wears down the Browns in the 4th quarter. Ravens, 24-13.

Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals
September 21, 2014 1:00pm

This game is a match-up between the NFLs most confusing team vs one of the more consistent teams so far. In week one, the Titans went into one of the NFL’s toughest venues and dismantled Kansas City, then played Dallas at home and gave up 220 yards on the ground while showing little offensively. Cincinnati on the other hand has excelled in all phases while beating two solid teams. Andy Dalton has played mistake free football and has yet to be sacked.

What to watch:

Bengals running game. With question marks surrounding AJ Green’s game status, the Bengals will rely a little more on Giovani Bernard and the bulldozing style of Jeremy Hill to try and duplicate the success Dallas had with Titans defense last week.

Titans run defense and Jake Locker. The Titans run defense dominated the Chiefs running attack two weeks ago, then was destroyed by the Cowboys last week. The first was a blowout win on the road, the second a blowout loss at home. If they can find some middle ground at the very least, quarterback Jake Locker will be the key to victory. If he has a clean efficient game, the Titans have a shot.

Bottom line:

I’ll take very good and steady over erratic, especially at home. Bengals, 27-21

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Carolina Panthers
September 21, 2014 8:30pm

Going into this season, if you told me Carolina would have a bunch of cast-off receivers AND average 88 yards rushing per game, I would have told you they’d probably be 0-2, not 2-0. Well, when you add mistake free football to an opportunistic defense (6 takeaways, 0 giveaways) good things happen. On the flip side, the Steelers went (0,1) in the turnover battle week one, and (0,3) in week two.

What to watch:

Steelers’ opportunistic defense. During the first half of the 2013 season, the Steelers defense struggled in forcing turnovers and sacks. The result was a losing record. The team rebounded nicely during the second half, and much of that success started with an opportunistic defense. This season, the defense started well against the Browns with multiple sacks in the first half resulting in a 27-3 lead, then sacked Hoyer on the Browns last drive resulting in a short field and Steeler victory. Last week versus the Ravens, they had zero sacks and zero turnovers.

Carolina’s opportunistic defense. Carolina comes in with very few threats on offense, and although Cam Newton is a big challenge for anyone, he can’t do it alone. Their defense is consistently giving him a short field to work with by creating six turnovers and seven sacks in two games, knocking opposing offenses back and off the field.

Bottom line:

The Steelers defense won’t create many opportunities, but their offense holds onto the ball. Ben breaks through just enough sack attempts to wear out Carolina’s rush in the 4th quarter. Steelers, 23-20

Author’s picks:

Writer Game Score
Ravenous128 Ravens @ Browns Ravens, 24-17
Titans @ Bengals Bengals, 31-10
Steelers @ Panthers Panthers, 26-20
Peatwo Ravens @ Browns Ravens, 23-14
Titans @ Bengals Bengals, 27-17
Steelers @ Panthers Steelers, 23-20
DOOOMMEEEEDD Ravens @ Browns Browns, 23-20
Titans @ Bengals Bengals, 24-17
Steelers @ Panthers Panthers, 28-24

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