AFC North Week 5 Predictions

AFC North Week 5 Predictions
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Can Andy Dalton stand up to his biggest test so far?
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.
Seahawks/Bengals gets our nod as the AFC North game of the week. Any game against Seattle will have its share of story lines, and this matchup will have plenty. Sure there is an intra-divisional game this week, but a contest featuring two 1-3 teams is not going to make the cut. Steelers/Chargers is intriguing, and is a close second considering it is a Monday night showcase and the Steelers desperately need a win.
Every AFC North game this week has major implications. The Bengals can solidify their position as a top AFC Super Bowl contender with a win, whereas a loss will bring back big-game memories. A Browns or Ravens victory will give their team hope, but a loss will essentially eliminate them from playoff contention. A Steelers win will give the team a much needed confidence boost that Michael Vick can keep hope alive until Big Ben returns, while knocking a preseason playoff favorite to the brink of elimination.
On to the games:
Jack Crawford (record 9-5):
Seahawks 28, @ Bengals 27
It will be ugly, brutal football, but the Seahawks are eager to put their mediocre start and last weeks’ controversial finish behind them. The Bengals aren’t known for playing angry, which is all the Seahawks do.
Steelers 17, @ Chargers 27
The Vick venture continues to circle the drain, as Vick tries thinking instead of reacting so much, which kills any variety to his game. The steady Chargers will exploit Vick’s propensity for turnovers.
Browns 27, @ Ravens 24
Given the dearth of receiving targets on both teams, expect to see lots of passes to backs and tight ends and little downfield activity. The game will be decided by the quarterback that makes the fewest mistakes; Joe Flacco has been making a lot of them lately, while Josh McCown has looked better every week.
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Paul Johansson (record 9-5):
Bengals 24, Seahawks 20
This is a tough one. The Seahawks have their defensive swagger back, but look like the 2000 Ravens on offense. The Bengals defense is no slouch either and their big-play offense has been rolling against weak defenses. The Bengals will face their first legitimate defensive challenge and will past the test due to their solid offensive line play.
Ravens 26, Browns 17
The Ravens should be able to run the ball against a struggling Browns defense, which ranks 2nd to last in the NFL. The Browns defensive backfield hasn’t fared much better with CB Joe Haden playing injured and receiving little support from their struggling safeties. The Ravens will be fairly one-dimensional, but should have just enough firepower to outscore the Browns in this ugly game in Baltimore.
Chargers 31, Steelers 27
The Steelers defense will have to step up against Philip Rivers and company, which is no easy task (although Rivers has been known to have a mental breakdown or two). The Chargers are also challenged on defense. They might be decent on paper when it comes to yardage, but only 4 teams have given up more points. Expect Vick to have a much better game than last week but it won’t be good enough.
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Michael Thompson (record 9-5):
Bengals 10, Seahawks 20
Everyone on the Seahawks defense is healthy and/or playing again. When that is true, they are probably the best defense in the NFL. Dalton falls down the earth this week.
Ravens 27, Browns 20
Pretty much any offense, even one as challenged as the Ravens’ has been, can do anything it wants against the Browns’ defense and succeed. Recent games have shown that the Jets and Raiders offenses aren’t quite as good as the Browns defense made them look. I expect a big rushing day out of Forsett.
Steelers 17, Chargers 27
Steelers offense is outmatched with Vick at the helm here, no matter how many days of practice he’s had. Days of practice can’t take years off his life, which is really what he needs to return to form as an NFL quarterback. In addition, playing against some offensively challenged teams has made the Steelers defense look decent in recent games. Philip Rivers will provide a reality check.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 6-8):

Seahawks 23, Bengals 17
Ravens 27, Browns 24
Chargers 27, Steelers 21

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