AFC North Week 6 Predictions

AFC North Week 6 Predictions
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Despite the obvious roster limitations when compared to the Bengals, Rex and the Bills will find a way to compete.
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 6 AFC North games:
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2), 1pm FOX
Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) @ Buffalo Bills (3-2), 1pm CBS
Denver Broncos (5-0) @ Cleveland Browns (2-3), 1pm CBS
Baltimore Ravens (1-4) @ San Fransisco 49ers (1-4), 4:25pm, CBS
The Bengals/Bills contest gets our nod as the AFC North game of the week. Sure, a top NFC contender is traveling to Pittsburgh in a Super Bowl XLIII rematch, and there is the “1-4 Bowl” in San Fran, not to mention the coveted “Peyton’s last game in Cleveland… maybe” but there are only six teams with 3+ wins in the AFC, and two are playing Sunday in Buffalo. It’s an early statement game for the Bills, and a “keep pace with the Patriots” game for Cincy, as its doubtful the Pats will lose to undermanned Indy in the motivating “deflate bowl”.
Last week, our esteemed prognosticators went a combined 3-12 in their week five predictions. The results were skewed by two upsets (Steelers and Browns), and a Bengals win against a marquee team (Seahawks), but they are paid the big bucks to see these things before they happen. This week doesn’t get any easier for the AFC North writers as the hapless Ravens travel to equally miserable San Francisco, while two of the NFLs top teams (Cardinals and Bengals) take their show on the road and have to play in hostile environments.
On to the games:
Jack Crawford (record 10-7):
Cardinals 35, Steelers 17
Without the heroics of Le’Veon Bell last week, the Steelers would be in a desperate situation. The fact that their defense has played better than most expected hasn’t gone unnoticed, but it won’t be enough to stop the Cardinals’ prolific offense, including resurgent wideout Larry Fitzgerald.
Bengals 28, Bills 17
The Bills appear to be leaning towards starting a gimpy Tyrod Taylor at quarterback; without his mobility, Taylor just isn’t a threat. Look for the Bills to bring constant pressure against Andy Dalton and the Bengals to offset their offensive inefficiency.
Broncos 21, Browns 24
The legend of Peyton Manning has been well established. This Sunday’s version isn’t that guy anymore, so expect the Browns to bring a variety of blitzes in hopes of pressuring Manning into making routine mistakes, which has become a common occurrance.
Ravens 16, 49ers 24
Return of the Son of the West Coast games. The Ravens will struggle (more) in all areas in a different time zone, even against the woeful 49ers, who will win solely on the legs of Colin Kaepernick and some timely fourth quarter defense.
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Paul Johansson (record 10-7):
Cardinals 27, Steelers 24
The Cardinals are 10-1 with Carson Palmer under center, he is and undefeated on the road. The Steelers make it close, but Arizona is well-balanced, and is the first opportunistic defense QB Michael Vick will face (AZ leads the NFL by far with 11 INTs, following up a strong 2014). The Steelers will have a shot if Le’Veon Bell has a big game against a stout Cardinals run D, which will set up the play-action pass.
Bengals 24, Bills 23
Head Coach Rex Ryan will have the Bills pumped up and ready to play, especially their defense, an effect he seems to have on his team in big games. Unfortunately for the Bills, there is just too much uncertainty at quarterback to counter the Bengals defensive line pressure, and too much Bengals offensive talent to hold them down for 60 minutes.
Broncos 24, Browns 13
The Broncos have been winning despite poor quarterback play, because of their #1 ranked defense. The Browns have been playing well because of their quarterback play despite having a journeyman under center and no running game. The Browns are coming off of an emotional win on the road, and the Broncos have played uninspiring football, especially over the last two weeks. The difference will be on defense where the Broncos also lead the NFL with 14 takeaways, and are 2nd in points against. The Browns will have to be more than one-dimensional on offense to have a chance, something they haven’t done so far this year.
Ravens 31, 49ers 30
What would be a nice confidence boost for a struggling QB Colin Kaepernick? Face a team who needs to rush six to equal the pressure of rushing four, and who needs to get pressure with four or fewer to relieve pressure on a struggling defenisve backfield. What would be a nice confidence boost for a struggling passing defense? Face a quarterback who is not only playing and throwing poorly, but is also “not huge on throwing mechanics”. That’s not something a team wants to hear out of their $114M quarterback, signed through early 2020. The 49ers in their own right have a horrible passing D, and the Ravens have few options at WR. Something has to give. The team with the ball last with more than 30 seconds on the clock, wins.
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Michael Thompson (record 9-8):
49ers 17, Ravens 20
49ers are probably the worst team in the league this year, but the Ravens have to travel across the country to play them at home. Despite this, I think the Ravens pull it out in the 4th quarter.
Broncos 20, Browns 16
Browns have never beaten Peyton Manning and that doesn’t change, even if he isn’t necessarily the reason this time. Broncos’ offensively challenged offense squaring off against the Browns’ defensively challenged defense is a better bet that the Browns’ pretty good offense squaring off against the Broncos’ stellar defense.
Cardinals 24, Steelers 10
Leveon Bell managed to pull it out for the Steelers last week in San Diego, but that had a lot to do with San Diego shooting themselves in the foot throughout the first half. The Cardinals are a much better team than the Chargers and so far, Michael Vick hasn’t shown he can move the ball.

Bills 21, Bengals 17

Bengals managed to slip past the Seahawks at home after falling behind by 17. Bills have a similar type of defense to the Seahawks and Andy Dalton is due for a bad game. A road game against a supposedly weaker opponent with a hard hitting defense is tailor made for the classic ‘trap’ game.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 6-11):

49ers 23, Ravens 17
Two 1-4 teams facing off against one another, the home team takes the edge. The Ravens have made their inability to close out a game a habit, and traveling to the west coast won’t help matters.
Browns 27, Broncos 24
The Browns tend to pull out a few surprise wins a year, and the Broncos aren’t as strong as their undefeated record suggests. Missing CB Joe Haden shouldn’t be a significant blow against a neutered Broncos aerial attack. Keeping Duke Johnson involved will be key for a Browns victory.
Cardinals 27, Steelers 17
Don’t look for Steelers QB Michael Vick to suddenly harass a strong Cardinals defense. It’s clear the coaching staff intends to limit Vick’s repertoire, so look for Arizona to focus on shutting down RB Le’Veon Bell. Carson Palmer and company have enough firepower to outscore the Steelers.
Bengals 31, Bills 20
The Bengals look to take on a limping Bills team, who plan to start disappointing 2013 first round QB EJ Manuel. The Bills will make a game of this early, but can’t hold on in the end.
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“League Sources” (1-2):
49ers 17, Ravens 16
The Niners are awful. So are the Ravens. The only difference here is Baltimore flying cross county. Big game for Carlos Hyde.
Browns 27, Broncos 24
The Upset Special. McCown and Coons come up heroes. Broncos defense isn’t as good as advertised, and Peyton isn’t Peyton anymore.
Bengals 34, Bills 17
I’ve been waiting for the Bills to implode. This is the week. The game isn’t ever close.
Cardinals 23, Steelers 13
Arizona has a much, much better defense than the Chargers, and they can also run the ball from time to time. If you thought Vick was bad at times last week, watch out this week. Boos aplenty in Heinz Field.

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