AFC North Week 8 Predictions

AFC North Week 8 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 @ Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, October 26, 1:00pm, CBS

These teams played each other in week one, but they hardly resemble the two that clashed early September. Injuries, additions, and momentum have greatly impacted both teams over the past several weeks.

What to watch:

New faces, new roles In their first meeting, the game was won on a late AJ Green 77-yard catch and run past Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown. I doubt we will see either of those guys on the field this week. Green is nursing the ol Sgt. Hulka (big toe), while Chykie will most likely be inactive for being, well, Chykie. Other key injuries since the week one meeting include Bengals LB Ray Maualuga (out, hamstring), Tyler Eifert (out, elbow), as well as CB Leon Hall (back), LB Vontaze Burfict (neck), and RB Giovani Bernard (ribs) who could be limited in play and/or production. The Ravens will miss Dennis Pitta (out, hip), and most likely Owen Daniels (knee) and Chris Canty (wrist), but will see the return of two offensive lineman, Eugene Monroe (knee) and Kelechi Osemele (knee), playing time TBD. The Ravens have also added CB Lardarius Webb and FS Will Hill who were not available in the first meeting.

Both teams will count on secondary players who have stepped up to replace the injured, such as Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu who has been impressive at the #1 WR spot, and Ravens Kyle Juszczyk, who will have to play the role of fullback, H-back, and tight end in the Gary Kubiak offense if Owen Daniels is out.

Bottom line: The Bengals have taken four of the last five at home in this series, but the teams are heading in opposite directions in terms of momentum. The Bengals put points up at home (31.3 per game), but their defense has given up 35.7 PPG in their last 3 games.
Ravens, 31-30.


Oakland Raiders @ Cleveland Browns
Sunday, October 26, 4:25pm, CBS

The Browns look to take advantage of home cooking vs a Raiders team on the road for the first time in over a month.

What to watch:

Browns consistency. Whether its game-to-game quarter-to-quarter, the Browns need to take the next step and build on the promise they have shown this season. Perhaps the Jacksonville loss was due to overconfidence or letdown, but it can’t continue with a struggling Raiders team who hasn’t won a game in the eastern timezone since 2009.

Browns defensive backfield The Raiders running game is mediocre at best. Even with the struggling Browns run D, their main worry should be Raiders scrambling QB Derek Carr, and two play-making wide-outs who take advantage of the extra time Carr gives them to get open. They have combined for 75% of the Raiders plays of 20+ yards. It will be up to the Browns DBs to stay glued to the receivers as Carr generally stays upright and has only been sacked four times this season.

Bottom line: Obscure stat of the day: The Browns generally lose in bunches. Since 2007, they have lost fewer then two games in a row just three times (out of 21 losing streaks). I have to believe that this is the season the Browns will put a bad game behind them.

Browns 34, Raiders 17

Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, October 26, 4:25pm, CBS

The Steelers look to build on Monday nights win, while Indianapolis goes for its 6th straight.

What to watch:

Steelers defensive line It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a key in this one is to pressure and contain quarterback Andrew Luck. As much as he drops back (almost 50 times a game), he has only taken about 1.5 sacks, while generally throwing for 370 yards per. The key is to get him off the field before he methodically drives down for a score. Indy’s drives are usually of the multiple-play, time-consuming variety. It will also be imperative for the defensive line to disrupt the routes of Indy running backs and tight ends, who have caught over 80 passes in their seven games.

Big Ben If the Steelers are going to pull off the mild upset at home, Ben Roethlisberger will have to lead the way. The Indy defensive line will be targeting him all day, and average over three sacks per game, while Ben takes about three sacks per. Indy’s D is also top 10 in both yards on the ground and through the air. If Ben can do what he does best and extend plays with his size and feet, his speedy receivers should be able to make big plays down the field. If Ben can open up the passing offense, the Steelers running back tandem should find fewer defenders in the box.

Bottom line: The Steelers will be tough to beat at home, but this Indy squad is one dome team that is actually built to play outdoors.

Colts 28, Steelers 24


Author’s picks:

Writer Game Score
Ravenous128 Ravens @ Bengals Bengals, 24-21
Raiders @ Browns Browns, 31-13
Colts @ Steelers Colts, 28-14
Peatwo (16-5) Ravens @ Bengals Ravens, 31-30
Raiders @ Browns Browns, 34-17
Colts @ Steelers Colts, 28-24
DOOOMMEEEEDD Ravens @ Bengals Ravens, 27-20
Raiders @ Browns Raiders, 31-23
Colts @ Steelers Colts, 24-16


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