Just when we thought the pendulum was going to swing away from the Pittsburgh Steelers as the favorite in the NFC North, the schedule worked in their favor. It wasn’t the most ideal matchup when they had to go to Kansas City for a showdown with the undefeated Chiefs, but Pitt and Ben Roethlisberger sure like playing KC. As long as Big Ben can start and finish a game, the Steelers can beat the Chiefs, and they did it again last week, handing them their first loss of the year. It wasn’t an offensive masterpiece, but Ben put up decent numbers and didn’t throw five picks. It appears as though Le’Veon Bell has found a groove and the Steelers solidified their spot at the top of the standings.
The Bengals will offer some resistance and they come off a bye for a huge division showdown with Pittsburgh on Sunday. Cincinnati has crept back into the picture on the strength of back-to-back wins and a rejuvenated offense. Marvin Lewis made the switch to Bill Lazor after the Bengals failed to score a touchdown in two losses to open the season. Andy Dalton looks like a different player and A.J. Green’s picture was taken off the milk carton following a 7-catch, 189-yard game against Buffalo before the bye.
It’s hard to take the Ravens seriously after a pair of inconsistent outings. It looked like Joe Flacco had found a groove with a big outing against the Raiders, but he flopped last week as the Ravens dropped an overtime contest to the Bears. Baltimore couldn’t score an offensive touchdown and Flacco tossed a pair of interceptions while managing just 180 yards. The Ravens were gouged for 231 yards by Chicago’s 12th-ranked run game, and if not for a pair of kick return scores, the game would’ve ended in regulation.
Things aren’t looking good in Cleveland as the Browns just keep losing. They weren’t going to win the division but we did expect the Browns to show some improvement over their disastrous last season. The revolving door at quarterback opened after Hue Jackson benched DeShone Kizer in favor of Kevin Hogan last week. The results were similar with little offensive production, too many turnovers and the failure to stop opposing teams. Jackson better get that wetsuit fitted for his dip in Lake Erie once the season ends.
Pittsburgh Steelers -450
Baltimore Ravens +600
Cincinnati Bengals +600
Cleveland Browns +50000
1. Pittsburgh Steelers ( 4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS, 0-6 O/U )
2. Baltimore Ravens ( 3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS, 3-3 O/U )
3. Cincinnati Bengals ( 2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS, 1-4 O/U )
4. Cleveland Browns ( 0-6 SU, 1-5 ATS, 2-4 O/U )
Titans at Browns ( +5.5, 46 ), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Ravens ( +6, 39.5 ) at Vikings, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Bengals at Steelers ( -5, 41.5 ), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. – CBS
Every man, woman, and child from the Steel City is tired of seeing the New England Patriots in the playoffs. New England is the one team that the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t seem to find a way to beat once the postseason rolls around. Last year, Pittsburgh got by Miami and Kansas City in its first two playoff games, but got waxed 36-17 by New England in the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers are running out of time with Ben Roethlisberger and would love to get their seventh Super Bowl before he leaves. Continue
Marvin Lewis is the second-most tenured head coach in the NFL, but is still searching for his first playoff win. Lewis has had success with the Cincinnati Bengals, making the playoffs seven times and winning the AFC North four times, yet can’t seem to get over the hump in the postseason. The offense has failed to score more than 17 points in any of those playoff games and that has played a huge part in the team’s postseason failures. However, this season Cincinnati is loaded at the skill positions. Continue
Is Joe Flacco elite? He’s certainly paid like he is. Flacco is currently making over $20 million a year, but is starting to come under fire. He has never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in a season and tallied just seven more touchdowns than interceptions over the last two seasons. The Baltimore Ravens have given him a new weapon in each of the past three years and now it’s time for him to put it all together. If he can’t, the Ravens will have a hard time winning the AFC North. Continue
The Cleveland Browns are desperate for anything to feel positive about at this point. Cleveland has now finished the season with a losing record for nine straight years and only once did the Browns happen to win more than five games in that stretch. This team might finally be putting all the pieces in place, but it’s a bit much to imagine they can compete immediately after a 1-15 season in 2016. Still, 2017 could be the start of something special. Continue
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