Hue Jackson better get fitted for a wet suit because he’s about to take a dip in Lake Erie. After the Browns went 1-15 last season, Jackson said he would go for a swim if the team finished with the same record. The Brownies actually have a better chance of going winless, which would let him off the hook, but Jackson is a man of his word and he will do the deed, at a time of his convenience of course.
The Browns won’t have the benefit of facing the Steelers’ backups on Sunday with the top-seed in the AFC still up for grabs. A Pittsburgh win coupled with a New England loss gives the Steelers home field advantage. The Steelers have lost just once in their last 10 games, but it was a big one. They fell at home to the Pats two weeks ago to give up control over the top spot. And it’s a significant loss. If the teams meet in the AFC Championship, like most expect, the Steelers will have to overcome the Foxboro mystique, something they couldn’t do last season in a 37-16 loss.
Primed for a return to the postseason after two-year hiatus, the Ravens can clinch the first wild card spot with a win over the Bengals on Sunday. Baltimore shutout Cincy in the season opener and hasn’t swept the season series since 2012, which coincidentally was the Ravens’ Super Bowl winning season. They’re in a good spot and they can even get in with a loss. If the Ravens don’t make it to the postseason, that would be the biggest surprise.
Cincinnati bounced back after a couple of beatdowns to surprise the Lions last week, but the coaching situation remains in flux. Marvin Lewis is rumored to be on his way out after two straight losing seasons and Jackson’s name has come up as a possible successor. Jackson was the offensive coordinator for two seasons in Cincinnati when the Bengals won 22 games. But ownership in Cleveland has said it is sticking by the embattled coach, who has a 1-30 record entering the season finale.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Clinched)
1. Pittsburgh Steelers ( 12-3 SU, 7-8 ATS, 5-10 O/U )
2. Baltimore Ravens ( 9-6 SU, 8-6-1 ATS, 8-7 O/U )
3. Cincinnati Bengals ( 6-9 SU, 8-7 ATS, 6-9 O/U )
4. Cleveland Browns ( 0-15 SU, 3-12 ATS, 6-9 O/U )
Browns at Steelers ( -11, 38 ), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Bengals at Ravens ( -10, 39.5 ), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET – 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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