AFC North Week 11 Preview

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    Howdy.

    Welcome back and all that.  Each week, I’ll post a quick writeup of pending AFC North games, with a few notable points and, yes, timely, knowledgeable predictions regarding the games’ outcomes.

    As usual, these picks are for fun and should in no way be used for actual wagering purposes. That is, unless you want to make a ton of money in a legal forum, because we know more stuff and things about football than you do or something.

     

    Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens
    Sunday, November 22, 1:00 pm, CBS

    Putting aside the mental baggage that comes with a media-frenzied playoff loss must be tough, yet that’s one of many issues facing the Ravens this week as they face 2019’s rudest playoff guests in the Titans.  I’m just going to rely on street vernacular – there’s no way in hell the Ravens can win this game as currently constructed.  The Ravens’ defense, which has carried the team at points this season, is missing its two largest (literally) and most-crucial contributors on the line (DT Brandon Williams, DE Calais Campbell) and possibly their nickel CB (Jimmy Smith).  The Ravens have two rookies manning inside LB spots this year, and neither has seen what the Titans are capable of.

    Which, of course, is running the ball with mammoth RB Derrick Henry to set up virtually everything else they do.  Henry is a specimen, to be sure, and with the interior of the Ravens’ defense sidelined, he should have little trouble controlling the line of scrimmage and covering lots of ground.  He’ll see little resistance.  Offensively, the Ravens would appear to have some opportunities, but their offensive line is a shambles due to injury, with two starters left from season’s outset.  Ravens QB Lamar Jackson usually runs a lot, but in this instance, it will be to preserve his own skin.

    DarthYinzer:  Titans 28, Ravens 31
    Me:  Titans 27, Ravens 16

     

    Philadelphia Eagles @ Cleveland Browns
    Sunday, November 22, 1:00 pm, FOX

    In an NFL season filled with dysfunction and bizarre behavior, the Eagles truly stand out.  Not for their play, of course – this may be the worst offering the Eagles have put forth since the 2012 4-12 debacle, which led to former coach Andy Reid’s permanent ouster – but for the sheer confusion and mistakes the Eagles have shown.  This is an undisciplined and mistake-happy bunch, with few weapons and a head coach who’s taken to belittling reporters for their lack of football knowledge – a sure sign of workplace issues.

    Needless to say, the Browns should be able to dispatch the eroding Eagles easily, as long as they remain focused and attack Eagles QB Carson Wentz consistently.  The Browns will most likely be able to do what they’ve attempted to do all season – run the ball with standout RB Nick Chubb, take higher-percentage opportunities in the passing game, and play consistent defense.  Some weeks, that approach doesn’t work.  This week, it’s a lock.

    DarthYinzer: Eagles 21, Browns 24
    Me:  Eagles 13, Browns 30

     

    Pittsburgh Steelers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
    Sunday, November 22, 1:00 pm, CBS

    Undefeated vs. one win…hmmm.  Tough call, eh?  In all candor, the Steelers seem to find ways to make this sort of game close, as evidenced by their fourth-quarter wins over the Cowboys and Bengals.  Regardless, the Steelers are obviously finding ways to win, and the vast talent differential between these teams should be enough to carry them here, although I suspect it won’t have to.

    The Jaguars have no settled offensive approach, little in the way of a game plan, no established starting QB of any worth, and a presumably lame-duck coach riding out the string of yet another failed season in Jacksonville.  If Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the skill position starters aren’t playing cards on the bench in the fourth quarter while enjoying a 30-point lead, I’d be surprised.

    Unless the Steelers find a way to make this one close…

    DarthYinzer: Steelers 26, Jaguars 17
    Me: Steelers 34, Jaguars 3

     

    Cincinnati Bengals @ Washington Football Team
    Sunday, November 22, 1:00 pm, CBS

    In a word: Ugh.  Although not all bad if you’re a Bengals fan looking to bank a win against an inept opponent.  The WTF (sorry, I just can’t stop that) has little left in the proverbial cupboard; their QB slate has been reduced to long-tenured veteran Alex Smith, who prior to two weeks ago was last seen undergoing several procedures to remedy complications from a severely broken leg.  Really, it’s a wonder he’s able to play at all, let alone at a reasonably high level.  Other than Smith and WR Terry McLaurin, the WTF offers almost nothing in the way of receiving threats or offensive prowess.

    That’s about the only real pitfall facing the Bengals and rookie QB Joe Burrow, who should enjoy a decent day against a pretty good defensive line if his protection can stay consistent.  This should be interesting if only to gauge how well Burrow’s learning to exploit broken coverages and mismatches, which the WTF will surely provide lots of.

    DarthYinzer: Bengals 17, WTF 10
    Me: Bengals 24, WTF 16

     

    See y’all there.

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    Ravenous128

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