All of the AFC North is slated for late games today, as the Steelers and the Bengals try to edge one another out for sole possession of the last Wild Card spot in the AFC.
The 3-8 Browns are hitting the road to meet up with the 3-8 Oakland Raiders in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It is interesting to note that Cleveland has been winless on the road this season and traveling all of the way to west coast is no easy feat for a team. However, this matchup promises to be a good one. Both teams have struggled all season and have had a hard time finding the “W” to put in the win column.
Even in losses, Oakland has remained an offensive powerhouse in many of their games on the arm of Carson Palmer. So far this season, Palmer has thrown for 3181 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. The blaring deficiency for the Raiders has been their defense. They just can’t seem to get the job done, and in their last three games, have allowed their team to be outscored 127-47.
Cleveland has found a way to keep up with opponents in all of their games. Led by rookie Brandon Weeden with 2456 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, the Browns have went to toe to toe with the most veteran quarterback ran teams. However, the team ends up on the short end of the win/loss column more times than not. They are coming off of a big divisional win last week and will be looking to repeat today.
Final Score: Browns 17, Chargers 13
The 6-5 Steelers are heading to Baltimore today to face the division leader 9-2 Ravens in a big AFC North showdown. In recent years, both of these teams have been powerhouses and the games always end up being a slugfest for the ages. However, this game, like the one two weeks ago, has a different feel.
Pittsburgh’s rough and rowdy quarterback is sitting out for a third consecutive game as the team heads into the playoff push time in the season. Earlier this week, he was officially ruled out, after he came back to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. The team’s second string quarterback is also down, leaving Charlie Batch to go to battle again this week for the Steelers.
The matchup doesn’t bode well for the Steelers. The Ravens are undefeated at home this year and the Steelers have only won two on the road. The Ravens are also known for stomping their Pittsburgh foes to the ground when Big Ben is not in the matchup. I don’t think that today will be any different.
Final Score: Ravens 24, Steelers 10
Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers
The 6-5 Bengals are packing up the plane and heading to sunshine and beaches. It won’t be all fun and games, though. The team is set to go head to head with the 4-7 Chargers today. This will be a good matchup for the Bengals.
Both teams have found themselves playing below their talent level at many times this season. However, both teams need this win to keep their hopes alive in the post season. Andy Dalton has been playing his best football of the season in the team’s last three wins and BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been posting career games. Cincinnati has been firing on all cylinders as a team.
The Chargers, on the other hand, have not won a game since week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, they have only won two games since week 3 NFL action. Though Rivers has put up decent numbers this season, their defense and running game has not aided the cause. This is also a Chargers team that has consistency issues throughout games on offense. Something they cannot have against a surging Cincinnati defense.
Final Score: Bengals 28, Chargers 17