Posted on: November 10, 2008 12:19 pm

So, Who wins the AFC North Now?

Well, not Cleveland or Cincinnati.  That is the easy part.  But Baltimore and Pittsburgh are knotted up at 6-3 and are in a dog fight with each other with only seven games remaining.  To help me pick a winner, I took a look at the history of the AFC North and playoff accomplishments since it was born in 2002:

                            2002           2003          2004           2005      2006      2007      2008    Total  Percentage

Pittsburgh         10-5-1*      6-10            15-1*           11-5*      8-8         10-6*      6-3      66-38-1   .633

Baltimore           7-9            10-6**           9-7              6-10       13-3**     5-11     6-3      56-49       .533

Cincinnati         2-14           8-8               8-8              11-5***    8-8           7-9       1-8      45-60      .429 .

Cleveland         9-7****     5-11            4-12             6-10       4-12          10-6      3-6       41-64     .390

*     '02 lost in divisional round, '04 lost in AFC championship, '05 won superbowl, '07 lost in divisional round

**   '03 lost in wild card round, '06 lost in divisional round

***  '05 lost in wild card round

**** '02 lost in wild card round

I added Cleveland and Cincinnati to my table because I wanted to see how bad it really was for them as a curiosity.  Pretty sad, isn't it?  They are not a factor obviously in 2008's division race.  Then I looked at the schedules of Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  Surprisingly of the seven remaining games, Cincinnati is the only common opponent.  They also play each other on December 14.

                     Pittsburgh                     Baltimore

week 11    San Diego H 4-5          NYG A 8-1

week 12   Cincyi H 1-8                  Phily H 5-4

week 13  NE  A  6-3                      Cincy  A 1-8

week 14 Dallas H 5-4                 Wash H  6-3

week 15 Balt   A  6-3                   Pitts H 6-3

week 16 Tenn A 9-0                   Dal  A  5-4

week 17  Clv H  3-6                   Jax  H  4-5

 Total 4H, 3A  34-29                   4H, 3A  35-28

The schedules look very even with both teams playing four home games and nearly identical win/loss percentages for the two teams.  Excluding the head to head match up in week 15, I figure Pittsburgh will lose to NE and Tennessee on the road and blow one of it's home games.  Baltimore will lose to Dallas and the NYG's on the road and also blow one of its home games.  So I see it coming down to the head to head match-up in Baltimore for the division title.  Pittsburgh won the first meeting in a nail biter 23-20.  Typically two good teams split the season series and win at home.  For that reason I go with Baltimore winning another nail biter at home and taking the division with a 10-6 record to Pittsburgh's 9-7, not quite good enough for a wild card. 

To Pittsburgh fans, it's true you have the better record by far since 2002 and have been to the playoffs more times including a superbowl victory.  Baltimore has not seen an AFC Championship game over that span.  But I am discounting the history.  What I see is Flacco looking very good as a starting QB.  I see a superior Baltimore offensive line to Pittsburgh's and a defense that is nearly as stiffling.  Flacco was very poised in coming back from a 14 point 2nd half deficit in Cleveland that I had the displeasure to personally witness.  More than anything, I am going on gut feel.  But don't fear Pittsburgh fans.  You should know I picked the Browns winning the divsion at the start of the season.  If anyone has reason for concern at my prediction, it is the Baltimore Ravens


Category: NFL
Posted on: September 21, 2008 9:04 pm

The Battle of Ohio: Derek Anderson's last chance

For the Bengals and Browns, six games into the season they have lost them all.  Today the Browns colapsed in the third quarter against Baltimore and completely blew a 3 point half time lead.  The Bengals gave their all against the Superbowl Champion Giants only to lose in OT.  At least the Bengals put up a fight and Carson Palmer looked like an NFL starting quarterback.  The Browns colapsed like a house of cards and Derek Anderson's slump that started last season continued with three more interceptions today.  Has anybody noticed when Derek throws short he is getting picked off and when he throws deep he misses his target (as in his his 2nd half pass to Cribbs deep today)?  Okay, it's also true receivers JJ and Donte Stallworth are injured, Braylon Edwards is dropping the ball, and teams are taking TE Kellen Winslow out of the game by double teaming him.  I'd like to know what the Browns plan is to solve these problems?   

Browns had a 10-7 half time lead because Baltimore Rookie QB Flacco's threw two interceptions and Matt Stover's missed a field goal.  The Browns inability to pick up more than 20 yards on a play all season had the Ravens defense playing us tight and looking to cut in front of and intercept those short 10 yard or less passes and stuff the run.  The game effectively ended when DB Ed Reed cut in front of Braylon Edwards on a short pass up the middle and scored a defensive touchdown.

So, what of the battle of Ohio next Sunday at 1:00pm?  With a bye for the Browns in week 5, should they lose and Derek Anderson look bad agian, I think it is time give Brady  Quinn extended practice time with the starters and give him his chance.  At least he was successful at Notre Dame.  He is the QB for the future for the Browns, and the Browns do have a nice O-line.  Put him back there and see if he can hit the receivers.  The Browns have nothing to lose.  No way the Browns / Bengals game in week four should be almost meaningless.  For what management is asking for tickets, the Cleveland fans deserve better.  Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel have to do something and sooner better than later.




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