“AFC North Race Tightens”

All 4 teams in the AFC North will square off in tomorrow’s NFL action.  The division leading Bengals will take on the bottom feeding Browns, while the Steelers and Ravens clash for the first time since last year’s AFC Championship Game. 

On paper, the Bengals should lay an old-fashioned whooping in the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium tomorrow.  But lets not forget that the Browns had many chances to beat the Bengals earlier this season in a heartbreaking overtime loss in Cleveland.  But, it is very likely that the Bengals will move to 8 and 3 after tomorrow, completing a 6 and 0 season against the rugged AFC North.

The other matchup though.  Which has produced some of the best, most physical matchups in the League over the past couple of years has lost much of its luster.  The Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is very unlikely to play.  Not to mention the backup Charlie Batch was hurt in last week’s game.  Therefore the Steelers will be starting little known third string QB Dennis Dixon against Ray Lewis and the killer Ravens.  How would you like for your first NFL start to be against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and that vaunted Raven’s defense?

Now I know that the Steelers have an outstanding defense, but I do not think it will be enough in this one.  Though the Raven’s offense has been very up and down at times this year, the Steelers have become extremely reliant on the pass this year and will not be able to amount enough offense against the Raven’s D to be in this game.  These are not the Steelers of old who could run the ball against anybody and everybody.  The Ravens will be 6 and 5 after tomorrow, and tied with the Steelers for 2nd in the AFC North.  Beware Bengals because these are both very strong teams that are better than their 6 and 5 records.

The beautiful thing for the Bengals though is that they hold the head to head tie breaker on both of these division foes and do not have to play either of them again.  Should be very interesting to see how the AFC North race plays out after tomorrow’s games.  Things should definitely start heating up for that 2nd spot in the division.  Dennis Dixon, just imagine playing against those USC defenses in college.  But imagine a defense that is 100 times better and scarier than that.  That should prepare you for tomorrow.

Stay tuned for the next edition of the Sportskraze.

-Kraze

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