25 August 2007

NFL previews: AFC North

I just heard Jeremy Green call this the best division in the league because it has three strong teams. I disagree for two reasons: one, I don't think Pit's gonna be that hot; and two, can any division with such an utter patsy team like Cle really be the best? On the other hand, I can't think of any better division, so maybe he's right.

Baltimore Ravens

Total wins: 9
Actually seems low for a team that won thirteen games last year and made no significant changes other than seriously upgrading their running back. Oh, and they lost Adalius Thomas. That's big, I guess. But four games big? Say they win four in their division. They could sweep Pit, but I'll give 'em a split. They could easily take three from the AFCE; they always give NYJ trouble, but either @Buf or NE could prevent a sweep. I'll give 'em two from the NFCW; @SF and @Sea are tough road games, but they get StL at home. That leaves @SD and Ind. One if they're lucky, probably neither. That comes out to nine even. Granted I'm being pretty conservative here, but I don't think this one's worth it. Keep in mind their success depends on Steve McNair staying healthy, a dicey proposition at best.

Division champ: 8–5
Maybe, but I like Cin in this division, and those aren't underdog odds.

SB champ: 12–1
I don't see it, and those odds feel too short to me.

Week one: +3 @Cin
The two games between these teams (the second's in November) will probably determine the division champ. I like Cin to come roaring out of the gate here, but I don't feel safe betting against Bal early, i.e., before McNair gets hurt.

Full disclosure: I don't know any Ravens fans. If I did they wouldn't be my friends. I hate the fuckin' Ravens. And yes, it's because I'm still bitter about one time they beat the Jets about nine years ago. And yes, I always underrate them. Sometimes I'm right.

Cincinatti Bengals

Total wins: 9
I like this team. I don't care how bad their defense is or how many of them are suspended, I think they can win a ton of games. Or at least double digits. They can start with four division games (split with Bal and one of the other two). Then I'll say two AFCE; I think they can win three, but let's say NYJ or @Buf sneak up on 'em. Two more from the NFCW; @Sea and @SF is a tough draw, but they should be able to take one of 'em. They round out the schedule with @KC and TN, and can probably win both. That's ten, and could be twelve if they sweep Pit and take another from the AFCE, very doable. I'm gonna say over for this one.

Division champ: 7–5
I think they'll take it, but they have the shortest odds on the board. Not worth it, especially since Bal could win just as easily.

SB champ: 18–1
I'm high enough on this team that I think they could do this. Is that crazy? Tasty odds, too. Let's take it.

Week one: –3 Bal
We covered this already; no thanks.

Full disclosure: I spent a Sunday afternoon watching the games at this bar in Williamsburg called the Turkey's Nest one week last fall. The barkeep was a Bengals fanatic, to the point where he and his buddies pick a city for a road trip to a Bengs away game every year. He's the only serious fan I ever met. K— and M— are from Huntington, WV, which is nominally Bengals country (i.e., they're the "local" team for televisual purposes), but neither of them seemed too interested. M—'s kind of a Reds fan, for what it's worth.

Cleveland Browns

Total wins: 51/2
The Browns rule because they have no logo. Unfortunately, they also stink. I'm gonna be nice and say they steal one each from Pit and Cin. That's two. I'll give 'em one each from the AFCE and NFCW, I have no idea who. They get Mia and Buf at home, and SF might be either out of it or resting starters by week 17. Which leaves @Oak and Hou. Woof. One, I guess. That's five. Don't bet this.

Division champ: 8–1
This should be 100–1. And I still wouldn't bet it.

SB champ: 200–1
Congratulations to the Cleveland Browns, who have been awarded the longest odds for Super Bowl XLII by Vegas's finest. The closest are about a half-dozen teams at 100–1. This is really depressing if you think about how devoted their fans are.

Week one: +4 Pit
I don't think Pit's that good this year. They're a very wait-and-see kind of team, like we really won't know if they're any good until October. They might win this, but y'know... they might not.

Full disclosure: Having said what I did above about their fans, I don't actually know any. I've just read about them.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Total wins: 9
So like, their defense is always good. Roethcheeseburger's due for a bounce-back year. Santonio Holmes could have a breakout season. People seem to like Mike Tomlin. Why does this team look all 6–10-ish to me?

I think they'll win like, two division games. Okay, three. Maybe they'll sweep Cle, maybe steal one from Bal. They should beat Buf and Mia at home, but @NYJ and @NE are tough outs. There's two. Even if they take one from SF or Sea, they're still screwed @StL, so that's two more. They round it out with @Den and Jac. The latter's a coin flip. Even if I give it to 'em that's eight, and I'm being nice here. This smells like a reputation line; take the under.

Division champ: 5–2
Not this year; I think they're gonna watch Bal and Cin duke it out.

SB champ: 25–1
These seems really short. No one really thinks they're gonna win it all, do they.

Week one: –4 @Cle
I just flat-out don't like this game.

Full disclosure: C— was born and raised a Steelers fan; we used to work together at Goldman's, my first WP job. We'd crack jokes about the morning paper, discuss sketch comedy and go over the weekly NFL lines. And occassionally work. Good times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ravens total wins: 7
Stillers: 11

kilroy was here!