Street Talk AFC NORTH: WEEK 4

Posted in Street Talk
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Team
W
L
T
PCT
PF
PA
Home
Road
AFC
NFC
DIV
Streak
Baltimore

 
3
0
0
1.000
70
20
1-0
2-0
2-0
1-0
1-0
Won 3
Cincinnati

 
3
0
0
1.000
85
47
1-0
2-0
3-0
0-0
2-0
Won 3
Pittsburgh

 
1
2
0
.333
48
54
1-1
0-1
1-2
0-0
0-1
Lost 2
Cleveland

 
0
3
0
.000
45
68
0-2
0-1
0-2
0-1
0-2
Lost 3
 
Baltimore Ravens     (3 – 0)
 
The Baltimore Ravens eked out a win in Cleveland on Sunday by the final score of 15-14. Ravens CB Chris McAlister intercepted a pass in the end zone and QB Steve McNair marched the offense down the field setting up a 52 yard field goal by K Matt Stover with just 20 seconds remaining on the clock… WR Derrick Mason and WR Mark Clayton repeatedly came up with clutch receptions which aided the effort in the team’s victory… After a rocky 2nd quarter, the defense adjusted and pretty much shut down the Browns except for the drive leading up to the McAlister interception… With 2 more turnovers the Ravens defense has pushed the team’s turnover margin to +10, a huge contributor to the perfect 3-0 start… The defense posted 7 sacks of Browns QB Charlie Frye… ITH would like to see a bit more variety in the Ravens rushing attack, specifically the need to attack the edges with sweep plays. It appears at times that opposing defenses load up the tackle box and the Ravens need to offset that approach with outside runs… The 2-0 San Diego Chargers are coming off of their bye week visit M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday. The all time records of these teams versus one another stands at 2-2. 
 
Cincinnati Bengals     (3 – 0)
 
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-20 at Heinz Field on Sunday to move to 3-0 to start the season. Cincinnati has started 3-0 the last 2 seasons, a franchise first. The Bengals scored 21 points on Steelers turnovers, which is the story of the game. QB Carson Palmer twice hit WR Chris Henry for TDs staking the Bengals to a 14-7 halftime lead. Later, Palmer took advantage of fumbles by PR Ricardo Colclough and RB Verron Haynes throwing 2 TD passes to WR TJ Houshmandzadeh accounting for the 28 points scored on the day. On the day, Palmer completed 18 of 26 pass attempts for 4 TDs and was intercepted twice. WR Chad Johnson was limited to 1 catch for 11 yards and doesn’t have a TD catch in the last 4 games against Pittsburgh… RB Rudi Johnson was limited to 47 yards on 19 carries… The Bengals return home to face the New England Patriots this Sunday. Cincinnati is 8-11 all time against them. Quotes: RB Rudi Johnson, “We’re a better team than we were last year and we expected to come in here and win this game, but it took everything we had. WR Chris Henry, “We planned on coming back this year and beating Pittsburgh two times.” 
 
Cleveland Browns     (0 – 3)
 
The Cleveland Browns found themselves on the agonizing short end of a 15-14 loss to their division rival Baltimore Ravens. ITH salutes QB Charlie Frye who courageously stood up against a fierce pass rush (he was sacked 7 times) with no running game. Frye ended the game with 21 completions on 33 attempts for 298 yards and 1 TD. He also pitched a crucial red zone interception that ultimately led to the FG that sealed the Browns fate. The Browns have served notice that they have playmakers in WR Braylon Edwards (5 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD) and TE Kellen Winslow (7 receptions, 92 yards). Frye threw a picture perfect across the field pass to Winslow to convert a third and 16 play to continue the ill-fated drive in the 4th quarter. Coach Romeo Crennel used up both of his replay challenges on sideline receptions by WR Derrick Mason, and was held to account by the fans and the media for throwing the ball in the red zone when the Browns could have used the clock and forced the Ravens to use their time outs. A field goal at that point of the game would have forced the Ravens to score a TD to win the game. The Browns travel to Oakland to face the Raiders in week 4 still looking for their first victory of the 2006 campaign. The Browns are 6-11 all time against them.  
 
Pittsburgh Steelers     (1 – 2)
 
The Pittsburgh Steelers contributed 5 turnovers to the Cincinnati Bengals, which pretty much sealed their fate in a 28-20 home loss. The Steelers find themselves 2 games behind their division rivals heading into their bye week, which seems to be coming at an opportune time for them. QB Ben Roethlisberger, recovering from an off-season motorcycle accident and appendicitis attack, was an ineffective 18 of 39 for 209 yards and 3 interceptions. The last one came on a third and 10 at the Bengals’ 16 with Pittsburgh trying to drive for the tying score in the closing seconds. Besides the turnovers, Coach Bill Cowher was especially unhappy the Steelers had penalties for excessive celebration and taunting. The Steelers, coming off a 9-0 loss to Jacksonville, couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start. They drove 80 yards for the first of RB Willie Parker’s two short TD runs, a 3 yarder, less than 6 minutes into the game. Parker ran for 133 yards… Roethlisberger is 8-2 against the AFC North, with the only 2 losses to Cincinnati… The Steelers had won 27 of 33 before losing 2 in a row… The road team has won 6 of the last 7 in this series and each of the last 4.
 
Week 4 Predictions
 
 
Cleveland travels to Oakland to take on the Raiders who are coming off of their bye week. The Raiders defense played well against the Ravens in week 2, particularly when they were backed up in the red zone. Warren Sapp is still capable of playing hard, and the Browns have not been able to move the ball on the ground. This also has the look of a letdown game for Cleveland.
 
Oakland 21       Cleveland 16
 
 
San Diego comes off of their bye week and visits Baltimore in a game pitting two of the remaining 7 undefeated teams in the league. Interestingly, neither team has faced an opponent with a win. LB Shawne Merriman (Maryland) represents a match-up problem for the Ravens O-Line, no matter where he lines up. RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates are arguably the best in the business at their respective positions. However, the Chargers don’t wow you with their wide-outs, and as ITH recalls QB Phillip Rivers is 0 for Maryland in his days at NC State. On the other hand, RB Mike Turner torched the Terrapins while playing at N Illinois. Note that the Ravens defense will be aware that Rivers has not been sacked nor intercepted in 2006 and that the Chargers have been installed as 2 ½ point favorites. This game could hinge on the effectiveness of the Ravens pass rush. This is their first contest against a stout offensive line.
 
 
Baltimore 19     San Diego 17 
 
 
Cincinnati returns home to host the New England Patriots. The Patriots are 2-1 and are coming off of a loss at home to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. The game features two of the top QBs in the game, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer. Cincinnati clearly focused on the Steelers, in a game that they gave up significant yardage and were the recipients of multiple gift turnovers. They still only won by a TD. We now know that LB Odell Thurman was arrested on DUI this weekend while serving his 4- game suspension, and injuries to S Dexter Jackson and LB David Pollack could begin to take their toll. If anybody can figure out a way to slow down the Bengals attack, it could be Bill Belichick. ITH sees the Patriots emerging in a close contest.
 
New England  24     Cincinnati 17
 
 
Last week’s record:    1-1
 
2006 Record:      6-3

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Eric Buckner

About Eric Buckner

Eric Buckner is a native of Baltimore and has lived in the area his entire life. A graduate of Towson University , Eric has been a student of professional football since the day he wept in his grandfather's bedroom after the Baltimore Colts were upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. A loyal fan of the Colts and subsequently the Ravens, Eric's passion for the NFL is unwavering as evidenced by his near flawless attendance record at Ravens' games. He's missed only one preseason game -- back in 2005. We'll cut him some slack since he was on his honeymoon. You won't find Eric slacking when it comes to covering the AFC North for ProFootball24x7.com.   More from Eric Buckner

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