NFL Week 15 Preview: Ravens-Steelers Battle for AFC North Supremacy

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NFL Week 15 Preview: Ravens-Steelers Battle for AFC North Supremacy

It’s currently icing outside. Power has blinked about 15 times. It’ll be a miracle if I get this written before the lights go out...

 

CHI 27, NO 24

The Bears needed a win to A) keep their playoff hopes alive and B) put the Saints out of their misery. Mission accomplished. After forcing overtime, the Bears came through with a huge, and I do mean HUGE, victory.

Now for the games that haven’t happened yet…

 

PIT @ BAL

I love this game.

Two of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Two teams who played a fantastic game earlier this season. A rookie quarterback against the guy everyone keeps comparing him to.

Both teams have won four of their last five games. If the Steelers win, they’ve got the AFC North wrapped up. If they lose, they’re tied with the Ravens for first place.

If the Ravens lose, their wild-card advantage is wiped out. It’s a must-win for the Ravens, their first-year coach, and their rookie quarterback.

I just can’t put my money on a first year coach with a rookie quarterback in December. The Steelers will wrap up the AFC North this weekend…

 

TB @ ATL

The Buccaneers have been boring me for weeks, yet they kept winning games. Last weekend, they played one of the more entertaining games they’ve played all season, but they lost.

Of course, part of the excitement was generated by their surprising lack of defensive toughness. They were pushed all over the field by the Panthers. It was ugly.

The Falcons lost a tough one to the Saints last week. If they lose this week, their playoff hopes are probably permanently dashed. But the Falcons play well at home, and the Bucs just looked old last week.

Expect the Falcons to hand the Buccaneers their second straight loss this weekend.

 

SF @ MIA

The San Francisco 49ers could decide the AFC East. Last week, they knocked the Jets back into a first place tie with the Patriots and Dolphins. This week, they get a chance to knock the Dolphins out of first place.

The 49ers have been pathetic all season, but have shown respectable spurts on occasion. Last week was the longest consecutive strings of respectable spurts they’ve put together all season.

As much as I’d like it to, I can’t imagine that continuing for a second week.

 

SEA @ STL

What do you get when you take four wins, 22 losses, 406 points scored, 729 points allowed, and a combined 13 straight losses?

The Seahawks, the Rams, and about 14 viewers. And only because they lose the remote.

 

BUF @ NYJ

The city of Toronto watched the Buffalo Bills last week and responded with a resounding, “No thanks, we’ll keep the CFL.”

The Jets have put themselves into a must-win situation by inexplicably losing to the Broncos and 49ers. They cannot afford to lose again.

In Canada, the word “Bills” is Latin for “End your losing streak.”

 

SD @ KC

Welcome to Norv Turner’s world, where your team constantly underperforms, gets beaten by inferior opponents, and then spends January wondering what in the hell happened.

Welcome to Herm Edwards’ world. Herm is such a great defensive coach that he can single-handedly destroy his own team’s offense.

Speaking as a fan of another AFC team, I hope both are brought back next season.

 

WAS @ CIN

Let me get this straight. The Redskins need to win a game. It’s their most critical game of the season. If they lose, they’re basically done as far as the playoffs are concerned. And their head coach benches one of the best running backs in the game because, and I quote, he “wanted to get (his backup) some reps”???

Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously? If I were a Redskins’ fan, I’d be completely beside myself right now.

Luckily for the Bengals, they have no fans left...

 

TEN @ HOU

The Titans are going to crush Houston. It’s not worth spending much time on. So I won’t.

As you know, I’ve spent the better part of this season doubting the playoff chances of the best team (record-wise) in the AFC. But all that could finally change in the next two weeks. The Titans finish the season with the Steelers and Colts. If they can run that gauntlet, I’ll reconsider their playoff chances.

But I’m guessing they won’t. And I’m guessing, as good as he’s been this season, that Kerry Collins will be part of the reason why.

 

GB @ JAC

The loss to the Texans basically destroyed what was left of the Packers’ season. The Jaguars' constant losing basically destroyed their season weeks ago. Their combined losing completely destroyed my interest in this game.

 

DET @ IND

Could this be the week that the Lions finally get off the snide?

Umm… Against the Colts.

BWWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Good God, this game’s going to be ugly. A beat-down of epic proportions, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Titans played the Lions on Thanksgiving.

 

MIN @ ARI

This game will tell us a lot about the Cardinals. Gus Frerotte or not Gus Frerotte, the Vikings are basically going to line up, punch you in the face, and then Adrian Peterson is going to run right by you. Unless you don’t fall from being punched in the face. Then he’ll run over you.

If the Cardinals can match the Vikings’ toughness and win this game, then they just might be for real come playoff time. But something tells me they can’t, won’t, and aren’t.

 

DEN @ CAR

So, a tree just fell a few feet from my house, and I’m currently running on a UPS. So, I need to bang out the rest of this thing quickly.

It’s unfair that the two Carolina running backs get to play against the Denver defense during fantasy football playoffs. Completely and utterly unfair.

 

NE @ OAK

The Patriots need to win this game. Oakland fans are still ticked about the snow game. They’d love to see their Raiders knock the Patriots out of the playoffs.

Not going to happen. But it’s nice for them to have a dream.

 

NYG @ DAL

T.O. hates Tony Romo. Jerry Jones things Marion Barber is a wimp. This team is a bad loss to the Giants away from completely blowing up.

And I can’t wait.

 

CLE @ PHI

Either there’s lightning outside, or something just blew up. Either way, I have about two minutes of power left. Gotta love winter in New England.

The Eagles, much to my chagrin, will beat the Eagles and stay alive in the NFC playoff hunt.

Now to go get that tree off my car.

 

Sean Crowe covers the New England Patriots for Examiner.com and writes a bi-weekly column for Sports-Central.org.

He is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at scrowe@gmail.com. His archive can be found here.

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