Early Games: AFC North Picture Might Get Straightened Out

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Three games are going to be taking place at 1 PM ET that will have a major bearing on what eventually happens in the AFC North. As most America’s Bookie customers are aware, this division has four teams playing over .500, in stark contrast to the NFC South, in which all of the teams are at least two games under the .500 mark. We’ll get to those guys in a moment.

There are a trio of teams with 7-5 records, and one of them is the Baltimore Ravens, who go into Miami as a three-point underdog against the Dolphins. What you’re looking for in case you are considering backing Baltimore in this one is what kind of psychological affect the come-from-ahead 34-33 loss to San Diego last week is going to have. At the same time, the Ravens are very likely to follow the lead of Miami’s previous two opponents, Denver and the New York Jets, who ran roughshod over their defense. And they have a pretty good guy to do it with, as Justin Forsett is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has recently gone over 1000 yards.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off what had to be a very upsetting loss at home against the New Orleans Saints, if for no other reason than that the Saints don’t win all that frequently as a road team. Pittsburgh did its best to close the gap, and Ben Roethlisberger soldiered on, despite injuring his hand during the game. He had 435 yards passing, and the Steelers rolled up 36 first downs. Those kind of numbers seem almost out of the Cincinnati Bengals’ league, at least if you watched Cincinnati last week against Tampa Bay. Andy Dalton has 13 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. There’s is more of a chance you can get unlucky with that kind of ratio. All we can say is that Cincinnati had better do a heck of a job on defense. They are a three-point favorite in the NFL betting odds at America’s Bookie. And they also lead the division with a 8-3-1 record. If they lose, any of the other three AFC North teams can get to within a half-game of them with a victory.

The Cleveland Browns will play host to the Indianapolis Colts, and hopefully talk will soon die down about a “quarterback controversy” there. Brian Hoyer may not be perfect; he may not be sensational, but at this time he’s the guy Cleveland has to go to, considering that very few people outside the Browns’ organization thought that they would be 7-5 and right in the thick of things at this time of year. Cleveland is a 3.5-point underdog at America’s Bookie to the Indianapolis Colts, who last week did something no NFL team in 48 years had done, as they scored six touchdowns of 30 yards or more. Scary!

To give you an idea about how crazy the NFC South is, the Carolina Panthers have gone seven consecutive games without a victory, but if they can manage to beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, they have a very real chance of getting to within a half-game of the division lead. New Orleans, which has lost three consecutive home games, is a 9.5-point favorite in the NFL betting odds at America’s Bookie. The Atlanta Falcons are a big underdog against Green Bay on Monday night, but if there is an upset, we could see a situation where the two division leaders are tied at 5-8, with Carolina breathing down their neck at 4-8-1. That’s actually kind of shameful, isn’t it?

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