Audibles: AFC North Week 15 preview

December, 12, 2008
12/12/08
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Washington Redskins (7-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-11-1), 1 p.m. ET

  

The Bengals look to show some fight for the first time in three weeks when they host the also-struggling Washington Redskins.

Cincinnati would cement its worst season in franchise history if it fails to win one of these final three games. Lately, the Bengals have displayed no reason to think they will turn it around after being outscored 69-6 the past two weeks. The team also is last in total offense (233.9 yards per game) and last in points per game (11.8).

Washington has lost four of its last five games but still will be the favorites in this matchup. The good news for the Bengals is they have an easier schedule moving forward against the Cleveland Browns (4-9) and Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) the final two weeks of the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens (9-4), 4:15 p.m. ET

  

The biggest game of the year in the AFC North will commence Sunday when the Steelers travel to play the Ravens.

There are heavy playoff implications for both teams. Pittsburgh can clinch the division and the No. 2 seed in the conference with a win, while Baltimore can forge a tie for the division lead and possibly clinch a postseason berth with help from other teams.

This is a rematch of September's slugfest that Pittsburgh won 23-20 in overtime. But there are two strong trends going against Pittsburgh in this particular game. First, these two rivals sparingly sweep one another during the course of a season. The Steelers won the first meeting in September. Second, Pittsburgh is winless in its last five attempts at M&T Bank Stadium.

The loser of this game could find themselves in trouble. The Ravens and Steelers have brutal road games next week against the Dallas Cowboys (8-5) and Tennessee Titans (12-1), respectively, that could lead to a two-game losing streak during the stretch run.

Cleveland Browns (4-9) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1), 8:30 p.m. ET Monday

  

The Browns mercifully play their fifth and final prime-time game of the 2008 season on "Monday Night Football" when they travel to play the Philadelphia Eagles. It will be the Browns' (4-9) third Monday game of the season.

Cleveland was expected to be a team on the rise when the NFL and its television partners decided to give the Browns five prime-time games after a 10-6 run in 2007. But it's been mostly a train-wreck season for the Browns where everything has gone wrong and they've lost 9 of 13 games.

Former third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey will get his second start of the season. He threw for 150 yards and an interception in last week's 28-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Don't expect a much better performance against the blitz-happy Eagles, who desperately need this win to stay alive in the playoff race. Philadelphia is still battling for a wild-card spot in the NFC with three games to play.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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AFC NORTH SCOREBOARD