Sunday, October 30, 2011
Warm-up: Ravens tabbed only sure winner
By Jamison Hensley
Here's your game-day warm-up:
PITTSBURGH -- The AFC North teams have been doing their fair share of winning outside the division, but a majority of ESPN's NFL experts is picking half of the division to lose Sunday.
The Ravens (4-2), who play the Arizona Cardinals (1-5), are the only unanimous selection within the division to win. The Browns (3-3), who play at the San Francisco 49ers (5-1) are the only unanimous selection to lose.
All but two experts predicted the Bengals (4-2) to win at the Seattle Seahawks (2-4). Of the eight experts, five chose the Steelers (5-2) to lose at home to the New England Patriots (5-1).
Here are some pre-game notes:
- BENGALS: Cincinnati, which ranks 18th in the NFL in sacks, should have more opportunities to get after the quarterback in Seattle. The Seahawks have allowed 23 sacks, which is tied for most this season. There's still a question whether the Seattle will start injured Tarvaris Jackson or backup Charlie Whitehurst.
- BROWNS: Cleveland needs to figure out how to generate more big plays. The Browns have nine plays of 20 yards or more, which is by far the fewest in the NFL. No other team has fewer than 17.
- RAVENS: Joe Flacco has completed 52.1 percent of his passes this season. That's the second-worst completion rate by a Ravens quarterback six games into a season since Stoney Case in 1999. For those who don't remember Case, it's not a compliment to be compared to him. Trust me.
- STEELERS: Pittsburgh has forced a season-low three turnovers this season. It's a surprising statistic considering the Steelers led the NFL with 19 turnovers after seven games last season. For those wondering, New England's Tom Brady has thrown eight interceptions, which is tied for fifth-most in the league.
For those interested, today's game plan is to have a wrap-up as soon as the Ravens-Cardinals game ends. I'm at Pittsburgh, so there will be Rapid Reaction as soon as the game ends, along with a column from the Steelers-Patriots game. Because there will be three AFC North games starting at 4:15 p.m. today, the wrap-ups for the Bengals and Browns will get posted as soon as I get back from the Steelers locker room. So, please be patient. It will be a busy (and most likely exciting) Sunday.