AFC North: Walker's AFC North picks

Walker's AFC North picks

December, 23, 2010
12/23/10
1:30
PM ET
The AFC North blog brought in reinforcements to help for a tough Week 15 slate of games. But we still struggled and finished the weekend 1-2.

This week should be more successful. Here are our picks for Week 16 (all times are ET):

Carolina Panthers (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4), Thursday at 8:20 p.m.

Skinny: Even without Troy Polamalu, the Steelers bounce the Panthers and close in on the AFC North title.

Pick: Steelers, 23-7

Baltimore Ravens (10-4) at Cleveland Browns (5-9), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Browns continue their season-long trend of playing up to their competition. But it won't be enough against Baltimore.

Pick: Ravens, 17-10

San Diego Chargers (8-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-11), Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

Skinny: The Chargers are coming off 10 days of preparation and have too much to play for.

Pick: Chargers, 21-14

Last week: 1-2

Overall: 28-19

Comment: Quick reminder that we will have live updates and analysis tonight on the Steelers in the AFC North blog and AFC North Twitter page.

Walker's AFC North picks

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
11:30
AM ET
The AFC North blog had a winning Week 14, escaping with a 2-1 record thanks to Baltimore Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson's pick-six in overtime.

But this weekend may be the toughest slate of games to pick all season. All three contests could go either way.

So we brought in special reinforcements. The AFC North blog summoned Facebook friend Amanda Blasik for help with our Week 15 picks (all times are ET):

New Orleans Saints (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens (9-4), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Blasik's comment: The Saints are going to pass on every down and wear the Ravens' defense down just like Houston did last week.

Walker's score: Saints, 27-24

Cleveland Browns (5-8) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-11), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Blasik's comment: The Bengals have better personnel than the Browns, and Colt McCoy will be a little rusty coming back. As much as I love to see the Bungles lose, this streak has to end sometime, right?

Walker's score: Bengals, 17-16

New York Jets (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), Sunday at 4:15 p.m.

Blasik's comment: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will be able to create more on offense than Mark Sanchez will against the Steelers' D, even if Troy Polamalu is out. Ryan Mundy and/or Will Allen will be a better replacement for him than Tyrone Carter was last year.

Walker's score: Steelers, 16-13

Last week: 2-1

Overall: 27-17

Comment: Thanks for the help, Amanda! The AFC North blog might go 3-0 this week.

Walker's AFC North picks

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
12:00
PM ET
Troy Polamalu ruined a winning weekend of predictions for the AFC North blog. Despite the Baltimore Ravens leading most of the game, Polamalu’s sack and forced fumble of quarterback Joe Flacco helped put the Pittsburgh Steelers ahead for good and dropped our weekly picks to 1-2.

But we're going to bounce back strong. Here are the picks for Week 14 in the division (all times are ET):

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Steelers are banged up but have too much to play for to drop a home game to the struggling Bengals. Cincinnati's losing streak reaches an astounding 10 games.

Pick: Steelers, 28-14

Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Buffalo Bills (2-10), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Browns are the better team. But I have a feeling the Bills will provide a huge scare at home.

Pick: Browns, 17-16

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Houston Texans (5-7), Monday at 8:30 p.m.

Skinny: Houston can score points and had 11 days to prepare for this game. This will not be a cakewalk for Baltimore, which is coming off a physical game against Pittsburgh.

Pick: Ravens, 23-20

Last week: 1-2

Overall: 25-16

Comment: Ravens and Browns should be on upset alert.

James Walker's AFC North picks

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
11:30
AM ET
The AFC North blog finally had an undefeated week, and now we believe we have quality momentum for the home stretch of the 2010 season.

With three games to pick, including the biggest game of the season in the division, here are our selections for Week 13 (All times are ET):

New Orleans Saints (8-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-9), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: This is an easy pick with two teams heading in opposite directions. Saints will expose Cincinnati's banged-up secondary.

Pick: Saints, 28-13

Cleveland Browns (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (6-5), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Browns could show a lot of growth by winning this road game. But I don't like the way they're playing the past two weeks.

Pick: Dolphins, 20-16

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) at Baltimore Ravens (8-3), Sunday at 8:20 p.m.

Skinny: I already picked the Ravens on Wednesday, and I don't backtrack on predictions. Both teams will be a factor in the postseason, but Baltimore seems more in sync right now.

Pick: Ravens, 20-17

Last week: 4-0

Overall: 24-14

Comment: Unfortunately for AFC North fans, the division goes 1-3 this week.

Walker's AFC North picks

November, 11, 2010
11/11/10
1:00
PM ET
We had another winning weekend in the AFC North blog by going 2-1. Only the Cleveland Browns' upset over the New England Patriots ruined our undefeated streak.

But we're going to keep the momentum going with "Walker's AFC North picks" for Week 10 (all times are ET):

Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at Atlanta Falcons (6-2), Thursday at 8:20 p.m.

Skinny: The Falcons are extremely tough in the dome and want to turn this into a track meet. But I have a gut feeling Baltimore's physical style will keep the scoring down and control the tempo.

Pick: Ravens, 20-17

Cincinnati Bengals (2-6) at Indianapolis Colts (5-3), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Which team is more likely to bounce back from a tough loss: Cincinnati or Indianapolis? This is a no-brainer.

Pick: Colts, 30-17

New York Jets (6-2) at Cleveland Browns (3-5), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: I almost want to pick this as my upset special. The Browns are playing well. But I'm not sure they can be world beaters every week.

Pick: Jets, 17-14

New England Patriots (6-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2), Sunday at 8:20 p.m.

Skinny: A lot of people thought New England was the best team in football, but the Browns exposed some holes by being physical. Pittsburgh is even more physical than Cleveland.

Pick: Steelers, 28-21

Last week: 2-1

Overall: 16-10

Comment: Tough weekend expected for Ohio teams.

Walker's AFC North picks

November, 5, 2010
11/05/10
2:00
PM ET
Like Troy Polamalu, everyone has one bad week.

The AFC North blog went winless picking games in Week 8 as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals suffered defeats. But, as usual, we're going to bounce back strong.

Here are "Walker's AFC North picks" for Week 9 in the division (all times are ET):

Miami Dolphins (4-3) at Baltimore Ravens (5-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Dolphins are undefeated on the road (4-0), but the Ravens are undefeated at home (3-0). We will take the home team.

Pick: Ravens, 24-17

New England Patriots (6-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-5), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: With a wide talent gap between these two teams, don't be surprised if Patriots coach Bill Belichick tries to stick it to his former pupil Eric Mangini.

Pick: Patriots, 28-13

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-5), Monday at 8:30 p.m.

Skinny: The Bengals could play spoiler. But they haven't showed anything during this four-game losing streak to make me think they can thrive in this role.

Pick: Steelers, 21-14

Last week: 0-2

Overall: 14-9

Comment: I'm going 3-0 this week.

Walker's AFC North picks

October, 29, 2010
10/29/10
11:00
AM ET
The AFC North blog had a great Week 7 picking division games. Only the Cleveland Browns' upset of the defending champs prevented an otherwise flawless record.

In an effort to keep the momentum going, we have two tough games to pick this weekend. Here are the AFC North blog's selections for Week 8 (all times are ET):

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-3), Sunday at 8:20 p.m.

Skinny: This is a great matchup of the past two Super Bowl champions. Coming off an embarrassing loss to Cleveland, the Saints should bounce back strong. But timely defense and enough plays by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be the difference.

Pick: Steelers, 27-24

Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-4), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: As sloppy as the Bengals have played, this is a must-win game at home. Desperate teams with talent make for good picks.

Pick: Bengals, 23-20

Last week: 3-1

Overall: 14-7

Comment: Who do you like this week?

Walker's AFC North picks

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
12:00
PM ET
Overtime ruined our picks once again last week. The Baltimore Ravens were close to cementing a perfect week until they allowed the New England Patriots to overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

So the quest for another perfect week continues. Here are the AFC North blog picks for Week 7 (all times are ET):

Cleveland Browns (1-5) at New Orleans Saints (4-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: This week the Browns talked so much about James Harrison that I question their focus on the reigning Super Bowl champs. Cleveland goes 1-6 into its bye week.

Pick: Saints, 28-13

Buffalo Bills (0-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Tim Graham of the AFC East blog wonders if a UFL team can beat the Bills. That's enough confirmation for me.

Pick: Ravens, 30-7

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The test gets tougher for Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But the Steelers make enough plays to leave Miami with a win.

Pick: Steelers, 21-14

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: I expect Cincinnati's best effort because this is an important game. But I'm still not sure the Bengals fixed all their issues.

Pick: Falcons, 24-21

Last week: 1-1

Overall: 11-6

Comment: At least two games are in the bag this week.

Walker's AFC North picks

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
11:30
AM ET
The AFC North blog split it's two division games in Week 4, as the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns pulled off big wins.

Now it's time to look ahead to Week 5 picks, which involves three AFC North teams playing outside the division. Here are the AFC North blog picks (all times are ET):

Denver Broncos (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Broncos and AFC West teams in general have always been good matchups for the Ravens. Baltimore shows maturity by avoiding a Steelers hangover.

Pick: Ravens, 28-17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Bucs are coming off the bye and I don't like the way the Bengals are playing. But Cincinnati should still win a closer-than-expected game at home.

Pick: Bengals, 21-17

Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-3), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Believe it or not, the Browns are actually 10-2 all-time against the Falcons. I like trends as much as the next person, but I'm not biting on this one.

Pick: Falcons, 21-14

Last week: 1-1

Overall: 8-4

Comment: Not a bad start so far.

Walker's AFC North picks

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
1:30
PM ET
The AFC North blog predicted a perfect finish in Week 3, and we delivered.

Now it's time to make Week 4 picks, which involves two games between AFC North rivals. Here are the AFC North blog's picks for Week 4 (all times are ET):

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-3), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: This game could be an upset candidate. But I don't trust the Browns' ability to hold fourth-quarter leads just yet.

Pick: Bengals, 20-17

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Baltimore didn't look sharp last week and rarely plays well in Pittsburgh. But this game against the Steelers could bring out the best in the Ravens, who pull off the mild upset in Heinz Field.

Pick: Ravens, 16-13

Last week: 3-0

Overall: 7-3

Comment: It should be a very entertaining week in the AFC North.

Walker's AFC North picks

September, 24, 2010
9/24/10
11:00
AM ET
After a stellar Week 1, the AFC North blog hit a rough patch in last week's division games. We missed on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals but hit on the dependable Cleveland Browns.

But we have a new slate of games and are feeling really good about our upcoming selections. Here are the AFC North blog's picks for Week 3 (all times are ET):


Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Baltimore is furious after last week's loss and hyped for its home opener. If Cleveland scores after halftime this week, consider it a moral victory.

Pick: Ravens, 24-3


Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-2), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: After two tough games, the Bengals finally get an easier matchup. Cincinnati shows maturity by handling a lesser opponent on the road.

Pick: Bengals, 28-10


Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Steelers fans have begged me to pick against them for a third game in a row. Not this time, but maybe next week.

Pick: Steelers, 17-7

Last week's record: 1-2

Overall record: 4-3

Comment: I feel an undefeated weekend coming. Do you agree?

Walker's AFC North picks

September, 17, 2010
9/17/10
1:30
PM ET
The AFC North blog got off to a successful 3-1 start in Week 1. The Pittsburgh Steelers' narrow win in overtime prevented a perfect record.

But we're going to keep the momentum going all season with "Walker's AFC North picks." Here are my division picks for Week 2 (all times are ET):

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Injuries and instability at quarterback make it hard to pick the Browns, especially after the Chiefs looked pretty good last week beating the San Diego Chargers.

Pick: Chiefs, 20-17

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Tennessee Titans (1-0), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: The Steelers proved me wrong last week. Still, I like Tennessee's aggressive, no-name defense against Pittsburgh's inexperience quarterback: Dennis Dixon. Home team wins in a hard-hitting, low-scoring game.

Pick: Titans, 17-13

Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1), Sunday at 1 p.m.

Skinny: Quarterback Carson Palmer is 8-3 against the Ravens, who are coming off a short week. But I'm not sure I can trust Cincinnati after what I saw early against the New England Patriots.

Pick: Ravens, 21-17

Last week's record: 3-1

Overall record: 3-1

Record in non-overtime games: 3-0 (wink, wink)

Walker's AFC North picks

September, 10, 2010
9/10/10
11:30
AM ET
We're baaaaaaaack!

After a very successful 2009 season which saw the AFC North blog finish 20 games above .500, we're back for another year of division predictions.

"Walker's AFC North picks" is one of our most popular blogs during the season. When I was wrong, I had to hear it from readers and even AFC North players. The Bengals, for example, had a great time poking fun at my picks as they were sweeping the division last season. But overall I was consistently picking winners.

Let's kick off the 2010 season with a bang! Here are my AFC North picks for Week 1. All times ET:

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. Sunday

Skinny: I really like this matchup of Cincinnati's receivers against New England's young cornerbacks. But I'm having a hard time picking against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in their home opener.

Pick: Patriots, 27-24

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. Sunday

Skinny: Pittsburgh's defense will play well. But its offense will struggle to score points in quarterback Dennis Dixon's second NFL start.

Pick: Falcons, 16-13

Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. Sunday

Skinny: The Browns really struggle in season openers, going 1-10 since returning to the NFL in 1999. I might be in the minority, but trends like this stand out.

Pick: Buccaneers, 21-20

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets, 7 p.m. Monday

Skinny: This should be one of the best games of Week 1. Look for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to make a few more plays than Jets counterpart Mark Sanchez.

Pick: Ravens, 20-17

Comment: Feel free to chime in.

Walker's AFC North playoff pick

January, 15, 2010
1/15/10
3:00
PM ET
The AFC North blog split two wild-card games last week. With just one division team still playing, here is the pick for the divisional round:

Baltimore Ravens (10-7) at Indianapolis Colts (14-2), Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET


Analysis: I like Baltimore's swagger this week, and I also liked what I saw from the Ravens in the first meeting Nov. 22. If Baltimore scores touchdowns in this rematch -- and not field goals -- the Ravens pull off the shocker.

Pick: Ravens, 24-21

Last week: 1-1

Overall: 37-17

Comment: Go ahead. Call me crazy.

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