AFC North Week 7: Breakdown & Match-ups
The Ravens travel to Jacksonville for Monday Night Football. The Cincinnati Bengals are on their ‘bye’ week. Here’s a look at the other two games in the AFC North:
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Pittsburgh heads to Arizona, a Super Bowl rematch (XLIII). But, the Cardinals are far from where they were when they took on the Steelers a few years ago. QB Kevin Kolb (from Philadelphia) was hoped to be ‘the’ quarterback for this team. Instead, it’s been a frustrating season for fans to watch their team drop the last 4 games. Kolb has 5 TD’s and 6 interceptions and he hasn’t had enough explosive plays with WR Larry Fitzgerald. Problem is, other than Fitzgerald, there are no other threats in the passing attack. A bright spot on offense, running back Beanie Wells, who has a 4.8 yards per rush average, along with 6 TD’s.
For Pittsburgh, obviously the offensive line has been plagued with injuries and it’s been an issue moving forward. The good news is, for two weeks in a row the offense has had huge games running the ball and they will probably continue that trend against Arizona ranked 20th in rushing yards allowed. The Steelers defense is ranked 1st overall and 1st in passing yards allowed. Interestingly enough, they defense has only recored 1 interception on the year and that was by OLB LaMarr Woodly. The unit is ranked 15th versus the run. So Arizona if you are listening, you may want to run the ball.
Forecast: Cold in Arizona. It’s cooling off in Arizona and it’s not just the weather, the Cardinals don’t have enough heat to keep up with the Steelers. Arizona is coming off a bye week, so they may make things difficult for Pittsburgh. However, you can see this game getting away from Arizona real fast.
Projected Score: Pittsburgh 28 – Arizona 13
Seattle Seahawks ( 2-3) @ Cleveland Browns (2-3)
The Seahawks are coming off a bye week and before the bye they put up points. In a loss to Atlanta the team scored 28 points and then they beat the NY Giants in New York scoring 36 points (How in the world did the Seahawks score 36 points beating the NY Giants in New York?). Much of their success has been going ‘no-huddle’ and it’s caught opponents off-guard. Seattle may have to go with back-up QB Charlie Whitehurst as Tavraris Jackson is nursing a pectoral injury. Whitehurst did a good job filling in when he took over after Jackson was injured in the Giants game.
Cleveland is struggling because Peyton Hillis has not been on the field. He couldn’t play against the Raiders (hamstring injury) and is day to day. The bottom line is this team is not balanced, way too much is put on the passing game and quarterback Colt McCoy who’s had trouble with accuracy. In fact, right now this Cleveland’s offense is one-dimensional (relying on the pass) and in the NFL that hurts your team. The Browns are not yet developed into a passing offense that can get by with a limited rushing attack. The Browns rank 30th in rushing (81.6 yards per game). Against Oakland the team had 65 yards on the ground (3.1 yards per carry).
Forecast: Prolonged periods of passing. Both teams have struggled to run the ball this season, so you can look for a lot of passing in this game. If I’m Seattle I don’t like the fact Cleveland’s secondary is 4th best in the league, giving up only 192 passing yards per game.
Projected score: Cleveland 24 – Seattle 20