AFC NORTH WEEK 9 MATCH-UP’S
The big match-up is Sunday Night, Ravens @ Steelers. Here’s a look at Cincinnati and Cleveland’s match-up’s:
Cleveland (3-4) @ Houston (5-3)
Running Peyton Hillis has been a non factor this year, even if he comes back this week from a hamstring injury, it is hard to imagine he will be 100%. To make matters worse RB Montario Hardesty is injured too. Chris Ogbonnaya will likely start if Peyton Hillis is still out. QB Colt McCoy is trying his darnedest, but the reality is because the run game is missing, they are one dimensional. The good thing going for Cleveland is their defense ranked 5th overall. They are 2nd versus the pass, however, their run defense was exposed a bit last week against the 49ers Frank Gore. They face another big test in Texans RB Arian Foster.
Ever since the loss to the Ravens, the Texans are playing with a lot of fire. Their defense is ranked 3rd overall and that is really good considering their best OLB Mario Williams is on IR. The possibility of WR Andre Johnson coming back is a good sign.
This game will come down the Browns being able to stop the 4th best rushing offense (Arian Foster and Co.) in the league. The Texans are averaging 142 yards a game on the ground. The other factor is the ability of Colt McCoy getting the ball down field to his playmakers. He’s been effective on the crossing routes and such, yet stretching defenses is an issue. They would be well advised to get Joshua Cribbs down the field.
Forecast: Bad to worse for the Browns. Expect the Texans to win. While Cleveland’s defense is overall solid, their offense has struggled. Cleveland needs their run game back (too many injuries) right now QB Colt McCoy doesn’t have the arsenal of receivers to be effective.
Projected Score: Cleveland 16 – Houston 31
Cincinnati (5-2) @ Tennessee (4-3)
What’s hurting this team is Chris Johnson, the Titans running is off track and looks like his holdout has hurt his team. Their run offense is anemic ranked 31st, an average of 68.9 yards a game. The good news is that Titans QB Matt Hasselback continues to shine, but as a whole the unit struggled at times against the lowly Indy team. But, Hasselbeck will go against a tough Bengals defense ranked 9th against the pass and 2nd against the run. What more can you say about QB Andy Dalton, he’s way ahead of schedule and helping his team win.
Tennessee is tough at home and the Bengals, as good as they are, find themselves facing another road game. Can they sustain their momentum? This game will come down to the rookie Andy Dalton. The rookie QB will go against the Titans defense, who may not be ranked in the top ten, yet as a unit they cause some problems for opposing quarterbacks. The unit has 8 interceptions on the season. KR Brandon Tate was a great pick up for Cincinnati, the Bengals kick return specialist is a weapon.
Forecast: Cincinnati should pull out a victory, but this game might be closer than we think.
Projected Score: Cincinnati 24 – Tennessee 20