AFC North sides have different reasons for needing a win in Week 5By Alex H.
In what is a truly rare occasion, Sunday afternoon sees all four AFC North teams kick off at the same time (1 PM ET). There’re no Sunday night, Thursday night or Monday night games to consider, something Baltimore at least is very happy about.
Week 5 will see Pittsburgh look to return to winning ways after a week off while Baltimore and Cincinnati looks to improve on decent starts. Cleveland meanwhile is just looking for a win any way it can get it.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Sunday, 1 PM ET
Pittsburgh (1-2, 1-0 home) has had a somewhat torrid start to the season, a result of a long list of injuries, some tough competition and poor play at times. Philadelphia (3-1, 1-1 road) has made a habit of winning ugly, taking its three wins by a combined four points, and coming from behind in the fourth to win each one. This one is probably going to be unsightly to say the least.
Believe it or not, these two franchises have combatted each other since 1933, and while modern scheduling only guarantees a meeting every four years, any time Pittsburgh and Philadelphia get together in pro sports you can expect a tough encounter.
Philadelphia leads the all-time head-to-head 47-27-3, and has won three of the last four. The two last met in September 2008, a 15-6 win for the Eagles.
Pittsburgh enters as 3 ½-point favorites, well-rested after a bye week and hoping to see the triumvirate of Rashard Mendenhall, James Harrison and Troy Polamanu all back on the field Sunday afternoon. This is the first time all season the Eagles have been considered underdogs. The over/under is 44 ½.
Cleveland Browns (0-4) at New York Giants (2-2)
Sunday 1 PM ET
It doesn’t get any easier for the Cleveland Browns (0-4, 0-2 road). Pat Shurmur’s side has started the season against tough opposition (Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Baltimore) but has at least made a good showing. While most expected the lowly Browns to wallow at the depths of the NFL, the Browns have not been in every game until the very end.
A trip to the New York Giants (2-2, 1-1 home) is going to be another tough test for a side that has lost 10 straight dating back to last year. The Giants lost a close one to Philadelphia last Sunday night when kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a 54-yard field goal attempt that would have given New York the win.
New York opened as 13-point favorites but that figure has dropped to just eight ahead of kickoff. The over/under is 44. The total has gone under in five of the last six Browns games and Giants games, suggesting the under is the smart bet here.
Whilst the Browns are winless this season, the team is 2-1 against the spread, including a 1-0 record as road underdogs, something bettors should take a closer look at before predicting a blowout win for the Giants.
Cleveland took a 35-14 win when the two teams last met (October 2008), breaking a four-game New York winning streak that spanned some 17 years.
Miami Dolphins (1-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
Sunday, 1 PM ET
Cincinnati (3-1, 0-1 home) welcomes Miami (1-3, 0-2 road) on Sunday in what should be a close game. The Dolphins’ last two have gone to overtime, both resulting in heartbreaking losses for a Miami side that has been better than advertised.
Cincinnati has been in form, erasing the memory of Week 1’s drubbing by Baltimore with three consecutive wins. The duo of A.J. Green and Andy Dalton has posed problems for allcomers, particularly the rookie quarterbacks that have been prominent in the early part of the schedule.
The Dolphins rank ninth in the league in total offense, despite rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill leading the side. Tannehill broke Dan Marino’s rookie record for yards in a Dolphins game last week, and has found a legitimate threat in Brian Hartline.
Historically, Miami has owned Cincinnati in the head-to-head, winning 14 of 19. However, a Halloween night Dolphins win in 2010 – the last time the two sides met – actually snapped a two-game winning streak for the Bengals.
Cincinnati enters the game as 3 ½-point favorites with the over/under at 43. Miami is no stranger to bucking the odds, going 2-1 against the spread this season. Expect this to be a hard-fought win for whichever side comes out on top.
Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)
Sunday, 1 PM ET
Baltimore (3-1, 0-1 road) has been the pick of the AFC North so far this season, even with a schedule that has seen the Ravens play four games in just 19 days. Having been off since last Thursday, the Maryland side should enter Arrowhead Stadium with its batteries recharged.
Kansas City (1-3, 0-2 home) meanwhile has had little to get excited about, bar a lone victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Chiefs have coughed up the ball no fewer than 15 times, with quarterback Matt Cassell throwing seven interceptions and losing three fumbles.
Still, the Ravens will need to find a way round the noisy Arrowhead Stadium. An early offensive binge would be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Baltimore has won three straight against Kansas City, dating back to December 2006, while the Chiefs have lost five of their last six at home.
Baltimore enters the game as 6 ½-point favorites, but has gone 1-5 against the spread in its last six home games. The over/under is 46 but it’s worth considering the total has gone under in 11 of the last 15 Kansas City games.