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AFC North: Week 11 Preview

Can Jason Campbell and the Cleveland Browns upset the Cincinnati Bengals?

Can Jason Campbell and the Cleveland Browns upset the Cincinnati Bengals?

So far this season, the Cincinnati Bengals have been the only team in the AFC North to show any kind of winning prowess. That prowess suffered a rude awakening these past two weeks though as Marvin Lewis’ side dropped two straight games in overtime.

Still, the Bengals can go a long way to securing a franchise record third straight postseason appearance Sunday as they host division rivals the Cleveland Browns.

BettingSports.com brings you a preview of all the Week 11 AFC North action and the possible ramifications waiting around the corner. We start with the big game between state rivals.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, 1:00 p.m. ET (matchup)

A.J. Green will look to have a big game.

A.J. Green will look to have a big game.

Having lost in overtime to the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens in consecutive weeks, Cincinnati (6-4, 4-0 home) could really use a win. Entering next week’s bye with three losses on the bounce could prove poison to team morale, while it could also spur the rest of the division’s teams onwards and upwards.

One of those teams looking to move upwards is Cincinnati’s opponent on Sunday; Cleveland (4-5, 1-3 road). The Browns picked up a win over the Ravens last weekend to move to 2-1 in division games. Believe it or not, that’s the best record within the division. That second win came over Cincinnati back on September 29. Repeating that result on Sunday would not only move Cleveland within one win of the Bengals, it would also cast serious doubts on the Bengals’ postseason hopes.

The Browns held the Bengals to just six points in the September meeting between the sides. Brian Hoyer out-duelled Any Dalton in that game, throwing a pair of touchdowns to lead the Browns to victory. Hoyer won’t be under center Sunday but his replacement, Jason Campbell, has been more than competent in two starts for the team. But can he get the better of a Bengals team unbeaten at home?

Cincinnati should get used to playing at home. Four of their final six will be played at Paul Brown Stadium, starting with Sunday’s game. Even better, of the six opponents, only the Indianapolis Colts have a winning record. That’s an agreeable schedule for a team looking to win its division. However, three of those games are against AFC North opposition and if there’s one thing we’ve learned within the division this year, it’s that any of the four sides can win on any given Sunday. The Bengals need to focus and they need to focus now.

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals odds for 11/17/2013

Cincinnati enters the game favored over Cleveland. The spread opened at 6, where it remains with some sportsbooks. Others have it at 5.5.

Both Cincinnati (5-4-1 ATS) and Cleveland (5-4-0 ATS) have covered the spread more times than not, but neither has been anywhere close to a sure bet. The Browns have covered in two straight and five of the last seven games. Cincinnati has failed to cover in each of its last two outings, as well as the early meeting between the sides this season. Cleveland is 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine games against the Bengals.

The over/under opened at 42 and has dropped as low as 40.5. Neither team has favored the over or under this season but the total has gone under in four of Cleveland’s last six visits to Paul Brown Stadium.

Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears

Soldier Field, Chicago, IL, 1:00 p.m. ET (matchup)

A big rushing performance from Ray Rice wouldn't go amiss.

A big rushing performance from Ray Rice wouldn’t go amiss.

Baltimore will meet Cincinnati in the final game of the regular season. The Ravens will hope that game means something. For it to do so, John Harbaugh’s team needs to build on last weekend’s overtime win against the Bengals.

The Ravens (4-5, 1-4 road) travel to Soldier Field for a rare showdown with the Chicago Bears (5-4, 3-2 home) on Sunday. The Bears are currently involved in a three way dance for the NFC North lead, and need a win on Sunday just as much as the Ravens.

Baltimore has a real opportunity to seize a victory in this one. The banged-up Bears will be without a slew of players, including linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), cornerback Charles Tillman (arm), and quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle). Josh McGown will spell Cutler under center. McGown has been solid in a backup role this season, but if the Ravens can send a decent pass rush at him, they could quickly record their first ever win at Soldier Field.

Since Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore in 1996, the Ravens have met the Bears on four occasions. The two sides have flip-flopped wins during that stretch, each winning both games on their home field. Baltimore was victorious 31-7 the last time the teams met (Dec. 2009).

Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears odds for 11/17/2013

Chicago opened as the favorite thanks in part to home field advantage and in another part to Baltimore’s inconsistency this season. The spread opened at 4 and has subsequently dropped to 3.

Baltimore (4-5-0 ATS) has struggled against the spread this season, recording a 1-4-0 ATS record away from M&T Bank Stadium. However, Chicago (2-6-1 ATS) have been even worse against the spread and have yet to cover at Soldier Field. In four previous meetings, the two teams have each covered the spread twice, always in a home win.

The over/under opened at 47 but has dropped all the way down to 41.5 with some bookmakers. Baltimore (2-6-1) has heavily favored the under this season while Chicago (6-3-0) has favored the over. All four previous meetings between the two sides saw the total go under.

Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA, 1:00 p.m. ET (matchup)

Big Ben is reportedly sticking around.

Big Ben is reportedly sticking around.

For so long, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a bastion of solidarity and impeccable organization. Now, struggling for the second year in a row, the wheels appear to be falling off the bus.

Ben Roethlisberger did his best to set the bus back on the right course, dismissing claims that he’s looking to be traded. To truly right this bus’ path though he’ll need to lead the team to victory on the field, and that begins with this Sunday’s game.

The Steelers (3-6, 2-2 home) lineup against the Detroit Lions (6-3, 3-2 road) on Sunday. While this would be a daunting prospect for any team that is struggling, Pittsburgh may not be as worried as you might think, and not just because the team has won its last two games at home.

Pittsburgh has won three straight games against Detroit and since December 1986 has gone 7-1 against the Lions. Detroit’s only win in that stretch came at home in November 1998. Furthermore, the Lions have not won in the Steel City since November 1952, a run of nine games. History likes Pittsburgh in this one.

However, the Lions picked up their first ever win in Washington earlier this season, proving that ridiculously long losing streaks can be broken in the blink of a Matt Stafford pass to Calvin Johnson. This one’s going to be interesting to say the least.

Detroit Lions vs. Pittsburgh Steelers odds for 11/17/2013

Odds makers aren’t allowing Detroit’s long losing streak to get in the way, making the Lions favorite ahead of kickoff. The spread opened at 3, where it remains at time of publication.

Pittsburgh (3-6-0 ATS) has struggled against the spread this season, only covering in wins. Detroit (5-4-0 ATS) has covered more times than not, just. However, the Lions have covered the spread in five of their last six games against the Steelers.

The over/under opened at 48 but has slipped to 45. Pittsburgh (3-6-0) has favored the under while Detroit (5-4-0) has favored the over. The total has gone over in four of the last five meetings between these two sides, as well as four of five when the sides play in Pittsburgh.

For a full list of Week 11 NFL odds, click here.

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