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AFC North: Week 5 Preview and Point Spreads

In the AFC North this week, we’ve got a rare full slate of early games with some really, really attractive lines. (Ravens less than a touchdown at the worst team in football? I digress.) The big story this week is if the Pittsburgh Steelers are the powerhouse they traditionally are or if time has passed them by. The Steelers are 1-2 and had an early bye week last week, and a well-timed one: the team expects Troy Polamalu and James Harrison to return to the lineup on Sunday, which should radically improve their defensive play.

Let’s get to the Week 5 action in the AFC North.

Miami Dolphins (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

These are two teams that are much better than they were given credit for before the season kicked off. The Bengals look like one of the most improved teams in the NFL this season, and AJ Green is playing so well that there is faint MVP buzz around him (ESPN had him seventh on their MVP tracker this week; not too shabby for a wide receiver). Miami, meanwhile, though being 1-3, is one of the feistiest teams in the league. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill threw for over 400 yards against a stout Cardinals defense last week, and Reggie Bush has been running well.

Still, I don’t think the Dolphins have the offensive firepower to keep up with this explosive, creative Bengals attack. I think AJ Green scores a pair here. Take the Bengals at -3.

Baltimore Ravens (-6) at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

Man, Vegas really screwed this one up. We’re talking about one of the best teams in the NFL (a team that doesn’t mind playing on the road, by the way) going up against quite possibly the worst team in the NFL. There isn’t a ghost of a chance that this one finishes less than a touchdown in the Ravens’ favor. It’s just not going to happen. I think Ray Rice and Torrey Smith have enormous days against the Chiefs depleted secondary here. Baltimore has a long tradition of beating up on the teams they should beat up, and this is one of those cases. Take the Ravens -6.

Cleveland Browns (-8) at New York Giants, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

Did I say the Chiefs were the worst team in the league? I may have spoken too soon. The Browns, similarly, are miserable, with one of the worst rookie quarterbacks ever seen and an offense that simply doesn’t exist. However, their defense is quite good, and the Browns can hang with virtually any team, as demonstrated by their close loss to Baltimore last Thursday night.

The Giants have a nasty habit of not showing up for games like this. Would anyone be surprised if this came down to a field goal, especially given the Giants injury woes on offense? I hate the Browns offense, and I don’t know how they will score here (particularly given the Giants ferocious defensive line), but I don’t see the Giants pulling away, either. Take the Browns at +8.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Steelers should see a big boost from the return of their two best defensive players, Harrison and Polamalu, plus they’re at home coming off of a bye week. Meanwhile, the Eagles have looked shaky at best, winning in the least-impressive way possible to somehow eke their way to a 3-1 record. I think the Birds’ string of luck ends in a big way this week as the Steeler’s shake off the rust and return to form. Take the Steelers -3. 

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