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Bengals Hold Serve, Ravens and Steelers Now Must Do the Same

Ben Roethlisberger

If Roethlisberger stays upright, it will be a long day for the Dallas defense.

In Philadelphia on Thursday, the Cincinnati Bengals made sure they kept the pressure on the Baltimore Ravens and even more on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals weren’t exactly perfect during the evening as Andy Dalton was strip-sacked on two occasions in the first half, but the Bengals’ D held Philly to field goals. The second half was all Cincinnati as they defeated the Eagles 34-13.

The victory moves the Bengals to 8-6 on the year and now forces Pittsburgh to have to win in Dallas today to keep pace. While the Steelers own the head-to-head tie-breaker, a loss to the Cowboys and then a loss to the Bengals at home next week would essentially kill their playoff aspirations.

Baltimore isn’t exactly off scot-free here either. The Ravens have lost two in a row and now host Denver who hasn’t lost since what feels like the Bush Administration. Perhaps too late in the eyes of many, Baltimore parted ways with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. While no one will argue with the change, the timing of it is suspicious to some. Was it a desperation move or had Cameron just reached a line he couldn’t cross? The knock on him has been his misuse of Ray Rice and over-dependence on Joe Flacco at crucial points in games. In the next three weeks, we’ll find out exactly who has been at fault.

The Standings: Baltimore 9-4, Cincinnati 8-6, Pittsburgh 7-6, Cleveland 5-8

Washington (1.5) at Cleveland – The Browns are still mathematically alive for a playoff berth in the AFC but need help and need to win out. Washington is in perfect position to get past both the Giants and the Cowboys if they keep winning as well. Obviously the health of Robert Griffin III is the key to this game. The Redskins will not say until game time as to whether or not he or fellow rookie Kirk Cousins will get the start. Safe to say, RGIII will not be 100% either way.

The Browns just need to do what they’ve been doing which is play great defense and let the running game and short passing game be successful. With no doubt, RGIII in the game will change the way Cleveland will approach things defensively but they must not ignore Alfred Morris who has been a very successful runner this season. With RGIII at less than 100%, I like the Browns to win this game whether he plays or not.

Ed Reed

Reed will need a big game in order to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Denver (-3) at Baltimore – Some asked how the Ravens could fire an offensive coordinator whose team just put up 28 points when the defensive coordinator gave up even more! Such is the NFL but make no mistake, there is pressure on Jim Caldwell to get this team into the end zone and it will not be easy against the Broncos. With the Ravens’ secondary far from 100%, Peyton Manning should be able to throw at will. The key factor in this one will be can the Ravens run the ball effectively against a defense where that is sometimes the only weakness? I just don’t like where the Ravens are right now. Take the Broncos to cover even in Maryland.

Pittsburgh (-2) at Dallas – The long-time rivals meet again in Big D where both are in ‘must-win’ situations. Both the Cowboys and Steelers will know exactly where they stand at kickoff with all of their main competition having already played by 425pm ET. That will only add to the stress of the situation.

The Steelers need to get to Tony Romo or they’ll be in trouble. Last week, they could not even make headway against a patch-work San Diego offensive line so this is no gimme. Dallas has the worst rushing offense in the league so I look for Dick LeBeau to take some chances early. Dallas will also look to make life for Ben Roethlisberger miserable as well against yet another combination on the offensive line. This game will ultimately come down to who can create turnovers and who can convert those into touchdowns and that’s whyI like Dallas to win.


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