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Tight AFC North Race Set to Get More Compact

Three AFC playoff berths were wrapped up this past weekend and with only three remaining, the AFC North could be in for a disappointing New Year’s.

Baltimore missed out on the opportunity of moving one step closer to locking up the division title last Sunday. A 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh has the Ravens hanging in there, and just two games ahead of the Steelers and Bengals.

The emergence of the Indianapolis Colts this season could mean that one of the three AFC North sides misses out come January. Simply put, four doesn’t go into three. Meanwhile, whilst there currently appears to be no other threat in the shallow conference, a solid run for any of the three AFC East sides sat at 5-7 could spell danger. All of this means there is still everything to play for.

Baltimore Ravens (9-3) at Washington Redskins (6-6)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

The Ravens may be without All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs on Sunday, after he reportedly tore a bicep against the Steelers this past Sunday.

After Sunday’s last second loss, Baltimore (9-3, 4-2 road) faces another tough test this weekend, making the 28 mile journey across Maryland to Landover.

Washington (6-6, 3-3 home) has surged to a three-game winning streak, a streak that has the Redskins sitting just one game behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants and looking in on the Wild Card race.

The two sides collide for only the fourth time in history, with Baltimore leading the head-to-head 3-1. The Ravens have won the last two, and are 2-1 when visiting Washington.

Beating the Redskins will be a tough task though. Not only have the Ravens fizzled on offense – four of the last six games have seen John Harbaugh’s side score 16 or less – but the team could also be without linebacker Terrell Suggs, who reportedly suffered a bicep tear in the Ravens’ loss to Pittsburgh. He’ll seek out a second opinion before a decision is made.

Suggs’ missed the opening six games of the season after tearing his Achilles. The All-Pro linebacker is just one of a list of Baltimore stars to be injured this year.

The potential loss of Suggs will not help a defense that has been uncharacteristically porous, ranked 23rd against both the pass and the rush. That rush defense could see a lot of action against a Redskins side that leads the league in yards on the ground (167.2 YPG) and the very mobile Robert Griffin III.

A perennial favorite this season, Baltimore has opened at Evens on the betting lines. The Ravens have been far from dominant when it comes to covering the spread this season, tallying a 5-6-1 ATS record. Washington meanwhile is 7-5-0 ATS.

The over/under is 47. Both sides have seen the total go over six times this season, which does anything but offer bettors an inside track.

San Diego Chargers (4-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

For a fourth straight week the focus in the Steel City is on Ben Roethlisberger. The star quarterback has made no bones about his wanting to return to action, but it a decision won’t be made until later in the week – possibly a game time decision – as to whether he gets his wish.

As such, oddsmakers have left this one off the board for the time being. Check in with BettingSports later in the week to find out who enters this as favorite.

With or without Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (7-5, 4-1 home) will look to build some momentum following Sunday’s win in Baltimore. The team will get the chance with the visit of a woeful San Diego (4-8, 2-4 road) side.

Pittsburgh has dominated San Diego historically, compiling a 22-8 all-time record against the Souther Californian side. The Steelers have taken the last three and eight of the last nine. Alarmingly for fans of the road team, the Chargers have not won a game in Pittsburgh since Jan. 1995. The Steelers may have a real opportunity to gain some more ground on the Ravens this weekend.

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

The Bengals secured a fourth consecutive victory with a win over San Diego on Sunday and now welcome the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14.

A four-game winning streak has put paid to a four-game losing streak and catapulted Cincinnati (7-5, 3-3 home) back into not only the Wild Card discussion but also the race for the AFC North title.

Like the Steelers, the Bengals are just two back of the Ravens and will be hoping a victory in Week 14 moves the team that one game closer.

Marvin Lewis’ side will face the impossible to predict Dallas Cowboys (6-6, 3-3 road) this weekend. Not ones to make things easy, the Cowboys have flip-flopped wins and losses for much of the season. The side will arrive at Paul Brown Stadium with three wins from four though, and a focus on taking the NFC East.

The Bengals and Cowboys share a limited history, a history that has seen Dallas take six of 10 games, including four of the last six. The Cowboys took a 31-22 victory in Oct. 2008, the last time the two sides met. However, Dallas has only ever recorded one victory on the road in Cincinnati, and that was back in Oct. 1994. Dallas is 1-4 all-time in the Queen City.

The Bengals open as favorites (-2) and will be hoping to take advantage of Dallas’ poor 4-8-0 ATS record. Cincinnati is 6-5-1 ATS this season. The over/under is 45.5. The total has split evenly between over and under in Cowboy games this year, while the trend is marginally toward the under in Bengal games.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) at Cleveland Browns (4-8)

Sunday, 1 PM ET

With two wins on the bounce, Cleveland (4-8, 3-3 home) has people suggesting that the Browns are finally headed in the right direction. Whilst it’ll take more than a two-game streak to confirm such accusations, there’s no denying that the Browns have not looked terrible all season.

Brandon Weeden and the Browns could raise a lot of eyebrows this weekend with a third straight win, something that looks achievable with the visit of Kansas City (2-10, 1-4 road).

The Chiefs were victorious in emotional circumstances last weekend, defeating Carolina 27-21 at Arrowhead. The side will now hope to pick up another win – just the third of the season – on the road this weekend.

A win for either side will break a tie between the sides in the all-time head-to-head, which stands at 10-10-2. Kansas City was victorious the last time the two sides met (Sept. 2010) but the last eight meetings have been split evenly. The Chiefs are 3-8 all-time when traveling to Cleveland.

Cleveland opened as favorites (-4.5) and will look to build on a superior ATS record. The Browns have gone 6-4-2 ATS while the Chiefs are 5-7-0 ATS, a marked improvement on the team’s straight up record.

The over/under is 38. The Chiefs have generally seen the total go over (seven times) while the Browns have seen it go under more times than not (eight). The two sides are ranked 25th (Cleveland) and 31th (Kansas City) across the league in scoring, which means points may be at a premium.

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