NGSC Sports

AFC NORTH: Season Opener Preview

Fans around the country should be thrilled that a new football season kicks off this Thursday and the AFC North will be gearing up to play their divisional foes on Sunday. Let’s take a look at how the AFC North teams will perform in their first regular season match ups.

 

Cincinnati Bengals  vs. Baltimore Ravens

This divisional match up will be the most fun to watch as these teams are matched up more evenly. The Ravens will have to replace  Ray Rice’s production by challenging back up Bernard Pierce to step up in most rushing situations.  How well the Bengals defense plays will ultimately tell the story of this game, if they stop the run but allow quarterback Joe Flacco to air it out to his new receiving targets, this could be a high scoring affair. The Bengals offense will most likely be able to put up a solid amount of points in this game, they have an improved backfield and their quarterback Andy Dalton should see some favorable match ups against an inexperienced Ravens secondary. I expect this to be a fun game to watch and I believe the Bengals come away with the victory. Running backs Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill will be too fatal of a combination for the Ravens if the game is close in the fourth quarter.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

I don’t expect this game to hold as many season implications as the Cincinnati vs. Baltimore game. If the Steelers win, they still have hurdles to pass to win the division and if the Browns win they will still have mountains to climb for a division title if they pick up a win on Sunday. With that said, this should be a closely contested, defensive football game. While the Browns offense does seem to lack the explosiveness that their division rivals possess, their defense is a lock to keep them in nearly every football game. All eyes will be on quarterback Brian Hoyer as many people project him to lose his starting spot  by week four if he fails to lead his team to at least one win. The Steelers will want to make this into a statement game, but will have some problems distancing themselves on the scoreboard. All indications say signal caller Ben Roethlisberger and his offense will play very well, but their defense may give up a few more points than many expect.  The Steelers’ aging front seven will have some trouble stopping the run and the short pass, both of those elements should be the corner stone of the Browns’ game plan. Struggles aside, the Steelers pick up the win in a surprisingly close game.

 

After such a long wait, I hope that we see some great games in week one. More often than not, you don’t really know how good your team really is until about week seven so don’t let an early loss ruin your weekend.

 

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