By Hamish Girvan
The NFL is traditionally very cyclical in terms of dominant teams – for example who remembers the San Francisco 49ers appearing in the SuperBowl in 2013 against the Baltimore Ravens ?
The AFC North use to be dominated by one team – the Pittsburgh Steelers – and then the rest. Now the tide has turned with even the Cleveland Browns being competitive of sorts after their first win in Thursday Night Football this week. The tide is turning.
Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers – Monday 24th September (5am NZ time)
The Cincinnati Bengals are unbeaten after 2 games and look as though they may be turning into the team on paper they should be – however this is always how they seem to roll under head coach Marvin Lewis. Competitive but never quite getting over the final hurdle. They have a very menacing defence and a good running game however with second year running back Joe Mixon currently injured they are into their back ups. Here they travel to an equally inconsistent Panthers team however they on current form they should take this one on the road.
Take Cincinnati +2.5
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens – Monday 24th September (5am NZ time)
The Baltimore Ravens kicked off the season with a huge win against the Buffalo Bills – who we now realise are the worst team in the NFL on current form. Last week the Ravens were brought down to earth with a shuddering halt being dealt to by divisional rivals the Bengals. Quarterback Joe Flacco is becoming too inconsistent and here he faces one the better pass rushing teams in the Broncos. The Ravens are solid favourites here and have a great offense however they will have to be at their best to counter the Broncos defence. The Ravens have a 5.5 point start possibly due to the Denver offence being very average however take the Bronco’s to go close here.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Monday 24th September (12.15pm NZ time)
Consistent divisional winners and favourites the Pittsburgh Steelers are in an early season hole. Heir record is 0-1-1 – that’s one tie and a loss. Their tie came against the Cleveland Browns in the opening round and they lost their home opener in convincing fashion to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. They have some issues with star running back Le’Veon Bell not turning up this season due to contractual disagreements – who also seems quite comfortable in forfeiting a $850K game fee each week. Their offence is not quite clicking (perhaps due to Bell’s absence) and here they travel to a surprising team at the other end of the result spectrum – the unbeaten Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Steelers go in as favourites – and on paper so they should however the Buccaneers seem to be on a roll.
Take Tampa Bay in an upset +1.5
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