Western Conference

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hongwei28
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Western Conference

Postby hongwei28 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:01 pm

Considering what happened in the rain at Cleveland last Sunday Ramon Humber Jersey , the rugged AFC North looks like it will be wide open.

So Thursday night's visit to Cincinnati by Baltimore takes on an extra bit of importance, even in mid-September, after the division-favorite Steelers stumbled and bumbled to a 21-21 tie against the Browns.

The Ravens were all over Buffalo from the start as Joe Flacco recaptured some of that 2012 championship form and the defense destroyed the Bills. The Bengals fell in a big hole at Indianapolis and showed far more gumption than usual by climbing out of it to win.

Two teams many projected as also-rans for 2018 delivered some impressive opening performances.

"That game is behind us," Ravens safety Tony Jefferson says. "Although it's great to have momentum, it's over with. It's a new week. This is a division opponent; they know us very well and we know them very well."

Perhaps. But these Bengals seem to have a resilience not seen often in recent seasons, though Cincinnati did show such moxie in the previous meeting with Baltimore.

The Ravens ended the season hosting the Bengals and fell 31-27 on Andy Dalton's 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds left. That eliminated Baltimore from the playoffs and sent Buffalo into the postseason.

The Ravens, ranked No. 9 in the AP Pro32, and No. 16 Bengals are pick-em at Paul Brown Stadium. It's hard to fathom that Pro Picks is predicting Cincinnati will start the season 2-0. But that's where we'll go.

BENGALS, 21-20

KNOCKOUT POOL

We warned everyone last week that we aren't very saintly in these things, and New Orleans' flop proved that. We're obligated to keep trying and will go with the LA RAMS.

No. 28 Oakland (plus 6) at No. 14 Denver

Not exactly Orange Crush defense, but Broncos will put Mile High hit on Jon Gruden's Raiders.

BEST BET: BRONCOS, 23-13

No. 3 Minnesota (plus 1) at No. 6 Green Bay

No miracle finishes for A-Rod and Pack this time, though this isn't much of an ...

UPSET SPECIAL: VIKINGS Bryan Bulaga Jersey , 27-20

No. 1 New England (minus 2) at No. 5 Jacksonville

AFC championship game rematch 鈥?and perhaps harbinger for January. No revenge for Jaguars.

PATRIOTS, 27-16

No. 7 Kansas City (plus 5 1-2) at No. 11 Pittsburgh

Steelers fall behind even more in AFC race and Chiefs prosper.

CHIEFS, 26-24

No. 19 Los Angeles Chargers (minus 7) at No. 32 Buffalo

Bills can't possibly be as bad as they looked in opener. Or maybe they are.

CHARGERS, 27-10

No. 31 Arizona (plus 13) at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams

Cardinals can't possibly be as bad as they looked in opener. Or maybe they are.

RAMS, 26-10

No. 30 Detroit (plus 5 1-2) at No. 23 San Francisco

Lions can't possibly ... you get it.

49ERS, 20-17

No. 18 Miami (plus 3) at No. 17 New York Jets

Battle to keep pace with Patriots in AFC East 鈥?at least through two weeks.

J-E-T-S, 23-21

No. 8 Carolina (plus 5 1-2) at No. 10 Atlanta

Red zone scares Falcons, strange occurrence for a team wearing that color.

FALCONS, 20-17

No. 2 Philadelphia (minus 3) at No. 15 Tampa Bay

If Buccaneers win this, time to re-evaluate.

EAGLES, 21-20

No. 29 Indianapolis (plus 5 1-2) at No. 12 Washington

Redskins were as pleasant a surprise as Bucs last week. Revival continues in DC.

REDSKINS, 26-19

No. 27 Cleveland (plus 8) at No. 13 New Orleans

Who thought Saints would be more embarrassed team in opener than Browns?

SAINTS, 27-15

No. 24 New York Giants (plus 3) at No. 25 Dallas

NBC and NFL love this as prime-time matchup. Hey Dwayne Allen Jersey , they both are 0-1, guys.

COWBOYS, 17-16

No. 21 Seattle (plus 3) at No. 22 Chicago, Monday night

Bears need to put Lambeau collapse behind them.

BEARS, 20-16

No. 20 Houston (no line) at No. 26 Tennessee

Tough start for banged-up Titans.

TEXANS, 23-13

2018 RECORD:

Last Week: Against spread (8-7-1). Straight up (10-5-1)

Season Totals: Against spread (8-7-1). Straight up: (10-5-1)

Best Bet: 1-0 against spread, 1-0 straight up

Upset special: 0-1 against spread, 0-1 straight up

The Atlanta Falcons will look at their current roster to replace Keanu Neal, the safety who will miss the remainder of the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee Thursday night in an 18-12 opening loss at Philadelphia .

Coach Dan Quinn said Friday he and general manager Thomas Dimitroff discussed outside options that could include free agent Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid.

"We have talked about that," Quinn said when asked specifically about Reid.

Quinn didn't rule out looking to acquire help in the future, but he said the first option would be a combination of Damontae Kazee, who replaced Neal in the game, and Jordan Richards Cameron Erving Jersey , a safety who was acquired from the New England Patriots on Aug. 31.

"We'd like to go in-house first," Quinn said. "The reason is the presence of Jordan and the emergence of Kazee. We'll go down that road first. Then they'll definitely be, when you put a player down for the year on IR, there will be some opportunities that we could look at as well. But from a starting standpoint look in-house first."

The loss of Neal, a leader on the defense who was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2017, is a major blow to the Atlanta defense.

"It's very disappointing," defensive end Takkarist McKinley said following a team meeting on Friday. "He is a leader on this team, our best player. Losing him, someone else has got to step up. We've all got to step up."

Friday's news was especially devastating because the initial diagnosis of the Falcons medical staff, which Quinn relayed to reporters following the game, was the injury wasn't believed to be serious. The team learned Friday Neal had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.

"You can imagine he was certainly heartbroken," said Quinn of Neal. "... It was a tough, emotional day."

Neal used his Twitter account to pass along a message of faith. "TRUST in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. He has a plan Vontae Davis Jersey ," Neal wrote.

The injury news added more shock to a Falcons locker room reeling from another close loss to the Eagles. After being stopped on the goal line in a playoff loss in Philadelphia last season, the Falcons again were denied on five plays in the red zone to end the game.

Then came Friday's news that Neal was lost for the season.

"You can't replace a guy like that," said cornerback Desmond Trufant. "We've just got to pray for him and pick up the slack."

Neal hurt his knee in the first half, returned in the second half and then left the game for good.

Quinn said he didn't think Neal aggravated the injury by returning to the game.

Reid, 26, knelt beside San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the sideline during national anthems in the 2016 season to protest social injustice. Reid continued his protest in 2017. He filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in May after he was not signed as a free agent last offseason.

The NFLPA has filed a grievance on Reid's behalf.

Reid started 69 of 70 games with 10 career interceptions and remained unsigned despite attracting interest from Cincinnati and Tennessee.

Neal was a 2016 first-round draft pick from Florida and one of the key building blocks on Quinn's defense. Neal had 113 tackles with one interception, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while starting every game last season.

Neal also has set the pace for the defense with his physical style.

"His physical nature is one that he plays like a linebacker, but is fast enough to play in the middle part of the field and play outside," Quinn said. "We'll certainly miss him because of the physical nature he plays with."

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