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Week 17 NFL Predictions: ESPN Picks Steelers, Ravens To Win

Jamison Hensley lists his AFC North picks for Week 17, and his forecast isn’t necessarily one Steelers fans will be happy to see. He picks the Steelers to defeat the Cleveland Browns 20-10, which seems pretty straightforward:

Pittsburgh will control the game with its running attack against the NFL’s 30th-ranked run defense. Expect another 100-yard rushing day for Rashard Mendenhall.

Hensley also picks the Baltimore Ravens over the Cincinnati Bengals, which would mean the Steelers would be stuck with a Wild Card berth. (Victories by the Steelers and Bengals would give the Steelers a first-round playoff bye, and would also put three AFC North teams, the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals, in the playoffs.)

The biggest weakness of the Cincinnati defense all season has been stopping teams inside the 20-yard line. The Bengals rank 26th in red zone defense, while the Ravens are second. Baltimore running back Ray Rice will be a factor around the goal line.

A Baltimore victory would be unfortunate. But it’s far from inevitable – the Bengals are a good young team and will be highly motivated, since they would clinch the last Wild Card berth with a victory.

Here are SB Nation Pittsburgh’s picks for the Steelers, Ravens and Patriots games. These three games will determine the Steelers’ playoff seed.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.