Poor, Cleveland

August 21, 2007 1:51 AM
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EDITORS NOTE: This is the seventh in an eight-week series of NFL teasers offering pertinent news and notes. GamingToday’s 2007 pro football preview edition featuring writers Andy Iskoe, Jim Feist, Richard Saber, Denny The Dog and a cast of thousands will be published Sept. 4, two days prior to the season opener.

This week: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Brian Billick thought Steve McNair was the missing piece to getting the Ravens back in the Super Bowl.

This year it’s Willis McGahee, acquired from Buffalo to put life in a listless running game.

The Ravens have everything else. Ray Lewis leads a defense with attitude that posted a super +15 turnover ratio.

Baltimore lost 15-6 at home to the Colts, which went on to win the Super Bowl. Not much has to be tweaked, except more production on offense both Mc2 can provide if both can just stay healthy. That’s asking a lot.

With Baltimore 4-1 in its last five preseason games, all signs point to a focused effort in this week’s game at Washington.

Ravens vitals

Last year: 13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS

O / U: 10-6 under

Turnover ratio: +15

2006 exhibition (2-2, 3-1 ATS): BAL (+1½) 16-17 v Giants (34)

BAL (-3) 20-10 v Philly (34)

BAL (+3½) 7-30 v Minny (35½)

BAL (+2½) 17-10 at Wash (33½) 2007 exhibition (1-1, 1-1 ATS):

BAL (-3½) 29-3 v Philly (31½)

BAL (-3½) 12-13 v Giants (33½)

25, at Wash; 31, at Atlanta.

Cincinnati Bengals

Last year, the Bengals were a playoff team statistically and somehow blew it.

Cincy opened 3-0 both SU and ATS and added a 4-0 run in midseason. But, sandwiched in was an 0-5-1 ATS skid along with a closing three-game losing streak that sealed Cincy’s fate.

The weapons are there, both on and off the field. QB Carson Palmer, WR Chad Johnson and a stellar offense couldn’t overcome the crimes and punishment of this dysfunctional family. Coach Marvin Lewis is beginning his fifth season and he could be gone if Cincy doesn’t clean up its act.

In preseason, the Bengals have covered five straight times over a two-year span.

Bengals vitals:

Last year: 8-8 SU, 8-7-1 ATS

O/U: 9-7 under

Turnover ratio: +7

2006 exhibition (4-0, 4-0 ATS)

CIN (+2) 19-3 v Wash (34½)

CIN (+3½) 44-31 at Buff (34½)

CIN (-5) 48-17 v Green Bay (40)

CIN (+3) 20-3 at Indy (40)

2007 exhibition (0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS)

CIN (+3) 26-27 at Detroit (34½)

CIN (-3½) 19-27 v N.Orl (38)

27, at Atlanta; 31, INDY.

Cleveland Browns

What hits you like a lead pipe about last year’s Browns was a -15 turnover ratio. That’s Three Stooges material.

So Romeo Crennel and his braintrust have put their stock in rookie Brady Quinn, the Golden Boy from Notre Dame. It will be Quinn’s job to become the best Browns QB since Bernie Kosar.

Injuries have killed the Browns, especially the ones to TE Kellen Winslow, who has never been able to realize his potential. WR Braylon Edwards is a comer and the Browns have a good defense. But the lack of a running game, and another 0-6 SU mark against the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals will mean last place again.

With preseason games left at Denver and Chicago, the Browns shouldl be a nice road dog play.

Browns vitals:

Last year: 4-12, 7-8-1 ATS

O/U: 9-6-1 under

Turnover ratio: -15

2006 exhibition (2-2, 2-2 ATS)

CLE (+3½) 7-20 at Philly (33½)

CLE (-3) 20-16 v Detroit (33½)

CLE (+3½) 20-17 at Buff (34½)

CLE (+3½) 7-20 v Chi (33½)

2007 exhibition (1-1, 1-1 ATS)

CLE (-3) 16-12 v Kans City (34)

CLE (-2½) 20-23 v Detroit (35½)

25, at Denver; 30 at Chicago.

Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s a new era in Pittsburgh with Mike Tomlin taking over for the popular Bill Cowher, who is taking a coaching hiatus for at least this season.

The Steelers have compiled a 1-1 preseason record for their new coach, far better than the 0-4 exhibition mark under Cowher in 2006. But, times are different.

The Steelers closed 4-1 both SU and ATS last year, yet missed the playoffs with a disappointing 8-8 mark. The hope this season is having QB Ben Roethlisberger in good health all season, along with RB Willie Parker.

Heinz Ward remains an All-Pro receiver, but the Steelers are waiting for Santonio Holmes to step up and reach his potential.

It will be on Tomlin to reverse a -8 turnover ratio, that included a -10 mark away from Pittsburgh.

Expect the Steelers to try and avenge last year’s preseason loss to the Eagles, while easing off the others, especially the finale at Carolina off just 3 days rest.

Steelers vitals:

Last year: 8-8, 7-8 ATS

O/U: 9-6-1 over

Turnover ratio: -8

2006 exhibition (0-4, 1-3 ATS)

PIT (-4½) 13-21 at Arizona (35½)

PIT (-2½) 10-17 v Minny (34½)

PIT (+3) 7-16 at Philly (35)

PIT (+3) 13-15 v Carolina (33)

2007 exhibition (2-1, 1-2 ATS)

PIT (-3) 20-7 v N.Orleans (34)

PIT (-6½) 9-13 v G.Bay (34)

PIT (-2½) 12-10 at Wash (33)

26, PHILADELPHIA; 30, at Carolina.

Next week: The AFC West