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Week 12 - Ravens look good

November 28, 2006|by ROBERT KELLER

Week 12 draws to a close for the NFL, and a Super Bowl-winning team drops out of the playoffs this year, the third team of defending champions to do so in six years. I'm talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The biggest game of this week was between Pittsburgh and the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh needed this win to even think about the playoffs. The Ravens' defense, ranked second in the NFL, wouldn't allow it. The Ravens sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger nine times, intercepted him twice and recovered a fumble. If the Steelers had anything to think about after the game, it would be how to be a better team next year. They are done for this year.

I was 3-1 on predictions from last weekend's games. The only team that slipped by was the Colts and Eagles game. If the Eagles had done a better job on defense, they might have stood a chance.

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The four games I'm going to predict this week are Baltimore at Cincinnati, Atlanta at Washington, Dallas at the New York Giants, and Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh. My choices are Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas and Tampa Bay. The Giants are good, but I expect Giants quarterback Eli Manning to play like he did in Tennessee, where his turnovers helped erase a 21-point lead.

I'm a little concerned about the battle for the top spots in the AFC. There are three teams battling for the top three seeds. It is going to be a fierce fight. Right now, Indianapolis stands on top with 10-1, and Baltimore and San Diego are tied for second at 9-2. Since the Ravens beat the Chargers, Baltimore takes second over San Diego.

Indianapolis has an easy schedule for the rest of the NFL season, while San Diego and Baltimore have a few more challenges. I still have confidence that Baltimore will take the top AFC seed from Indianapolis.

Some quarterbacks are wrecking their teams. One of them is Roethlisberger. He doesn't seem to be getting anything accomplished. The only personal record he can set this year is for interceptions. He's thrown 19 this year, nearly doubling his previous career total.

The other troublesome quarterback is the Giants' Manning. He still seems to be a little nervous. In the past three games, he has hurt his team more than he has helped it. He is young and inexperienced and needs to leave now while he can.

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