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Friday Football Footnotes: CBSSports picks Ravens over Steelers to win AFC North

September 27, 2018

In this week’s Friday Football Footnotes, someone is picking against the Steelers in the AFC North. Antonio Brown is the only wide receiver Jalen Ramsey seems to like. Larry Fitzgerald shines.

Ravens will win North

We’ve told you how Sports Illustrated picked the Steelers to win the AFC Championship game. FS1 host Colin Cowherd has the Black and Gold in the Super Bowl as well.

CBSSports.com does not. They don’t even have the Steelers winning the division. Author Will Brinson is picking the Ravens to win the AFC North.

Here is part of his thinking: “I think this is the weakest team Pittsburgh trots out in a few years: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are great. They’re the best trio in the NFL. And the Steelers have a very good offensive line. But I’m not buying they can fix the late-season issues that plagued the defense after Ryan Shazier’s terrible injury. If the defense plays in 2018 like it did down the stretch, the offense will need to be perfect in order for Pittsburgh to hit 12-win territory. If Pittsburgh’s floating in the 10-win area (the Steelers’ win total is 10.5 with the under heavily juiced in Las Vegas), the Ravens can storm up on them.”

That’s not entirely insane. I see the Steelers going 10-6, and the Ravens 8-8. Pittsburgh’s questionable defense, combustible locker room, getting fewer good breaks in close games, and a few offensive injuries could all factor into them falling back in 2018.

Where I question the logic more is here:

“When we look back on the 2018 season, predicting the Ravens to win the AFC North won’t even look like a bold claim. It will look like something we should have seen coming. Fortunately for you, we did.”

I’d invest more in the logic of the Steelers slipping a little bit than I would the Ravens being significantly better.

Ramsey isn’t done

Remember when Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey sounded off on just about every quarterback in the world in GQ?

Well, now he’s turning his attention to the pass catchers in ESPN the Magazine. Ramsey ripped New England’s Rob Gronkowski, saying “he isn’t as great as people think he is.”

Then he went after Miami’s Danny Amendola, stating, “He just got a brand-new contract and he is terrible. People think he’s so great. No, he’s not. Tom [Brady] made him look good. Tom could take me as a receiver and I’d be a first-team All-Pro.”

One guy Ramsey does appreciate though? It’s Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. “He’s easily the best receiver in the NFL. Easily.”

Based on how he panned everyone else, that may not be the high praise it appears to be.

You’re kidding, right?

The NFL posed this probing, controversial question on Twitter yesterday.

That’s real. Not photoshopped or anything. And it was presented without irony.

If the question was more like, “The Patriots will win the AFC East by how many games,” that would’ve been more of a debate.

The Patriots have won 14 of the past 15 AFC East championships and nine in a row. There is no reason to believe this year is going to be any different.

Here are some of our favorite comments underneath.

Well done, Larry Fitz

A tip of the cap is in order for Pitt product Larry Fitzgerald. He did a nice job speaking at the memorial service for the late Sen. John McCain. The Cardinals receiver built up a long-time friendship with the former Arizona Senator who died last week at the age of 81.

Fitzgerald and McCain were close enough that the one-time Panther great went to Hanoi to visit where McCain was held hostage as a prisoner during the Vietnam War.

He recounted that story at the podium, as well as the nature of their unique friendship. As Fitzgerald said, “He was white, I was black. I’m young; he wasn’t so young.

“He ran for President. I run out of bounds.”

Fitzgerald also joked about McCain sending him motivational text messages and popping in on their practices. You can see an extended clip of his speech below, as captured by CBS News.

Familiar connection

A few familiar names hooked up on this pass. But not in the way the quarterback wanted.

This is Philadelphia’s Christian Hackenberg — formerly of Penn State — getting picked off by former Steeler J.J. Wilcox. He’s now playing safety for the Jets.

Woof! That was bad. Where was Hackenberg going with that one? He was intercepted once more, and he got sacked twice as well.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH.

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