Clarke, who wasn't impressed by either side in last month's Tyne-Wear derby, is tipping Norwich City to survive this season.
And Clarke, who was most recently the manager of Championship side Reading, believes Alex Neil's side are in the driving seat, despite having played a game more than their closest rivals.
Asked if he could see Newcastle staying up, Clarke told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on Tuesday: "I don’t, if I’m being honest.
"I was up there a couple of weeks ago for the derby with Sunderland. I thought when I watched that game, I actually feared for both teams. I think both teams in the North East could be in a bit of trouble this year.
"(Norwich have) got a great chance because they’ve got Sunderland at home again, if they can win that one it should just about see them safe. The home advantage is massive, absolutely massive.
"For Norwich now because they’ve got that little gap between them, it doesn’t become so much as a must win, if they can maintain that gap between themselves and Sunderland it’s still a good result for them."
Norwich travel to out of sorts Crystal Palace on Saturday, before hosting Sunderland the following weekend.
The Canaries have stability on their side, having kept patience with young boss Alex Neil despite a run of 10 league games without a win.
Newcastle are yet to register win under new head coach Rafa Benitez, while Sunderland haven't tasted victory in any of their last five outings.
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce has never been relegated from the Premier League as a manager.