AFC North News and Notes: Another undefeated week in the AFC North
Each week during the NFL season, I will be running through the top storylines from within the AFC North and giving my brief opinion on each matter that is discussed. Once the season gets into full swing, we oftentimes overlook many prevalent stories around the league, as we narrow our focus solely on our beloved Steelers. Hopefully this weekly piece will provide insight on the important topics in the AFC North and educate each reader on what to expect for each AFC North team moving forward.
With much to discuss and minimal time to discuss it, let’s dive right in!
Ravens Roll Seahawks in Dominant Fashion
Baltimore is not a team anyone wants to face right now, because they are working on all cylinders. Lamar Jackson has not even had to do much the past couple weeks, as the running game and defense have taken over games recently. This week’s standout was rookie Keaton Mitchell, who rushed for over 130 yards on just 8 carries. The loss of J.K. Dobbins has not been a major hindrance for this team, as they seem to be able to crank running backs out of nowhere and turn them into productive offensive weapons. Up next is a big divisional matchup against the Browns.
The Bengals Are Officially Back
If anyone had doubts as to whether or not the Bengals could turn things around, they put all doubts to rest Sunday night, beating the Bills 24-18. Joe Mixon and Joe Burrow have both returned to the level of play we have come to expect from them, and their cast of weapons are finally healthy. On defense, rookie cornerback DJ Turner has taken the secondary to new heights. The secondary was an area of concern this offseason, as they lost star safety Jesse Bates. However, the loss of Bates has hardly been noticeable with the corners playing as well as they have on the perimeter.
Browns Blank Cards With Strong Defensive Performance
Clayton Tune had a rookie debut he will want to forget, as the Browns were all over him Sunday en route to a 27-0 Cleveland victory. Deshaun Watson threw for a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions, and Amari Cooper turned 5 catches into 139 yards and 1 touchdown. The Browns have been dysfunctional on offense at times this season, but they are still finding a way to win games. This is not an ideal time to be playing the Ravens, but if they can manage to pull off the upset, Cleveland will definitely be a true contender to win this division.
Steelers Eek Out Another Close Win
The Steelers do not know how to win a game in pretty fashion, but nonetheless, they are winning enough games to remain afloat in the playoff hunt. Diontae Johnson had a solid outing with 7 catches for 90 yards and 1 touchdown on 9 targets, but the fact his usage is much higher than George Pickens’ usage is concerning going forward. If the Steelers want to find success as an offense, George Pickens has to be the number one receiver on this team. Johnson simply is not as efficient or explosive as Pickens, and the fact he is being schemed as the WR1 in Matt Canada’s offense is ludicrous. However, as long as T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith keep eating on the edge, this defense will cause fits for other teams.
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