AFC North News and Notes: Undefeated Week for 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!
Key pass rusher about to return for Ravens
Ravens pass rusher Odafe Oweh has been out the past four weeks with an ankle injury, but he returned to practice on Wednesday and could be in line to play this Sunday. The Ravens are tied for the league lead in sacks, but getting back a player of Oweh’s caliber will definitely ease the burden of Tavius Robinson, Jeremiah Moon, Jadeveon Clowney, and the other pass rushers who have stepped up in Oweh’s absence.
As it pertains to the offensive side of the ball, much has been said about the Ravens’ inefficiencies in the red zone. Despite only converting on 16% of their red zone opportunities against the Titans, head coach John Harbaugh is confident they can turn things around: “We’ve had great success in the red zone, and then we kind of have a drought. It’s a long season, we’re capable of being great in the red zone, and I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of success going forward, but we’ve got to find it and make it happen.”
Defense Leads Bengals to Narrow Victory
The Bengals delivered with a key win against the Seahawks on Sunday, and much was due to a strong performance from the defense. The strength of their defense, however, has not been their pass rush, but rather their secondary. Safety Dax Hill has taken on a larger responsibility in Year 2, but six weeks into the season, he has been up for the task. Corners Cam Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner have also been outstanding, playing like one of the best tandems in the NFL. The Bengals need to be more consistent on offense (perhaps the return of Tee Higgins helps in that area), but if Cincinnati can rely on their defense to keep them in games, they will be a scary team down the stretch.
Browns pull off stunner against 49ers
The Browns are quite the anomaly. One week, they can look like a complete mess, only to come back a later week and knock off the 49ers with Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb both injured. Watson’s return should be in the near future, but in all fairness, the offense was not performing that much differently on Sunday than it was performing with Watson. The Browns face the Colts this Sunday, who are without starting quarterback Anthony Richardson.
Diontae Johnson ready to return
Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson returned to practice this week and is in line to play this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. George Pickens has become the number one option in this offense, but still, getting a player with Johnson’s experience should help open more things up for Pickens down the field. On the flip side, Rams running back Kyren Williams is not going to be available Sunday, meaning that Zach Evans and Royce Freeman will lead the Rams running attack. Don’t be surprised to see TuTu Atwell get involved in the ground game either.
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