By Jeremy Hritz
|2013 AFC North Standings||Week 2 AFC North Schedule||Week 3 AFC North Schedule|
|Ravens, 1-1||Ravens 14, Browns 6||Texans @ Ravens, 1 PM|
|Bengals, 0-1||Steelers @ Bengals, MNF, 8:40 PM||Packers @ Bengals, 1 PM|
|Steelers, 0-1||Browns @ Vikings, 1 PM|
|Browns, 0-2||Bears @ Steelers, 8:30 PM|
The AFC North earned its first victory of the season on Sunday as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Cleveland Browns, 14-6. While it wasn’t an impressive victory, it was an important divisional win for the Ravens off of their devastating loss on opening night to the Denver Broncos.
The Ravens harassed Brandon Weedon and sacked him five times, eventually knocking him out of the game, yet despite the pressure, the Browns managed to find a way to keep the game close. Neither team was able to generate much offensively, and a five-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to wide receiver Marlon Brown was the difference maker.
Worthy of note from this contest was the injury suffered by running back Ray Rice in the fourth quarter. Head coach John Harbaugh said the injury is a hip flexor strain and that Rice is not scheduled to get an MRI. This will be an injury worth following closely throughout the week as the Ravens prepare for a big contest against the Houston Texans next Sunday.
Also worth noting were the struggles of Ravens kicker Justin Tucker who missed two field goals, one from 50 and one from 44. Could Tucker’s confidence be shaken moving forward?
For the Browns, Barkevious Mingo recorded his first sack, and Trent Richardson had 18 carries for 58 yards. Overall, the Browns struggled offensively, gaining only 259 net yards and only converting 26% of their third downs.
The Ravens offense didn’t fair much better, gaining only 296 total yards.
While Cleveland looks improved defensively, both teams appear to have their flaws, and despite the Ravens win, they didn’t have enough of a showing for anyone to believe that they are the clear favorites to win the division.
The Steelers and Bengals are geared up and ready to go on Monday Night, and at the conclusion of the game, one of them will join the Browns at 0-2, while one will be notched in a tie for first with the Ravens. If the Steelers want to contend for the AFC North, they need to get the divisional victory in Cincinnati.
Week three in the AFC North presents what should be some intriguing matchups against the NFC North with contests between the Bengals and Packers, Browns and Vikings, and Steelers and Bears, and as mentioned earlier, the Ravens will have an important AFC showdown against the Texans.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their second prime time game in a row, as they will take on the Bears next Sunday Night.
It’s been an underwhelming two weeks thus far in the AFC North in a very young NFL season.
Will tomorrow’s Monday Night matchup be more of the same?