By Jeremy Hritz
The Pittsburgh Steelers were obliterated last weekend by the New England Patriots and descended further into the abyss that has become the 2013 season, while the Baltimore Ravens dropped a six-point contest to the Cleveland Browns, and the Cincinnati Bengals enjoyed their bye week as they maintained their spot atop the AFC North.
This weekend, the Browns are off, the Bengals resume play against the Ravens in an important divisional contest, and the Steelers prepare for a Buffalo Bills team that can stack up rushing yards in bunches.
Though the Browns have two less wins than the Bengals, they have the best divisional record at 2-1, including a victory over Cincinnati. If they can continue to play steady with Jason Campbell at the controls, the Browns, as surprising as it seems, could challenge the Bengals for the North.
How much can change in a year…
The contest between the Ravens and the Browns this past weekend was characterized again by an ineffective Joe Flacco and a woeful running game headed by Ray Rice, who has not been his normal productive self this year. Conversely, Campbell, the journeyman nine-year veteran, threw for three scores en route to a 24-18 victory.
Like the Steelers, the Ravens are starting games slow and are getting behind early, and this had been a significant factor in their last three losses. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens have been outscored 32-16 in the first quarter and 92-63 in the first half. In comparison, the Steelers have been outscored 61-19 in the first quarter and 118-64 in the first half. What have been two dominant teams over the past several seasons have now become clubs down on their luck, struggling to play winning football, and it is looking highly likely that both the Ravens and the Steelers will both be watching this year’s postseason from home.
The greatest challenge that the Browns have faced this season has been the lack of consistency at the quarterback position, as they have cycled through Brandon Weedon, Brian Hoyer, and are now led by Campbell. While Campbell played well against the Ravens, he can’t be expected to carry the Browns, and more than anything, if he can play a mistake-free brand of football and stay healthy, he can keep the Browns competitive in their remaining contests, as he benefits from a solid defense.
While the Browns are on the Bye, they will assuredly be watching the Bengals/Ravens game because a Bengals loss will leave them with the division’s best record.
The AFC North still appears to be Cincinnati’s division to lose, but the Browns are showing a peskiness that could keep them in the race.
Either way, it looks like Ohio’s year in 2013 in the AFC North.
|2013 AFC North Standings||Week 10 Schedule||Week 11 Schedule|
|1. Bengals||6-3, 1-1 Division||Bengals @ Ravens, 1:00 PM||Browns @ Bengals, 1:00 PM|
|2. Browns||4-5, 2-1 Division||Bye Week: Browns||Browns @ Bengals, 1:00 PM|
|3. Ravens||3-5, 1-2 Division||Bengals @ Ravens, 1:00 PM||Ravens @ Bears, 1:00 PM|
|4. Steelers||2-6, 1-1 Division||Bills @ Steelers, 1:00 PM||Lions @ Steelers, 1:00 PM|
|AFC North Statistical Leaders|
|Leading Passer||Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals – 215/332, 2587 yards, 16 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (3rd in the NFL)|
|Leading Rusher||BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – 131 carries, 424 yards, 3 touchdowns (23rd in the NFL)|
|Leading Receiver||A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals – 57 receptions, 862 yards, 5 touchdown (1st in the NFL)|
|Sack Leader||Terrell Suggs – Baltimore Ravens – 9 sacks (5th in the NFL)|
|Interception Leader||Several tied with 2 interceptions|
|Top Defense||Cleveland Browns – 315.7 yards per game (4th in the NFL)|
|Top Offense||Cincinnati Bengals – 380.2 yards per game (9th in the NFL)|