By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
Divisional Match-ups are finally here in the AFC North and there are two great ones this weekend.
Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) host the Cleveland Browns (1-2). Then on Monday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) host the Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)
During the off-season, it appeared that there would be a battle going on in this division. However, a season-ending injury to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has left the team floundering. And first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens is struggling with discipline and penalty issues for the Browns.
Will this week’s match-ups ultimately decide the division?
BROWNS AT RAVENS
While that score may look as if it was a close game, looks can be deceiving. Going into the 4th quarter, Chiefs led 30-13. Their defense eased up a bit allowing 15 Baltimore points but they never really felt under pressure. QB Patrick Mahomes has a stellar game – QB Rating 132 – while Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson was just “Meh.” On the bright side for the Ravens, running back Mark Ingram II looked amazing with 16 carriers for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
Sunday Night Football put these teams into the spotlight: 2018 NFC Champions vs the up-and-coming Underdogs. It wasn’t always pretty, and frankly, the Rams looked like it was the preseason and not a real actual game at the time, but they managed to get out of the Browns way long enough for them to trip over themselves. Too Harsh? I think not. To be within a touchdown late in the game, to have first and goal from the four yard-line and not make it in, well, that’s just not good.
PREVIEW: The Ravens have a running game to spare between Jackson and Ingram II. The Browns looked like they were getting on board the “Just Run Nick Chubb” train until it really mattered at the end. This game is going to come down to who controls the rushing yards. Period.
“I hope the Browns were watching Thursday Night Football. Cleveland is in the same situation as Philadelphia.”@criscarter80‘s advice for the Browns to beat the Ravens: protect Baker Mayfield and run the football. pic.twitter.com/jNm7QVVK5s
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) September 27, 2019
BENGALS AT STEELERS
Welcome to the NFL, Mason Rudolph! With a full week to get ready for this game, Rudolph was 14 of 27 with two touchdowns and one interception. Wide Receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson each had one, but it was the running game that kept Pittsburgh down in this one. RB James Conner managed only 43 yards against a stingy 49ers defense. The Steeler defense was on its game as well, intercepting QB Jimmy Garoppolo twice, but it wasn’t enough.
I’d like to tell you how good Bills QB Josh Allen looked, but with his QB Rating of 81 going against veteran QB Andy Dalton’s rating of 63 you’d just laugh. That being said, Allen managed the game, spread the ball around and came up with the win. The Bengals offense gave up two sacks and two interceptions. RB Joe Mixon managed 60 yards and a touchdown, with the other one coming from a Dalton scramble. Their receiving game was ineffective, even with 88 yards for WR Auden Tate and 68 for Tyler Boyd.
PREVIEW: While this may not be the most anticipated match-up of the weekend, it is the final one. (HA!) Both teams need this win since they don’t have any. Typically this would be a blood bath in favor of the Steelers, but with Rudolph behind center and a faltering running game, they’ll either overcome or the Bengals will make the most of this opportunity. However, it’s been announced that Cincinnati WR A.J. Green will not be playing. Fingers crossed that Tate and Boyd can fill the gap better this week.
I think these are the 2 matchups that everyone should be focusing on in the #Steelers #Bengals game:
1) Steelers offense vs Bengals defense
2) Bengals offense vs Steelers defense #HereWeGo #seizethedey
— J🍩ey Bag 🍩f D🍩nuts 🍩 (@joeybagovdonuts) September 27, 2019
Talk AFC North with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8