The Battle for the AFC North is Heating Up!

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North / NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

While it’s snowing in the midwest, the battle for the AFC North is heating up!

The Week 12 Sunday Night Football Game turned into the Tuesday Night game which then became the Wednesday Late Afternoon game for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. Thanks, Covid…

The Steelers top the division standings at 11-0, followed by the Cleveland Browns (yes, the Browns!) at 8-3. The Ravens, 6-5, may be the biggest disappointment so far this year while the Cincinnati Bengals at 2-8-1 still aren’t as far away as their record indicates.

Let’s take a look at what happened this week and who they have coming up on the schedule.

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Week 2 Wrap-up: AFC North

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North / NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

Week 2 of the NFL season started with an offensive showdown in the AFC North last Thursday night, in an inner-state match-up between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. Yes, I said an offensive showdown!

In fact, the entire division looked good from an offensive perspective, putting up a combined 124 points. Now, they did allow 102 points so it looks like defense is going to be an issue for most of these teams…. but let’s take a closer look at what happened.

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AFC North 2020 Preview

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North / NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

The 2020 NFL offseason has been anything but typical. Training camps are underway with no fans in attendance and our glimpses of the teams have been sketchy at best.

But in looking around the AFC North, at the additions from the draft, the free agency moves and the returns from injury, it seems as if it’s just another normal off-season.

I have to say the team to beat is the Baltimore Ravens – regardless of what Steeler Fan wants to believe. And while Pittsburgh and the Cleveland Browns battle to be second fiddle, I think we all know the Cincinnati Bengals need a lot more help than #1 draft pick Joe Burrow as quarterback.

Let take a look at what each team has been up to so far this year.

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ProFootball Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Donnie Shell

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter
NFC West/AFC West

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

When we were dividing up the inductees of the ProFootball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 for our articles, I immediately asked for safety Donnie Shell.

A highly decorated member of the Pittsburg Steelers Steel Curtain defense, Shell was one of the most decorated players to ever play the game, and I am so thrilled he finally made it to Canton.

You guys know me. I LOVE defense. I love old school, knock ’em in the dirt defense. The Steelers Steel Curtain was the epitome of that type of football, and Shell was a big part of it.

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ProFootball Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Bill Cowher

Sonja Greenfield, Senior NFL Reporter NFC North, NFC East

By Sonja Greenfield // @Mom23RN

I have the great honor of profiling former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher.

You know, to me, the Steelers have always been that overall very consistent team. Year in and year out, you can always expect them to be in the mix. They’ve had some drama over the years, but have always been able to weather the storm and right the ship.

A lot of that is due to the consistency they’ve had at the head coach position, which we all know. They’ve only had 3 head coaches since 1969.

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ProFootball Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Troy Polamalu

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is filled with Bears, Eagles, Colts, Lions, and Buffalo(es) to just name a few. But there is only one Tasmanian Devil who will enter the coveted Hall in Canton – Pittsburgh Steeler strong safety Troy Polamalu.

The incredibly soft-spoken and humble safety was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of the University of Southern California. However, Polamalu originally was a dual player who played as a running back out of high school, rushing for 1,040 yards and 22 touchdowns and a defensive player with 65 tackles and eight interceptions.

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A flashy draft, or a functional draft? Which proves more useful?

John Errico HeartNSkol Podcast Blitzed Football Blog

By John Errico // @MikeZimmersEars

(Editors note: A few times a year we have guest contributors add to our website. Please enjoy.) 

There have been many debates over the years. Waffles or pancakes? Chocolate or peanut butter? Tastes great or less filling? Allow me to add one more related to the NFL draft: Best available or fill needs?

I decided to dig into which strategy works better by researching ten years of drafts from 2009 through 2019. I chose the best team in each NFL division based on the overall record from that same period. I first looked at statistics for each season for these eight teams.

Items such as points scored and allowed, offensive and defensive rankings in each season, sacks allowed and recorded, and depth issues formed the baseline for what I saw as team needs for each draft. Any player chosen that would help improve the team in any of these areas was seen as a need pick, not a best available. Here are the teams and my analysis:

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The AFC North needs a little Christmas!

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North and NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

When I looked at the AFC North before the season started, I only got one thing right – the Cincinnati Bengals would finish at the bottom.

Who knew Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would need season-ending surgery?

Who thought Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson would not only stay healthy but be the top candidate for league MVP?

And my Cleveland Browns? Don’t get me started…

With this being the holiday season and all, I thought I’d make a few Christmas present wishes for each of these teams.

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The AFC North playoff picture could be decided this weekend

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North and NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

With only a few games left in the season, for three teams in the AFC North, this weekend will have a huge impact on the playoff picture.

The Baltimore Ravens have been lighting things up and quarterback Lamar Jackson is  fast becoming a front-runner for league MVP.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns meet again for the much-anticipated re-match following their game-ending brawl of just two weeks ago.

And the Cincinnati Bengals are still fighting to get that first win of the season.

Let’s take a look at the games for this week…

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Will the week 7 “bye” hurt or heal these teams?

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North and NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

The “Bye Week” couldn’t come soon enough for the Carolina PanthersCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All four of these teams need this break to heal and regroup. What’s interesting to me, is the startling similarities between these four teams.

Two from the AFC North and two from the NFC South. Two struggling with first-year head coaches and sub-par quarterback play, while the other two are dealing with injuries that have taken out their starting QB and left their entire offenses struggling.

But I wonder… will this “Bye” week hurt or heal these teams?

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