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.

Browns – 35
Bengals – 30

Thursday night games seem to be the most memorable between these two teams in recent years. But this time, the Browns dual-threat in the running game, namely running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, were heavily featured. It also looks like quarterback Baker Mayfield is finally getting plays called that work to his strengths with a lot of play-action going on. Even wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. looked to be getting back into the swing of things.

The offense we watched during this game is the one fans were promised a year ago. Perhaps it just took time, and new head coach Kevin Stefanski, to get it right. While the defense gave up too many points, they did get stops when needed and held the Bengals on a couple of drives to just field goals which, ultimately, helped with getting the win.

The Bengals offensive line is a hot mess. Yes, I said it. If QB Joe Burrow is going to survive the season, they need to do two things: Protect him better and reign him in. I’ve seen his kind of talent and drive before in the league from QB’s taken #1 in the draft. I admire it. BUT…. he can’t carry this team all on his own and his desire to do that could get him injured which would be just awful!

If he can get a little better protection, get more out of RB’s Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon, then maybe that will help him contain his energy a bit, help him settle into the real speed of the NFL, and be a smarter quarterback. He shows so much promise that if the Bengals can just get a couple of things tweaked for him, he will be a force in this division in no time.

Week 3: Cleveland hosts Washington, Cincinnati travels to Philadelphia

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers – 26
Denver Broncos – 21

Leading 17-3 at the half, the Steelers came out of the locker room for the 3rd quarter to a Broncos team that just wouldn’t roll over. They put up 11 unanswered points and, despite an injury to QB Drew Lock early and replacement QB Jeff Driskel taking six sacks and 14 hits, the 4th quarter started off with only three points separating them.

The Steelers put up nine more points, now leading by 12 and yet the Broncos came back again. In the final minutes, up by only five points, Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds raced in to take down Driskel on fourth-and-2 at the Pittsburgh 15 preserve a 26-21 victory Sunday. That sack was Pittsburgh’s seventh of the day.

While leading into the season the big question on everyone’s mind revolved around the health of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Well, he threw for 311 yards (29 / 41 completions) with two touchdowns and one interception. Looks like he’s just fine.

The defense really came through in the end, which should come as no surprise, and yet it did. Or maybe it was just the fact that no matter how many great plays the Steeler D made, Denver just wouldn’t give up. Regardless, it was the defense that locked up the win!

Week 3 – Pittsburgh hosts Houston

 

 

Baltimore – 33
Texans – 16

Clearly we know that QB Lamar Jackson is an MVP caliber player, but that Ravens defense? Man, they really came to play! Holding Houston QB Deshaun Watson under 300 yards passing with only one touchdown is a huge feat.

The Texans only managed 51 rushing yards! The Raven D had an interception and a fumble recovery while the Texan D had zero. Each team had three sacks, for what that’s worth. But what surprised me most about this game was that the Texans had no answer for the Ravens offense. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nadda.

It’s not like there isn’t plenty of film available for what the Ravens do on offense, and they just kept doing it on Sunday. Jackson only put up 205 passing yards. He also ran for 54 yards, but there were actually two Ravens with more yardage. RB Gus Edwards led the way with 73, followed by Mark Ingram with 55 and a touchdown.

The front seven of the Texan defense just got steamrolled all day from all sides. If there was any doubt that the Ravens were the team to beat in the AFC North – and let’s face it, the beat down of the Browns last week didn’t really impress anyone – then those doubts are gone now. The Steelers may have improved in Week 2 but the Ravens just proved they’re still as consistent and good as ever.

Week 3 – Baltimore hosts Kansas City on Monday Night Football!

 

 

 

Talk AFC North football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8 

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