AFC North Round-Up; Bengals and Ravens lead the Way
Apparently the Baltimore Ravens have done something to piss off the scheduling gods and at the same time have done something to endear themselves to the national television gods. Either way, the Ravens have moved themselves to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in the division with a 23-16 win over Cleveland this past Thursday night. It was the Ravens’ third game in roughly 17 days and for a league that claims to be all about ‘player safety,’ one would certainly have to question the scheduling.
Joe Flacco accounted for two TDs (1 rushing, 1 passing) and again threw for over 300 yards in leading the Ravens’ offense. His counterpart, rookie Brandon Weeden threw for 320 and an interception. His final pass was a desperation heave into the end zone that missed the mark giving Baltimore the win. The Browns have played hard in their first four games of the season and probably deserved a better a fate in a couple of them, but at 0-4, the immediate future doesn’t look all that bright for Cleveland despite nice performances by Weeden and Trent Richardson.
The Standings: Baltimore Ravens 3-1, Cincinnati Bengals 3-1 , Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2, Cleveland Browns 0-4
Cincinnati 27 at Jacksonville 10 – A very workman-like performance by the Bengals as they limited Maurice Jones-Drew to just 38 yards and sacked Jags’ QB Blaine Gabbert six times in keeping the Jaguars under 200 yards of total offense. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for two scores and ran for another and the lawfirm, BenJarvus Green-Ellis pounded out 82 yards on 26 carries. Each team turned the ball over twice, but Cincy’s defense was far superior to that of Jacksonville in terms of preventing those turnovers from turned into touchdowns.
Pittsburgh is coming off of their bye this week.
Looking ahead to week five
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati returns home after two weeks on the road that also meant two victories. The Dolphins come in off a tough overtime loss to Arizona in a game that they led a great deal of in University of Phoenix Stadium. The Bengals now find themselves in a situation where they are neck and neck with the only team to beat them the Baltimore Ravens at 3-1 in the AFC North. What that means is that each game is crucial even this early in the season. The Dolphins will not be a walkover. They’ve been competitive each week and will be again against the Bengals. Look for more of the ‘lawfirm’ to help balance out the passing attack.
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers – Most teams don’t like having their bye weeks as early as week four but I’m thinking it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Steelers. The team is searching for some semblance of its’ former self after giving up a 10-point fourth quarter lead and ultimately 34 points to the Oakland Raiders. The return of James Harrison would be a huge help but at this time that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. Troy Polamalu should be back from his calf strain that kept him out of the last two games.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs – What once looked like an intriguing game back before the season started now looks like an easy Baltimore victory as Kansas City continues to look awful under Coach Romeo Crennel. In fact, wasn’t Crennel the coach the players lobbied for? With their season hanging in the balance I have to believe the Chiefs will do everything they can to win this ballgame. In the end however, I like Baltimore’s balance to be too much for KC.