(CBS Baltimore) – AFC North is shaping up to be extremely competitive, at least in the first weeks of the season. The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers share their first two games The Ravens come in with a big win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. Lamar Jackson defeated the Chiefs for the first time in his young career. The Browns also had their first home win against the Houston Texans. The Bengals and Steelers both lost tough ones.
In Week 3, the Bengals head to Steel City to open the in-division program. It will be an offensive battle struggling to keep the quarterbacks upright and their teams back on track. The Browns are home to the Chicago Bears, and rookie Justin Fields makes his debut from center. And then the Ravens take a hiatus from season one when they finally go away against the Detroit Lions.
CBS Baltimore sports director Mark Viviano looks over three AFC North matches.
All times listed are Eastern.
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Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, September 26 @ 1pm
Ben Roethlisberger arrives at the Bengals game with a left chest injury in last week’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. he is not alone ruined. Outsiders TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, wide receiver Diontae Johnson and cornerer Joe Haden, and inside defender Devin Bush also made the growing list.
Big Ben’s injury state didn’t help the offensive line game ahead. The Raiders sacked him twice and knocked him down 10 times. Najee Harris, running back, tackled just 38 yards in 10 carries. The Steelers had only 29 yards as a team. A Cincinnati running defense that held David Montgomery 61 yards in 20 carries last week and they’ll keep Dalvin Cook the same numbers last week.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow doesn’t have much help ahead of him either. “Poor Joe Burrow,” Viviano said. “There’s no offensive line. So they’ve invested in a lot of things around him. But in addition to that, you’d think it would be a priority for them once they got hurt. It’s clear they missed that.”
The Bears sacked Burrow five times in Week 2 and knocked him down many more times. The young quarterback also didn’t help his goal by making three picks three in a row. If Burrow can stay afloat, he might find Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins (if healthy) for nice wins. The Steelers gave up Derek Carr for a 382-yard pass and two touchdowns last week.
“I think this might be a closer game than you think,” Viviano speculated. “I see Steelers take it off. They are at home, they have to earn this. I see they won by six points. But there is a lot of unpredictability as there is no offensive line on either side.”
Chicago Bears @ Cleveland Browns Sunday, September 26 @ 1pm
The Bears’ Week 3 match against the Browns could be the start of the Justin Fields era in Chicago. The rookie will start as quarterback to replace Andy Dalton, who was injured in Week 2, and a few years ago, the Bears similarly pinned their hopes on the now-departed Mitchell Trubisky.
“Mitch Trubisky got his first NFL start in the North AFC and beat the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore,” Viviano recalls. “And in that game, he made only 16 passes, eight of which he threw for only 100 yards. But their defense won the game. So if you want to use some history as a possible harbinger of good things for the Bears, you get it.”
Bears may consider following their defenses once again rather than an inexperienced leader. Led by Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, and Roquan Smith, this alliance has made life difficult for Burrow and has kept Joe Mixon on the ground last week.
The Browns will miss Jarvis Landry, who will miss three or more games with a knee injury. But Odell Beckham Jr. He can return to the field in the 3rd week. This Cleveland offense was designed to run after Nick Chubb. He landed three touchdowns for 178 yards and 6.8 yards per carry in his first two games. And given how many receivers Baker Mayfield threw out last week, there are plenty of passing options on offense.
Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions, Sunday, September 26, 1:00 PM
The Ravens have finally overcome what quarterback Lamar Jackson calls their “kryptonite”. They defeated the Chiefs led by Mahomes. As Viviano said, “Being 11 points down going into the fourth quarter and scoring two goals while he was scoring two goals against Kansas City in the fourth quarter, that was one thing.” “You can call it a signature win, but the team will tell you as they told us, it’s just important that they build on it.”
The Ravens will have a chance to improve that against the Lions in Detroit this week. Baltimore struggled with injuries early in the season and lost three kickbacks for the season. But the running game was still a success, in large part due to Jackson’s ability to play with his feet. He had 86 yards in 12 carries against the Raiders and 107 yards in 16 carries against the Chiefs. Ty’Son Williams was also productive outside the backcourt in the first two weeks.
The Ravens apparently overcame the problems on the offensive line. Struggling to slow down the Raiders’ transitional charge in Week 1, the unit recovered against the Chiefs and charged nearly 500 yards. Having Alejandro Villanueva intercepting from the left instead of Ronnie Stanley was one of the reasons, as Viviano saw it.
The Lions opened the season with two losses to two potential contenders. They gave the 49ers 41 points in Week 1 and 35 points to the Packers in Week 2. The Ravens will try to continue this trend. But can a Lions offense now led by Jared Goff continue? Former Ram has 584 passing yards and five touchdowns on his first two starts. The normally strong Ravens defense is giving the most passing yards (376) per game in the first two games.
Viviano doesn’t see it. “The Ravens should finally be able to breathe on a Sunday afternoon, after two only nail-biting first games,” he said. “And I see them beating the Lions by a few goals. Any Sunday, but this must be a market the Ravens handle well.”