AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: It’s a three horse race heading into Week 9

Street Talk AFC NORTH ROUNDUP: It’s a three horse race heading into Week 9

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Baltimore Ravens

"We needed that win,"   Baltimore LB Jarrett Johnson said. "To lose the way we’ve lost the last three games … I think we needed to have a big-time opponent and play big versus them. We did that today."

Rookie Lardarius Webb returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and Baltimore ended a three-game losing streak with a surprisingly easy 30-7 victory Sunday. Baltimore limited Denver to 200 yards, scored off the game’s lone turnover, won the special teams fight and outscored the Broncos 24-7 in the second half. Baltimore held Eddie Royal in check, bottled up Kyle Orton and became the first team this season to rush for more than 100 yards against Denver. The tone was set on the first play from scrimmage, when Ravens linebacker Jarrett Johnson blitzed untouched from the left side and sacked Orton for an 8-yard loss. Given two weeks to think about a three-game skid in which they lost by a combined 11 points, the Ravens started fast and never relented. "We know we’re capable of doing this kind of thing," said Joe Flacco, who went 20 for 25 for 175 yards and a touchdown. "We had a chance in the other games. Today we finished. That’s why we won."

Baltimore went up 13-0 when Webb turned the second-half kickoff into his first NFL touchdown. After breaking free around the Ravens’ 30, the speedy rookie cut right and outran his pursuers into the corner of the end zone. The Broncos responded with an 86-yard march fueled by three Baltimore penalties totaling 44 yards. A 39-yard pass interference call on Domonique Foxworth and an offside by Ed Reed on a fourth-and-1 led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Knowshon Moreno. The Ravens answered with a field goal for a 16-7 lead and then went up 23-7 on a 20-yard pass from Flacco to Derrick Mason with 13:07 left. Ray Rice capped the rout with a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:59 to go. Rice ran for 84 yards, the most by one player against Denver this season.

And now, the Ravens have some momentum heading into next week’s showdown against Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals had their bye in week #8.

Cleveland Browns

"We just have to go back to the drawing board and try to find out what we really want to do and where we really want to go," Cleveland RB Jamal Lewis said. "Even though we’re 1-7, there’s still a lot that can go on and still a lot to accomplish."

The Chicago Bears got a pair of Matt Forte touchdown runs and a stingy effort from their defense in beating the Browns Sunday, 30-6. The Browns committed five turnovers, losing three fumbles and throwing two interceptions. A 21-yard interception return by Charles Tillman after Derek Anderson was hit on the throw by Adewale Ogunleye closed the scoring. The Browns pulled to within 16-6 early in the second half. A 12-yard punt by Brad Maynard gave the Browns excellent starting position at the Bears’ 30. Four Jamal Lewis runs made it first and goal at the 1, and Anderson kept it for the score on second down. The extra-point try was blocked by former Brown Israel Idonije. The Bears also got three Robbie Gould field goals in the half, two in the first quarter.

Lewis had a productive day, carrying 16 times for 69 yards. But the Browns couldn’t sustain any offense. The Browns converted just 1-of-11 third downs and were out-gained 369-191. Anderson was 6-of-17 for 76 yards. Brady Quinn played one series, completing 1-of-3 passes for 9 yards. After the game, Lewis announced his plans to retire at the conclusion of the season.
 

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers had their bye in week #8.

AFC North

Team

W

L

T

PCT

PF

PA

Home

Road

DIV

PCT

AFC

PCT

NFC

Streak

Cincinnati

5

2

0

.714

163

128

2-2

3-0

3-0

1.000

3-2

.600

2-0

Won 1

Pittsburgh

5

2

0

.714

167

129

4-0

1-2

1-1

.500

3-1

.750

2-1

Won 4

Baltimore

4

3

0

.571

199

137

3-1

1-2

1-1

.500

4-2

.667

0-1

Won 1

Cleveland

1

7

0

.125

78

209

0-3

1-4

0-3

.000

1-4

.200

0-3

Lost 3

Week #8 Scores    

Baltimore   30            Denver    7       

Chicago     30            Cleveland   6     

Week #9 Match-ups and ITH Predictions

The Cleveland Browns have their bye week in week #9.

Baltimore (4–3) at Cincinnati (5–2)

A re-match from week #5 when the Bengals dominated the Ravens in Baltimore, the teams meet again in week #9 at Paul Brown Stadium. Cedric Benson managed 120 yards on 27 carries in the first match-up as the Cincinnati offensive front had a good day against the Ravens defense. Joe Flacco’s numbers that day were quite pedestrian (22 of 31 for 186 yards) and he was victimized by 2 interceptions, the first occurring on an opening drive with the Ravens in scoring territory following a long Bengals drive that resulted in a missed field goal. Despite an 8 minute advantage in time of possession and a yardage advantage of 403 to 257, the Bengals were only able to win the game by a slim margin on the final drive that included some very questionable official calls and non-calls.

The Ravens open as a 3 point favorite.

Unlike the Broncos, Carson Palmer will throw the deep ball against what has been a suspect Ravens secondary. The Ravens showed they can manage the short passing attack versus the Broncos, but did not prove their worth against Chad Ocho Cinco and Chris Henry in the first match. That has to change if the Ravens want to get this one.

This time Benson doesn’t get 27 carries and 100 yards and Flacco doesn’t cough up 2 picks.

Baltimore   26     Cincinnati   17

Pittsburgh (5-2) at Denver (6-1)

The Steelers return from their bye week with a significant road test against the Broncos, who are licking their wounds after being exposed by the Ravens in Baltimore. The Steelers were able to pull out a victory against the Vikings on 2 opportunistic TD by their defense and were able to enjoy that victory over their bye week. That will be difficult to do on the road against an offense that doesn’t take many chances.

The Steelers really need to find a running game this week to take advantage of their team’s physical edge. Without one, they could find difficulty throwing consistently against the Broncos secondary. However, in the Steelers’ four-game win streak, Roethlisberger has an 8-to-2 TD-to-pick ratio, with a 69-percent completion average. The Broncos also need to hit some big plays to their receivers and like against Baltimore will not find it easy to sustain long drives against the Steelers defense. However, the injury to Steelers DE Aaron Smith could show up in this one as the Broncos try to keep Kyle Orton clean.

This game might end up being one of the better Monday night contests this year. Mike Tomlin likely saw some things to use to his advantage in the Denver / Baltimore tape. Look for the Steelers to flex their muscle in the 4th quarter in a tight contest.  

Pittsburgh   23     Denver   16

Record Week #8 and YTD: 2 – 0; 15 – 9

 

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Eric Buckner

About Eric Buckner

Eric Buckner is a native of Baltimore and has lived in the area his entire life. A graduate of Towson University , Eric has been a student of professional football since the day he wept in his grandfather's bedroom after the Baltimore Colts were upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. A loyal fan of the Colts and subsequently the Ravens, Eric's passion for the NFL is unwavering as evidenced by his near flawless attendance record at Ravens' games. He's missed only one preseason game -- back in 2005. We'll cut him some slack since he was on his honeymoon. You won't find Eric slacking when it comes to covering the AFC North for ProFootball24x7.com.   More from Eric Buckner

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