They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Behind Enemy Lines brings you your weekly recap of the rest of the AFC North, as the Ravens strive to be back on top of the division.
Result: T 27-27 vs. Washington Redskins
A week after decimating the Browns, the Bengals running offense looked to keep the momentum moving, but came up with just an average performance against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league. Jeremy Hill managed 76 yards on 20 carries (3.8 avg.) and 1 TD, while Giovani Bernard added 52 yards on 11 carries (4.7 avg.) and another TD. Andy Dalton also added a rushing TD.
However, the Bengals seemed to lack the rhythm to move the ball consistently against the Redskins. The Bengals are a lot like the Ravens – when they can establish the run, it opens up the rest of their offense (except for A.J. Green, as he is a threat to go off at any time, but that’s the advantage of having a true #1 receiver). Green finished with 121 yards on nine catches.
Kirk Cousins had his way with the Bengals secondary on Sunday. Cousins finished with 458 yards, completing 38 of 56 passes with 2 TD, while only giving up 1 INT to George Iloka. The Bengals pass rush was neutralized and Cousins was only sacked once (by Geno Atkins).
Something for the Ravens fans to note is how Washington used their tight ends in the passing game. Vernon Davis caught five balls for 93 yards and Jordan Reed caught nine balls for 99 yards and a score. The Bengals secondary looked suspect, but Washington seemed to really expose their slower linebackers by using their athletic tight ends – something that the Ravens could do with Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore.
A.J. Green – 9 catches, 121 yards. Green was kept out of the end zone, but a few big plays put the Bengals right on the door step.
Look forward to Week 9:
The Bengals will enjoy a bye week in Week 9 before heading to New York for a date with the Giants in Week 10 on Monday Night Football.
Look forward to Week 9:
The Steelers enjoyed a bye week, but will go into Baltimore hungry for a win coming off two straight losses to Miami and New England. The winner of this game will take 1st place of the AFC North and it presents an excellent opportunity for Baltimore.
The Steelers have struggled greatly against the run. In those two straight losses they gave up 204 yards and two scores to Jay Ajayi and 127 yards and then two scores to LaGarrette Blount. Look for the Ravens to utilize Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon to establish the run game.
It is possible that Ben Roethlisberger returns against the Ravens, according to Mike Tomlin. Either way, the Ravens need to be prepared for Antonio Brown and company. The Steelers have numerous weapons with big play ability and that is been a major weakness of the Ravens. The defense has played much better than most anticipated, but they still seem to give up that big play that ends up being a dagger (see Odell Beckham Jr. and Quincy Enunwa). Staying in front of the Steelers deep threats and neutralizing the run game will be crucial whether or not Roethlisberger is on the field.
Result: L 28-31 vs. New York Jets
Josh McCown was given the honor of being the Browns starting QB on Sunday for the first time since Week 2 against the Ravens. McCown was pretty mediocre for the most part on Sunday. He completed only 25/49 passes, but a couple big plays allowed him to gain 341 yards. He also added two scores, both to Andrew Hawkins. Terrelle Pryor bounced back from a down week last week to bring in six balls for 101 yards.
The Browns struggled to establish the run game, which has been one of the bright spots (outside of the pretty good performances from Cody Kessler prior to his injury). Isaiah Crowell only carried the ball 11 times for a measly 29 yards, but did add a score. If the Browns plan on getting a win this year they must get the ground game going early.
The Browns offense kept them in yet another game, but once again they allowed 30+ points, which kept them out of the winners circle, yet again. The Browns defense looks just plain bad. A few years ago it was the opposite, as the Browns would field a pretty decent defense (a key trait of the AFC North), but the offense would let them down week after week.
2016 is a flip of the script. The offense has had no problem putting up points, but the defense can’t stop a pop warner offense.
Emmanuel Ogbah does look impressive and is one of the few bright spots. The Browns also added Jamie Collins in a trade with the New England Patriots, which may boost their linebacker corps, but this group is bleak.
Andrew Hawkins – 5 catches, 31 yards, 2 TD. He didn’t need a lot of yards to score twice, but the Browns continue to use their playmaking wideouts to put points on the board.
Look forward to Week 9:
The Browns will host the Cowboys on Sunday. For a defense that has been as bad as the Browns, stopping Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant is going to be a tall order. Their offense can expect yet another shootout.