BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Upside-Down AFC North

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Eleven straight games…

The streak is over. The Cleveland Browns and Jason Campbell managed to beat us at the Factory of Sadness. And while some will say that the season is over…it’s not. In fact, this season isn’t even close to being over. You can thank the Miami Dolphins for that.

With the Bengals’ loss, the AFC North is still wide open for anyone that wants to win it. With a victory and a Cleveland loss next week, the Ravens are still very much in contention.

The chances might not be high, but this is the NFL. Anything is possible. Just remember one thing—“NO WEAPON!”

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Not So “Safety”: The Dolphins found a way to beat Cincinnati and somehow extinguish the fire on Halloween night. Lamar Miller figured out how to break through and make some impressive runs and Ryan Tannehill was close to perfect. It was an upset that certainly took Marvin Lewis by surprise—and surely questions the legitimacy of the AFC North “powerhouse”.

The loss of Geno Atkins is a killer to this defense that is already without Leon Hall. They have some impressive offenses coming up on their schedule—something that could crush their chances in a few upcoming games.

Game of the Season: It seems almost perfect that the Ravens take on Cincinnati next week. With a win, John Harbaugh’s crew has momentum and an edge. With a loss, you can wave any chance at the playoffs goodbye.

The Bengals shouldn’t be written off as automatic winners quite yet. The defense is anything but sure at the moment, the combination of Andy Dalton and a road game can be scary, and the Ravens are desperate. It should be interesting to see what Cincy does during this week, and to see if the Ravens give their former running back Bernard Scott a chance to make them pay.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Season Over: One thing that I have been trying to say to everyone since the crushing loss to Cleveland is “At least we aren’t Pittsburgh fans.”

Let’s be honest, this team never really had a chance to make a run deep into the season. It all starts on offense where offensive coordinator Todd Haley sometimes uses schemes akin to the Ravens offense, and other times shows a Sean Payton-like passing game. It doesn’t make much sense, and leaves many wondering if the relationship of the entire offense will be around much longer. There needs to be a change and it all starts with Haley’s bunch. Even though the Steelers are mathematically in the playoff hunt, it’s all but over in Steel Town.

Tomlin Angry: If I’m a player on Pittsburgh’s roster—no matter how significant—I’m worried. Here’s a quote from the head coach after the defense gave up 55 points on Sunday via the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

“Those people who are lacking effort won’t be playing,” Tomlin said. “It’s just that simple. … I am angry, disappointed.”

When taking a look around the depth chart, there are changes that can be made. It’s going to be a wild ride the rest of the way. Who knows what we might see approaching the finish line?

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Campbell Plays Well: After a second consecutive “quality start” it has to be asked whether Jason Campbell is the long-term answer. He played well against the Chiefs and with his near-perfect game against Baltimore, he hasn’t thrown an interception in 75 attempts thus far—not bad for a guy that was sitting at third on the depth chart.

The Browns thought Brandon Weeden was the answer and it’s evident that the era is over. They have three choices: ride out Campbell and if he continues his run, keep him around for 2014; trust in Brian Hoyer for next season; or go after a top QB prospect in May’s draft.

What’s Next: Cleveland welcomes a bye week this week, but will see some tough team’s in the road ahead. Already with five losses, they have to be perfect to have a shot at the AFC North crown. Here’s what lies ahead:

 

  • at Cincinnati
  • Pittsburgh
  • Jacksonville
  • at New England
  • Chicago
  • at New York Jets
  • at Pittsburgh
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About Joe Wedra

Joe Wedra
Joe is an NFL enthusiast that spends way too much time studying tape, but he wouldn't want it any other way. Joe can be found on Twitter @JoeWedra, where he'll tweet out everything from Ravens analysis to scouting reports on Division II offensive line prospects...all for the love of the...more

3 Raves on “BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Upside-Down AFC North

  1. Voice of Reason on said:

    With regard to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it is more than just revamping the roster. They are facing some serious salary cap issues as they restructured many of their contracts last year just to fit under the cap this year. That is one thing the Ravens really haven’t done. Don’t be surprised if they purge everyone from the roster except Big Ben.

  2. dave on said:

    “… the combination of Andy Dalton and a road game can be scary, and the Ravens are desperate.” While i agree with many/most of your points, i question who is more desperate … the Ravens or the Ravens fans. The interviews i’ve heard other than Suggs have been pretty complacent.

    “Those people who are lacking effort won’t be playing,” Tomlin said. “It’s just that simple. … I am angry, disappointed.” Too bad Harbs doesn’t feel that way.

    Btw, i wonder how much time Flacco devotes during the season to building his http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/09/tom-brady-mansion-pictures/

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