BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Winless Division

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The Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North after week one. Of course, you could say that they are tied for last place as well – but I’ll take the “glass half full” approach.

Let’s explore “Behind Enemy Lines” and take a closer look at the biggest storylines from each game.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Too Many Turnovers: Andy Dalton struggled a bit Sunday, throwing two costly interceptions to Charles Tillman. The first was on the second play of the game where Tillman jumped in front of A.J Green, cutting off a slant pattern.

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings also forced a fumble loose from Mohamed Sanu, leading to Chicago’s game-winning score. The Bengals played a solid game. If it weren’t for the three turnovers, Dalton and Co. come back to Cincinnati with a win and the lead in the division.

Boley to Try Out: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bengals will try out linebacker Michael Boley after some injuries to the position in training camp. Here’s what ESPN’s Coley Harvey had to say regarding why this might be a good fit for Marvin Lewis’ team:

“After being forced to use a pair of timeouts on the same fourth-quarter drive in Sunday’s season opening loss to Chicago, the Bengals are looking for a solution to shifting in personnel at the Will and Nickel linebacker positions. Simple miscommunication was said to be the culprit in the use of the timeouts. It ended up proving costly, as Cincinnati was out of timeouts in the final eight minutes of the three-point game.”

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Offensive Line Struggles Get Worse: We thought after last year Ben Roethlisberger’s five-man front would get stronger—but it appears that even the Titans’ pass rush can get to the injury-prone quarterback. Roethlisberger was sacked five times, a stat that won’t be improved with the season-ending injury to Maurkice Pouncey (a victim of “friendly fire,” much like Michael Oher and Jacoby Jones).

The Steelers also lost Larry Foote and Larod Stephens-Howling to injuries as well. A depleted Steelers team that’s getting even thinner is looking ahead to a tough matchup against the Bengals on Monday Night Football next week.

Running Game Woes: With the loss of rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh is still looking for an identity on offense.

It isn’t coming from the running game that saw Isaac Redman average just 1.1 yards per carry against a Titan defense that isn’t one of the 49ers caliber. Losing the big-play threat of Stephens-Howling will hurt and Bell isn’t expected back any time soon.

If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, they have a shot. But unless Jerome Bettis comes out of retirement, the running game in Pittsburgh is fading away quickly.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Miami Beatdown: With a new head coach and some growing pains to work out, the Browns came out on Sunday looking to start fresh and hope to compete in a tough AFC North. New weapons like Jordan Cameron stood out, but it was the play of Brandon Weeden that doomed the Browns.

After throwing three picks, there’s heightened concern about the play under center. The older but inexperienced Weeden still hasn’t shown that he’s worth the investment that Cleveland made in him.

Richardson vs. the Ravens D: With the offensive line struggling, look for Cleveland to run the ball a lot with Trent Richardson next week against a revamped Ravens’ rush defense—the matchup of the game.

The Ravens’ front will look to defend one of the league’s best downhill rushers in Richardson, who ran for 47 yards on just 13 carries last week.

Game of the Week: Steelers vs. Bengals, 8:30 on Monday Night Football (ESPN)

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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

2 Raves on “BEHIND ENEMY LINES: The Winless Division

  1. Chad Spiegel on said:

    It seems to me that the Ravens and Bengals will ultimately be competing for the AFC North crown once again this season, unless the Steelers and Browns start magically performing at a high level. Next week’s game against the Browns will be interesting, as I don’t have the same confidence in the Raven’s defensive unit that I did during week one. Then again, we are playing the Browns this week, kind of hard to compare their offense to the Broncos lol

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