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What an interesting division race we got on our hands this year in the AFC North. The Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are currently tied in first place at 5-2 each. The Bengals got the tiebreaker, though, because they won against the Ravens in Week 7.
The other two teams – The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers are not that far behind. The Browns are 4-3 and are prowling for the 1st seed in the division. The Steelers did not start the season all that great and are currently sitting at 3-3 but are very much still in the race.
There are a few questions to ask in that division concerning each team. We will rank them the same way the teams in the division currently rank.
Are the Bengals for real?
Coach Zac Taylor did not have very good campaigns over the past two seasons but this year, the offense of the Bengals is clicking. Cincinnati is 7th in the NFL in points per game at 27.0. They are also the best scoring team in the AFC North with the Ravens being close 2nd at 26.7.
The Bengals’ defense is no joke either. They rank 10th in the league in yards allowed per game at 339.9. What really made us agree that Cincinnati may be here to stay is the victory over the Ravens in week 7. They went on the road in Baltimore and beat on a division rival 41-17.
Can Baltimore’s offense finally deliver?
So far, Lamar Jackson has been the whole offense for the Ravens. With his 1943 passing yards and 480 rushing yards, he has been the only bright spot for the team. In fact, Jackson ranks 6th among ALL NFL players in rushing yards in front of players such as Aaron Jones, James Robinson, Darrell Henderson, and Antonio Gibson.
This model is unsustainable and is likely due to a failure at some point unless head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman don’t come up with some sort of working offense.
How tough are the Browns?
We already know that the team is well-coached as this is visible week in and week out. QB Baker Mayfield is not asked to carry the load offensively as the backfield for coach Stefanski is loaded. Injuries happen, however and we already know that Mayfield himself is playing banged up.
Additionally, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. have missed games due to injuries, Kareem Hunt landed on IR and Chubb was out for a game. The only thing that can help the Browns is a good display of toughness.
Will the Steelers be able to keep up?
The main challenge for Pittsburgh would be to survive the rest of the season without rest because they already had their bye week. Typically, this shouldn’t be a huge problem, but Ben Roethlisberger is not a young quarterback and we’ve seen that over the past couple of seasons he has struggled with injuries when having to play for long stretches.