The AFC North – Two Weeks In

In week one, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns on the road, while the Baltimore Ravens dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Week one established early leaders in the AFC North Division, with the Bengals and Ravens coming out of the week, 1-0, in the AFC North.

Week Two, however, the AFC North played games outside the division.

This week the Bengals lost on the road in Denver – a place they haven’t won at since 1975 – to the Broncos 24-22, while the Ravens wasted a 2-0 opportunity by losing to the Titans in Tennessee, 26-13.

The Steelers, the only AFC North team playing at home this week, blanked the visiting Seahawks, 24-0. In Indianapolis, the Browns finally won a game they were supposed too, defeating the Colts, 27-19, for the team’s first win of the season.

Two weeks into the 2011 NFL season, and there’s already a logjam in the AFC North.

After two weeks, the AFC North looks like this….

Cincinnati Bengals: 1-1, 1-0
Baltimore Ravens: 1-1, 1-0
Cleveland Browns: 1-1, 1-0
Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-1, 1-0

Points For: Bengals (49), Browns (44), Ravens (48) and Steelers (31)
Points Against: Bengals (41), Browns (46), Ravens (33) and Steelers (35)

Here’s what’s next for team’s in the AFC North…

Cleveland Browns (1-1) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-2)

– This is another game the Browns should pull-off, but as the Dawg Pound knows – nothing is a given when it comes to the Browns. Miami is 0-2 on the season, losing to the Patriots in week one, and the Texans in week two. The Browns will need to step-up against the run, and Joe Haden will need to shut-down Brandon Marshall.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at San Francisco ’49ers (1-1)

– Cincinnati fell short in their comeback bid last week in Denver. Rookie QB, Andy Dalton, showed no lingering effects from the wrist injury he suffered in week one against the Browns, and fellow rookie, A.J. Green, is living-up to his 1st Rd status as a star. The ’49ers have given-up a lot of passing yards, but I give the edge to San Fran, simply because they’re at home. ’49ers, by 3.

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-2)

– The Ravens started the season off with a huge blowout against the Steelers. I’m not sure if they were still on a high after blasting their AFC North rival, or if they just had an off game. Regardless, their week two loss to the rebuilding Titans shouldn’t be considered the ‘norm’. The loss should provide a wake-up call for the Ravens, and what better way to refocus for the season, than against the St. Louis Rams. Ravens, by 2 TDs.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

– After an embarrassing week one loss to the Ravens, the Steelers took their frustrations out on the poor Seahawks, defeating the lowly Seattle team, 24-0. The Colts can’t go winless on the season, unless they’re trying to “Suck For Luck”, but beating the Steelers isn’t an easy task, even at home. Indy should be able to keep the game close, and turnovers are likely to be a huge factor. (7 in Wk 1 for Pitt). Steelers, by 7.

Projected AFC North Standings after Week Three

Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-1, 0-1
Projected Week Three Score: Steelers 24 – Colts 17

Baltimore Ravens: 2-1, 1-0
Projected Week Three Score: Ravens 35 – Rams 21

Cincinnati Bengals: 1-2, 1-0
Projected Week Three Score: Bengals 24 – ’49ers 27

Cleveland Browns: In week one, I predicted the Browns to blow the Bengals out, 34-10. When that didn’t happen, I kept my prediction for week two to myself, and they won. So, following the tradition of superstitions in sports, I refuse to predict the Browns game.


Did You Know?

Cincinnati Bengals

– looking to start 2-1 for the third consecutive season.
– one of 4 teams in the NFL yet to throw an interception. (Packers, Saints, Rams)
– Andy Dalton ranks 9th in the NFL in completion percentage. (66.1)
– 9 of A.J. Green’s 11 receptions have gone for a 1st Down, tied for 12th in the NFL.
– averaging 24.5 points per game, tied for 13th in the NFL. (Cardinals)
– rank 8th in scoring defense, at 20.5 points per game.
– opponents are only converting 33.3% of their 3rd Downs. (9-27)
– have given up 36 first downs; 14 by rush, 19 by pass and 3 by penalty.
– have been penalized 18 times on defense for 127 yards, third most in the NFL.
– opponents are averaging 3.5 yards per rush attempt, 9th in the NFL

Cleveland Browns

– looking to start 2-1 for the first time since 2002, the last time the team made the playoffs.
– have committed 14 penalties for 121 yards; top five in least penalized teams in the NFL last two seasons.
– 13 rushes have gone for a first down, tied for 8th in the NFL.
– a product of the west coast offense, Colt McCoy is averaging 5.89 yards per pass attempt, 25th in NFL.
– Peyton Hillis’ 2 rushing TDs are tied for 2nd in the NFL, LeSean McCoy (Eagles) leads with 3.
– D’Qwell Jackson is tied for 10th in the NFL in total tackles with 19. (Woodyard, Den; Chancellor, Sea)
– Joe Haden is tied for first in the NFL in passes defended with 5. (Flowers, KC)
– only allowing 5.6 yards per pass attempt, 1st in the NFL.
– given-up the second fewest passing yards in the NFL. (331 yards)
– currently giving up the fewest receiving yards in the NFL. (364 yards)

Baltimore Ravens

– looking to start 2-1 for the sixth consecutive season.
– rank 25th in total offense, averaging 307 yards per game passing, 107.5 yards per game rushing.
– Ray Rice ranks 12th in the NFL in rushing. (75.0 yards per game)
– Joe Flacco’s 82.8 Passer Rating ranks 22nd in the NFL.
– Rice averages 9.0 points per game, tied for 12th in the NFL.
– CB Lardarius Webb is tied for 3rd in the NFL in total tackles with 21 the next highest Raven is Lewis (15)
– Terrell Suggs is 2nd in the NFL in sacks, with 3.
– have given-up the 5th fewest points in the NFL with 33.
– opponents are only averaging 16.5 points per game, 5th fewest in the NFL.
– have 109 total tackles as a team, 3rd fewest in the NFL behind the Buccaneers and Broncos.

Pittsburgh Steelers

– looking to go at least 2-1 for the 8th time since 2001.
– Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 3 INTs, 5th most in the NFL.
– averaging 15.5 points per game, 6th fewest in the NFL.
– have 2 receiving TDs so far this season, leader has 7.
– Rashard Mendenhall is averaging 55.5 yards per game, 19th in the NFL.
– Troy Polamalu leads the team with 14 tackles, which ranks 42nd in the NFL.
– 1 of 6 teams in the NFL yet to record an INT. (Broncos, Saints, Giants, Seahawks, Panthers)
– 1 of 5 teams in the NFL yet to record a forced fumble. (Dolphins, Cardinals, Chargers, Seahawks)
– giving up the 4th fewest passing yards in the NFL, with 174 yards per game.
– giving up 100.5 yards per game on the ground, 12th fewest in the NFL.

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