Who knew that so much pleasure could be had on a Browns bye week? Not only did we not have to suffer an upsetting loss, but two of our divisional foes lost their games. So, since we can't recap what the Browns are doing today, let's take a look at how the AFC North is doing:
1) Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
After a bye week, everyone expected the Cincinnati Bengals to be on top of their game and easily handle the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. Unfortunately for the Bengals, the game was anything but easy. They had a 7-0 lead heading into halftime due to a nice catch by T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the end zone. Despite not having a turnover, and having big days from Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, the Bengals failed to pile on the points due to a struggling running game. Buccaneers rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, making his second career start, kept the Buccaneers in the game with a touchdown pass to tight end Alex Smith in the third quarter. After the Bengals added two field goals, the Buccaneers needed a score. Gradkowski drove his team down the field, and with 35 seconds left, he connected with receiver Michael Clayton for the game-winning touchdown. The Bengals had a chance to drive, having all three of their timeouts, but a big sack on Carson Palmer hurt their chances. A field goal attempt of 62 yards was way off, and the Bengals lost their second game in a row to fall to 3-2. The Browns are only two games behind the Bengals.
2) Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens:
The Baltimore Ravens were hoping to have an advantage in this game after an upsetting loss to the Denver Broncos this past Monday. Why then, is Kyle Boller featured in that picture to the right, and not Steve McNair? McNair was hit hard in the first quarter and suffered a concussion and neck sprain, taking him out of the game. Boller came in and got a lucky touchdown right away, but Jake Delhomme came back and was able to hit receiver Drew Carter for a 42 yard touchdown pass before halftime. Boller ended up throwing two more touchdowns, but the important story is that Delhomme connected with Steve Smith for a 72 yard touchdown to seal the victory. Boller was sacked twice by Julius Peppers, who was all over Charlie Frye last week. The Panthers have literally taken out two of the past four quarterbacks they've faced, being Chris Simms and now McNair. We're lucky that Frye survived last week, and gets a bye to recover from it.
3) Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:
At the time I'm posting this, the Steelers are winning 31-0 at the start of the second half. Willie Parker and Najeh Davenport are rolling, the defense is on fire, and Ben Roethlisberger is back. How is this good news? In five weeks, the Browns take on the Steelers at home. This could be the start of the Steelers resurging, and if we want to beat Pittsburgh, we want to do so when they're on top of their game. Granted, we'll take pleasure in beating any Steelers team, but there's a difference between upsetting a 3-7 team compared to a 7-3 team.
Remember, the trading deadline is this Tuesday, and there are several rumored deals to go down. It'll be interesting to see whether anything develops regarding the Cleveland Browns, although I'm not so sure one player would be of much help right now. If we do trade for someone, hopefully it's an offensive lineman.