Through two games, the AFC North currently boasts two undefeated teams—the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens—and two winless teams—the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. Though it’s not entirely fair to lump the Browns in with the Bengals, given Cleveland has at least managed to score touchdowns, there are clear haves and have-nots in the division.
So, how are the Bengals, Steelers and Ravens looking as they each head into Week 3? Here are the latest news and notes around the division.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals did not take their 0-2 start lightly, having already made a coaching switch. On Friday, just hours after the team’s 13-9 defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans, the team fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, replacing him with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.
But might that not be the only solution to the Bengals’ problems? With no touchdowns scored and only nine points to their name this year, the idea of benching quarterback Andy Dalton in favor of backup A.J. McCarron has been floated around. But, as Cincy Jungle’s Patrick Judis points out, that may not help things as much as one may think.
Also: Week 3 may prove to be another challenge for Dalton and the Bengals, though. Not only must they go on the road to face the high-scoring Green Bay Packers, they will have to do so without one of their biggest offensive weapons. Tight end Tyler Eifert has missed practices this week with a back injury, and as Jason Marcum writes, isn’t looking likely to play on Sunday. Eifert has caught four passes for 46 yards so far this season. Dalton’s daunting task just got that much more difficult.
Baltimore Ravens: During the summer, it seemed like Baltimore Ravens running back Javorius “Buck” Allen was on the roster bubble, with Kenneth Dixon, Danny Woodhead and Terrance West firmly above him on the team’s depth chart. But now Woodhead is on injured reserve, as is Dixon (who was also given a six-game suspension to start the season) and West is nursing a calf injury. Thus, writes Baltimore Beatdown’s Matthew Cohen, Allen has become a key cog in Baltimore’s offense, so much so that he leads the team in yards from scrimmage.
Also: Vasilis Lericos breaks down five key matchups in the Ravens’ Week 3 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two teams have a lot in common, from strong defensive fronts to a heavy reliance on the run game, that should make this a compelling game. Just be sure to set your DVR or wake up early; this one is coming live from London on Sunday morning.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell held out of his team’s training camp and all four preseason games, first as a device to try to force Pittsburgh into giving him a long-term contract rather than a one-year, $12.12 million franchise tag. When that failed, he continued his absence, hoping to keep himself fresh in order to get his desired deal in the 2018 offseason. But Bell may have sabotaged himself, argues Behind the Steel Curtain’s Jeff Hartman. Hartman says that “after two weeks Bell looks like more like your everyday running back than a back wanting more than $12.5 million dollars a year.”
Also: Former Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent in the spring, but it appears that the newly-formed union has soured. Though details are scant, what is known is that Timmons disappeared from the Dolphins’ Los Angeles hotel last Saturday and was out of contact long enough for the team to file a missing persons report with the LAPD. Though everything resolved itself without incident, the Dolphins have now suspended Timmons indefinitely.
Bryan Anthony Davis wonders, though, if this could spur a reunion between the Steelers and Timmons. Timmons spent 10 years in Pittsburgh and would be a useful backup interior linebacker should he return. Without much knowledge of the “personal issue” that caused Timmons’ brief disappearance, it’s hard to say if his old team would welcome him back so quickly.