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AFC North Roundup: September 28, 2017

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It’s another all-AFC North weekend, with all four teams in the division squaring off against one another. Here’s all the preparation and enemy intel you need for Week 4.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Week 4 sees the AFC North battling it out inter-divisionally, with the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Baltimore to face a Ravens squad Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t beaten on the road since 2010 and the Cleveland Browns playing host to the winless Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s the latest news on Browns’ three divisional rivals ahead of a week that could change the complexion of the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 3’s loss to the Chicago Bears was a bad one, and a performance that cannot be repeated if the Pittsburgh Steelers have any hopes of besting the Baltimore Ravens on the road. Behind the Steel Curtain’s Nicholas Martin’s film study session reveals the issues with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that arose in Week 3, while Jeff Hartman provides a blueprint for the team to “get out of their current offensive funk.”

Also: Mike Frazer’s film study revolves around Pittsburgh’s run defense, which gave up over 200 yards to the Bears last week. It’s something to be concerned about with a run-first Ravens offense up next. Frazer also notes that if either the offense or defense cannot improve their respective performances, the team’s coordinators could be on the hot seat.

Baltimore Ravens: Though the Baltimore Ravens are three-point home underdogs to the visiting Steelers on Sunday, enough weaknesses have been displayed in Pittsburgh’s veneer for the Ravens to take advantage.

Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle P. Barber argues that the Ravens’ secondary can indeed have its way with Pittsburgh’s passing game this week, while Logan Levy makes the case for Alex Collins to be the team’s starting running back going forward. Indeed, a big performance like Jordan Howard had against Pittsburgh’s defense a week ago would certainly earn him that honor.

Also: On the injury front, the Ravens are down a defensive lineman, with end Brent Urban being placed on injured reserve this week with a Lisfranc sprain to his foot, reports Levy. However, per Vasilis Lericos, defensive tackle Brandon Williams is one step closer to making his return to the field; he practiced on Wednesday after missing Week 3’s contest in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a foot injury.

Cincinnati Bengals: Injuries could have a major impact on the Cincinnati Bengals’ performance against the Browns on Sunday. Numerous key players are either banged up or already ruled out. Two of the former are safeties Shawn Williams (knee) and Derron Smith (ankle), who Cincy Jungle’s Jason Marcum notes did not practice on Wednesday. Tight end Tyler Eifert (back) and receiver John Ross (knee) are both not likely to play on Sunday.

Williams was upgraded to “limited” on Thursday’s official injury report, but Smith was still a non-participant. Another safety, George Iloka, is back to full participation after injuring his hamstring last Sunday.

Also: It hasn’t been the happiest of reunions between the Bengals and defensive end Michael Johnson. He’s sunk lower and lower on the stat sheet since his return in 2015 from a one-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has one sack and just four total tackles to his name in 2017.

But the Bengals might have found a better role for Johnson, one that Cincy Jungle’s muertedeatenas says just could save the lineman’s career—nickel defensive tackle. This way, the Bengals can hide his declining speed and athleticism while maximizing Johnson’s size and thus allowing him to contribute to the pass-rush, albeit in new ways.