It’s Week 8, the halfway point of the 2018 NFL season, but for the Cleveland Browns, it’s Steelers Week. For the second (and perhaps final) time this year, the Browns take on the Steelers, this time in the not-so-friendly confines of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. The matchup highlights the Week 8 AFC North Roundup.
However, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are well in the race to win the divisional crown and both have difficult matchups against NFC South opponents on Sunday. The Bengals host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while the Baltimore Ravens head to Carolina to face the Panthers. With a close division, in which no one team can yet be ruled out, this is a crucial week for all four squads. Here’s the latest around the division for this final full week of October.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Behind the Steel Curtain has a plethora of intel for Browns fans looking to scout this week’s enemy. Simon Chester breaks down how linebacker T.J. Watt has become “the Browns’ worst nightmare on defense.” And Jeff Hartman’s findings belie a warning to Cleveland defensive coordinator Gregg Williams: Blitzing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not going to work.
On the injury front, the bye week has been helpful for the return of two Steelers defenders. Chester reports that safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker L.J. Fort were both full participants in Wednesday’s practice session. However, right tackle Marcus Gilbert sat out with a knee injury, which calls into question his availability for Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have made three roster moves thus far this week, reports Rebecca Toback. They have placed tight end Mason Schreck on injured reserve and promoted tight end Jordan Franks from the practice squad, and they signed linebacker Brandon Bell to take Franks’ spot on the practice squad.
Tight end has been a snakebitten position for the Bengals this year. Tyler Eifert and Cethan Carter are both on injured reserve, while Tyler Kroft is working his way back from a broken foot.
Nick Manchester looks back to Week 7 and breaks down the three things learned from the Bengals’ big loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. One takeaway? That quarterback Andy Dalton needs the help of his entire cast of skill players in order to perform at a high level.
Meanwhile, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has another thought on why Cincy faltered against the Chiefs: Tackling. Patrick Judis and Matt Minich report that the Bengals missed 18 tackles on Sunday night, with 12 different players missing at least one. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict led the team in misses, with four.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have spent years trying to find at least one go-to wide receiver who quarterback Joe Flacco can trust. Baltimore Beatdown’s Jacob Loque says John Brown has taken on that role this year, writing, “It’s fair to say the Ravens haven’t seen this type of consistent effort and explosiveness from a receiver since Steve Smith Sr. had a renaissance of his own in purple and black.”
This season has proven that the Oakland Raiders have been more than willing to trade even their most talented players. And that’s where Logan Levy turns when examining potential trade targets for the Ravens as the October 30 deadline approaches. He identifies two Raiders the Ravens could use, as well as the ideal compensation to send in return.