The path to the playoffs starts within the division with the wild card entries as backup routes to the postseason. For the Cleveland Browns, and their fans, that means paying close attention to what else is going on around the AFC North. The Browns are tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the division lead after three weeks with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh pulling up the rear.
This week, the Ravens and Bengals got some bad news on the interior of their defensive lines with Michael Pierce and D.J. Reader suffering serious injuries. With Cleveland and their great run game facing Baltimore and Cincinnati in Weeks 7 and 8 of the NFL season, the injuries could play a huge role.
Pierce is expected to be out for the season with third-round rookie Travis Jones expected to step into his starting role.
Reader is expected to be back but miss around six weeks starting with tonight’s match-up on Thursday Night Football:
Out a minimum of four weeks. As I mentioned the other day, six weeks is the expected recovery time. Tough one but the #Bengals are hopeful he’s back in a little over a month and healthy for the stretch run. https://t.co/CHhlVK7els— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 29, 2022
Josh Tupou and rookie third-rounder Zach Carter will have increased roles while Reader is out.
Early in the year, both the Ravens and Bengals have been in the top half of the league in stopping the run with Cincinnati giving up just 86 yards a game. Without Pierce and Reader, Cleveland’s top-ranked rushing attack should have an easier time making plays.
Injuries continue to be a big story around the NFL. The Browns have 11 players on their injury report, New England might not have their starting quarterback and the Los Angeles Chargers continue to have injury woes.