Week 4 in the AFC North has wrapped up. If you aren’t the Baltimore Ravens, you probably came away feeling bad about your team. The Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Pittsburgh Steelers came away with losses. Let’s jump right into our AFC North Weekly Review:
Pittsburgh Steelers 6, Houston Texans 30
The Steelers are 2-2, but this isn’t a good 2-2 team. From an offensive standpoint, there isn’t much to say. Regardless of what they did against the Las Vegas Raiders last week, who are not a good team in and of itself, the Steelers offense has been a mess for the past 4 weeks.
The play-calling is bad, Quarterback Kenny Pickett has regressed, and collectively the unit doesn’t have an identity. When your offensive coordinator comes out and says that the team isn’t built to come back from huge deficits, that’s not a good sign at all.
Matt Canada had a conversation with both Announcers Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta prior to the game. He told them the Steelers offense is not quite built to come back from big leads with the way they start games is critical.— Blitzburgh (@Blitz_Burgh) October 1, 2023
You have got to be kidding me.#Steelers #NFL
But it’s not just the offense, the defense hasn’t played well at all. The secondary can’t cover anyone and any team can run the ball at will against them because they can’t stop it.
The Steelers defense won’t get any blame per the usual.— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) October 1, 2023
Because every time they’re really bad (week one + today), the offense is *somehow* five times worse.
But there’s real issues over there as well.
Head coach Mike Tomlin has talked about “changes” being made but those changes can’t fix this current team’s problems. Oh and Pickett could be out for a while with a knee injury. Pittsburgh was never a dark horse playoff contender some made them out to be, it’s just a flawed team with roster deficiencies. Tough time to be a Steelers fan.
Cincinnati Bengals 3, Tennessee Titans 27
Speaking of bad football teams, what is going on with the Bengals? We saw the Tennessee Titans offense look anemic against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, but against the Bengals they were generating explosive plays and running the football at will.
Four weeks into the season, quarterback Joe Burrow has been atrocious.
Regardless of the calf injury (which is bothering him still), he hasn’t played well in any way shape or form. The calf injury is hampering his ability to move and create out-of-structure as well as his pocket mobility.
For as much as the Bengals invested in the offensive line, there is no excuse for it to be underperforming for another consecutive season. The pass protection has been bad and the numbers back it up.
Update on this: Bengals finished with a 32% PBWR today. Higher than 22%, but still very bad. https://t.co/XJ5I4iTK4l— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 1, 2023
Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is also frustrated.
Defensively, the unit gave up a ton of explosive plays against the Titans (which is shocking considering that offense didn’t look like a functional one in Week 3). Head coach Zac Taylor has been under fire and rightfully so. As I’ve said before if this team wasn’t talented he is likely an offensive coordinator on another team. Taylor also came out and said Burrow will play next week against the Arizona Cardinals.
Zac Taylor says Joe Burrow will start and play this week against the Cardinals— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) October 2, 2023
If it was up to me, I would put Burrow on IR instead of continuing to trot him out there when he isn’t healthy. Who cares about toughness when your quarterback is performing poorly and costing your team games? Cincinnati also failed to invest in a quality backup so if Burrow goes out there and he continues to struggle, the Bengals season will be over earlier than expected.
Baltimore Ravens 28, Cleveland Browns 3
It’s not a hot take to say the Ravens are the best team in the AFC North right now. The Steelers and the Bengals aren’t really good right now, and they just dispatched the second-best team in the division: The Browns.
Granted, Cleveland was without quarterback Deshaun Watson as he was recovering from a shoulder contusion but Baltimore was able to find a way to win despite being down multiple starters. Quarterback Lamar Jackson had a solid outing including one throw to tight end Mark Andrews, the coverage was tight but Lamar was able to fit the ball where Andrews could get it.
When healthy, this team has the potential to reach the Super Bowl. Baltimore was my pick to win the division and as of right now, they are the best team in the AFC North. Baltimore will get bodies back later this season which will help but despite the frustrating loss against the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens were able to respond with a much-needed win over a division rival.