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AFC North Week 9 in Review: Winners everywhere but how?

All four teams are seeded in the AFC playoffs

Seattle Seahawks v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

All we do is win, win, win no matter what (I guess that’s what DJ Khaled said). Everyone in the AFC North got a victory on Sunday (the Pittsburgh Steelers played on Thursday). If the season ended today, all 4 teams in the division would be in the playoffs. The Cleveland Browns bounced back with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Baltimore Ravens continue to dominate, the Cincinnati Bengals could be back and the Pittsburgh Steelers find ways to win once again. Let’s dive into this.

Tennessee Titans 16, Pittsburgh Steelers 20 (Thursday)

The plot armor strikes again. At some point, you can’t hate on the Steelers for how they are winning games. Despite a roster that hovers between average and below average, the fact that this team is 5-3 but they have a negative point differential is astonishing.

Offensively, the unit went down the field on their first drive and scored (surprising I know) and then they followed it with two consecutive 3 and outs and later followed it up with a field goal to finish the 1st half. The offense didn’t score a touchdown until late in the 4th quarter when quarterback Kenny Pickett found wide receiver Diontae Johnson to give the team the lead late in the game.

As I’ve said before this offense isn’t necessarily great but it made progress (I guess) but another problem arose. Wide receiver George Pickens took to social media to voice his frustration, he was essentially nonexistent and he would’ve had a touchdown late in the game if he dragged his foot but he didn’t.

When you have a quarterback in Pickett who isn’t necessarily the best and you have a coordinator in Matt Canada who isn’t utilizing you the right way, you have every right to be frustrated considering how when he’s eventually due for a new contract teams care more about production instead of wins and losses. However, I don’t see this turning into a bigger deal.

Defensively, not much to say as rookie quarterback Will Levis gave this defense issues. Out of the 4 teams in the AFC North, the Steelers are probably the weakest. This isn’t a serious playoff contender by any means so don’t let the record fool you.

Seattle Seahawks 3, Baltimore Ravens 37

On Sunday, I had both the Cardinals-Browns/Seahawks-Ravens games on simultaneously. After the conclusion of the Seahawks/Ravens (the game was over in the 3rd so I switched to something else), I came to two conclusions.

  • The Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the AFC and it’s not close at this point.
  • I don’t know what was more depressing, watching Seattle get blown out the way they did or the finale of Attack on Titan (it’s a popular anime show that’s fantastic). It’s both.

Offensively, this unit seems to be clicking and that should be a scary sight for anyone that goes up against them. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is the runaway favorite to win the MVP despite not putting up insane numbers. The running game finds ways to be effective, running back Gus Edwards continues to lead the charge and undrafted rookie free agent Keaton Mitchell has emerged as a contributor.

As far as the passing game goes, it’s always going to be a problem with Lamar under center. As I’ve stated multiple times, his passing has improved and when he’s on, good luck. Defensively, this unit is dominant in multiple ways. They can get to the quarterback, are sticky in coverage in the back end and overall this unit is well-coached. The top two defenses in the NFL reside in the AFC North, which is Cleveland and Baltimore. Baltimore is head and shoulders above everyone in the division and they seem to be unstoppable right now.

We shall see how this team looks on Sunday with Cleveland coming to town.

Buffalo Bills 18, Cincinnati Bengals 24

It seems like the Cincinnati Bengals have the Buffalo Bills number. Not surprising considering that the Bengals match up well with them (but they don’t match up well with Cleveland but that’s neither here nor there). A few weeks ago, I said talk to me when the Bengals beat the 49ers and the Bills to prove they are back: They might be.

Offensively, the unit seems to be rounding into form. Quarterback Joe Burrow is healthy so he’s back to playing how we are accustomed to seeing him play. Is he in the MVP conversation? No, I believe the slow start (calf injury aside) put him behind the 8-ball.

Defensively, the unit is still solid but it’s not near what it was in the previous year. However, when you have Lou Anarumo it doesn’t matter who is out there. Anarumo is bound to be hired as a head coach somewhere he’s too talented not to be hired. If I had to look at the 3 teams in the AFC North that could make the playoffs, Cincinnati would be one of them (Baltimore & Cleveland are the other two). However, I think this team has some flaws that can be exploited.

Despite the defense being solid, they are towards the top of the league in regards to giving up explosive plays. Offensively, in the 2nd half the unit didn’t score a single touchdown and they were held to 6 points despite picking apart the Buffalo defense. The offense is talented, but they are inconsistent from drive to drive. The team is good don’t get me wrong but they aren’t near what Baltimore is if we have to be honest.