Week 14 is over for the AFC North. If the season ended today, essentially the entire AFC North could be in the postseason (tiebreakers have one team on the outside right now despite a winning record). If your name isn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers, your team came away with a victory this week. The Cleveland Browns got a much-needed win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Baltimore Ravens won an overtime thriller and the Cincinnati Bengals have won back-to-back games.
Enjoy head coach Kevin Stefanski celebrating this 4th down play call before we get into the other teams:
that's our head coach— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 10, 2023
gutsy play call from Kev pic.twitter.com/f0iUyquos9
New England Patriots 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 18 F/Thursday
Thursday night, I tried my best to avoid watching this game live because, to be fair, there were better things to do than watch two bad teams play. I ended up watching it but it was on mute, the NBA in-season tournament was more exciting.
As far as what I’ve seen from the Steelers, my thoughts are still the same as they were for most of the season.
- Offensively, the unit isn’t great and firing offensive Matt Canada isn’t going to fix the problems the unit has.
- Defensively, if they can’t get turnovers this unit is below average.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky didn’t have a great outing. Sure he made some nice throws (if you call it that), but there were multiple occasions in which overthrew receivers, not seeing the field and turning the ball over. Multiple times we saw players on offense express frustration and it’s been a recurring theme all season.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick had this to say afterwards and it’s pretty telling.
Some people want to fire head coach Mike Tomlin, I don’t believe that will solve anything. Despite finishing with a winning record every season, this team has underachieved under Tomlin but not by much. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a franchise quarterback or a sense of direction. They are stuck in neutral and not trending upwards.
When your fans are chanting for quarterback Mason Rudolph to come in, it shows how tough times are (doesn’t feel good does it?).
Indianapolis Colts 14, Cincinnati Bengals 34
It’s the year of the backup quarterback in the NFL. The Browns have Joe Flacco, and the Bengals have Jake Browning. The Colts have Gardner Minshew.
When I watched Browning’s first start against the Steelers, I didn’t agree with the game plan that Cincinnati made for him. Lack of a running game and too many dropbacks. The past two weeks Browning has played well and the Bengals have established a running game and the usage of the screen game.
Rookie running back Chase Brown is starting to emerge as a contributor for the Bengals and he was one of the many reasons why the Bengals were able to get a win today over the Indianapolis Colts.
Defensively, the run defense was able to keep the Colts rushing attack at bay. Make no mistake this defense is still not great but it wasn’t a bad performance by this group.
As far as their playoff hopes go, I don’t see this team making a serious push considering how their slow start plagued them and now they are playing catch up. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy and I worry about this team if they were to play a competent offense and defense. They won’t play one next week with the Minnesota Vikings (their offense doesn’t have a quarterback but the defense has been a surprise).
Progress, I guess for the Bengals.
Los Angeles Rams 31, Baltimore Ravens 37
Baltimore was on upset alert against Los Angeles, who were one of the hottest teams in the NFC. It was close and the game had to go to overtime to decide a winner, but like the Browns, the Ravens found a way to win.
As far as MVP talks go, the fact quarterback Lamar Jackson isn’t in the conversation is disrespectful in my eyes. Dak Prescott and Brock Purdy have played well but Jackson has been playing just as well. Whether it’s making plays in the air or making plays on his feet, Lamar is my pick to win the MVP this season.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr had a vintage Odell performance, and it looks like he’s getting back to what he was doing when he was with the Rams back in 2021.
OH MY GOODNESS— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 10, 2023
LAMAR TO OBJ!!!!!!!
Tune in on FOX! pic.twitter.com/EhczPj5eeM
Fun fact, Odell ran the wrong route on the play but who cares?
Odell Beckham Jr. on his 46-yard TD catch: “The good news is, I scored. The bad news is, I ran the wrong route.” pic.twitter.com/dLJ39jWtiq— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) December 10, 2023
Defensively, the unit took a hit when safety Kyle Hamilton left the game with a knee injury. Hope it isn’t serious because Hamilton is key for Baltimore’s defense.
Considering how the AFC is wide open, this is the best team right now. The game-winning touchdown by Tylan Wallace was an exciting play by the way:
TYLAN WALLACE ICES THE GAME ❗❗❗ pic.twitter.com/On4jjuacED— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 10, 2023
What do you think the pecking order in the AFC North is after Week 14?