The Baltimore Ravens were on a bye week, sitting at the top of the AFC North while the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals all played in Week 13. Cleveland and Pittsburgh both fell short (Pittsburgh suffered a huge loss but we will get into that later) while the Bengals found a way to get back into the win column.
Arizona Cardinals 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 10
Out of all the scores in the early window, this score was probably the most surprising one. No one, and I mean no one thought the Steelers would fall to the now 3-10 Arizona Cardinals (Browns can’t relate). Multiple weather delays don’t excuse the fact that this was a bad loss for this team.
Head coach Mike Tomlin pretty much summed up his team’s performance with this quote:
Mike Tomlin at the podium:— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) December 3, 2023
"Horrible day at the office. We didn't do much right in that game, to be quite honest with you. We've got to own that ... starting first and foremost with me. ... JV football in a lot of ways."
Running back Jaylen Warren followed it up with this concerning quote:
Jaylen Warren said that the Steelers may have taken the Cardinals lightly. Added they may have gotten too high off their win in Cincinnati.— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 3, 2023
"I guess just taking them lightly -- lighter than we should have.""
"We let the highs get too high." pic.twitter.com/MszskhGh3q
The Steelers offense put up 400 yards of total offense yet scored only 16 points against a Cincinnati defense that is currently struggling (we will get to them in a few). That Pittsburgh came in with an arrogant mindset after that is telling.
The Steelers were outplayed in every facet of this game and to make matters worse, they might have lost quarterback Kenny Pickett for the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain and he underwent tightrope surgery on Monday.
#Steelers QB Kenny Pickett has a high-ankle sprain and underwent surgery this morning. He's out this week for Thursday night vs. New England, and could be out more than that. pic.twitter.com/S6xG9xB4QO— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 4, 2023
The pride of Mentor High School, quarterback Mitch Trubisky will get the start Thursday night against the New England Patriots (I might find something better to do than watch this live).
As far as their playoff hopes go, they are still in contention but with Trubisky under center and a defense that’s not as good as advertised, I can’t see them winning out the rest of the way. Maybe they can and I end up getting proven wrong like an idiot (I hope not but we shall see)
Cincinnati Bengals 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 31
Talk about a surprising score. After struggling last week offensively, the Bengals were able to put something together on Monday night and won in overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last week, I didn’t understand the game plan put together by Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, considering how they lost their quarterback Joe Burrow for the season. He adjusted, and the Cincinnati offense looked competent with Jake Browning under center.
Browning was exceptional, the wide receivers were involved and the Bengals were able to run the ball effectively throughout the game.
Jake Browning has 353 yards passing, the most by a Bengals QB in any game this season.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 5, 2023
As much as I criticize the Bengals offensive line (trust me I do it more than most), the unit was fine in terms of run blocking but pass blocking was again a problem.
Defensively, the unit hasn’t been great this season but they found ways to get stops despite Jacksonville moving the ball up and down the field at times. The unit isn’t necessarily great, more bend than break but the defensive performance should still be concerning.
At 6-6, the Bengals playoff hopes are on life support. Could they win out? Probably not, they have Kansas City for their second to last game but the slow start put them in a hole that’s too big for them to get out of.
Your season isn’t over until you have that “e” next to your team name (“e”= eliminated from playoff contention). Browning is competent but I don’t see that consistent play lasting, maybe it does maybe it doesn’t. We shall see.
What do you think about the AFC North through Week 13 of this year?