Joe Bittner, ‘Doah Staff Writer
October 2, 2013
The AFC North is a very close division this year. As of now, the Ravens, Browns and Bengals share first place in the division with a record of 2-2. The Steelers continue to struggle as they are now 0-4, something almost unheard of in Pittsburgh.
So, let’s start with the Steelers. After two weeks of losing by at least 10 points, things were not looking good. Week three was going to be the week to turn it around though, or so they thought. It was a big game against the Chicago Bears; a historic matchup between two tough and physical teams. But only one showed up that day: the Bears. Pittsburgh’s defense gave up 17 points in the first quarter, digging themselves an enormous hole. The Bears continued to trample the Steelers defense and go on to win 40-23. Going into Minnesota the next week, Pittsburgh had high hopes of finally getting a win. However, going into halftime trailing by 10 did not help their spirits. After three quarters, they were trailing 34-17. They managed to score 10 points in the fourth quarter, but still lost 34-27. The historically solid Steelers defense has shown some serious issues this season. If they cannot right the ship, they are heading for a disastrous year.
Next are the Cleveland Browns. After a 0-2 start, the Browns realized the next two weeks would be crucial for their season. They went into Minnesota and came out with a big win. The offense started slow, but by halftime they had built a 24-17 lead. They added another touchdown in the second half and the defense was able to hold off the Vikings offense for a 31-27 victory. The next game was the division rival Bengals. A low scoring affair was in store for these teams. The Bengals struggled against the Browns defense and only scored six points in the game. The Browns put up 17 points to win 17-6. The Browns seem to have figured it out these past two weeks and hope to continue the pace they are on. If the defense can hold opposing offenses to minimal scoring, the Browns could see a playoff run in their future.
Speaking of the Bengals, Cincinnati came into week three with an even 1-1 record. Their next opponent would be a test — the Packers. After jumping out to a 14-point lead going into the second quarter, the Packers answered back with 16 unanswered in the second. The Bengals found themselves trailing 30-21 entering the fourth quarter and needing a comeback. After scoring 13 points, the Bengals won 34-30. As mentioned before, the Bengals faced off against the Browns. The Bengals offense struggled severely against the tough-nosed Browns defense. The offense played well through the first three weeks with the defense giving up too many points. However, the fourth week showed a switch in roles. The lack of consistency on both sides of the ball can hurt this team in the long run.
Finally, are the Ravens. Also coming into week two with a 1-1 record, the Ravens were still feeling the ridicule of their week one beat down by the Broncos. They went out against a very good Texan team and made a statement. Building a 17-9 lead by halftime, the offense showed no signs of slowing down. The defense did not allow another score in the second half and the Ravens won 30-9. While the offense carried over into week four, the defense did not. In a game against the Bills, the Ravens defense let up 20 points in the first half while the offense could only score seven. The defense was able to hold the Bills to only three points in the second half, but the offense came up short and lost 23-20. The theme of inconsistency continues for the Ravens. The offense shows signs of being hard to stop, then is shut down. At times, the defense seems insurmountable. But at other times, they are unable to tackle. Although it is still early, one side of the ball needs to step up and take control.
The AFC North will be a close division throughout the season. Although the Ravens are the bottom feeders now, they show signs of being able to figure things out. Do not be surprised if in two or three weeks, the teams are only separated by a game or two.