AFC North: Steelers tied for last

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Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals sit atop the AFC North with an unblemished record after week one. However, this premature ranking tells a different story.

Evaluating the games and outcomes for all four of the AFC North teams, the Bengals don’t seem like the best team.

How they played:

Cleveland was steamrolled by the New York Jets. Their two leading rushers were quarterbacks, with neither surpassing 35 yards. Johnny Manziel replaced an injured Josh McCown and accounted for 3 of Cleveland’s 5 turnovers. The Browns belong at the bottom.

The Ravens experienced highs and lows in their loss to the Denver Broncos. If you only knew that the Broncos gained 219 yards and scored 12 points on offense, you would think the Ravens won. Despite their defensive efforts, the Ravens couldn’t muster enough offense to win the game.

Baltimore’s defense took a big blow when Terrell Suggs tore his achilles on Sunday. He will be out for the rest of the season. Still, if this defense plays up to its ability, it can stop any offense. It’s amazing to watch; the players change but the mentality doesn’t–these Ravens bring it on defense.

Consider that the Ravens played the Broncos in Denver, where Peyton Manning is 22-2 as a starter. The game might have looked different had the teams matched up in Baltimore.

I looked at the Steelers’ loss to the defending champion Patriots extensively last Friday. There were as many positives to take from the game as there were negatives. Many of the negatives are typical of a young team early in a season. Add in some adjustment time for new placekicker, Josh Scobee, and the sky is certainly not falling.

The Steelers also get some talent back after this week’s game when Le’Veon Bell’s suspension ends. Then they get more back when Martavis Bryant’s suspension ends two weeks after that. The Steelers also don’t have to go up against a matchup nightmare like Rob Gronkowski in any of their AFC North games. The growing pains on defense should subside–there is enough of a veteran presence for the young guys to start to get it.

The Bengals and Andy Dalton looked good in their opener against the Raiders. So did everyone who played the raiders in 2014. They were worst in the league in points allowed. On top of that the Raiders lost their starting quarterback in the first half of play on Sunday.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on Tyler Eifert should he stay healthy, but the win isn’t substantial enough to say that the Bengals are the best in the division.

Next: How they stand