The Steelers rebounded so hard against the Chiefs that they’ve returned to their top spot in the AFC North. There is still uncertainty in the AFC North though.
The Steelers appear to be once again the top team in the AFC North. Their performance two weeks ago still holds them out of the top AFC spot for now. But that is not what we’re discussing here. Forget the Pats and the Broncos, when it comes to the forceful four of the north, Pittsburgh is on top.
Now, early in the season we deferred to the record of teams which may have been a bit arbitrary. But now that teams have more games we’re going to break out of the tyranny of the record. First, because we’ve seen them play more and they’re starting to display who they are. Second, because we know the quality of their opponents.
So, let’s count them down.
The Steelers beat the Chiefs in Pittsburgh 43-14. It was a dominant performance. The game was over by halftime. Landry Jones saw the field. The Chiefs are by no means a terrible team either. The Steelers dominated both sides of the ball. So Steeler Nation is certainly relieved by the redemptive performance.
It was nice to see Ben throw 300 yards and get 5 touchdowns, 2 of them to Brown. Sammie Coates continues to be a legit deep threat. Le’Veon Bell returned with 178 yards from scrimmage. The real takeaway though was not what recovered but what began. The Steelers finally showed a pass rush with 4 sacks, including tipped passes and pressures. They also kept the short pass game in check for the first time.
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The Bengals bounced back against the Dolphins after a two game losing streak with a 22 to 7 win. The Dolphins aren’t exactly top tier but they handled them and they needed to to keep the Ravens from returning as the main rival to the Steelers. The Bengals don’t seem to be the team they were the past couple years though. Free agent losses might have them competing not with the Steelers for #1 but with the Ravens for #2.
It was pretty standard fair for the Bengals. Dalton had solid stats, 296 yards and a touchdown. AJ Green was amazing, earning 178 yards and a touchdown. The pass rush continues to be on point with 5 sacks. But their offense continues to be far to dependent on Dalton to Green and they settled for 5 field goals.
The Ravens got their first loss of the season. It’s true they barely lost to a solid opponent and we can’t hold that against them, but they also barely beat the weak opponents they’ve had thus far. It’s still difficult to tell where the Ravens are at. They’re not bad, but even with Eric Weddle, they pass defense is too weak in a division that contains AJ Green and Antonio Brown, and now Terrelle Pryor.
Flacco had 299 yards and a touchdown. Pretty good. Terrance West did well with 113 yards and a touchdown. Steve Smith had 111 yards and touchdowns. On the other hand, Derek Carr had 4 touchdowns. There were no sacks, no interceptions. Michael Crabtree lit them up for 3 touchdowns. So what are they going to do with Brown and Green? That remains to be seen.
The Browns are still the Browns. I don’t expect that to change this season. They lost to the Redskins 31 to 20. The thing about the Browns games though is that they’re all good games. At some point during their games it appears as if they might win. It’s just when the clock reads zeroes they aren’t on top.
Isaiah Cromwell had a strong performance with 120 yards and a touchdown. The pass defense wasn’t bad, holding Kirk Cousins to 183 yards and an interception, but also giving up 3 touchdowns. What ails the Browns is the same thing as always. We’re four games in and it already kind of feels like by next season they’re going fire their coach prematurely and get yet another new quarterback.
Next week the Steelers have the Jets in Pittsburgh. The Bengals play the Cowboys, the Ravens play the Redskins, and the Brown play the Patriots. The Bengals and Cowboys game will probably be the toughest game. The Steelers should win, but like we’ve seen, consistency has been an issue. The only way to make it not an issue is to beat all the teams you’re supposed to and that starts with the Jets.
All stats via NFL.com