AFC North Power Rankings: Pittsburgh Steelers hit a roadblock
By Alex Fasano
The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with the rest of the AFC North, had an eventful weekend as they came out of Week12, 2-2.
Only a handful of games left for the 2018 NFL regular season. The AFC North made headlines all over the league; Baker Mayfield topples (and criticizes) his former coach, Lamar Jackson utilizes all of his talents and the Steelers lose a heart-breaker in Denver.
The Bengals took quite a turn for the worst. Cincinnati lost two out of their last seven (three straight) and show no signs of stopping. They fell to the Browns 35-20…the BROWNS. Baker Mayfield had his way with the team, while Andy Dalton left the team. Dalton threw for 100 yards, a touchdown, and a pick before leaving the game with a severe thumb injury that will force him to miss the remainder of the season.
Up next, the Bengals host a Broncos team that’s riding a two-game win streak against two AFC powerhouses. Based on the overall season, Marvin Lewis may just be looking for work once this year comes to an end.
I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it until the start of the 2019 season, the future for the Cleveland Browns is in good hands. Baker Mayfield completely dominated the Bengals with 258 yards, four touchdowns, and a near perfect passer rating (143.9). Nick Chubb ran 28 times for 84 yards and a score. The rookies are running wild in Cleveland as this season continues to show positive potential for years to come. If the Browns manage three more victories, they’ll tie the most wins for the team in four years. I know it’s not much, but it says a lot for this historical, yet depressing franchise.
It’s not over yet for the Baltimore Ravens, as they took down the Raiders with ease, 34-17. Lamar Jackson finished with 249 total yards, two touchdowns (one rushing), and two picks. Where he lacks in arm strength, he makes up for in play making, carrying the ball 11 times. The real star was the undrafted free-agent Gus Edwards, who went for 118 yards on 23 carries.
At this moment, the Ravens own the 6-seed in the postseason, so Baltimore must win out in order to maintain their placement. All eyes will be on them as they have a tough two-game road trip, facing the Atlanta Falcons and the Kansas City Chiefs. Plus, I’m sure the coaching staff will have a tough decision when Joe Flacco gets to 100%. Will they stick with the future phenom or return to the face of their franchise?
If you thought the game against Jacksonville was gut wrenching, re-watch the game against the Broncos. Pittsburgh fell to Denver 24-17 due to missed opportunities and poor play calling. Ben Roethlisberger (though often blamed for the loss) played pretty well. He went for 462 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. JuJu Smith-Schuster had a day catching 13 passes for 189 yards and a score.
The Steelers defense played great, holding the Broncos to just over 300 total yards, but the team “shot themselves in the foot” with a fumble on the goal line, and a tough decision to throw instead of run on the 2-yard line with a minute left to play. Pittsburgh finished with four turnovers. The loss caused a hiccup heading into the final games of the season. A Sunday night football match-up against the equally powerful Chargers will be their biggest chance to prove their legitimacy in the AFC.