AFC North rivals look to tighten the race against the Steelers this week

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8). Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8). Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers have to take their bye week much earlier than anyone originally anticipated. Here’s why their AFC North rivals can tighten the gap to first place.

The Steelers may not be taking the field against the Titans this week, but there is good news: Pittsburgh can’t lose in Week 4. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for their AFC North rivals.

While Mike Tomlin’s crew gets a week of rest that came much earlier than anyone could have expected, the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals will look to draw closer to Pittsburgh in the race for first place.

Eventually, the Steelers will have the opportunity to do the same when these three teams are on a bye, but it’s possible (in fact likely) that Pittsburgh will sit just one-half game above the competition after Week 4. Here’s how the games in the AFC North will likely turn out this week:

Baltimore @ Washington

Prediction: Ravens win big, advance record to 3-1

There isn’t a team in the NFL that oddsmakers have favored higher to win than the Baltimore Ravens. After putting up and embarrassing performance at home against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, you better believe John Harbaugh is going to have his guys ready to play.

Baltimore is currently favored by 13.5 over Washington, courtesy of The Action Network, and this is a team that they could blow out of the water. I expect the Ravens to run away with this and move just one-half game behind Pittsburgh for the division lead.

Cleveland @ Dallas

Prediction: Browns lose by one score, fall to 2-2

The Browns have strung together back-to-back wins in which they have scored at least 34 points in both contests. However, those have come against the Bengals and The Washington Football Team.

Cleveland’s game against Dallas could wind up being a shootout, as neither team can stop a nosebleed at this point. However, Dallas has a better quarterback and a slight advantage at home. I think the Browns lose by a score and fall to fall to third place in the AFC North.

Jacksonville @ Cincinnatti

The Bengals host a 1-2 Jaguars team in hopes of getting their first win of the season. Though Cincinnatti is far from the most talented team out there, they have enough firepower now with Joe Burrow at the helm to put up a fight.

Jacksonville isn’t exactly the cream of the crop and the Bengals are slightly favored in this home contest. I think Cincinnatti comes away with their first win – advancing their record to 1-2-1 on the season.

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While this would be the perfect week for Steelers fans to kick up their feet and root against their division rivals, their biggest threat (the Baltimore Ravens) probably aren’t in danger of losing in Week 4. Still, anything can happen. At least we know that Pittsburgh will still be in first place heading into Week 5 – even if it’s just by a half-game.