The Ravens lost another game, the Steelers dominated the Colts and are getting hot as the season winds down and we all watched the Browns play one of their worst games of the year against the Bengals. Here are the current AFC North standings:
Baltimore Ravens (4-8) lost to Miami Dolphins (5-7), 13-15
The Ravens have all the excuses in the world to look bad, but it still doesn't make this loss any less frustrating for them. The defense played admirably the entire game. The main problem was Matt Schaub who went vintage with a pick six as well as another interception that led to more points. Javorius Allen did all he could to salvage the offense, adding 170 total yards and a touchdown, but it just wasn't enough. Although quite a bit of the blame can be extended beyond the players, as no one should let Schaub throw the ball 48 times, especially in a game that was always within at least one score. In the end though, the loss helps their draft position ever so slightly. On another note, it was just announced that Ravens rookie tight end Nick Boyle has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substances policy.
Schaub went down hard during the game. He screamed and held his helmet. Afterward, a trainer and Marc Trestman talked to him and deemed he was fine. They decided to put him through the NFL's concussion testing anyway. The entire time Schaub said he was fine, and he eventually passed and returned to the game. It's good to see that a team handled a situation so well considering the state of head injuries in the NFL. Expect more of this from more teams in the future.
Cleveland Browns (2-10) lost to Cincinnati Bengals (10-2), 3-37
What a game. The Browns have the opposite record of the Bengals and it showed on the field. At best, the Browns were a doormat, and at worst they waved the Bengals right on through. The latter especially applies to the Browns' offensive line as Geno Atkins and company were in Austin Davis's face all afternoon. The offense never got anything going, and the only time the defense stopped anything was when they pulled Jeremy Hill out of the stands. The Browns are looking for bright spots, and I wonder if they'll ever find one from Sunday's game.
The Browns are finally letting Johnny Manziel out of his two game timeout. The move comes as there seems to be no other choice. Austin Davis looked okay when he wasn't fending off Bengals' defenders, but the fact is, that trend was going to continue if he played more games. The offensive line has had trouble protecting the quarterback all season, but Manziel can help with that. He has the ability to escape the pocket and extend plays and Davis just doesn't possess that ability. This can help their receivers get open and save the linemen a few embarrassing trips back to the huddle.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) beat Indianapolis Colts (6-6), 45-10
Man, this did not look like a game between two teams playing for potential playoff spots. This game had a very weird opening sequence where neither team seemed to want the ball the. The Steelers fumbled the opening kickoff, then intercepted Matt Hasselbeck, and then fumbled it away again. The Steelers went on to control the game. It never seemed like the Colts had a concrete plan on how to stop the Steelers' offense and the final score showed that very vividly. Hasselbeck was under constant pressure and was eventually forced from the game due to injury. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and DeAngelo Williams all got in on the act offensively. Brown had 118 receiving yards with three touchdowns which included a punt return for a touchdown. Bryant tallied 114 yards and Williams recorded more than 100 yards rushing. It was a scary display from a team that seems to be clicking at the right time.
Even with the impressive win over the Colts, the Steelers still don't control their own destiny as the Jets and Chiefs still hold onto the Wild Card playoff spots with all three of them at (7-5). It the Steelers lose to the Bengals this week, the Bengals will clinch the AFC North title. Pittsburgh will then have to face the Broncos, and they will have to win at least one of those games against the Broncos or Bengals to keep pace with the current Wild Card teams, who only play one team that is over .500 between the two of them. Not to mention the Bills and Texans are sitting at 6-6 and nipping at the heels of the Steelers, waiting to take advantage of any slip up.