While the Bengals are done for the weekend, the rest of the AFC North is getting ready for Week 4. The Steelers are about to debut their Pro Bowl running back in primetime. The Ravens will try to stay undefeated when they face the Raiders. Cleveland searches for their first win without the hope of their star receiver returning next week, or ever.
Baltimore Ravens (3-0) vs Oakland Raiders (2-1): Sunday, October 2, 1:00 p.m. EST
The Ravens boast the second ranked defense going into Week 4 and they will be getting a boost with veteran pass rusher, Elvis Dumervil, set to make his season debut.
Dumervil only had six sacks last season after having 17 the season before. The main difference in those seasons was the health of Terrell Suggs who didn’t play last season. Dumervil turns 33 in January and may not have the same burst he had earlier on in his career. This is especially true with him coming off surgery.
The good news for the Ravens is that their defense has been productive without Dumervil, so even if he plays more like 2015 than 2014, the team will still likely be okay.
The Raiders had a horrible first two weeks defensively. They let opposing offenses do whatever they pleased against them, and a lot of that was attributed to poor communication. In response to this problem, Raiders head coach, Jack Del Rio, took over defensive playcalling responsibilities. After making the switch the Raiders held the Titans to 10 points.
It is hard to say whether the Ravens, who have struggled this season (while still winning), can get going against the Raiders if this change is yielding results. The Ravens have gotten out to slow starts against the Browns and Jaguars the past two weeks. It took them fourth quarter comebacks to beat both teams.
The difference with this game against the Raiders is Oakland has offensive ability far beyond the Browns and Jaguars. The Ravens may not be able to afford another slow start if they wish to remain perfect this season.
Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Washington Redskins (1-2): Sunday, October 2, 1:00 p.m. EST
Josh Gordon seems to be making a positive move in his life. Gordon has decided to check into an in-patient rehabilitation center. Unfortunately, it seems to have cost him his final chance with the Browns. Gordon was set to be reinstated in Week 5, but obviously that will not be happening.
Some things are more important than football. A person’s well being is one of them. Clearly Gordon has finally figured that out.
In the wake of this news, the Browns remain on a winless pass. Terrelle Pryor’s success is one of the only interesting storylines for a season that is going as well as most expected, and that’s not well at all.
Hue Jackson isn’t afraid to talk, but when he implied that we still haven’t seen his offense, it was a weird comment.
In one sense you hope this isn’t his offense. The Browns lack offensive talent without Gordon, plus they have already lost two quarterbacks, and Corey Coleman for a few weeks. It would be a tall task to run any semblance of an offense with the available options. Right now, Jackson seems to be running the Pryor show by showcasing all of his talents.
In another sense though, it has to be frustrating for Browns fans holding out hope for this season. In the last two games, Cleveland had a really good shot of winning, but simply couldn’t finish the job. Unfortunately, that was largely due to missing three field goals last week. To hear your head coach say he’s holding back after three weeks isn’t ideal.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) vs Kansas City Chiefs (2-1): Sunday, October 2, 8:30 p.m. EST
The Chiefs are a good team that could easily end up in the playoffs again. The Steelers are a better team, when healthy, but they enter Week 4 with some key players set to miss the game.
The biggest name is Ryan Shazier who has been huge for them this season. When he left during the Eagles game it really opened up the Eagles’ offense. Shazier missing the game could be a deciding factor. Alex Smith loves to get Travis Kelce involved, and Jamaal Charles will be making his debut. Shazier could’ve helped stop or slow down both of those aspects of offense. Instead the rest of Pittsburgh’s defense will have to pick up the slack. Whether they can do so will decide the game.
Le’Veon Bell is returning to an already potent offense. There is no question having Bell out there opens thing up even more for Ben Roethlisberger. It basically becomes a choose your poison scenario for defenses. Someone is going to burn you. Whether it’s Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown or Bell, the Steelers offense will be able to move the ball.
Bell’s return could also open up the passing game for the auxiliary receivers not named Brown. At some point, opposing defenses will have to roll eight defenders into the box to slow down Bell. That will open up the deep ball for players like Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates.