Heading into Week 3, the rest of the AFC North is set to hit the road while the Bengals have their home opener. The Ravens are heading to Florida to face the Jaguars. They’ll attempt to see if they can keep their good start going as they enter the game 2-0. The Browns are and Dolphins will be locked in a battle of (0-2) teams. And yes, the Browns are on their third quarterback in Week 3. The Steelers will see how good the (2-0) Eagles actually are in a battle of the Pennsylvania NFL teams.
Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2): Sunday, September 25, 1:00 p.m. ET
Quite the opposite of last season, the Ravens are set to get one of their better players back on the field Sunday. Dumervil missed the first two weeks recovering from offseason foot surgery.
This adds more experience to their already potent pass rush so far this season. Outside of Terrell Suggs the Ravens have been playing rookies and second year pass rushers, and they have had pretty good results so far. Dumervil’s return allows the Ravens to either add another body to the rotation, or they could leave it up to Dumervil and Suggs to pass rush while reserving the young guys to spell the vets when they get tired.
Ultimately the Ravens will need to get to Blake Bortles early and often to keep that passing attack under control. Dumervil coming back will make that much easier for the Ravens.
A growing concern for the Ravens is the running game. Last year The Ravens averaged 3.9 yards per carry and under 100 yards per game, and they missed the playoffs. Baltimore had plenty of excuses for that though. Dealing with all those injuries derailed a lot of what they wanted to do on offense.. However this year they are healthy and off to a (2-0) start. The running game hasn’t improved.
The Ravens are averaging just three yards per carry and just over 80 rushing yards per game. So far this season it hasn’t been a problem, but they haven’t played any good teams yet. There will be a time they need to be able to run the ball, and the question becomes whether they be able to have that balance when they need it.
It was a huge story when the Ravens unexpectedly cut Justin Forsett right before the season, he eventually returned though. But so far, he hasn’t found much running room. Baltimore also elected to let offensive guard Kelechi Osemele walk in the offseason, and while Ronnie Stanley has been solid in pass protection, he still needs to get used to run blocking in the NFL. It could be any combination of these things, but something needs to change for the Ravens. If the run game doesn’t improve, the Ravens could easily miss the playoffs this season again.
Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-2): Sunday, September 25, 1:00 p.m. ET
Corey Coleman broke his hand in practice and this loss hurts. It hurts more than any loss the Browns will have this season. Fortunately it isn’t as bad as initially expected, but still, the whole point of this season is for the young players to gain experience by playing. Coleman is fresh of a two touchdown game, and he had plenty to build off of, but now he will have to wait four-six weeks to learn anymore. The rookie receiver also won Rookie of the Week this week. He won’t have an opportunity to do that again for quite some time.
Gordon had a warrant out for his arrest, since August, which was discovered by the media this week. As of last night, it has since been rescinded. The warrant was related to a paternity test and a woman claiming she gave birth to Gordon’s child. Gordon has now submitted a paternity test and this short-lived fiasco should be over.
It was more of a headache for Browns fans and the organization, but it obviously had no effect on his suspension. Still, it has to be frustrating. Gordon has to realize how short of a leash he has and take care of his business. Honestly for most players this would be a non-story, but any legal trouble Gordon gets into makes instant headlines, and he needs to realize that.
The Browns are (0-2) and so are the Dolphins. One team will have its first win of the season on Sunday, and if the Browns want that to be them, they need to stop the Dolphins’ run game. The Dolphins are coming in without Arian Foster who is dealing with an injury, but the Browns haven’t fared well against the run so far.
One of the keys for Cleveland will be slowing down the Dolphins backup running back Jay Ajayi who will most likely handle a majority of the running back duties as Arian Foster will be out again for Sunday’s game. After Foster left last week, Ajayi and the other backup running backs combined for 26 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Ajayi especially wants to establish himself after losing out to Foster for the starting job after the preseason. Ajadi can try to prove the Dolphins made the wrong choice with a good game against the Browns poor rushing defense though.
As if the Browns could use another injury, on Friday, Browns kicker Patrick Murray suffered a knee injury during practice and will need an MRI to evaluate the damage. In turn, the Browns are working out kickers as Murray is questionable to play in Week 3. Is there a less lucky team than the Browns?
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0): Sunday, September 25, 4:25 p.m. ET
Brown was held to 39 yards on four catches Sunday against the Bengals, and he wasn’t happy. He was visibly upset during the game, and commented afterwards on his radio show. The Steelers did win the game though, and even if he didn’t have a direct effect, Brown had a big impact by drawing the Bengals’ focus.
The Bengals shifted coverages specifically to slow down Brown and made Roethlisberger choose to ignore his favorite target to win the game. While it was frustrating, Brown’s presence led to several big plays that decided the game. Roethlisberger knows this can’t continue and knows Brown will have his opportunities going forward.
“I’ve been in this league long enough to know that every single receiver is open on every single play,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s just what you’re used to. But he’s the best in the world. We won the game, and that’s what’s most important. I think that’s what’s most important to him too. He’ll get his catches, he’ll get his yards. He’ll help us win football games. He’s helping us when he catches 3-4 balls because he’s taking a lot of attention away from other guys. That’s the reason the tight ends are open over the middle. He’s helping us even when he’s not catching balls.”
It is hard to truly judge the Eagles defense so far. Their only opponents have been the Browns and Bears who aren't great litmus tests. How well the Eagles contain Brown could be a good measure in determining just how legitimate the 2016 Eagles are.
Roethlisberger reflected back on a 2008 game in which he said he was sacked eight or nine times. After the game he wondered if he really wanted to play football anymore after dealing with all that punishment. (I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded if he retired!)
If the Eagles hope to win this game, they’ll need to replicate that production and get to Roethlisberger and throw off his rhythm. Roethlisberger is coming into the game with six passing touchdowns and three interceptions through two weeks. He has had three touchdowns in each game so far, and is almost single handedly responsible for the offense’s success. The Eagles aren’t favorites to win, but getting Roethlisberger on his back would really help their chances.