The Pittsburgh Steelers sit a top of the AFC North going into the weekend, while the Browns are hoping to get their first win with Myles Garrett taking the field. Joe Flacco takes the blame for the offense struggling the past two weeks. What sort of tests do the Steelers have ahead of them?
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) vs Jacksonville (2-2): Sunday, October 8th, 1:00 p.m. EST
The Steelers’ players haven’t missed too much time due to injury. This week it looks like the Steelers will only be without Marcus Gilbert when they take on the Jaguars this week. Gilbert is doubtful with a hamstring injury.
The Jaguars have plenty of players who are questionable for Sunday including receiver Marqise Lee and center Brandon Linder. Both of whom are starters.
Overall it could be a pretty healthy matchup between these two teams on Sunday.
The Steelers defeated the Ravens last week. It was a game that would decide who would take the lead in the AFC North. The Steelers answered the call pretty easily by winning 26-9. The Steelers are now sitting at the three seed in the AFC.
The question is though how many more tests do the Steelers have to pass? Pittsburgh is entering a tough stretch of their schedule. The Jaguars are sitting atop the AFC South right now with a very impressive defense. Then Pittsburgh faces the Chiefs in Kansas City, who are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. Then the Bengals will face them fresh off a bye week. Then the Steelers take a trip to Detroit to face the Lions who are 3-1 so far this season.
This stretch could be telling for the Steelers this season.
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-2): Sunday, October 8th, 4:25 p.m. EST
The Ravens have gotten run all over the past two weeks, and it is no coincidence that the Ravens' star run stopper has been out for those games. Brandon Williams is set to miss his third game in a row.
The Raiders are coming to town, and they will probably be without Derek Carr who is listed as questionable. This could lead to a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch who has struggled the past two weeks, along with the rest of the Raiders offense. Williams being out could lead to a great game for Lynch.
Jimmy Smith and Benjamin Watson are set to play against the Raiders though. Smith was dealing with an Achilles injury, but he practiced toward the end of the week. Watson also returned to practice Friday, which is a good indication that he will also play.
The Ravens offense has been pretty bad for most of the season, especially the passing game. The past two weeks Flacco has been just plain bad. Over two weeks he has four interceptions for 263 yards (28 yards in London) and only one touchdown.
It has been rough for Flacco and his receivers these past few weeks. Flacco is currently tied for the most interceptions thrown in the league with six total. Flacco also thinks trusting his protection will help according to ESPN:
"It's your job to stand in the pocket or get out of it and make a play," Flacco said. "That's what the league comes down to is the ability to do that when times are tough. Anybody can sit back there and do it when it's easy, but there's going to be a handful of situations every game where they're getting paid too. And when you really make your money and you make your points and prove you're a good offense is when you're doing it against tough situations."
It is clear that the Ravens need their running game because their offense can’t go through Flacco this season.
Cleveland Browns (0-4) vs New York Jets (2-2): Sunday, October 8th, 1:00 p.m. EST
Isaiah Crowell came into the season expecting a big year. The Browns retooled their offensive line, and the team is starting a rookie quarterback. It hasn’t worked out that way though. Crowell has 134 yards on 46 carries this season, and he hasn’t scored a touchdown either.
Crowell was a restricted free agent this offseason who probably could’ve gotten a decent veteran deal elsewhere. He is easily worth more than his one-year deal. Still, Crowell was confident he’d have the ability to show his worth in a contract year. Hue Jackson hasn’t used him that much though.
Since Week 1 when he had 17 carries against the Steelers, Crowell hasn’t gotten more than 15 carries in a game. Instead, the team has opted to have DeShone Kizer carry the burden of the offense so far this season. It has led to a 0-4 start and plenty of questions about Jackson as the head coach.
The Jets have a terrible run defense. They have given up the fifth most rushing yards this season, and they have allowed a 4.7 yard per carry average to opposing runners. The Browns would be smart to try and take advantage of that on Sunday.
It is finally time for the first overall pick from this year’s draft to make his regular-season debut. Garrett has been dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered right before the season started, but he is healthy enough now to give it a go. He will be limited to a certain number of plays, though. That indicates he still isn’t 100% just yet.
Kenny Britt and Jamie Collins will probably miss Sunday’s game as well. Britt didn’t practice all week with a knee and groin injury. Collins is still recovering from a concussion he suffered a couple of weeks ago. The team could really use Collins back to be the book end pass rusher with Garrett, which is the fearsome pass rush the Browns planned on having this season. They have yet to play a game together this season, though.