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AFC North standings: Steelers and Bengals distancing themselves atop division

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With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both winning on Sunday, they put some space between themselves and the division’s bottom two teams in Baltimore and Cleveland.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Despite giving up leads of 21, and 18 points (twice), the Cincinnati Bengals ended up pulling out a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the 37-34 thriller, old friend Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly pulled off a stunner, as he led the Bucs to an 18-point fourth quarter to tie the game with just over a minute left in the game.

But, Andy Dalton led his 24th game-winning drive as a Bengals quarterback. After the offense stalled out throughout most of the second half, Dalton hit A.J. Green twice for 34 total yards to get the team in position to win the game. Randy Bullock hit a 44-yard attempt for the win as time expired, while enduring a swirling wind.

Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon were stars on offense—particularly in the first half. Boyd finished with nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Mixon had 21 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

Even with the dry spells, Dalton had a nice day with 280 passing yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. With his five catches, 76 yards and a touchdown, Green also etched his name in two record books.

The defense was frustrating at times, but they did come up with five sacks and four interceptions on the afternoon. Cincinnati is on their bye in Week 9 and it comes at a good time as they are heavily banged up at the moment. After their win, the Bengals have sole possession of second place in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens (third place in the AFC North)

John Harbaugh and Co. traveled to Charlotte to take on the pesky Panthers. It ended in a pretty bad way for the Ravens, as they fell to Carolina, 36-21.

The score was actually closer than what the game would indicate, as Ron Rivera’s crew was in control for most of the contest—mostly thanks to a 17-point second quarter. Cam Newton had three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and 271 total yards (219 passing and 52 rushing).

Meanwhile, the Jekyll-and-Hyde Ravens showed their inconsistency once again. Joe Flacco had just 192 passing yards and threw two interceptions, prompting the team to put rookie Lamar Jackson in after the game was out of hand. He went 4-of-5 for 46 yards and a passing touchdown, while running for an additional 26 yards. It was his first career passing touchdown.

Baltimore plays Pittsburgh next Sunday, followed by their bye week. They then host the Bengals, as they look for vengeance after losing to them in Week 2.

Pittsburgh Steelers (first place in the AFC North)

The Steelers hosted the Browns on Sunday afternoon and it was a pretty close contest for about three quarters. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield played admirably, throwing two touchdowns, but the Browns came up short, 33-18.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh running back James Conner continues to prove that the team isn’t really missing Le’Veon Bell too much. Conner had 146 yards and two scores on 24 carries, while Ben Roethlisberger also threw two touchdowns. It was Conner’s fourth 100-yard game of the season.

Even though they have fewer total wins than the Bengals, Pittsburgh has the top seat in the division by virtue of winning percentage. If both teams keep a similar win-loss pace, it will be interesting to see how things play out because of the Steelers’ previous tie with the Browns in Week 1.

Regardless of how one feels about the Steelers, it was good to see them rally around their hurting city to get a win.

Cleveland Browns (fourth place in the AFC North)

We won’t re-hash a lot of the game recap above, but the Browns find themselves once again in a familiar cellar-dwelling position in the AFC North. For some of the fond memories Who Dey Nation has about Hue Jackson, he now has the dubious distinction of having the second-worst record of any head coach in NFL history.

Well, on Monday, the Browns fired Jackson. but while the Browns may not have been offseason Super Bowl contenders, they were a sexy pick by the media to be in the playoff hunt in 2018. Now, it almost seems as if it may be “fire sale” time, as there are rumors floating around about Jamie Collins being rumored as a trade target.

Since Jackson has been let go, it’s just another firing in a long line of head coaching removals by the Browns. Since their NFL re-inception in 1999, Cleveland has had nine coaches (one every 2.23 seasons). Coupled with their 30 starting quarterbacks in the same time frame (one every .67 seasons), it’s easy to understand why they’ve only had one playoff berth since coming back into the league (2002).

AFC North standings heading into Week 9:

Steelers: 4-2-1 (2-1-1 in division, 2-2-1 in conference)

Bengals: 5-3 (1-1 in division, 3-2 in conference)

Ravens: 4-4 (1-2 in division, 4-2 in conference)

Browns: 2-5-1 (1-1-1 in division, 2-3-1 in conference)