Week 2 is usually a week where we find out a little bit more about which teams are for real. The rest of the AFC North is no different after one team blew out a tanking team and the other two didn’t really show up.
Who can prove they are contenders for the AFC North crown?
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) vs. Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1)
The Ravens were probably the most impressive team from Week 1; they are also currently the only AFC North team with a win. This week against the Cardinals, we will get to see how much of last week’s success was due to them playing the Dolphins.
It was clear from the Ravens’ first drive against the Dolphins that they flat out better in every conceivable way. Miami wasn’t prepared to stop whatever Baltimore was planning to do. Quarterback Lamar Jackson picked the Dolphins apart on his way to throwing five touchdowns before being pulled late in the game. It is clear that Baltimore is ready to adjust whether they run or throw based on how teams try to play them.
The Cardinals started off the season in a very confusing way. They tied with the Lions in Week 1 thanks to an 18-point fourth quarter comeback orchestrated by first-overall pick Kyler Murray, who ended up throwing the ball 54 times (the second most for a first-career start in history).
The defense is still missing cornerback Patrick Peterson—who is suspended—but this game may be determined more by how well the Cardinals’ front seven can hold up. Maybe Terrell Suggs can have a nice revenge game against his former team.
Cleveland Browns (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
The Browns had probably the sloppiest openings to a season of any team in Week 1. They came into the season finally being viewed as a team that could shed the stigma that has followed them for over a decade now, but dropped a big ole’ disappointment on their fans instead.
Luckily for Cleveland fans, Week 2 is a chance to get the bandwagon back on track. The New York Jets seem to be serving a win up on a platter to the Browns at this point. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was just diagnosed with Mono, and he is out indefinitely. New York already started out last week’s game with four turnovers in the first half, and they only came away with six points. Those six points were from linebacker C.J. Mosley returning his interception for a touchdown. Hard to imagine what that offense will look like without Darnold.
As for the Browns it will be a matter of playing more disciplined. Having 18 penalties and getting your starting left tackle ejected due to KICKING A PLAYER IN THE FACE is not going to win many games in the NFL. They also left plenty of room to improve on the offensive end. Baker Mayfield had three interceptions and was sacked five times.
This could be a good opportunity for a get right game for Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) vs. Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
The post Antonio Brown era didn’t exactly get off to good start. The Steelers got put in their place by the Patriots in Week 1, and the offense looked terrible. We will see this week if that will be the norm for Pittsburgh, or if this is just the Patriots having their number.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will have to step up and draw more coverage this week. Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t going to work if he can’t draw the double coverage Brown use to get. The other big thing will be getting the running game going. The Steelers won’t win many games when Ben Roethlisberger throws the ball 47 times and running back James Conner only has 10 rushes for 21 yards.
Lucky for them, they won’t have as tall of a task of trying to stop Tom Brady this week, but Russell Wilson and the Seahawks did show they are capable of making some big plays last week against the Bengals. It will be something to watch whether it was a matter of the Bengals making the Seahawks look bad last week or if they are just a bad offense.
Either way, expect T.J. Watt to play a huge role in any success the Steelers have defensively. Who on Pittsburgh’s roster can cover the giant rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf if the team decides to highlight him more after making some big catches last week?