After the first four weeks of the NFL season, Cleveland and Baltimore sit atop the AFC North. No surprises there.
What is surprising is that those two are joined by a third, and it’s not the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Cincinnati Bengals, on the strength of their 24-21 victory over Jacksonville on Thursday night, join the Browns and Ravens as division leaders, while the Steelers have stumbled to a 1-3 start.
Defense paves the way for Cleveland
Cleveland’s defense, led by standout defensive end Myles Garrett, put on another dominant showing, while Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt did enough on the ground to propel the Browns to a 14-7 defeat of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Garrett had a sack and four hits on Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was intercepted for the first time all season by Cleveland cornerback Andraez Montrell “Greedy” Williams. Cousins did have a touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson, but it was not enough.
Chubb finished with 100 yards rushing on 21 carries and Hunt chipped in with 69 yards on 14 attempts. Cleveland never every inch of it as quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was pressured throughout the afternoon, managed to complete just 15/33 passes for 155 yards.
Cousins finished at 20/38 for 203 yards, a touchdown and the interception but got very little help. The Vikings managed just 65 yards on 23 attempts, with Dalvin Cook accounting for only 34 yards on nine carries.
Lamar Jackson does it with his arm
Jackson showed off his arm as well as his feet in helping the Baltimore Ravens overwhelm the Denver Broncos by a score of 23-7 on Sunday. In the process, Baltimore tied an NFL rushing record.
The Ravens, on the strength of a 5-yard Jackson scramble as time expired, tied Pittsburgh’s record of 43 consecutive 100-yard rushing games, set from 1974-77.
Jackson completed 22/37 passes for 316 yards and a score and added another 28 yards rushing on seven attempts. Latavius Murray contributed another 59 yards on 18 attempts and added a touchdown run.
Denver never could get anything going against a stout Baltimore defense, and was forced to punt on 10 of its 12 possessions. Bronco quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went out with a concussion in the first half and Drew Lock managed to complete just 12/21 passes for 113 yards and an interception. The Ravens recorded five sacks, and middle linebacker Tyus Bowser sacked both Bridgewater and Lock.
The Broncos, led by Melvin Gordon II and Javonte Williams, did have some success running the ball. Williams, who led the nation in broken tackles last year for North Carolina, ripped off a 31-yard run in which he broke five tackles before finally going down.
Rodgers to Cobb dooms Steelers
Aaron Rodgers connected with slot receiver Randall Cobb for two touchdowns and ran for another in leading the Green Bay Packers to a 27-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Rodgers hooked up with Cobb on a 23-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Packers a lead they never relinquished. Cobb scored again on a 1-yard reception that made it 27-10 in the third quarter. Rodgers and Cobb also connected on a pair of third-down completions to set up Green Bay touchdowns. Cobb’s go-ahead score also came on third down.
Rodgers finished 20/36 for 248 yards and two touchdowns and scored Green Bay’s first points on a four-yard rush in his first home start against the Steelers, the only team he hadn’t faced at Lambeau Field.
The Packers fell behind by a score of 7-0, but scored 27 of the next 30 points to take control.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got off to a good start, hooking up with Diontae Johnson on a 45-yard score on the opening series that marked the 400th career touchdown pass.
But things went downhill from there and Roethlisberger ended up going 26/40 for 232 yards, the touchdown and an interception. Rookie Najee Harris contributed 62 yards rushing on 15 carries, but it was not nearly enough.
Here are the fully AFC North standings heading into Week 5 via ESPN.
AFC North Standings Week 5
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