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Defense helps Ravens hold on to AFC North lead; Browns continue to plummet

The season continues to slip away for Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills
Jacoby Brissett
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The more things change in the AFC North Division, the more they stay the same.

With yet another week in the books, the Baltimore Ravens remained at the top of the division after escaping with a 13-3 win over the Carolina Panthers, with the Cincinnati Bengals lurking a game behind on the strength of its victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh and Cleveland remain tied at the bottom.

Browns put up a fight vs. Buffalo

Cleveland came within a hair’s breath of recovering an onside kick that would have given it one final shot at knocking off the Bills.

And it was the Browns’ defense that continued to let them down as Buffalo scored on all five of their possessions in the second half to avoid an upset. The loss marked Cleveland’s sixth in its last seven games, with its only victory in that span coming against the Bengals.

Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who is holding down the reigns pending the end of Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension, gave the Browns a chance by completing 28 of 41 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to receiver Amari Cooper.

But Cleveland’s running game was practically non-existent, with erstwhile rushing leader Nick Chubb held to 19 yards on 14 carries.

Looking ahead, the Brissett-led Browns host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then get Watson back for Week 13 vs. the Houston Texans.

Ravens defense saves the day vs. Carolina

Baltimore’s defense forced three Carolina turnovers in the final 8:14 and Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to hold off the Baker Mayfield-led Panthers. Baltimore now has at least one takeaway in 12 straight games.

The Ravens’ defense did not get much help from an offense that was literally stuck in neutral for much of the game. Jackson threw for 209 yards and an interception, and Demarcus Robinson caught none passes for 128 yards, but that was about all Baltimore could muster.

The Ravens managed just 115 yards on the ground on 30 carries, led by Kenyan Drake’s 46 yards on 10 attempts.

But the Carolina offense was even more inept. Mayfield threw for 196 yards and a pair of interceptions and leading rusher D’Onta Foreman was held to 24 yards on 11 carries.

This week, Baltimore is on the road to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have six one-score losses this season.