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Around the AFC North: Preseason Week 3

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens continued their winning ways on Saturday with a come-from-behind 13-9 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The defense continues to impress, and is currently ranked as the NFL’s stingiest in terms of scoring, total yardage, passing yardage and rushing yardage allowed through Week 3 of the preseason.

Perhaps most encouraging, the Ravens are growing healthier. Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore’s two most recent first round selections, both returned to the practice field on Monday. Joe Flacco, Danny Woodhead and Breshad Perriman remain out, but head coach John Harbaugh promised the franchise quarterback will be back in time for the regular season Week 1 matchup in Cincinnati.

How did the Ravens divisional rivals fare this week? A gander around the AFC North following preseason Week 3:

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • On Saturday, the Steelers lost to the Colts 19-15. A week after allowing 289 passing yards to the Falcons, Pittsburgh gave up 266 passing yards to quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris. This pair of backups combined to complete 73-percent of their passes, were aided by several costly defensive penalties and were sacked just once. A porous pass defense is becoming a legitimate concern for Steelers faithful.
  • Martavis Bryant and Eli Rogers paced Pittsburgh with five receptions apiece, but left tackle Alejandro Villanueva allowed a strip-sack on Ben Roethlisberger, and Ben was unable to lead the first-team offense into the end zone.
  • Playmaking linebacker Ryan Shazier, rookie corner Cameron Sutton and center Maurkice Pouncey all suited up this week. Shazier intercepted Tolzien in the second quarter. Safety Mike Mitchell remains on the shelf.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Cincinnati fell to the Redskins 23-17 on Sunday. The Bengals offense started fast with a scoring drive that included four Andy Dalton to A.J. Green connections, and was punctuated by a Jeremy Hill touchdown plunge.
  • Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a five game suspension for an illegal hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman last week. Burfict is a Pro Bowl caliber player, but seemingly cannot resist the urge to take cheap shots whenever possible. He is appealing the suspension, but even if it is reduced, his availability for the Ravens-Bengals Week 1 tilt is in serious jeopardy.
  • Oft-injured tight end Tyler Eifert did not play due to knee tendinitis. Rookie speedster John Ross had a quiet professional debut, his only touch was an 8-yard rush. The Bengals young pass rushers continue to make plays. Rookies Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson and fourth year defensive end Chris Smith each had a sack.

Cleveland Browns

  • The Browns defeated Tampa Bay by the score of 13-9 on Saturday. Tailback Isaiah Crowell returned with 11 carries for 40 yards. Corey Coleman showed the talent that made him a top-15 overall pick in 2016 with four catches for 66 yards. Rookie safety Jabrill Peppers picked off Jameis Winston and Cleveland’s defense posted five combined sacks.
  • Hue Jackson has named rookie DeShone Kizer as the Browns starting quarterback. He was not especially efficient in this game with a 33-percent completion percentage and an interception.
  • Cleveland’s young front-7 is improving under new coordinator Gregg Williams. They blitzed the Bucs relentlessly, with good results. With 14 tackles, two sacks and three passes deflected this preseason, second-year middle linebacker Joe Schobert looks much improved.