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State of the AFC North: Week 7

The Ravens and Browns suffer heartbreaking losses, while the Bengals were handily defeated on Sunday night.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Cincinnati and Baltimore losing in Week 7, the Steelers now occupy first place in the division. Pittsburgh comes out of their bye week at 3-2-1 and may potentially get Le’Veon Bell back with a home matchup against the Browns waiting.

The Browns dropped their second consecutive game and have now lost three out of their last four. Cleveland is all alone at the bottom of the division with a 2-4-1 record. The Bengals and Ravens are tied for second place.

Buccaneers defeat Browns: 26-23

Overtime thrillers continue

Cleveland fans have been on edge in almost every game this season and this past Sunday was no exception. The Browns used a 14-point fourth quarter against the Buccaneers to force overtime, their fourth overtime contest this season.

The Browns offense looked dead in the water for much of Sunday’s contest. Cleveland had scored just two points at the half, courtesy of a defensive safety. Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry came to life in the fourth quarter, but it was ultimately not enough.

Cleveland’s defense has proven adequate enough to keep the Browns in most games. With the exception of Week 6’s blowout loss to the Chargers, every Browns game this season has been decided by four points or less.

No Hyde, no problem

Through six weeks, no player in the league had received more rushing attempts than Carlos Hyde. Hyde had been the Browns workhorse back this season, which made it surprising to see him traded to Jacksonville for a fifth-round pick on Friday afternoon.

With Hyde gone, Nick Chubb will step into a lead role in the backfield. Chubb, a second-round pick from Georgia, has shown flashes of big-play ability in limited snaps this season. Against Tampa Bay, he earned his first career start and the results were promising.

Chubb turned 18 attempts into 80 yards and a touchdown. He likely would have seen even more carries had the Browns not been trailing for almost the entire game. The Browns clearly believe in Chubb’s potential, and he should continue to see a size-able workload going forward.

Saints defeat Ravens: 24-23

Justin Tucker is human

If you drew up 1,000 reasons why the Ravens could potentially lose a football game, Justin Tucker would be at the very bottom of the list. In fact, he may not even be on the list at all. However, on Sunday, Tucker proved he was in fact human.

For the first time in his career, Tucker missed an extra point attempt and it came at the most inopportune time. After Flacco connected with John Brown for a long touchdown pass, an extra point conversion would have sent the game to overtime at 24-24.

Instead, Ravens fans were left stunned as Tucker’s kick sailed wide right and the Saints held on for a one-point victory. It was a heartbreaking finish, but Baltimore shouldn’t be worried. Tucker is too good not to bounce back.

Ravens prove they belong

While they ultimately could not secure a victory, there were several positive takeaways from Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. The Ravens went toe-to-toe with a super bowl favorite and gave themselves a legit chance to win.

The Saints boast arguably the best overall offense in the league, and Baltimore’s defense performed as well as one could expect against just an explosive unit. The Ravens held the dynamic backfield tandem of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to a combined 96 rushing yards on 29 attempts, good for just 3.1 YPC.

The defense ultimately wore down and gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter, while the offense stalled for long stretches. However, in a matchup against one of the best teams in the league, the Ravens proved to be more contender than pretender.

Chiefs defeat Bengals: 45-10

Too much firepower

It’s no secret that Kansas City’s offense is explosive and talented at every level. The Bengals defensive unit is no easy out, but they were simply outmatched across the board on Sunday night.

As per usual, the Chiefs offense had their way all night long. Patrick Mahomes threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns on 28/39 passing. Kareem Hunt was the true star of the night, however, as he totaled 141 yards and three touchdowns.

There’s no shame in losing to one of the best teams in the league, but the Bengals were thoroughly dominated across the board. It was a disappointing performance, especially given the opportunity to seize first place in the division.

Rush defense cause for concern?

Despite having a talented defensive front led by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, the Bengals have struggled against opposing running backs recently. Over the past three weeks, here are the backs they’ve faced and the numbers they allowed.

  • Frank Gore & Kenyan Drake (combined) - 18 carries, 109 yards, 6.0 YPC
  • James Conner - 19 carries, 111 yards, 2 TD, 5.8 YPC
  • Kareem Hunt - 15 carries, 86 yards, 1 TD, 5.7 YPC

The Bengals inability to stop the run has allowed opposing offenses to open things up in the passing game, and it’s hurting Cincinnati’s success. Things will get slightly easier against the Buccaneers this week, who are a poor rushing team.

However, the Bengals will have to deal with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram against the Saints in Week 9.