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AFC North Roundup: Week 4

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Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

In a long-awaited matchup between the Browns and Ravens, Cleveland came out on top and now find themselves atop the division standings. Baltimore’s defensive struggles continued and they dropped their second consecutive game.

On Monday night, the Steelers and Bengals did battle with both squads looking for their first victory of the season. It was a lopsided affair, however, as Pittsburgh controlled the game from start to finish en route to a much-needed victory.

Browns defeat Ravens: 40-25

First, we’ll look at this game from the Cleveland perspective. We may look back at this game as the turning point for the Browns season. The Browns headed into Baltimore on Sunday with a 1-2 record having shown little signs of life on offense through three weeks. However, in Week 4, the Ravens had no answers for anything they did offensively. On a day where their best offensive playmaker, Odell Beckham Jr., had just two catches for 20 yards, the Browns put up 40 points and over 500 yards of total offense. Jarvis Landry (8 catches, 167 yards) and Nick Chubb (20 carries, 162 yards, 3 TD) were spectacular, and a reeling offensive line largely dominated the Ravens at the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, the Browns were far from perfect but considering they were once again down multiple starters in the secondary, it was a doable performance. Cleveland was able to pressure Lamar Jackson at times and limited the Ravens passing attack to minimal production until late in the fourth quarter. They took advantage of Baltimore’s self-inflicted wounds: Mark Ingram’s fumble, dropped passes by Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown, and Chris Moore stepping out bounds on a would-be third down conversion of 26 yards.

Defining stat: 530 total yards

What’s next: @ San Francisco 49ers - Monday, 8:15 PM (10/7)

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For the Ravens, this was a bad loss - plain and simple. Losing to Kansas City is one thing and while the Browns are certainly talented, the Ravens needed to win this game at home. Instead, they fell flat and weren’t able to mount a comeback late. Defensively, this was maybe an even worse performance than what we saw in Week 3. Missed tackles, busted coverages, and a lack of pressure on Baker Mayfield were too much for the offense to compensate for. The Ravens once again gave up multiple big plays: 60-yard catch by Landry, 59-yard catch by Ricky Seals-Jones, and an 88-yard touchdown run by Chubb. They also struggled to tackle on all three levels. Marlon Humphrey was the team’s lone standout.

On offense, it was more of the same from what we’ve seen since Week 1. The rushing attack was once again effective, fueled by Ingram (12 carries, 71 yards) and Jackson (9 carries, 66 yards). When the Ravens have stuck with the run so far this season, teams have shown little signs of stopping them. When they were forced to punt the ball to Cleveland, however, the defense gave up points, putting the Ravens in a hole. The run game can only take you so far when you’re down multiple possessions and pressed for time. Jackson’s numbers were assisted by a garbage-time touchdown to Willie Snead IV for 50 yards, but he was relatively efficient overall. If had gotten more help from his receivers, they would have scored more.

Defining stat: 10.5 yards per pass allowed

What’s next: @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Sunday, 1:00 PM (10/6)

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Steelers defeat Bengals: 27-3

First, let’s take a gander at this contest from the Bengals side. Cincinnati wasn’t expected to win many games this year but coming into Monday’s matchup, it felt like they had been performing better than their 0-3 record suggested. That narrative went by the wayside in Week 4, as they struggled in all facets against the Steelers. On offense, the Bengals ran more plays than Pittsburgh (64 to 56) but gained just 175 total yards. They averaged a putrid 2.7 yards per play, and it was an especially forgettable showing from QB Andy Dalton, who completed 21/37 passes for 171 yards and an interception. Not very good.

Joe Mixon had another decent rushing performance with 62 yards on 15 carries but it wasn’t enough to compensate for a lousy performance from the offensive line and quarterback. Dalton was sacked a whopping eight times and lost 69 yards because of it. Defensively, the Bengals front seven did a nice job bottling up James Connor and Jaylen Samuels, but they were picked apart by Mason Rudolph through the air. Cincinnati had zero sacks and zero quarterback hits all night, which is simply unacceptable.

Defining stat: 2.7 yards per play

What’s next: vs. Arizona Cardinals - Sunday, 1:00 PM (10/6)

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For the Steelers, this was a solid all-around performance and came at an opportune time. Their victory over the Bengals puts them just one game behind the Ravens for second place in the division ahead of the two team’s matchup next week. Pittsburgh finally found a rhythm on offense and Mason Rudolph had the best performance of his young career thus far. Rudolph didn’t force anything and benefitted from a clean pocket all night. He completed all but four of his 28 pass attempts for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

Rudolph got the ball out quick and the Steelers utilized their running backs in the passing game, which was a noticeable change. James Connor struggled again on the ground but caught eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Backup Jaylen Samuels was far more involved than usual and also had a productive game, catching eight passes of his own with a rushing touchdown. Rookie WR Diontae Johnson appears to be thriving with extended snaps, as he followed up a solid Week 3 showing with six catches, 77 yards and a TD.

Defining stat: 8 sacks

What’s next: vs. Baltimore Ravens - Sunday, 1:00 PM (10/6)

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