Another eventful week in the AFC North saw the Browns blow out the Dolphins at home, the Steelers labor their way to a narrow victory over the Bengals and the Ravens continue to dominate their opponents.
The Ravens streaked to a 39-point victory over the Rams on Monday Night, which gives them a 9-2 record on the season. Just one game separates the Browns and Steelers for second place in the division, while the Bengals are on track for the No. 1 draft pick next year.
Extending their winning streak to three games, the Browns became the latest team to feast on a poor Dolphins defense - much like the Ravens did in Week 1.
Cleveland quickly jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and pulled away late after the Dolphins cut the deficit to 11 points in the third quarter. The Browns offensive showed that when clicking and firing on all cylinders, they can be scary good. Up and down the board, Cleveland’s offensive playmakers produced. RB Nick Chubb totaled 164 scrimmage yards and scored a rushing touchdown while his backup, Kareem Hunt, also found the end zone and rushed for 37 yards. In addition, the critically-acclaimed WR duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry finally met expectations. “OBJ” scored his second touchdown of the season and caught six passes for 84 yards, while Landry caught 10 receptions for 148 yards and two scores. QB Baker Mayfield completed 16 of his first 18 passes and finished with an impressive stat line: 24/34, 327 passing yards and three touchdown throws.
Defensively, the Browns were dominant early and strong late, which helped them sidestep a few hiccups in the third quarter. They were able to hold Ryan Fitzpatrick in company to just 284 total yards of offensive and forced two interceptions. In their first game without DE Myles Garrett, the Browns were still able to record four sacks. DT Sheldon Richardson had a season-high two sacks, while T.J. Carrie and Porter Gustin each had one of their own.
Defining stat: 467 total yards
What’s next: @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Sunday, Dec. 1 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Steelers defeat Bengals: 16-10
The Steelers wound up defeating their opponent on Sunday and further solidified their playoff hopes, but this was far from an encouraging performance.
Their offensive struggles continues and HC Mike Tomlin decided it was time to make a change at the quarterback position, benching Mason Rudolph after he completed 8/16 passes for under 100 yards. In his place came undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges, who quickly connected with WR James Washington for a touchdown. Hodges wound up completing 5/11 throws but his minimal contributions were enough to help Pittsburgh get a victory. Whether this quarterback change is permanent remains to be seen. The Steelers obviously had high hopes for Rudolph and while he’s rarely had a full set of offensive weapons at his disposal this season, there’s no denying his performance has left much to be desired.
The Bengals woeful offensive attack proved to be no challenge for the Steelers defense, as Pittsburgh held them to 244 total yards and 11 first downs. The Steelers weren’t significantly better, but their defense came to play - as it has for much of this season. OLB Bud Dupree and DB Minkah Fitzpatrick each recovered a forced fumble and the Steelers were able to get four sacks and eight QB hits on the day. In addition, the likes of T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Mark Barron filled up the stat sheet, among others.
Defining stat: 34:40 (time of possession)
What’s next: vs. Cleveland Browns - Sunday, Dec. 1 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Whereas the other teams in the division are working towards playoff contention, the Bengals have all but locked up the No. 1 draft pick next year. Cincinnati’s loss to Pittsburgh means they are still winless on the season and moving forward, it’s hard to envision them beating anyone based on what we’ve seen from them so far. QB Ryan Finley had another rough outing, completing just 12/26 passes for 192 yards. RB Joe Mixon continued his uptick in production, turning 18 carries into 79 rushing yards, and WR Tyler Boyd bounced back from a dub to post 101 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, it was not enough, as the Bengals scored just one touchdown and mustered 4.8 yards per play. Cincinnati held the ball for 25:20. which was far less than Pittsburgh’s time of possession - 34:30. Rookie LB Germaine Pratt led the team with eight combined tackles and Carlos Dunlap was disruptive, posting a sack, 1.5 TFL and two QB hits.
It was announced on Monday that Andy Dalton will be reclaim his starting quarterback job, replacing Finley after the rookie started just three games.
Defining stat: Two turnovers
What’s next: vs. Jets - Sunday, Dec. 1 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Ravens defeat Rams: 45-6
The Ravens continue to steamroll opponents week after week, this time making light work of a Rams team that was playing for their playoff lives. There’s few bigger stages than playing in Los Angeles on Monday Night Football, but that didn’t seem to bother or faze Lamar Jackson one bit. The MVP frontrunner put on another display, completing 15/20 passes 169 yards, five touchdowns and a near-perfect passer rating. He also diced up the Rams on the ground, running eight times for 95 yards. RB Mark Ingram also had a big game, rushing 15 times for 111 yards and two total touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).
Baltimore neutralized DT Aaron Donald and had no issues moving the ball on Wade Phillips’ defensive unit, scoring touchdowns on their first six drives of the game. The Ravens rushed for 283 yards overall were extremely efficient on third down and in the red zone, scoring on all but one of their seven trips within the 20 yard line. It’s an important victory for the Ravens, as they maintained their multiple-game lead over the Steelers and Browns for first place in the division.
Defining stat: 6/7 in the red zone
What’s next: vs. San Francisco 49ers - Sunday, Dec. 1 (1:00 p.m. ET)