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AFC North Preview: Week 9

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How will things shake out this weekend?

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns (2-5)

After sky-high expectations this season, the Browns currently sit at third place in the division. Quarterback Baker Mayfield remains the league’s leader in interceptions as Cleveland’s offense continues to struggle.

The Browns face a much easier schedule from here on out, starting with the 2-6 Denver Broncos. Fourth-year quarterback Brandon Allen will make his first career start for the Broncos against the Browns on Sunday after QB Joe Flacco was placed on injured reserve.

Mayfield and the offensive struggles could continue this week against the fourth-ranked defense of the Broncos. Expect a heavy dosage of running back Nick Chubb against Denver’s 18th-ranked run defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4)

Following their win over the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, the Steelers have moved up to second place in the division. They now move on to face the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts.

The Steelers defense has been the strength of the team this season, currently ranking eight in total defense. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt is coming off of a strong performance against the Dolphins in which he sacked the quarterback twice, but he will face a much better offensive line this week.

On offense, running back James Conner has been ruled out with a shoulder injury. Fellow running back Benny Snell has been declared out as well, leaving RB Jaylen Samuels as the starter.

Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

The Ravens return from their bye week to their biggest challenge of the season: the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens second-ranked offense will face off against the top-ranked defense of the Patriots. The question surrounding the game has been how coach Bill Belichick will handle Jackson’s rushing ability. New England’s defense struggled against the run last week, allowing RB Nick Chubb to rush for 131 yards. Wide receiver Marquise Brown is expected to return this Sunday, giving Jackson his best and favorite receiving target.

The Patriots offense has yet to resemble it’s usual dominance this season. Baltimore’s defense is coming off of an impressive performance against the Seahawks in Seattle. The unit will only continue to get better as cornerback Jimmy Smith returns from the knee injury he suffered in Week 1.