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AFC North Roundup: Week 9

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New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

While the winless Bengals sat home on their bye week, there was some movement at the two and three spots in the division. At the 1:00 hour, the Steelers picked up a big victory at home against the injury-ravaged Colts. Pittsburgh is now .500 with a 4-4 record.

The Browns are going in the opposite direction, though. After losing to the Broncos on the road, Cleveland is a distant third place with a 2-6 record. Baltimore is still alone at the top of the AFC North after convincingly beating the Patriots on Sunday night.

Steelers defeat Colts: 26-24

After a relatively uninspiring victory over the Dolphins in Week 8, the Steelers picked up their biggest win of the season on Sunday. Hosting the 5-2 Colts, Pittsburgh took advantage of numerous self-inflicted wounds from their opponent en route a nail-biting, 24-23 dub. They trailed early in the game but Colts QB Jacoby Brissett suffered a knee injury and did not return, giving the Steelers a more favorable matchup against Brian Hoyer. The Colts were already missing top WR T.Y. Hilton and fill-in Chester Rogers dropped a few passes late in the game. Indianapolis also hurt themselves with multiple penalties late and their longtime kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 41-yard attempt to win the game as time expired.

Since acquiring him in a trade with Miami, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick has been one of, if not THE best player on Pittsburgh’s defense. On Sunday, Fitzpatrick returned an interception 96 yards for a touchdown, which proved to be a difference-maker. His playmaking ability has helped compensate for an offense that lakes explosiveness. Mason Rudolph has been accurate but the Steelers game plan is a “dink and dunk” one. Look no further than RB Jaylen Samuels leading the team in receiving with 13 catches for just 73 receiving yards.

Nevertheless, Pittsburgh has found a way to win three consecutive games and has just one loss to their name since Week 4.

Defining stat: 3 forced turnovers

What’s next: vs. Los Angeles Rams - Sunday, Nov. 10 (1:00 p.m. ET)

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Broncos defeat Browns: 24-19

In what was suppose to mark a turning point of their season after a rough first half, the Browns on Sunday looked like the same team we’ve seen through most of the first seven games. Cleveland was a heavy favorite against Denver and QB Brandon Allen, who had never taken an NFL snap prior to filling in for the injured Joe Flacco. Allen lead the Broncos to three scoring drives in the first half, which gave them a 17-12 advantage over the Browns, who scored four field goals.

In the second half, Cleveland turned the ball over on downs on two of their four drives and scored just once. They wound up out-gaining the Broncos in total yards, ran more plays and gained more first downs, but it meant little in the end. Poor execution and play-calling once again reared their ugly head, as the Browns were 0-2 on fourth down and 1-5 in the red zone. There was some controversy during and after the game, too.

The NFL reportedly told the Browns at halftime that Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry had to change their cleats in order to finish the game. Beckham appeared frustrated after not receiving a pass from Baker Mayfield on fourth down, who instead threw the ball to a double-covered Landry. Safety Jermaine Whitehead created headlines after the game by sounding off on twitter with some profane an inappropriate language. Not surprisingly, Whitehead was released by the Browns on Monday.

Defining stat: 4.8 yards per play

What’s next: vs. Buffalo Bills - Sunday, Nov. 10 (1:00 p.m. ET)

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Ravens defeat Patriots: 37-20

With the opportunity to strengthen their hold on the division and make a statement against the undefeated reigning champions, the Ravens put forth their best performance of the season in a primetime spot on Sunday night. After jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, turnovers in their own territory allowed the Patriots to jump back into the game and cut their deficit to just four points at halftime. However, once Patrick Onwuasor and Marlon Humphrey combined for a forced fumble and touchdown return early in the third quarter, it was all Baltimore from there.

Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and company put together back-to-back drives of 8:09 and 9:35 in the second half, both of which resulted in touchdowns. FS Earl Thomas III secured his second interception of the season and Nick Boyle secured the first touchdown reception of his career. Jackson was efficient against the Bill Belichick’s defense, completing 17/23 passes and scoring a combined three touchdowns in the red zone. If the Ravens hadn’t handed the Patriots good field position in the first half, this game is likely a full-on blowout.

Defining stat: 210 rushing yards

What’s next: @ Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday, Nov. 10 (1:00 p.m. ET)

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