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AFC North Preview: Week 3

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

After an impressive 2-0 start to the season, the Ravens will now face their first true test of the season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will have a chance to avenge his lone regular season loss against the Kansas City Chiefs this week.

After winning the MVP award last season, quarterback Patrick Mahomes seems to be heading for a repeat performance. Baltimore’s defense will have their hands full trying to slow Mahomes and the Chiefs high-flying pass attack. Look for safety Earl Thomas to help eliminate some of the downfield attempts. The Ravens secondary must avoid coverage busts and miscommunication like they had against the Arizona Cardinals last week, especially with cornerback Jimmy Smith still sidelined with a knee injury.

It is currently pouring at Arrowhead Stadium, which bodes well if Baltimore chooses to go with a ground-and-pound approach for this game. Although Jackson has looked fantastic as a passer so far this season, a run-heavy attack with an emphasis on time of possession may be the best plan of action on Sunday.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)

After a promising outlook in their loss to Seattle in Week 1, Cincinnati completely fell flat against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. The Bengals season could be in jeopardy already as they face the 2-0 Buffalo Bills.

Defensively, Cincinnati had absolutely no answer for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense, allowing 571 total yards and 41 points. The Bengals were gashed both through the air and on the ground in Week 2, allowing 312 passing yards and 259 rushing yards.

Quarterback Andy Dalton and Cincinnati’s offense looked primed for a strong year in Week 1, but was unable to keep up with San Francisco last week. Dalton’s stats are good through the first two weeks, however, with four passing touchdowns to just one interception and 729 yards. Third-year wide receiver John Ross may be in store for a much awaited breakout season as well as he is currently second in the NFL in receiving yards with 270.

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)

The Steelers suffered a huge blow when it was announced that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury that he suffered in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. Second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph will now look to keep Pittsburgh’s season from losing hope by starting 0-3.

The Steelers defense remains a major problem after being the downfall of the team a season ago. Things won’t be any easier for them this week as they face the red-hot 49ers. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick was acquired via trade with the Miami Dolphins this past week for a first-round pick, so he will expected to make an immediate impact in a poor secondary, whether that’s at cornerback or safety.

Rudolph and the offense will be in for a tough test as well against San Francisco’s defense, which has started the year on an extremely strong note. The 49ers have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL with second-overall pick Nick Bosa and Dee Ford at defense end and DeForest Buckner at defensive tackle. Look for second-year receiver James Washington to see more looks on offense, as he and Rudolph played together at Oklahoma State, where the two boasted quite a connection.

Cleveland Browns (1-1)

After a bounce-back win against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football last week, the Browns face a much stronger opponent this week in the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football.

Cleveland's defense dominated the Jets offense last week, although they were without starting quarterback Sam Darnold and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian left the game with an ankle injury. Myles Garrett is off to an incredible start to his third season with five sacks through just two games. The unit will be without linebacker Christian Kirksey, who was placed injured reserve this week. Starting safety Damarious Randall has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a concussion and Star cornerback Denzel Ward is also not expected to play.

On offense, quarterback Baker Mayfield has not lived up to high expectations thus far after a record-setting rookie season that saw him throw for 27 touchdowns. Through the first two games of the season, Mayfield has just two touchdowns to four interceptions. Mayfield must do a better job of taking care of the football and making better decisions of the offense is going to live up to it’s offseason hype. Mayfield will be without the starting tight end David Njoku, as he was placed on injured reserve as well this past week.