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AFC North Roundup: Week 10

Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

It was a 2-2 showing for the AFC North in Week 10, with the Browns and Steelers picking up victories while the Ravens and Bengals suffered defeats. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati met for the first time this season and the result was a lopsided affair in the Steelers favor.

Elsewhere, the Browns defeated the Texans by just three points in a sloppy defensive battle, while the Ravens were upset by the Patriots on Sunday night. The division is tightening up in the middle but the Steelers are pulling away from the pack.

Updated Standings:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-0
  2. Baltimore Ravens 6-3
  3. Cleveland Browns 6-3
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 2-6-1

Browns defeat Texans: 10-7

After a pitiful offensive performance in Week 8, the thought was that the Browns would come out of their bye week fresh and polished offensively — especially with RB Nick Chubb returning from an extended absence.

The result? Another subpar showing, although this time they did just enough to squeak out with a victory. Chubb and Kareem Hunt dominated on the ground, as they so often do, and controlled the tempo for Cleveland. Chubb and Hunt each saw 19 carries and combined to rack up 232 rushing yards.

Despite their success on the ground, though, the Browns only managed to put 10 points on the board, seven of which came in the final quarter. After their first drive of the game, which resulted in a field goal, the Browns punted twice, turned the ball over on downs, and punted again before finally scoring a touchdown.

Normally turnovers would be a prime reason why Cleveland only mustered 10 points in a game, but the Browns didn’t cough up the ball once in this game. Their passing attack was once again lackluster, as Baker Mayfield completed 12-of-20 passes for just 132 yards.

Cleveland’s defense stepped up to the plate and took away big plays for Houston, rendering them scoreless for nearly the entire game. Deshaun Watson attempted 30 passes but threw for just 163 yards, while the Texans rushed for 90 yards for the game.

Defining stat: 5.6 yards per rush

What’s next: @ Philadelphia Eagles — Sunday, Nov. 22 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Steelers defeat Bengals: 36-10

Many were of the opinion that the Bengals could give the Steelers a scare in this game, especially after Pittsburgh barely squeaked by the Cowboys in Week 10. It was apparent from the jump, though, that last week was a one-off.

The Steelers offense got off to a bit of a slow start, punting on two of their first four drives and and settling for field goals on the other two. However, they began to get into a bit of a groove as the first half progressed and led 22-7 at the intermission mark. Two more touchdowns in the second half and suffocating defense proved more than enough.

Ben Roethlisberger was not able to practice during the week after being placed in COVID protocol, but you wouldn’t have known it based on Sunday’s performance. The Steelers could get nothing going on the ground (20 carries, 44 yards) and it forced Roethlisberger to throw 46 passes. He completed only 27 of them but reached season-highs in both passing yards (333) and touchdowns (four).

Pittsburgh’s defense racked up four sacks and nine QB hits, predictably winning the battle against a subpar Bengals offensive line. T.J. Watt again played a starring role two sacks and four QB hits of his own, as well as two TFL. The Steelers forced a handful of three-and-outs and both a fumble and turnover on downs in the first half.

The most impressive defensive stat, though, was not allowing a single third down conversion in any of Cincinnati’s 13 attempts. Pittsburgh did not allow the Bengals to sustain any drives consistently.

Defining stat: +2 turnover differential

What’s next: @ Jacksonville Jaguars — Sunday, Nov. 22 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Bengals lose to Steelers: 10-36

On the flip side of the spectrum, this was an underwhelming performance from a Bengals team that, while evidently at a talent disadvantage in this matchup, had begun to build some momentum in recent weeks. Cincinnati had upset the Titans 31-20 in Week 8 and were fresh out of their bye week heading into the game.

You wouldn’t have known that on Sunday, though, as the Bengals were thoroughly handled by the Steelers on both sides of the ball. Once again missing starting RB Joe Mixon, the Bengals were unable to sustain drives and execute in third down situations — going 0/13.

They wound up rushing for 139 yards on 6.6 yards per carry, but they ran just 21 times compared to 40 throws, as they were forced to play from behind after falling into a 12-0 hole after the first quarter.

QB Joe Burrow had one of his least accurate games of the year, completing just a sliver over 50% of his pass attempts. Cincinnati’s offensive line predictably struggled in pass protection against a fearsome Steelers defensive front. Additionally, the Bengals lost the turnover battle by losing two fumbles.

This was just the second time all season that the Bengals have lost by more than one possession; first to the Ravens and now to the Steelers. If there was a silver lining from a 26-point defeat, it was the continued ascendance of rookie WR Tee Higgins, who again led all receivers with seven receptions for 115 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.

Defining stat: 0/13 on third down

What’s next: @ Washington Football Team — Sunday, Nov. 22 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Ravens lose to Patriots: 17-23

After appearing to turn a corner in the second half of their Week 9 victory against the Colts, the Ravens struggled to replicate similar success on Sunday night. Instead, they were beaten by the Patriots at their own game and failed to execute down the stretch in a big spot.

The Ravens came out firing early, following up a quick unsuccessful first possession with an impressive 13-play, 94-yard scoring drive, capped off by a six-yard touchdown by Willie Snead IV — his first of two scores in this game. After taking a 7-0 lead, though, the Patriots responded with a rapid 75-yard touchdown drive of their own to even the score.

New England added another touchdown in the second quarter and the Ravens squandered a chance to tie the game or take the lead heading into halftime. Instead, while hovering just outside of field goal range with less than a minute remaining, Lamar Jackson’s pass attempt to Marquise Brown along the sideline was intercepted by CB J.C. Jackson.

For the second consecutive week, the Ravens trailed by three point at halftime. This time, though, they did not manage a comeback. It took only four plays for the Patriots to score another touchdown on the opening possession of the third quarter, and they eventually took a 23-10 lead. The Ravens put themselves in a position to make things interesting after responding with a touchdown, but their final three drives resulted in two punts and a turnover on downs.

It was an avalanche of factors that did not work in the Ravens favor. Already down three defensive starters in Calais Campbell, Jimmy Smith, and L.J. Fort, the Ravens lost Brandon Williams in the first quarter and Terrell Bonds later on. Additionally, TE Nick Boyle suffered a season-ending leg injury in the second half.

Sans Campbell and Williams on the defensive line, Baltimore ceded 173 rushing yards, most of which came in the second and third quarters. The Ravens also suffered a few self-inflicted setbacks in the form of costly fumbles from poor snaps, dropping wide-open passes, and committing inopportune penalties.

Defining stat: 0 takeaways

What’s next: vs. Tennessee Titans — Sunday, Nov. 22 (1:00 p.m. ET)