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AFC North Roundup: Week 11

Big changes.

Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After the Ravens lost to the Titans on Sunday and the Browns won, we now have movement in the AFC North for the first time in several weeks.

Cleveland slides into second place in the division and the Ravens drop to No. 3. Baltimore is one game back of the Browns and a full four games back of the Steelers, who are still undefeated after beating the Jaguars. The Bengals loss in Washington was their seventh of the season.

Updated Standings:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-0
  2. Cleveland Browns 7-3
  3. Baltimore Ravens 6-4
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 2-7-1

Bengals lose to Washington: 9-20

We’ll start with the most sour news across the entire NFL in Week 11. Bengals QB Joe Burrow sustained a left knee injury in the second half of Sunday’s game against Washington. He was carted off the field and not long after, it was announced that he suffered a torn ACL. This means Burrow’s rookie season is officially over after less than full 10 games.

There’s no way around it, this is a devastating development not just for the Bengals, but for the entire league. Burrow was in the midst of a wildly impressive first-year campaign and had already earned the respect of his peers in a short time period. Cincinnati’s focus now shifts towards improving the offensive line and ensuring Burrow is healthy for next season.

In his place, sophomore Ryan Finley takes over the reigns. Finley entered the game with the Bengals possessing a slim 9-7 lead over Washington. Unfortunately, their remaining offensive drives resulted in three straight punts, a turnover on downs, and an interception.

Consequently, Washington was able to manufacture three consecutive scoring drives in a row and net 13 unanswered points — giving them an 11-point cushion. They wound up holding this advantage as the Bengals struggled offensively.

Burrow’s injury comes on top of the fact that starting RB Joe Mixon, who has not suited up since October 18, was recently placed on injured reserve. This ensures that Mixon will miss at least the next two games. So, down to their second-string players at quarterback and running back, the Bengals could be in for more rough sledding moving forward.

Defining stat: 4.2 yards per play

What’s next: vs. New York Giants — Sunday, Nov. 29 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Browns defeat Eagles: 22-17

After scoring just 10 points in a three-point victory over the Texans in Week 10, the Browns picked up another win on Sunday — again in fairly uninspiring fashion.

Cleveland never trailed in this game but did not score an offensive point until the third quarter. Of their five drives in the first half, three resulted in punts and the other two saw them turn the ball over on downs. The lone touchdown through the first two quarters for either team came when Carson Wentz threw a pick-six to LB Sione Takitaki.

After fumbling the ball on their opening possession of the second half, the Eagles responded with a quick 19-yard touchdown to even things up at 7-7. It appeared momentum was swinging in Philadelphia’s favor but the Browns found a bit of breathing room after scoring a field goal and forcing a safety.

A four-play, 79-yard touchdown drive and a field goal on the following possession in the fourth quarter expanded their lead to a comfortable 12 points. Wentz manufactured a touchdown drive with just minutes remaining but the game was already decided.

The Browns again struggled to get much going in the passing game as Baker Mayfield attempted only 22 throws, completing 12 of them for a shade over 200 yards. Mayfield did not turn the ball over, though, and the Browns rushing attack carried the load. Nick Chubb turned his 20 attempts into 114 yards on the ground.

This has been a recurring theme over Cleveland’s past three games, of which they’ve won two straight. The Browns offense is far from clicking to its full potential but they’re finding ways to win ugly on the strength of their running game and forcing turnovers.

Defining stat: +2 turnover differential

What’s next: @ Jacksonville Jaguars — Sunday, Nov. 29 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Steelers defeat Jaguars: 27-3

Death, taxes, and the Steelers winning on Sunday — these are quickly becoming the three certainties of life. Pittsburgh avoided a potential trap game scenario against the Jaguars in Week 11 and cruised to another victory, giving them a 10-0 record on the season.

Entering this matchup, the Steelers had failed to cover the spread in the past six games in which they were favored by double digits. This includes their narrow five-point victory over the Cowboys a few weeks ago. Against the far inferior Jaguars, though, they had no issues exerting their dominance.

The Steelers got off to a bit of a slow start, missing a field goal and punting on their first two possessions. However, after knotting the game up at 3-3, they took off rather quickly. Back-to-back touchdown drives of 71 and 61 yards to end the second quarter saw them enter the second half with a commanding two-touchdown lead.

They added 10 more points in the fourth quarter after going scoreless in the third, but their defense ensured that any amount of points would be sufficient for a victory. Pittsburgh intercepted rookie QB Jake Luton four times and ceded only 206 total yards of offense. Minkah Fitzpatrick snagged two interceptions and Terrell Edmunds caught two of his own, too.

The Jaguars could orchestrate next to nothing offensively all afternoon. They were held scoreless after knotting three points on the opening drive of the game. Evidently, they were completely overmatched against the Steelers top-ranked defensive unit.

Defining stat: 4 forced turnovers

What’s next: vs. Baltimore Ravens — Thursday, Nov. 26 (1:00 p.m. ET)

Ravens lose to Titans: 24-30 (OT)

What could have been a much-needed win turned into another disappointing defeat for the Ravens on Sunday. Baltimore failed to avenge last year’s playoff loss to the Titans and found themselves on the losing side of an overtime, down-to-the-wire finish.

The Ravens fell behind 7-0 early but quickly erased that deficit, scoring on 14 unanswered points. They led by four points at halftime but it felt more convincing than that, as the offense appeared to find its groove and the defense had clamped down on Derrick Henry (13 rushes, 37 yards) after two quarters of play.

Their momentum carried into the third quarter. They forced a quick three-and-out and put together a quick 74-yard touchdown drive on the next possession, giving themselves a comfortable 11-point advantage. However, a few self-inflicted wounds on the next few possessions saw the Titans quickly make things competitive.

Following an interception from Lamar Jackson, the Titans scored 10 straight points and took their second of the game in the fourth quarter. The touchdown that put them over the hump was a 14-yard reception from A.J. Brown, in which he muscled his way through a handful of Ravens defenders in the red zone.

Brown’s effort capped off a 10-play, 90-yard drive by Tennessee. The Ravens managed to move downfield quickly with a few minutes on the clock and tie the game at 24-24 and force overtime. Despite receiving the ball first in OT, the Ravens went three-and-out and the Titans needed just six plays to go 73 yards for a game-winning score.

Much like their loss to the Steelers in Week 8, the Ravens squandered a double-digit lead in the second half thanks to turnovers, penalties, and missed opportunities. Their run defense began to wear down in the fourth quarter and the secondary had no answers for the Titans play-action passing attack.

Things won’t get any easier in the near-future, as they face a quick turnaround on a short week. Already down a few key players due to injury, they’re likely to also be without the services of Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins due to COVID-19 protocols.

Defining stat: 1-of-4 in the red zone

What’s next: @ Pittsburgh Steelers — Thursday, Nov. 26 (1:00 p.m. ET)