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AFC North Recap, Week 6: A win-filled Sunday

An eventful and victorious weekend for the division

San Francisco 49ers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

With the Steelers on a bye in Week 6, they watched as the other three teams in the division all emerged from the weekend victorious. The Ravens moved back into first place following a win during their London trip, while the Browns and Bengals each improved their posture in the standings with victories as well.

Now, the AFC North is the only division in the league with no teams holding a losing record — a good reminder of why many people dubbed it the best grouping in the NFL heading into the season.

Updated standings:

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

Baltimore Ravens

Result: Win over Tennessee Titans, 24-16

The Ravens earned their first international win in franchise history on Sunday, defeating the Titans in the early morning window. It was almost a wire-to-wire victory for Baltimore, who never trailed after an early tied game in the first quarter.

It was another mixed bag performance offensively for Todd Monken’s unit. They possessed the ball for nearly 10 more minutes than Tennessee and crossed midfield on nearly every offensive possession. They came away with points on seven drives, however six of them were field goals. The offense went 1-of-6 in the red zone and after a 33% conversion rate last week. They were No. 1 in the league in red zone success prior to the past two games.

Lamar Jackson completed 70% or more of his passes for the fifth time this season and rushed for 62 on the ground in addition to 223 passing yards. Justin Tucker’s six field goals, all from 41 yards or fewer, highlighted a strong special teams showing — which also included a key fumble recovery by Del’Shawn Phillips off a muffed punt before halftime.

The Ravens’ defense put together another strong showing, allowing only a select few big plays. They were stifling on third down (the Titans converted just 1-of-9 attempts) and gave up a hair over 100 yards passing on the day. They’ve allowed only five total touchdowns through six games now for the season.

Cleveland Browns

Result: 19-17 win over San Francisco 49ers

The Browns were one of the weekend’s biggest winners, as they earned an upset victory over the then-undefeated 49ers squad. Despite being without starting quarterback Deshaun Watson and a handful of other noticeable pieces, the Browns were able to prevail again on the strength of their top-ranked defense.

San Francisco lost both Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel to injury mid-game, arguably their top two offensive playmakers, and the Browns feasted. They allowed just 215 yards of total offense, three third-down conversions on 13 attempts, and 3.9 yards per play.

Following an opening drive touchdown and missed field goal attempt on the following drive, the majority of the 49ers’ drives for the rest of the game resulted in a punt, as well as another missed field goal try late and interception.

Offensively, the Browns found tough sledding as well. However, with backup P.J. Walker under center, they did manage 334 total yards and were balanced with their run-pass splits. A 13-3 advantage between the second and third quarters combined proved to be key for the Browns, as they gradually gained control.

Cincinnati Bengals

Result: Win over Seattle Seahawks, 17-13

The Bengals won their second straight game for the first time this season, defeating a consecutive NFC West opponent in the process as well. Cincinnati started off down early but scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives to begin the game. From there, they wound up scoring only a field goal more — but their defense proved up to the challenge.

Cincinnati’s defense allowed two field goal drives in the second half, which saw the Seahawks close a touchdown deficit into only one point. However, they came up with two crucial interceptions in the red zone to prevent points, then forced back-to-back turnovers on downs to close out the game.

This situational prowess was key, as the Bengals were ultimately outplayed thoroughly in the box score. The Seahawks had a decisive advantage in first downs (24 to 15), total yards (381 to 214), and total plays (70 to 54). The Bengals also possessed the ball for roughly eight less minutes.

Cincinnati’s rushing offense was uninspiring, as they gained only 46 total ground yards on 15 attempts. While Joe Burrow and company didn’t inflict a ton of damage downfield, they were efficient with their two red zone opportunities and turned the ball over only once.