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AFC North Preview, Week 13: Bengals in primetime, Browns and Steelers take on NFC West

Taking a look ahead for the AFC North.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens (9-3)

The division-leading Ravens will be on their bye before returning to action in Week 14, where they will host the Los Angeles Rams. Their long-awaited time off couldn’t have come at a better time. The Ravens have several players who could benefit from rest and a reprieve

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is dealing with a shoulder injury, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been battling a knee injury, cornerback Marlon Humphrey has missed the past two games with a calf injury, and rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson missed the last two weeks with a concussion.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)

In their first game after firing former Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, the Steelers snapped their streak of being outgained in consecutive games to start the season. They also finally eclipsed 400 yards of total offense for the first time in 58 games, en route to a 16-10 road win over the Cincinnati Bengals. They’ll be back at home this week for an interconference matchup with the lowly Arizona Cardinals (2-10). It’s the first of a two-game homestand against opponents in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams in five years since the 2019 season and the Steelers have won each of the last four. While their offense moved the ball much better with Quarterback Coach Mike Sullivan calling plays last week, they still failed to score 30 or more points for the 18th game in a row dating back to Week 11 of 2022.

Pittsburgh had five players listed on Thursday’s injury report with actual injuries and wide receiver Diontae Johnson sat out with an illness. Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett (ankle), free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring), and defensive tackle Montravius Adams (ankle) were full participants while cornerback James Pierre (shoulder) sat out.

Cleveland Browns (7-4)

In their second game since losing quarterback Deshaun Watson to a season-ending injury, the Browns had their three-game winning streak snapped. They suffered a 29-12 road loss to the surging Denver Broncos in Week 12. Their vaunted defense was gashed for 169 rushing yards and gave up nearly 30 points. Fifth-round rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of his third career start with a concussion.

The Browns will stay on the road this week with the hopes of bouncing back in an interconference matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2019 season as Cleveland seeks their first win in the all-time series since 2007.

They will likely be starting their fourth different quarterback under center. Thompson-Robinson is one of a staggering 15 players listed on their injury report this week. Former Ravens’ franchise quarterback Joe Flacco has been taking reps with the Browns’ first-team offense in practice. He’s in-line to make his first start since Week 18 of last season when he was on the New York Jets.

The players who have not taken the field include defensive end Myles Garrett (shoulder), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion), and cornerback Denzel Ward (shoulder). The Browns’ lengthy list of limited participants includes the following:

  • OG Joe Bitonio (knee)
  • WR Amari Cooper (rest, ribs)
  • DT Jordan Elliott (ankle)
  • RB Kareem Hunt (groin)
  • TE David Njoku (knee)
  • DE Ogbo Okoronkwo (groin)
  • OG Wyatt Teller (ankle)
  • S Juan Thornhill (calf)
  • LB Anthony Walker (hamstring)
  • LB Sione Takitaki (knee)
  • C Nick Harris (knee)

Mike Ford (ribs) and offensive tackle Geron Christian are the only players dealing with minor injuries but have been full participants.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

The two-time defending AFC North champions remain in last place and are riding a three-game losing skid. Their first game without franchise quarterback Joe Burrow resulted in their lowest-scoring outing since October 1, as they still remain winless in the division. The Bengals will be trying to keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive in Week 13. They travel to Duval County to take on the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3) on Monday Night Football.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2021 season. While the Bengals have won their last couple of matchups, they had Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow under center. Unfortunately for them, that is not who will be trying to outduel former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Instead, they’ll have fifth-year veteran Jake Browning at the helm, who is set to make his second career start.

In his first last week, the 2019 undrafted free agent went 19-of-26 with 227 passing yards and one touchdown to one interception. He was one of a dozen players listed on Cincinnati’s initial injury report but was a full participant with a wrist injury while the majority of the others were limited. The other players listed with injuries include wide receiver Tee Higgins (hamstring/ankle), cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (quad), offensive tackle D’Ante Smith (knee), tight end Tanner Hudson (finger), linebacker Logan Wilson (ankle/foot) and tight end Drew Sample (foot).