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AFC North News: Division is 0-4 as NFL has lack of rushing stats after first weekend

It's strange just how ineffective the running games were around the NFL. Within the AFC North - the first division to lose all of its opening games since the current division alignment took effect in 2002 - that trend hit especially hard.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC North is 0-4, the first time an entire division has last its opening week's games since the current divisional alignment was adpoted in 2002.

Pittsburgh was defeated by Tennessee 16-9, Baltimore lost at Denver 49-27, Cincinnati blew a late lead and was defeated by Chicago and Cleveland lost to Miami.

Two of those teams will start 0-2, by virtue of the AFC North all meeting each other on the field this weekend. The Steelers will take on the Bengals Monday while Baltimore hosts Cleveland in their Super Bowl championship celebration game they did not get in Week 1.

Baltimore met with a second-half buzzsaw, having experienced, for the second time in two regular season games, the working end of a momentum-laden Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. The Browns saw three interceptions from quarterback Brandon Weeden, along with a 1-for-14 third down rate, in a 23-10 loss to the Dolphins, but a tough defense allowed just 275 total yards, 20 of those on the ground, in the loss.

The Bengals, Pittsburgh's Week 2 opponents, had two interceptions from quarterback Andy Dalton in the loss to Chicago.

What stands out more than anything, though, is the lack of rushing attacks from all four teams. Collectively, the AFC North rushed 70 times in four games for a combined total of 200 yards (2.85 yards per rush).

This was a pandemic around the league, too. Only two running backs - Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (184) and New England's Shane Vereen (101) cracked the 100-yard mark. At the same time, six quarterbacks (Manning, Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford) threw for 350 or more yards.

Eight quarterbacks threw two or more interceptions, while 10 didn't throw any.

Two-thirds of the league failed to rush for 100 yards as a team (21 of 32). That kind of stat can be fairly seen as a simple blip on the radar; one week's sample out of a 16-game season. But within the AFC North, a division that has running backs playing on large contracts or were recently high draft picks (or haven't played yet, in the case of Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell), it seems reasonable to assume the lack of rushing potency around the NFL as well as within the AFC North was noticed, and game plans are being implemented now to establish the running game more effectively in Week 2.

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