First and foremost, the Steelers have one responsibility on Monday night: WIN!
If the Steelers are unable to secure a victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, all other talk about the AFC North race is insignificant. But with the Cleveland Browns handily defeating the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the AFC North race just got very interesting. Currently, both of the Browns and Ravens sit atop the division with a 2-2 record. With Cleveland holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over Baltimore, they are now the new AFC North division leader.
Interestingly enough, even though the Steelers started their 2019 this season with a record of 0-3, they can climb within one game of the division lead with a victory over the winless Bengals. If the Steelers can take care of business Monday night, their status within the AFC North will really take shape over the next few weeks.
In Week 5, the Steelers will host of the Baltimore Ravens in yet another AFC North matchup. Although it is important to not overlook the Bengals, with all other NFL games complete for the weekend it is difficult to not peak ahead to the Week 5 schedule. If the Steelers can put the Bengals in a 0-4 hole, the game with the Ravens may be for one team to emerge in the race while the other gets significantly pushed behind the pack.
As for the Browns upcoming schedule, they will travel to the undefeated San Francisco 49ers for a Monday night game on October 7. After returning home from the West Coast, the Browns will host the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6 before their Week 7 bye. Following their off week, the Browns must travel to the New England Patriots. With their record at 2-2, the Browns next three opponents have a combined record of 10-1 and are the same three opponents who have defeated the Steelers in 2019. So even though the Browns are leading the division, the road does not get any easier over the next several weeks.
After a quarter of the way through the NFL season, it is still difficult to predict exactly what is going on with the teams in the AFC North. Not including their matchup in Week 4, neither the Browns nor the Ravens had defeated a team who has achieved a victory in the first quarter of the NFL season. So while their records have them atop the division, it is still difficult to determine exactly what to expect from these division rivals.
The Baltimore Ravens. The Cleveland Browns. The AFC North. None of these matter to the Steelers if they can’t take care of business in Week 4. So to reiterate the statement yet again, the Steelers have one responsibility on Monday night: WIN!