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Week 1 AFC North Preview: Bengals, Browns, and Ravens

The Steelers played on Thursday but the rest of the AFC North competes on Sunday.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The rest of the AFC North takes to the field on Sunday, and it's possible that the Bengals, Browns, and Ravens will all suffer the same fate as the Pittsburgh Steelers in starting their seasons with 0-1 records.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders

4:25 p.m. on CBS

AFC North teams struggle in Oakland, making this matchup deceptively competitive. The Raiders have beaten the Bengals the last three times they've played on the west coast. And the only matchup of the last five that the Bengals won was in Cincinnati.

The Raiders not only have one of the best NFL pass rushers in Khalil Mack, but they may also have the equally menacing Aldon Smith on the field. Couple that with No. 4 overall pick Amari Cooper and the Raiders have enough talent on both sides of the ball to create problems for the Bengals.

Strong performances by Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green, and Giovani Bernard could propel the Bengals to victory, but it will be a very difficult battle.

Bengals Injuries

Out: DT Marcus Hardison (knee)

Questionable: CB Josh Shaw (groin)

Raiders Injuries

Out: DE Benson Mayowa (knee)

Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets

1:00 p.m. on CBS

The Browns have had an absolutely horrible week with news that their offensive line coach Andy Moeller was suspended indefinitely after his fiancee called 911 alleging that he attempted to strangle her. Last night, Justin Gilbert was in a car accident after a road rage incident. Not the kind of news a team wants going into their season opener, or anytime for that matter.

The perennially weak Browns have a chance of winning against the Jets, whose starting quarterback Geno Smith is sidelined with a broken jaw leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Last year, the Jets were 4-12, and their quarterback situation doesn't inspire much confidence in a strong start to the season. Nonetheless, the addition of receiver Brandon Marshall and the return of cornerback Darrelle Revis could help the Jets put up a fight.

Also worth noting, the Browns have not won a season-opener since 2004. A slew of injuries could also thwart the Browns' plans of seeing their first opening-game victory in more than a decade.

Browns Injuries

Out: RB Robert Turbin (ankle)

Questionable: WR Dwayne Bowe (hamstring), CB Justin Gilbert (hip), LB Barkevious Mingo (knee), LB Nate Orchard (back), CB K'Waun Williams (abdomen)

Jets Injuries

Out: Geno Smith (jaw)

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos

4:25 p.m. ET

This is one of the more competitive matchups of the first week. The Broncos are fielding a strong team this year and have the home field advantage which, in the case of Denver, involves some very thin air that presents problems for opponents.

The Broncos CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman will face a tough test against the Ravens' run defense, but they should be able to make some headway with their passing game. Aging quarterback Peyton Manning should be fresh since it's the very first game of the season. If he can stand up to the Ravens' pass rush, it should be rather easy to pick apart their secondary.

The Ravens' offense will be facing a strong Broncos' defense that features Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Nonetheless, Steve Smith and Joe Flacco are capable of putting up some very big numbers, so this will be an interesting battle to watch as well.

Ravens Injuries

OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee)

Doubtful: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), CB Rashaan Melvin (thigh)

Broncos Injuries

Out: DE Kenny Anunike (knee)

Questionable: LB Lerentee McCray (groin)


I wouldn't be at all surprised if every AFC North team loses in week one, putting each team on equal footing in the division standings going into Week 2. I believe the most competitive game will be the Browns vs. Jets, with the Bengals likely to lose in Oakland and the Ravens facing an uphill battle in the Mile High City.