The Steelers face off against the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday coming off of a decisive victory against the San Francisco 49ers and a Week 1 loss to the Patriots. Also 1-1 is Cleveland, while Baltimore has yet to see a victory and Cincinnati is undefeated.
Perhaps the most intriguing AFC North game of the week will be the Cincinnati Bengals battling the Ravens in Baltimore. The Ravens have struggled mightily in their first two games, losing a defensive battle against the Broncos in Denver and a humiliating loss to the Oakland Raiders in Oakland.
This is the Ravens home opener, so perhaps they can improve their level of play with a home advantage. On the other hand, the numbers don't lie. The Ravens are in trouble. Having invested so much in Joe Flacco after their Super Bowl victory, the Ravens have had trouble retaining expensive talent. To exacerbate matters, Terrell Suggs is out for the season with an Achilles injury he sustained against Denver in Week 1.
Without Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, the Ravens are also in trouble on the other side of the ball. It isn't looking good for the Ravens this season, and if they can't muster up a victory at home against an AFC North rival, they will have an uphill battle for the rest of the season.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco only has two touchdowns, both to Crockett Gillmore. The Bengals, on the other hand, are a more well-rounded team with solid performances both on the ground and in the air. More importantly, Andy Dalton has been able to connect with receivers for touchdowns-- five of them. The Bengals are also third in the league thus far in rushing yards at 302. They've been able to hold their opponents to 194 yards, so the Ravens will likely continue to struggle on the ground.
The Bengals are likely to win this game unless the Ravens can leverage home-stadium energy-- and perhaps some panic-- to come up with a victory and prove they are serious AFC North contenders this season.
Raiders vs. Browns
The Browns are playing caboose in the AFC North and the league. They are 25th in points at 19, 30th in offensive yards at 297, 29th in passing yards at 187, and 16th in rushing yards at 110. They also have problems at quarterback with Josh McCown starting in Week 1 and Johnny Manziel at the helm in Week 2. Neither are particularly elite, but the Browns have proven-- unlike the Ravens-- that they are capable of winning this season. The Browns have allowed 39 points and an astounding 718 yards. WIth only 375 total passing yards and 220 on the ground, the Browns do not have a lot of offensive weapons to leverage.
Oakland has also struggled in recent years, but did manage a victory against the Ravens, which should give them confidence against the Browns. Unlike the Browns, they do have a passing game, which is actually ninth in the league. Rushing is their offense's Achilles. They are ranked 23rd in the league after two games.
The Raiders have more tools at their disposal in Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, and Latavius Murray on the offense and Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck on the defensive side of the ball.
The Raiders should be able to win this game, although with home-field advantage and momentum from last week, the Browns could come out on top.