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AFC North Standings: Ravens and Steelers stay perfect as Bengals and Browns plummet

Time to recap what’s going on inside the wild and crazy AFC North.

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Just when you thought the tides might be starting to turn in the AFC North, all is right with the world least for now.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are both 2-0 and on a crash course for a head-to-head matchup in Week 4. At the same time, the Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2 in two home games and haven’t scored a touchdown yet this season. The Cleveland Browns also are 0-2, but at least they’ve scored a couple of touchdowns.

It’s time to recap what was going on outside the Steel City in the AFC North. But first, the current standings:

Current AFC North Standings

Pittsburgh Steelers — 2-0
Baltimore Ravens — 2-0
Cleveland Browns — 0-2
Cincinnati Bengals — 0-2


Baltimore Ravens — 24
Cleveland Browns — 10

Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens have received terrible news after their 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Star lineman Marshal Yanda is out for the season.

John Harbaugh said Yanda suffered an ankle fracture.

This is dreadful news for the Ravens. With an offensive line already suffering multiple injuries and absences, their best player on the line has seen his entire season ended. The huge void that is Marshal Yanda is one that no other player in the NFL can fill, but Joe D’Alessandris and the coaching staff will try their best.

...and the hits keep coming...

The Ravens received a second dose of bad injury news today after it was announced that LB Bam Bradley will be out for the season after suffering an ACL injury.

While Bam wasn’t a starting linebacker, losing young depth can be crucial in the long run. It stunts the player’s progression and keeps them from actively participating—this time for an entire year. Bradley was an undrafted free agent and many were excited about his special-teams contributions. He clearly made an impact, landing on the final, 53-man roster.

Through two games, the Ravens have forced 10 turnovers, including their brassy total of eight interceptions. This unit shut down the Bengals explosive offense in Cincinnati and then bullied the inexperienced Browns offense and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer in Baltimore.

But the first true test for this team will come during Week 4 when Pittsburgh comes to town. Yes, these past two games have been extremely impressive, but the quality of competition needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating this unit.

Joe Flacco finished the day 25 for 34, with 217 yards and two touchdowns, as per ESPN. He also had one interception which was a terrible decision by Flacco, but Mike Wallace had stopped running on the play. Clearly, there was some miscommunication and Wallace lost sight of the ball while it was in the air.

Other than the play mentioned above, it was a great day for Flacco. He was sharp and he consistently extended plays. Flacco would scramble out of the pocket and find open receivers. Overall, the game plan was impressive. It was tailored to the strengths of Flacco and it worked to perfection.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns first game of the season against Pittsburgh was competitive, but this week against Baltimore was just ugly. Cleveland fell by a final score of 24-10, dropping to 0-2 on the season. How did they get there?

The Browns received the ball to begin the game for the second week in a row. Although their first drive wasn’t as bad as in the opener (blocked punt for a touchdown), they still went three-and-out.

The Ravens got some traction on their opening drive, sparked by a 19-yard catch-and-run by WR Jeremy Maclin. After getting into Cleveland territory, QB Joe Flacco was sacked by OLB Christian Kirksey on third down to force a punt.

Cleveland moved the ball near midfield on their next drive, which included the 10,0000th consecutive snap of LT Joe Thomas career.

But after a false-start by WR Sammie Coates, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-12. QB DeShone Kizer then held onto the ball too long, leading to a strip-sack for OLB Terrell Suggs and a Baltimore recovery.

A migraine forced DeShone Kizer from the game, bringing in backup quarterback Kevin Hogan. All things considered, Hogan performed admirably.

On his first drive, Hogan looked comfortable in the pocket. The Stanford product found a wide-open Seth DeValve for a lengthy completion. DeValve’s 49-yard reception proved to be one of the longest of the day for the Browns.

A few plays later, Hogan rifled a beautiful pass to David Njoku for a 23-yard touchdown. This bullet beat two Ravens’ defenders in the back-right corner of the end zone and got the Browns on the board.

Entering the game following an injury and immediately leading your team down the field on a touchdown is impressive, so Hogan’s start is a reason for some optimism in Cleveland.

However, Hogan’s next two drives didn’t go well. His next drive resulted in a three-and-out, and the following drive ended in an interception. Drilled immediately after his throw, Hogan made an ill-advised decision that led to a Ravens touchdown at the end of the half.

Hogan orchestrated a drive in the third quarter which led to a field goal. Ten points on four drives aren't too bad by the Browns’ standards.

Kizer then re-entered the game to quell all thoughts of a quarterback controversy, but Hogan had proven his value as a backup signal-caller.

Houston Texans — 13
Cincinnati Bengals — 9

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are a bad team right now as they enter Week 3 with an 0-2 record and zero touchdowns scored. As usually is the case with bad teams, a lot of negative reports are circulating about the organization.

The Bengals already have had several of these emerge, but the latest might be the most troubling of all. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, some Bengals players are ready to see a change at quarterback, but not necessarily a move from Andy Dalton to AJ McCarron.

Instead, some players think Colin Kaepernick is the answer.

The news here is that Dalton must really be losing the locker room if players think they’re better off having a free-agent plucked off of the street. One of the quickest ways for a team to implode is to lose all confidence in its starting quarterback, the presumed leader of the franchise (see: Jaguars and Blake Bortles).

That’s what Dalton has been for seven years now, but today he’s facing what’s easily his greatest adversity as an NFL player. How well he responds to this and his play in Week 3 against a tough Packers team will go a long way to determine whether these rumors die down and his teammates remain on his side.

There are already reports that head coach Marvin Lewis faced a “near mutiny” after losing to the Texans in embarrassing fashion. It looks like changing offensive coordinators has stemmed the tide for now, but it’s hard to say if that actually makes this offense better.

If the Bengals continue to have clunkers and fail to reach the end zone, the howling in the Queen City for a new quarterback will only grow more shrill. Given the baggage he carries, don’t expect Kaepernick to get even a sniff of acknowledgment from the Bengals. But McCarron might be closer to taking over than we realize.

Cincinnati Bengals fans screaming for change finally saw one of their wishes fulfilled Friday afternoon when the Bengals announced the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese.

Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor, a former offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins, now takes over the play-calling duties for a group that became the first pro team since the 1939 Philadelphia Eagles to start the season with two home games in which they failed to score a touchdown.

How did fans react to the firing and what do you think? Should this be just the beginning of wholesale changes?