Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will duel in an AFC North clash on Sunday. (AP)MoreThe road to the division championship always runs through Pittsburgh, but the path is clear for Andy Dalton & Co. to widen the gap between them and the rest of the AFC North. Even at 4-1 and sitting atop the division, Cincinnati has plenty to prove against the Steelers (2-2-1), who have won nine of their past 10 matchups, including six straight. But these dont appear to be the same Steelers – at least, not yet. Off-field drama surrounding LeVeon Bells weeks-long holdout, coupled with Antonio Browns mounting frustrations, only highlighted the issues plaguing Pittsburgh. And Cincinnati would love nothing more than to deliver a blow to its rival in front of the home crowd.
The Steelers are coming off a dominant win over the depleted Atlanta Falcons and Brown had his best game of the season: six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. If Pittsburgh can ride the momentum to a road victory in Cincy, itll be on solid ground in the standings heading into the bye week – just in time for Bells much-anticipated return.
Hey, theres finally a feel-good story out of Cleveland that doesnt involve the words LeBron or Indians. Thats right Clevelanders, were already in Week 6, and your Browns do NOT have a losing record! And whats more, at 2-2-1, theyve also scored more points than theyve surrendered. Granted, its by only one point (114-113). But a starving man doesnt turn down a Happy Meal, right?
Seriously, the Browns are playing decent football, and a lot of that has to do with No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, whose competency at quarterback has teamed up with an emerging defense, giving Cleveland a chance to win every week. Well get to see both units tested against the Chargers (3-2), who feature the leagues seventh-best offense in total yards and 15th-best defense in yards per game.
There are endless storylines in this one. Not only is it a battle for AFC supremacy and a potential playoff matchup down the line, there is history between Andy Reid and Bill Belichick. Theyre two head coaches who always seem very well-matched when it comes to an in-season battle like this. But the storyline I really love is the crossroads of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. One guy is in the midst of his youthful rise into the elite and another guy who keeps extending the impressive winter years of his career.
The Patriots Tom Brady has an idea on who is the NFLs top quarterback. (AP)MoreI think Brady is a little agitated by the shine that Mahomes has taken away this season. And maybe he should be. If you subtract three interceptions that werent really Bradys fault, his numbers stack up well with Mahomes despite playing his first four games with far less skill-position talent.
Well, now that Julian Edelman is back and guys like Sony Michel and Josh Gordon are getting some traction in the offense, its a more even comparison. This game is Bradys chance to show some of that old man strength and prove that the NFLs quarterback power rankings still begin at his doorstep. Conversely, Mahomes has an opportunity to wrestle the baton away and take another leap forward as the leagues leading man.
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Share Share AFC North Roundup Week 6: Bengals-Steelers rivalry, Crabtrees drops, more tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images Right now, the Cincinnati Bengals are atop the AFC North with a 4-1 record. But the complexion of the division could change significantly after Sunday, when the Bengals play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile the Browns take on the Los Angeles Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens take on the Tennessee Titans, with wins for both keeping them well in the race for the AFC North crown. With that in mind, heres what the division has been up to leading to their respective Week 6 contests.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Yes, its Bengals week for the Steelers, which means its a more tense week than usual. The Bengals and Steelers have seen their rivalry go from merely physical to downright brutal, with injuries being part of the storyline for nearly every meeting in recent years.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is ready for the brutality to end. On Wednesday, Roethlisberger said that its time to put the past behind them and play like its a normal football game, according to Jeff Hartman of Behind the Steel Curtain.
Is it also time for the Steelers to put the idea of Vince Williams, starting linebacker, behind them as well? Nick Farabaugh felt compelled to ask that question after L.J. Fort stepped in admirably for the injured Williams in Week 5s win over the Atlanta Falcons. Fort, however, is dealing with an ankle injury, so the Steelers may not be able to make any personnel switches at inside linebacker until after their Week 7 bye.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are banged up at the tight end position. Not only have they lost Tyler Eifert for the season with an ankle injury, Tyler Kroft is now in a walking boot an using a scooter to get around after injuring his foot in Sundays defeat of the Miami Dolphins. These developments have led the Bengals to sign tight end Matt Lengel off of the Houston Texans practice squad, per Cincy Jungles Jason Marcum. Lengel was an undrafted rookie signing of the Bengals in 2015 and was on the Browns practice squad last year.
Matt Minich breaks down the film from the Bengals win over the Dolphins in Week 5 and has come to two conclusions: Cincinnatis pass defense was the teams biggest key to victory on that side of the ball, while on offense, quarterback Andy Daltons ability to come through in the clutch made the biggest impact.
Baltimore Ravens: The Browns arent the only team dealing with dropped passes on offense. Though Ravens receiver Michael Crabtree had six receptions in their teams overtime loss in Cleveland last week, it was the passes he dropped that proved to be the real difference-makers. Baltimore Beatdowns Frank J. Platko broke down Crabtrees Week 5 drops and also noted that Crabtree has spent his post-practice time this week catching from the JUGGS machine in an attempt to turn things around.
Crabtrees drops were only part of the reason why the Ravens offense faltered against the Browns on Sunday. Logan Levy takes to the tape to illustrate how Baltimores receivers lacked separation and how quarterback Joe Flacco often couldnt see open targets, two more factors that led to Sundays loss.