By Hamish Girvan
The AFC North was once one of the toughest divisions with hard hitting defence and players seen as tough (as with their fans) however he AFC North has become a struggle and this week the four teams play each other. The AFC North is tied with the NFC West for the fewest combined wins (four) and the only divisions with two winless teams (more on that below)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (Monday 6.00 am NZ time)
The Steelers fresh off a surprise loss to the Chicago Bears head to Baltimore who were embarrassed 44-7 the previous week by the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars in London
The Ravens have won five of their last seven against Pittsburgh and will be wanting to show up and play, in this rivalry which has been ongoing for years.
It was only four seasons ago Baltimore won Superbowl led by Quarterback Joe Flacco, who has since disappeared as an elite player. Known for their defence minded play the Ravens have faltered to deceive in recent seasons
The Steelers are always there or there about however they have not really pushed on. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is starting to age and their triple B attack (Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown) has failed to click so far.
The Ravens are underdogs at home (unusual) and are being given 3 point start. With their record over the Steelers in previous seasons this is a fairly good bet.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (Monday 6am NZ time)
Both these teams are winless so here’s the opportunity for someone to get their first W of the season. The Cleveland Browns are not a surprise that they have not had a victory yet. In total rebuild mode they have a very young team however they have been competitive in their three losses this season. The Browns are definitely focusing on seasons ahead and look for once like they have some coordinated approach in the front office.
At the other end of the scale are the Cincinnati Bengal’s.14th year head coach Marvin Lewis has never tasted a playoff victory and despite multiple seasons of promise they somehow fall flat. A loss here could see the curtain fall. Quarterback Andy Dalton is too erratic, despite one of the best receivers in the NFL, A J Green, at his disposal
Cleveland have a 3.5 point start (the same points spread as the other divisional game) so again not a lot in it. The Browns can push hard here and come close to a Bengals team who may have peaked two seasons ago.
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