The Bengals, Ravens and Steelers all come away with wins in Week 1
By: Samuel Meyer, who goes by @ravensfan1 on the Fantasy Life App
Well, week 1 of the 2016 NFL season is officially over, and what a week it was. We saw the New England Patriots defeat who many see to be the Super Bowl favorite Arizona Cardinals, even though the two biggest players on their starting offence were sitting at home eating cheesy puffs during the game. The Oakland Raiders pulled off an amazing finish against the New Orleans Saints. And, for all you fantasy nuts, first round picks like Todd Gurley, Odell Beckham and Adrian Peterson did little or nothing while guys like Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Kerley had great games, leading the two San Francisco fans left in the world to actually watch one of their games while excitedly jizzing their pants. All of which in the course of two days and still being overshadowed by some players sitting down on the bench before the game while someone we’ve never heard of sings the anthem, thank you NFL.
But, more importantly to this article, the AFC North looked FANTASTIC this week. With three out of the four teams in the division picking up wins, our division looked very strong for a division that is usually known only for having a) the Steelers, b) a team that can’t win in the playoffs to save their lives, c) that team the wife beater used to play for and d) “wait… the browns are still a team?”. And, not only did the teams pick up decisive wins this week, but they each showed promise, star power, and determination for the rest of the season, which makes the AFC North a division worth watching this year.
The Cincinnati Bengals (Cincinnati over NY Jets 23-22)
What can we say about the New York Jets? They’ve been the butt of several jokes, especially on shows like Mike and Mike, in which Mike Greenberg is a fan of the team. But they aren’t all bad. Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off the best season of his career, and they have a very good defense. Which is why it was kind of surprising to see Cincinatti play as well as they did against them.
Blocking an extra point very early in the game, Cincinatti let it be known that their defense is not one to be taken lightly. Add on a healthy AJ Green stepping back on the field after being out all last year and going down again in the preseason, and you’re cooking up a win. Green was the number one receiver this week, and scored off of an awesome fifty-four yard catch, shutting down Revis Island.
On the passing side of the ball, Andy Dalton threw for three-hundred and sixty-six yards. This is pretty good considering there was seven times throughout the game he was found lying on his back with the ball still in his hands. This should not be a huge concern, however, because the Jets defence is just that good. And if the Bengals keep playing like this, they will be hard to keep out of the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens (Baltimore over Buffalo 13-7)
Not going to lie: As Joe Flacco fumbled the snap early on in the first quarter of this game, I looked to my dad and asked “This isn’t going to be a good year, is it?”. But in reality, the Ravens did not look that bad Sunday. Going against a sleeper defense with a supposed “easy schedule”, Baltimore held their own against the Bills the entire game. The pinnacle of this game came when Flacco lobbed a sixty-six yard pass to former Steeler Mike Wallace for a great touchdown to an otherwise chess battle of a game.
But that was exactly what the Ravens needed to do. We all know that Joe Flacco has that arm. He utilized that with the TD pass to Wallace. And, unlike the other AFC North quarterbacks, he did not throw an interception at all in his season opener. So, if they could figure out how to be successful running the ball, this year could be a good one for the Ravens.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (Pitt over Washington 38-16)
You didn’t have to watch the full game Monday night to know that the Steelers looked great. Ben Roethlisberger had three touchdown passes throughout the game, two of which were in the first half. The first, a twenty-nine yard pass to star receiver Antonio Brown. The second, a short pass to Eli Rogers. Then, in the third quarter, he connected with Brown again for another touchdown, this time twenty-six yards, to make the score twenty-four to six. While it is true that Roethlisberger also threw an interception in this game, it isn’t a big worry. In week 1, fifteen quarterbacks, including four ranked above him and two in the same division, threw for at least one interception.
The scoring did not stop there for the Steelers, however, as Deangelo Williams decided in the fourth quarter to let the Pittsburgh fans know that he was just as capable in starting as Le'Veon Bell, scoring two short touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That is incredible for anyone’s backup, no matter who it is, and it poses the question: If they let Williams run like that, what will they do when Bell comes back? Dominate, that’s what. With a top 5 running back, a top 5, receiver, and a top 10 quarterback, the Steelers will be hard to stop this year.
The Cleveland Browns (Philadelphia over Cleveland 29-10)
And now, back to reality. If the first three teams were the star triplets of the AFC North, Cleveland would be like that kid in class that always has to sit in the corner or that uncle who mommy won’t let us see without an adult present I.E. they are a bad team. And, just like almost any stats regarding the AFC North, the Browns are the outcasts of the division this week, being the only ones that lost their first game of the season to a decent but not incredible Philadelphia Eagles.
Whats sad about this is that they actually didn’t look awful. It seemed to me that RG3 was starting to find his groove, connecting with players like Duke Johnson a total of only 12 times but paying off for over a hundred and ninety yards. Not superstar numbers, I know. But if you notice, he didn’t complete one pass to Gary Barnidge. Did you notice? I did, because he’s on my fantasy team and I, the champion, lost to the loser of last year, God I hate this sport that I love so much. Once he realizes what a great weapon he has there in Barnidge as a TE, I think things will run smoothly.
Another key factor with the Browns is injury. If you noticed, RG3 was beginning to run much like he did his rookie year, in that he apparently doesn’t know how to slide. Seriously, get this man a slip n’ slide so he can learn that attribute before his glass bones fall apart… Oh, too late, he's hurt now. We don’t know at the moment how serious the injury is, but if he can come back before the end of the season, and do what's listed above, maybe the Browns will be at least a little exciting for next season.
The AFC North seems to be an exciting division to watch this year. And I for one, can’t wait for week 2, when all four members of the division face off against each other. Come back soon for a preview of those games, and thank you for reading.