Two AFC North teams remain undefeated through divisional battles, what now?
By: Samuel Meyer, who goes by ravensfan1 on the Fantasy Life App
Hello, and welcome to your week 3 preview of the AFC North. I’m sure anyone who read my previous article was expecting a recap of week 2. But, because my second article previewing week 2 never made it up on the website, I decided to wait it out for this week and hopefully start a more regular schedule from here on out. I will tell you that I was 2-0 on picks last week. The Steelers were able to come away with the win on the Bengals in a sort of underwhelming game compared to what you would expect out of their rivalry. Then, The Ravens shocked no one by beating the Cleveland Browns in a game that shouldn’t have been as close as what it was.
But, with that being said, it is now a new week. And with that, we have four new games involving the AFC North. In a quick rundown: The Browns will be stopping the round robin of a quarterback situation they have and choose yet another new QB to start vs. the Dolphins. Joe Flacco looks to keep his Ravens on a winning streak against the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Steelers look to do the same against some actual talent with the Eagles. And lastly, the Bengals look to avenge their loss from last week with a win over the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos.
Cleveland Browns 0-2 @ Miami Dolphins 0-2 (1 o’clock game)
Well, this is a stinker of a game to analyze. Imagine being in my shoes and looking at two 0-2 teams. And to make matters worse, one of them are the Browns. While the Browns continue on a streak of starting a new quarterback in their last five games (according to ESPN.com), the Dolphins have kept tight games against the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, who have been in two of the last three superbowls, and the New England Patriots, who have made their star players look unneeded and overhyped by going out and playing outstanding football without them. The Miami Dolphins have beaten the Browns in every major stat you can think of with the exception of rushing, but with Arian Foster out, Ajayi will be playing for a possible starting role in the future. I imagine this means he will be trying to run all over the Browns defense.
Meanwhile, the Browns did keep a close game with the Ravens, who even I’M surprised is still undefeated after two weeks. Keep in mind, however, that the quarterback that led them to that close defeat is now on the bench as the newest stranger to the Browns lineup, Cody Kessler, takes the field. Honestly, at this point, I imagine they have to be pulling guys off the street, sticking a jersey on them, and calling them a pro. My only question is, is it against their will? Because with the quarterback curse adding to the already terrible Cleveland legacy, you couldn’t pay me to play there. But, as I mentioned, the Browns actually beat Miami in rushing stats this year, rushing around one hundred and thirty-two yards as opposed to Miami’s sixty-seven. So, if Crowell can treat Miami like he did with Baltimore early, then Cleveland has a shot to win their first game.
However, I’m going to go with the Dolphins to win overall. As mentioned, they have played pretty good football from the passing end, racking up two hundred and eighty-six yards receiving in their first two games. And, while their defense isn’t all that impressive, they should be able to score on the Browns easily, making the Browns less of an offensive threat. Lastly, Ajayi will be trying very hard to win a job, and to me, that almost guarantees a touchdown this week. In other words, Ajayi is going to give the Browns the runs, and the Browns will run all the way to 0-3.
Baltimore Ravens 2-0 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 0-2 (1 o’clock)
Well, Jacksonville has looked sort of underwhelming, haven’t they? Blake Bortles has matched his total of three touchdowns with three interceptions, and he is barely throwing a sixty-one percent completion rating. However, Joe Flacco hasn’t looked great either, making only sixty percent of his passes completions. While neither of these numbers are awful, we expect more from both teams, one more than the other.
Did anyone else think Jacksonville was supposed to be good this year? The Jaguars have a lot of talent. Blake Bortles was supposed to continue being a breakout quarterback for fantasy users and help untarnish the jaguar name so that fans can once again come outside without Browns fans mocking them for being a bad team. Allen Robinson was, in some leagues, a first round pick, but has done very little. Instead, Allen Hurns is beating him in receiving yards. Not only that, but neither of them have touchdowns this season. T.J. Yeldon has managed to come away with a single touchdown over the first two weeks, but has only averaged about two yards per carry. The Jags simply need to find receivers in the endzone to win this game.
On the other side of the ball, we have the Ravens. Last week, Joe Flacco led his team to a comeback victory over the Browns (thank God). But, would he be able to do that over the Jaguars? In both games, the Ravens have been down early and had to come back. Can they do it over the Jacksonville Jaguars? Or will the Jags be able to hold on?
Honestly, I don’t think the Jags can beat the Ravens. I know ESPN has them barely favored over my favorite team. But, the Jacksonville Jaguars have not been able to stop their opponents offense at any level. Over the last two games, the Jaguars have given up one hundred and twenty-two rushing yards and two hundred and nine receiving yards. With those numbers, the Ravens could probably risk running the ball more, finding a comfortable fit at running back while running down Jacksonville’s defense.
Cincinnati Bengals 1-1 vs. Denver Broncos 2-0 (1 o’clock)
Even with the announcement of Peyton Manning’s retirement, if you would have told me that the reigning Super Bowl champions were starting Trevor Siemian, I would have… well, i’d have asked who in the world that was. I mean, Denver had so many different choices at QB, including guys like Mark Sanchez who, while definitely proven to be the wrong guy, has at least been heard of and had starting experience. However, Siemian has led Denver to a 2-0 record, something so-called better teams like the Bengals can’t say they have. So, can the Bengals end this perfect streak?
I think they have the potential. Andy Dalton is more comfortable with his team. He knows the strengths and weaknesses of teammates like AJ Green or Tyler Eifert, and will use that to his advantage in a game. Sure his completion percentage is lower than that of Siemian, but he's thrown the ball more than fifty-nine times. He has confidence. And, keeping in mind that the Bengals are going to be looking for a win after their rivalry loss against the Steelers last week, they need this boost to heighten their season.
However, you can’t count out that Denver defense. Siemian may not be confident yet, already throwing three of his fifty-nine passes to the other team, but that Denver D is more than confident. Denver allows less rushing yards than Cincinnati, and if they can stop AJ Green, they have the game won.
With all of that being said, I am going to agree with ESPN and take the Cincinnati Bengals. The team is a good team, more confident than Denver as a whole. They have a great D that should have no problem intercepting a rookie quarterback, especially one that barely throws the ball. Also, as previously mentioned, coming back from a division loss to beat the reigning champions is just the boost they need to stay in the hunt for playoff contention.
Pittsburgh 2-0 @ Philadelphia 2-0 (4:25 p.m.)
Finally, we come to a game that I am excited about: The arch rivals of my household, the Pittsburgh Steelers, going against my brothers favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only that, but the rookie quarterback Carson Wentz brought the Eagles to a 2-0 record leading into it. The question is: will it stay that way?
On one side of the ball, we have the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, if you could’ve read my article from last week, you’d know that I made a semi-bold statement saying that the Steelers were Super Bowl bound. I then proceeded to cry into my pillow and ask why the football gods hated me so much. But, I stand by that prediction. The Steelers have what may be the best offense in the league, using guys like Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Deangelo Williams and of course Big Ben Roethlisbooger-I mean Berger. Plus, their defense has shocked a lot of people and they really seem to be a dominant force on that side of the ball as well. So, they look pretty strong.
But again, don’t count out Carson Wentz. This young man was drafted second overall, was named the starter of the team, and led them to a hot streak early on. Not only that, but he has yet to throw an interception. He has, however, thrown three touchdown passes. On the other side of the coin, The Eagles defense has allowed less points than that of their black and yellow opponents, and they have managed to stop the passing game more as well. This puts the Steel curtain in jeopardy if they cannot pass the ball to their star receiver, or send short passes to Deangelo Williams.
However, with that in mind… *sigh*, I have to take the Steelers this week. They really look good this year, and the Eagles cannot rely on Wentz alone to win this game. While it’s true that Ryan Matthews looks pretty good lately, he won’t be a big story against a defense that has only allowed fifty rushing yards.