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Six Things You Should Know About the AFC North

Find out the current issues going on in the AFC North.

Bo Marchionte

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Over the last six years no division in the NFL has had more teams represent in the playoffs like the AFC North. The quality of play in the AFC North sometimes goes unnoticed but the division has had multiple teams make the playoffs in five of the last six years. The division has three appearances to the Super Bowl and winning two over that time. So after seven weeks of play in the NFL this is what we know about the teams that call the AFC North home.

 

 

Six Things We Know About the AFC North

 

  1. The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a game in October.

    After starting the season with three straight wins the Bengals are now 3-2-1 and were shut out by Indianapolis this past weekend, 27-0. The last time they were shut out in a game came nearly 13 years ago to the day, as the Chicago Bears dominated them 24-0 at Paul Brown Stadium.

    Marvin Lewis continues to be unimpressive as there may not be a coach in the NFL that does the least with the most. From top-to-bottom the Bengals have as much talent as anyone in the NFL, yet they continue to wallow in mediocrity. First-year defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s defense has struggled in October. Over the last three weeks, the Bengals have allowed 35.6 points per game (107 total points). The first three games the team allowed a total of 33 points.

 

  1. The absence of A.J. Green in Cincinnati puts the emphasis of the offense on Giovani Bernard. In the loss to Indianapolis, Bernard had his lowest amount of carries (seven) since week nine last season when he had nine. He touched the football nine times total against the Colts. How does your best offensive option touch the football only nine times? Obviously Bernard does not call the offensive plays. Those duties belong to Hue Jackson and he needs to be more creative in finding ways to get the versatile tailback for the football. Do you see a trend in Cincinnati? The coaching staff simply has to do a better job of putting their players in a position to win and it appears the staff is failing magnificently in that regard.

 

  1. Brian Hoyer is not out of the woods yet in holding Johnny Manziel from starting job.

    While Browns’ fans are extremely disappointed their team allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars to taste victory for the first time in 2014, the fans aren’t shocked about the result. Coming off an emotional home win one week ago against their rival the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns lost to their old AFC Central opponent. Quarterback Brian Hoyer was dreadful, completing 16 of the 41 passes he attempted for 215 yards and one interception. His 46 passer rating and completion percentage of 39 are so bad that they make former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow’s numbers look…better. The leash is held so tight on Hoyer that each misstep allows the back-up first-round pick Johnny Manziel to take one step closer to the starting job in Cleveland.

 

  1. Baltimore is the place to go for aging receivers.

    Steve Smith, Sr. was the face of the franchise in Carolina. The Panthers’ all-time leading receiver signed with the Ravens this past spring and the rebirth of his career has followed. Smith had gone 18 straight games without going over 100 yards receiving, but in 2014 he’s had four in the Ravens’ seven games. There is precedent for this as the Arizona Cardinals traded receiver Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens for third and fourth-round draft picks back in 2010. Boldin led all Baltimore receivers in catches the three seasons he played with the Ravens. Smith is following the same path as Boldin as he leads the team with 38 catches for 640 yards receiving. Torrey Smith is tied with Smith for the most receiving touchdowns with four. Joe Flacco must like new faces with experience because they have become his favorite targets.

 

  1. The AFC North has their version of Gilligan’s Island.

    The topic that is still discussed to this day is which stranded beauty was sexier- Mary Ann, the girl next store or Ginger, the glamorous movie star. It may sound odd, but that is the case of who’s the best receiver in the division between sixth-round pick Antonio Brown from Central Michigan or first-round pick A.J. Green from Georgia. Brown has 23 straight games with at least five catches for 50 yards which is an NFL record. Meanwhile the Bengals’ anxiously await the return of their star receiver who is ailing from an toe injury.

 

  1. The Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC North.

    Baltimore clearly has established itself as the only consistent team in the division. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Cleveland have demonstrated a failure to deliver strong performances week in and week out. Those three teams do a great impersonating Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde going a combined 10-8-1 on the season showing moments of brilliance and domination; Then only to trip over their own feet the next week looking like a team vying for the top pick in the NFL Draft.

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.

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