Analyzing the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers’ Biggest Weaknesses in the Crowded AFC North Division Race
The AFC North Division has seen a lot of change this season, with the Bengals’ surprise 4-3 start to power them into first place. The Browns are in second place at 3-4 and vying for supremacy against Baltimore (2nd at 4-3), Pittsburgh (1st but on bye week) and Cincinnati.
The “afc north predictions 2021” is a blog post that analyzes the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers’ Biggest Weaknesses in the Crowded AFC North Division Race.
Highlights of the article:
- Week to week, the AFC North battle may shift considerably.
- Each of the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers has major flaws.
- In Week 12, the four teams compete for dominance.
The Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield reacts after their game against the Baltimore Ravens | Jason Miller/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game versus the Cincinnati Bengals | Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Right now, the AFC North seems to be the greatest division in the NFL. In 2021, the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers all have a chance to win the division. Week 12 might be crucial, as Cincinnati goes to Pittsburgh and Cleveland visits Baltimore.
With a razor-thin margin separating the teams in the rankings, this might be a game of inches. Here are the greatest flaws of each of the four teams as we enter a crucial week.
The offensive line of the Cincinnati Bengals is inconsistent.
The offensive tackles have been the backbone of the Bengals offensive line this season.
Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff were both beaten off the edge this time, resulting in Joe Burrow’s fumble. Another pass protection play that leads to a game-changing play.
November 21, 2021 — Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__)
Joe Burrow’s first season was cut short by poor offensive line performance in the last six games. Perhaps it should have been a top objective for the Cincinnati Bengals coming into the 2021 season. The front office did its best to put a band-aid on the problem.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bengals controversially passed on offensive lineman Penei Sewell in favor of wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Cincinnati made the correct choice, despite some initial skepticism. Chase has delivered on what he promised and more.
The Bengals’ offensive line, led by Jonah Williams, Quinton Spain, and Trey Hopkins, has had some strong moments. The unit’s inconsistency, on the other hand, might be a problem down the stretch. Burrow has been sacked 28 times, which ranks third in the NFL.
The other AFC North teams all have strong pass rushes, which may signal problems for the Bengals if their offensive line fails to show up one week.
Baker Mayfield is hampered for the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns’ 2021 season will be defined by how they handled Baker Mayfield’s injury.
November 21, 2021 — Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod)
The Cleveland Browns started 2021 with sky-high aspirations that never seemed to match reality. Up until now, their season has been marked by drama and strife. There should be no more excuses now that Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer in town, right?
The buzz began when the Browns thrashed the Bengals in their first game without OBJ. Then, in Week 10, the Browns got a taste of their own medicine when the New England Patriots handed them a taste of their own medicine. It’s difficult to know what to make of this group.
However, one thing is certain: Baker Mayfield is far from perfect. He’s been dealing with a number of problems, including a shoulder injury. “All indicators point to coach Kevin Stefanski staying with Mayfield as his starter,” The Athletic reports.
Mayfield hasn’t performed well since the Cincinnati game, which is worrying as the Browns prepare for a key AFC North battle against Baltimore.
Defending the pass for the Baltimore Ravens
Now it’s time for the Ravens. My favorite fact: The Ravens have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, but it’s not because of completion % (at all), but because of yards, YPA, and huge plays. So let’s hope Baker recovers quickly, because that ain’t Keenum. #Browns
November 22, 2021 — JSS (@JScottShep)
The Baltimore Ravens are presently leading the AFC North by a slim margin, but they have a major issue on their hands. In 2021, teams are wary of Wink Martindale’s defense, mostly because of the secondary.
Every week, the Ravens’ defense gives up a huge play that has the potential to influence the game’s result. After giving up a late Andy Dalton touchdown bomb in Week 11 against the Bears, Tyler Huntley salvaged the team.
The Ravens have done well against the run, but pass defense has been a different story. Opposing offenses are averaging just over 281 passing yards per game against the Ravens. They’ve given up 16 throwing touchdowns, which isn’t a huge quantity.
Marcus Peters and DeShon Elliott’s injuries have certainly hurt this defense, which has blown a bunch of coverages this season. The Ravens must prevent big plays or they will have to rely on Lamar Jackson to save them every week.
Stopping the run for the Pittsburgh Steelers
We must no longer consider the Steelers to be a good defense.
They have allowed the most run yards per attempt, the 12th highest throw yards per attempt, and just four interceptions all season.
Joe Mixon is a must-start, Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow should be starters, and Andrew Luck is a great flex option.
November 27, 2021 — Michelle Magdziuk (@BallBlastEm)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a tough team to assess. Right now, Mike Tomlin’s team isn’t sure who they are.
Pittsburgh is noted for their ability to both run and stop the football. In 2021, the Steelers haven’t fared well in either category. The defensive side of the ball, on the other hand, is a little more worrying.
The Steelers’ defense has allowed the most running yards per attempt (4.8), tying the Minnesota Vikings for first place. That’s all there is to the Steel Curtain. Keith Butler’s team has been severely harmed by injuries to Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt up front. Teams who can’t stop the run have a hard time getting off the field, which is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The Bengals, Browns, and Ravens all excel at running the ball. For a club seeking to win the division or sneak into the playoffs, this is a major issue.
The AFC North is wide open, and to gain an advantage, the four clubs must exploit one other’s flaws.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
RELATED: AFC North Strength of Schedule: Who Has the Best Chance to Win the Division at Halftime?
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The “afc north ravens” is a team in the AFC North Division. The Bengals, Browns, and Ravens are three teams that are competing for this division title. One of the biggest weaknesses of these teams is their lack of depth at wide receiver.
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