AFC North

AFC North Week 13 Recap

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AFC North Week 13 Recap
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What a week lucky 13 was for the AFC North, a division trending up and gaining confidence. The North went undefeated for the first time this season, out scoring their three opponents 94 to 34, and it didn’t seem like it was that close.
 
The success allowed the Ravens and Steelers to keep pace with the AFC wildcard leaders, and essentually boosting the division top spot two games over the AFC South in the race for a 3-seed (due to tiebreakers). Unfortunately beyond that, not much changed in terms of playoff seeding, and the Bengals wildcard hopes, despite their impressive win, were basically finished. They are not out of the division race, but the winner of the Ravens/Steelers game would have to lose their remaining three and the Bengals would need to finish the season undefeated. Its likely too little too late for them.
 
Philadelphia Eagles @ Cincinnati Bengals
 
The Bengals played like, well, like a Bengals team everyone expected in 2016, taking advantage of an Eagles squad led by a rookie QB going through growing pains.
 
Highlights:
Despite missing AJ Green and Gio Bernard (adding to another dismal rushing effort), and losing a couple of fumbles, the Bengals made big plays through the air early and often and scored the game’s first 29 points. Minus the two turnovers, the Bengals played a squeaky clean game (no sacks or INTs, and just three penalties). The Eagles on the other hand imploded with 15-yard penalties and a 3-INT effort from Carson Wentz as the rookie chucked up SIXTY passes into a defense expecting such things because of the lopsided score. The Eagles did try to sneak in runs against the Bengals big defensive line, but found little success.
 
Next up, the Bengals head to Cleveland to face a team that has been desperately preparing for two weeks to get their first win of the season.
Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens
 
The Ravens played like playoff-Ravens, not regular season-Ravens on their way to the biggest win of the season.
 
Highlights:
The Ravens finally joined the fun and won game outside of the division for the first time since September. Like the Bengals game, this one was never in doubt as the Ravens jumped out to an early lead and kept their foot on the gas, while the Dolphins defense seemed to take the 4th quarter off (giving up two 4-play sub 2-minute TD drives in the 4th quarter). The Ravens offensive line played their best game of the season, helping Joe Flacco look like Tom Brady or Joe Montana with an efficient short and mid-range passing attack. Its amazing what a little time will do (and a missing piece or two in the middle of the Dolphins defense). The game also brought a few Ravens fans off of the post-draft ledge as the Ravens 1st round LT outplayed his counterpart dressed in teal.
 
Its the kind of game that drives Ravens fans nuts considering the four games they gave away, three after leading by 10 or more. They should be used to it. Giving away games to lose home playoff games has been the norm for much of the last nine seasons.
 
Next up, the Ravens grab some hope and head to New England to face Belichick and his well prepared minions.
 
New York Giants @ Pittsburgh Steelers
 
The Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in typical Mike Tomlin fashion (safety, field goal, TD, missed 2-point conversion, field goal), and never really looked back despite a couple of hiccups.
 
Highlights:
When in doubt, let Le’Veon Bell do the work. The star running back was thrown to or given the ball 37 times in 67 plays. Add 11 targets to out-of-nowhere TE Ladarious Green, and there was little room for others, although Antonio Brown had another strong TD catch. The Steelers needed little else. Their opportunistic defense plus an interesting game plan by the Giants offense completed the victory. Although there was quite a bit of ref whining after the game, the refs tried to effect the outcome for both teams in one of the worst officiated games in the North this season.
 
Next up, the Steelers head to Buffalo to face Rex Ryan and the Bills potentially in the wet lake-effect snow of western NY.

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