AFC North Afternoon Roundup

AFC North Afternoon Roundup
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Somebody put a helmet on this guy

In AFC North news this week, The Bengals are fresh off off their 8th win in as many tries, Mike Pettine stirs up controversy at halftime, the Ravens are overly optimistic about the 2nd half, and the Steelers socialize with Vontez Burfict.



Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens seem to be much more optimistic than the rest of the world about the second half of their season.


My Take: You’re telling me there’s a chance.
Sure, the competition isn’t as strong as it appeared to be during pre-season predictions, and they have five of their next seven at home, so their chances of going 8-0 are not zero. If they address their wide-receiver issue comprised mostly of undrafted free-agents, they potentially could out score the offensively challenged competition remaining. Unfortunately, the defense would also have to stop teams from scoring. Their cornerbacks would need to actually work as a unit and stop giving up easy 80-yard TD strikes. The defensive front would need to start pressuring the quarterback by rushing four. Their linebackers would have to suddenly gain the ability to cover a tight end. Finally, the defense as a collective unit would actually have to start causing turnovers. If they make all of these improvements, stay away from injuries, get lucky, and see their 1st round draft pick make 2015 contributions, they may get half way there.


Cleveland Browns


Johnny Manziel actually looked fairly decent in the first half last night, but NFL commentators and Browns fans weren’t thrilled with Mike Pettine’s halftime assessment of his starting quarterback.


My Take: In my opinion what Pettine said was fair and included praise and constructive criticism, but maybe could have been worded differently:
“He’s making some plays out of the pocket. There’s a couple of balls that we want him to make from in the pocket, but you can’t argue with his production. He’s done a nice job throwing the ball on the run. We’ll get him calmed down a little bit in the second half and hopefully get some more production.”
The reaction of Marshal Faulk combined with Manziel’s second half performance has blown this issue out of proportion. Marshall Faulk has not had to personally deal with Manziel’s antics on and off the field for two years, which may be another reason Pettine’s answer wasn’t 100% “Kumbaya”. However, it is understandable that fans would be fueled by any controversy around Pettine, justified or not, because the Browns, who showed so much promise through week 12 last season, are now 2-7, and have lost 12 of their last 14 games.


Cincinnati Bengals


The Bengals are 8-0, could set many team records by the end of the season, and have been winning in many different ways


My Take: Every week it seems as though if one unit is lagging, the rest of the team picks them up. They also don’t seem to be rattles by the negative play as they have in past years. What I see is that they simply wear teams down over the course of a game, and have a clear advantage in the 2nd half, an advantage that gets even more dramatic in the 4th quarter. Over the past five games, they have outscored their opponents 32-20 in the 3rd, and 47-7 in the 4th and OT.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Although a Steeler also predicted 8-0 in the second half, and the team made some yawning roster moves (the release of seldom used Dri Archer, and addition of an unproductive Jacoby Jones), the TMZ in me can’t ignore Bengals/Steelers December 13th, 2015 after the twitter fight this week.


My Take: I guess Twitter fights are the 2010s version of an 80s dance off (non-violent), but threatening someone using slang or other used to be a criminal offense. The problem is its very entertaining, and similar to an old-school heavyweight fight (at least during the Ali to Tyson era). Its also one of a thousand reasons athletes should delete their Twitter accounts. I for one will be tuning in to the week 14 matchup and I hope they flex the game so (currently at 1pm) so I have a better shot at watching it in my area. Currently the 4pm game is Raiders @ Denver, and the primetime Sunday night game is Seahawks @ Ravens. There is only one risk. Vontez, whether he meant to hurt Bell or not, is quickly building up a stupidity resume, and who knows what he will do between now and then to keep him from playing in that game.

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