Week One was not kind to the AFC North in the National Football League. No team in the division won a game, making the division the only winless one in the league. Sort of crazy, right?
The Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals failed to pick up Week one victories, so where do they go from here?
Let’s start off with the reigning, defending Super Bowl champion Ravens. There was much talk surrounding the Ravens in the offseason as the team leader, Ray Lewis, decided to hang up his cleats. Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed is no longer on the team. The defense is almost entirely new, especially with the addition of defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, they ran into Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The champs got smacked 49-27 in the season opener after Manning just annihilated the Baltimore secondary, passing for seven touchdown passes, tying the single-game NFL record.
The Cleveland Browns have high hopes for this season. The defense, which was a solid unit a season ago, will look to make some noise this season. Brandon Weeden is entering his second season and has a lot of improvement to do. He will get that chance under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
The Browns lost to the Miami Dolphins 23-10 in the team’s season opener. Weeden finished the game 26-53 for 289 yards and a touchdown. However, with that came three interceptions, all in the first half. He is throwing to young receivers, but if game one is any indication, he will have a lot of chances to air out the football. Trent Richardson will look to make an impact in his second season, but he has to get the ball first in order to do that.
The Steelers came into the season with a lot of questions to be answered. First off, how will going younger on defense affect the team? Can quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley coexist and make the Pittsburgh offense a juggernaut?
So far, the professional relationship between Roethlisberger and Haley is not off to a good start. The Steelers racked up just 195 yards of offense in a 16-9 loss against the Tennessee Titans. To make matters worse for Big Ben, his offensive line is in shambles after center Maurkice Pouncey was lost to the season due to an ACL and MCL tear. The defense took a hit as well, losing linebacker Larry Foote to a biceps injury.
The Bengals were being talked about all offseason as the team to beat in the AFC North this season. Cincinnati was looked at as the favorite in the division after all the losses the Ravens suffered and the low expectations of the Steelers. Can this team take the next step and win the division?
Cincinnati blew a 21-10 third quarter lead to the Chicago Bears and lost 24-21. Quarterback Andy Dalton looked sharp for most of the game, passing for 282 yards, but his two interceptions were not what the Bengals were hoping for. A.J. Green was a monster in the opening game, catching nine passes for 162 yards and both of Dalton’s touchdown passes.
There is a silver lining for this division because neither team lost any ground. Every team in the division is still on an even keel with one another. This week the division plays itself. The Ravens host the Browns on Sunday and the Steelers and Bengals square off on Monday Night Football on ESPN. Barring any ties (the last one was in 2012 in a game between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams) two teams will be in the win column, while the others will still be winless.