AFC North Breakdown - Week 7

(Jarrett Carter writes for The Ebony Bird, which is FSB’s Ravens blog. Representing the rest of the AFC North are Dawg Pound Daily, Nice Pick Cowher and Stripe Hype.)

Week 7 of the 2008 NFL regular season was change for more of the same in the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens put themselves back into contention with a big win against a lowly team, the Cincinnati Bengals lost again in unremarkable fashion, the Cleveland Browns did their best to show that playing badly is what they do best, and the Pittsburgh Steelers showed that beating the Bengals is what they do to prepare for the rest of the league.

This is our moment. A trip around the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens (3-3):

Looking Back: The Ravens showed people something in their win over the Dolphins. On the good side, they showed that they can turn the defense on when its necessary. On the bad side, they aren’t good at determining when its necessary to turn the defense on.

Joe Flacco showed that he can complete an entire game without looking flustered or out of sync in the offense. Now, if we could just get that fumbling problem fixed, the rest of the league would know that hitting him is not the football equivalent of a turnover slot machine.

Looking Forward: The Raiders visit Baltimore this weekend, which means one of two things: a lower-scoring game than an Orioles-Royals rain-out, or Al Davis’ first thoughts about what it will take to sign Ray Lewis in the off-season.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-7):

Looking Back: The truth is, there’s only so much you can put together on a team that’s just not built to win. What the offense can give you in the way of success, the defense takes away from you in the way of continuity. Both sides will be good one day, but this season likely won’t have one of those days.

Looking Forward: They draw the Houston Texans this weekend, so the sense is that they can get a win. The sense is that they should get a win.

They probably won’t win.

Cleveland Browns (2-4):

Looking Back: And we’re back. Two games into the NFC East, and you can’t make a determination about who this Browns team is. Granted, it is elite competition they are facing, and a loss against the Washington Redskins is nothing to be ashamed of. Unless its on the heels of a convincing win over the defending Super Bowl champions; then you should be ashamed.

Looking Forward: The Browns are at the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. Kellen Winslow doesn’t feel loved, and the whispers about Brady Quinn will be rising should Derek Anderson start slow. At least Braylon Edwards is still fly.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1):

Looking Back: They beat the Bengals. What more do you want me to say?

Looking Forward: This whole Mewelde Moore thing is working out well for the Steelers, isn’t it? Everything is clicking for Pittsburgh, from Ben Roethelisberger’s mastery of the game, to Hines Ward playing headhunter against opposing linebackers. They host the Giants this weekend, and either way it plays out, the Black and Gold is looking pretty good these days.

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