AFC North Breakdown – Week 8

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(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 8 of the 2008 NFL regular season was all about bounties in the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens made good on a bounty against the wounded Oakland Raiders, the Cincinnati Bengals failed in their search for their first win, the Cleveland Browns morphed from being the hunted to becoming the hunter, and the Pittsburgh Steelers let a sure capture against the world champions get away from them.

Let’s try to find some insight in this AFC North wrap-up.

Baltimore Ravens (4-3):

Looking Back: Tough week in the media for the Baltimore Ravens, thanks to Terrell Suggs. He talked up a locker room bounty against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and called out starting quarterback Joe Flacco. This was on top of reported beef between head coach John Harbaugh and All-Pro cornerback Chris McAlister. Any more tension in that locker room, and something was bound to snap.

What wound up snapping was the Ravens offense, and then Cam Cameron added a little crackle and pop to the mix. Troy Smith emerged, Joe Flacco caught a long pass, and Ray Rice gained yards like the Ravens were playing Louisville.

Looking Forward: The Ravens visit the Browns this Sunday, and it will surely be a dog fight. Clashing defenses, inconsistent offenses, and plenty of booing. Perfect set-up for an AFC North rivalry game.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-8):

Looking Back: Just let me know when you’re tired of reading my attempts at reviewing the Cincinnati Bengals. For eight weeks, they’ve done the exact same thing in nearly the exact same way. Dog the Bounty Hunter hasn’t had to come find members of the team, but they sucked in a major way against Houston.

Looking Forward: Chad Ocho Cinco should re-up on those trade demands. Something interesting has to happen with this franchise because Carson Palmer being out and no offense or defense to speak of is getting more difficult to dress up.

Cleveland Browns (3-4):

Looking Back: Surprise, surprise. The Cleveland Browns made short work of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Derek Anderson played mistake free, Jamal Lewis showed that he still deserves a job, and the Brown defense showed it has what it takes to win in the fourth quarter.

Looking Forward: It will be a home showdown with the Ravens this Sunday. A win by the Browns will put them back in the mix in the division, and will draw more ire from Cleveland fans about why LeBron James should support the local teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2):

Looking Back: They came into the game against the Giants with a top ranked defensive unit and a quarterback who seemed to be on top of his game. But surprisingly, Hines Field remained in tact and the Steelers fell apart against the Super Bowl champions. The run killed them, and the Giants defense stifled them. Miscues sealed the deal in the latter stages of the game.

Looking Forward: The Steelers will have their hands full in a Monday night match-up with the Washington Redskins. They will be facing the hottest running back in the NFL in Clinton Portis, a tremendous passing game, and a balanced defense.

If that sounds familiar, remember that Steely McBeam says this is all a dream, and that the Steelers are the only team with power running and balanced defense in the NFL.