AFC North Division round-up: Baltimore Ravens up/down September
You can take Ben Roethlisberger off the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they still have a defense to carry them to a few wins.
Pittsburgh sits at a lowly 1-3 on the year with their only win coming against the hapless Cincinnati Bengals. Still, it is an important AFC North win that will come in handy down the road. The Steelers are still very much alive in the AFC North race. However, their hopes for a division title and playoff berth are within the hands of second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph has looked solid through his first couple starts, but his play will need to be elevated if he plans to compete in this division. The Cleveland Browns have a talented squad and the Baltimore Ravens can put up points at will. Can he keep pace with them offensively? Right now, it’s hard to place that much faith in him, but at least he has some help.
James Conner will power the offense as best he can, even if it is mediocre compared to his 2018 campaign. Even as a silent force, team’s still respect JuJu Smith-Schuster enough to leave their ace-cornerbacks on him. It takes one mistake for him to make a big-play.
Defensively, Pittsburgh once again has the leagues best pass rush. An improved secondary could help make the Steelers defensive unit one good enough to carry them to a .500 or better record. It will take a lot, but Pittsburgh is anything but eliminated from the AFC North crown; and the Browns and Ravens better keep a close eye on them…
The AFC North has not been as competitive as we once believed it would be in 2019. Still, the race for first will be an intriguing one if the Pittsburgh Steelers can right their ship and hang in there with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.