Check out the latest storylines and takeaways from around the AFC North as we evaluate the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the Baltimore Ravens 33-16 win over the Houston Texans, they are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for first place in the AFC North. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines around the division.
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Cleveland Browns: Pound the rock
I know the Browns want to be flashy at times and get the ball into the hands of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, but for Cleveland, their gameplay should be simple this year: run the football. The Browns might have the best running back duo in the NFL, let alone the AFC North consisting of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb and Hunt combined for 210-yards rushing on 32 carries and four total touchdowns in their Thursday night win over the Cincinnati Bengals. With production like that, it’s almost a lock that a team with that much success on the ground will win.
Baker Mayfield seemed to play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, something we saw from him during his rookie season. His highlight play of the night came when he found Beckham Jr. in stride for a touchdown off of a play-action fake. The Browns will be best suited this year if they can use their run game to open up the passing game, instead of predictable forced throws, something we saw much of in Cleveland’s week one loss to Baltimore.
Chubb was second in the NFL last season in rushing yards with 1494, and second in yards per game among running backs with 93.4. Adding in Hunt with a year of experience in Cleveland should give defense’s nightmares, and on Thursday night it did. Granted, the Bengals defense is not one of the more skilled units in the league, but nonetheless, the Browns did what they were supposed to. Aside from one interception, Mayfield threw for 219-yards with two touchdowns and posted a quarterback rating of 98.0.
The Browns should have found their identity on offense as they face the Washington Football Team next Sunday at 1 p.m.