Since the Ravens were on bye last weekend, let’s take a look at how their division rivals performed.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Last man standing
Following their 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in a battle of unbeaten teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL, standing 6-0. It was a tale of two halves on Sunday for the Steelers, as they came out of the gate strong and were able to hold Derrick Henry and the Titans offense to almost nothing in the first half. It was after the Steelers got out to a 27-7 lead that the game started to get competitive.
Despite Ben Roethisberger’s three interceptions on the day, the Steelers were finally able to incorporate Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster into the offense in a big way. Smith-Schuster had nine catches and led the team with 85 receiving yards against a stout Titans secondary. Johnson also reeled in nine catches for 80 yards and added two touchdowns.
The Steelers should be a bit concerned about their second half effort. The Titans had a few big plays and were able to claw their way back into the game. Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 45-yard field goal that would have tied the game and most likely sent the game to overtime.
Even though they nearly blew it, all credit goes to Pittsburgh. Their defensive line has caused absolute havoc this year, and T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree have done a great job of setting the edge and making opposing quarterbacks lives miserable this season.
It surely is a sight to see when Pittsburgh and Baltimore have two of the best defenses in the league. Next Pittsburgh will travel to Baltimore to face the 5-1 Ravens, in what most anticipate will be one of the best games of the year so far. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns: Baker’s best game
Although the Browns came mighty close to losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, this was probably Baker Mayfield’s best performance of his young career. I could go on all day about Baker’s stats, but this SportsCenter tweet says it all – big struggles in the first quarter, and then a flawless performance after:
Mayfield found rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones for a touchdown on a beautiful 24-yard pass with five seconds left to secure the 37-34 win over the Bengals. Unfortunately, the Browns lost Odell Beckham Jr. for the season with a torn ACL. The momentum that Mayfield was able to build up on Sunday may be enough to offset the loss of Beckham, who often struggled to find chemistry with Mayfield.
The 5-2 Browns will travel home to play the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Cincinnati Bengals: Close, but no cigar
The Cincinnati Bengals narrowly lost to the Browns on Sunday, and their rookie quarterback stood out again. Joe Burrow threw for 406 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The thing thats most impressive about Burrow’s eye-popping stats so far is that he has one of the worst offensive lines and worst defenses in football. When Cincinnati gets more young talent in the building on the line, watch out.
Burrow just looks comfortable right now. Besides the terrible performance in Baltimore, Burrow has been totally worthy of the number one overall pick. Fellow rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins has also started to make himself standout, totaling 71 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. If the Bengals can incorporate him into their offense with A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati is going to rack up a lot of yards through the air during the second half of the season.
It feels like the Bengals have played much better than their 1-5-1 record, but when you have a defense as bad as Cincinnati’s, that happens. Burrow has clearly shown that he can ball, so the Bengals priority needs to be protecting him. Burrow was sacked four times again against the Browns.
The Bengals will remain at home to play the 5-1 Tennessee Titans this upcoming Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.