AFC North: Ravens, Steelers are teams to watch in Week 14 | Steel City Underground

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SCU AFC North Preview

Week 13 of the 2018 NFL regular season was unkind to several teams with postseason aspirations. Teams in the AFC North were not immune. The only team to walk out of the week with a win was the Baltimore Ravens, a team that looked like its season was over at the halfway mark. The Pittsburgh Steelers' loss to the Los Angeles Chargers was a wake-up call that the team had better make adjustments a.s.a.p. if they hope to hold onto the division lead, let alone claim the division title. The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are already looking ahead to what next season might offer them. Week 14 will be even more important now to the Ravens and Steelers, making them the teams to watch.

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Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

Baltimore may have found new life with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, but they still aren't producing in the passing game like they are in the ground game offensively. Jackson completed just 12-of-21 passes for 125 against the Atlanta Falcons and was once again asked to be active in the run. Yes, Baltimore is employing a run-pass option that has gotten players like Gus Edwards engaged more, but how effective it will be against the Chiefs defense remains to be seen.

Kansas City is allowing opponents just 122.0 rushing yards per game. They've allowed 14 rushing touchdowns, however, and Jackson has Ty Montgomery and Kenneth Dixon to give Edwards a breather as needed. They also rank at the bottom of the league in yards-per-game allowed (433.1). Where the Chiefs have been effective has been in logging the second-most sacks through 13 weeks, ranked at number two (behind the Pittsburgh Steelers) with 39.0 and have logged 11 interceptions for two defensive touchdowns.

The fact that the Chiefs offense has been a feisty, high-scoring bunch can't be ignored. Leading the AFC West, Kansas City (10-2) top the league in scoring with 37 points per game; they lead in yards per play, rank third in passing yards. The offense sits in the top five across the NFL in several other categories. With Patrick Mahomes as their signal-caller, the Chiefs jumped off the stats sheet to become real contenders. Saying that, they'll have to earn every yard to put points on the scoreboard against a Baltimore team that currently boasts a league-best defense in points-per-game allowed (17.8) and total yards allowed (281.7); they rank second in shutting down the pass and third in shutting down the run. The Ravens also have 35 sacks.

Spencer Ware is expected to get the nod to carry the rushing load for the Chiefs after Kareem Hunt's suspension, but Kansas City signed Charcandrick West this week to help in the run game.

"We're going to face, arguably, the best offense in the league on Sunday. We just have to go to work." - Ravens head coach John Harbaugh

Game Info
Date: Sunday, Dec. 09, 2018
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City)
TV: CBS
Radio: 98 Rock | WBAL 1090 AM (Baltimore Market)

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Steelers at Oakland Raiders

With Pittsburgh coming off of back-to-back losses (Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers), this week's game is close to a must-win if the team wants to retain a spot in the AFC playoffs after the result of Week 13 knocked them out of a possible first-round bye. Still, after this team was able to get on track to earn a 7-4-1 record after a terrible start to the 2018 season, the Steelers can't afford to lose focus on the games ahead of them - and it starts by not overlooking the Raiders.

The Steelers hold a lead, albeit slim, over rival Baltimore. The two teams have already faced each other in their annual duo of games and split the series.

Oakland enters the game with a 2-10 record, but they're not expected to just roll over and let the Steelers win. In Week 13, the Raiders gave the Chiefs a fight even though they lost, 33-40. It was one of the best performances the Raiders have put together in 2018. "You saw what they did last week against one of the best teams in football," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this week, "fought them all the way to the end."

Without James Conner (ankle), Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley, and Trey Edmunds will be called upon to step up in the ground game.

"We know how important (it) is that you need to be playing your best football in December, going into January. This is a big stretch for us... If we want to be a playoff caliber team and make the playoffs, we need to have this kind of [successful] stretch." - Ben Roethlisberger

Related:

Game Info
Date: Sunday, Dec. 09, 2018
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. (EST)
Location: Oakland Coliseum (California)
TV: FOX
Radio: SNR • WDVE 102.5 FM • WBGG 970 AM (Pittsburgh Market)
Other ways to watch/listen

Division Standings Through Week 13

Team W L T PF PA Streak Division Conference
PIT 7 4 1 346 282 L2 3-1-1 4-4-1
BAL 7 5 0 297 214 W3 2-3 6-3
CIN 5 7 0 286 371 L4 1-3 3-5
CLE 4 7 1 266 312 L1 2-1-1 3-5-1

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Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers

Cincinnati's hopes for the playoffs is a long-shot at 5-7. They'll travel to face a Chargers team that caught the Steelers off-guard in Week 13. If the Bengals hope to get into the postseason, they'll need a win on Sunday, then win out against the Raiders, Browns, and Steelers while looking for help from other teams. Given their 1-6 win-loss stretch in recent weeks, things are not in their favor.

Game Info
Date: Sunday, Dec. 09, 2018
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. (EST)
Location: ROKIT FIELD AT STUBHUB CENTER (Los Angeles)
TV: CBS
Radio: 700WLW • ESPN 1530 • 102.7 WEBN (Cincinnati Market)

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Browns vs. Carolina Panthers

Baker Mayfield still has the mindset to get Cleveland back to being a relevant team in the NFL despite a loss to the Texans last weekend and facing the Panthers at home this weekend. Mayfield threw for 397 yards and a touchdown in Week 13, but his three interceptions put the Browns in a hole they couldn't climb out of.

Sitting at the bottom of the AFC North isn't where the Browns would like to be after seeing a big win over the Bengals. Head coach Gregg Williams is still not counting his team out as they host the Panthers in Week 14. "The biggest thing is day-by-day improvement, day-by-day competition, and winning," Williams said in his weekly press conference. "We have to defend formationally and can't be chasing ghosts... We have to play the right way."

Game Info
Date: Sunday, Dec. 09, 2018
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
TV: FOX
Radio: ESPN 850 • 92.3 The Fan • 98.5 WNCX (Cleveland Market)

AFC Playoff Picture Week 14

  • No. 1 - Kansas City Chiefs (10-2) — Opponents: vs. Ravens (7-5), vs. Chargers (9-3), at Seahawks (7-5), vs. Raiders (2-10)
  • No. 2 - New England Patriots (9-3) — Opponents: at Dolphins (6-6), at Steelers (7-4-1), vs. Bills (4-8), vs. Jets (3-9)
  • No. 3 - Houston Texans (9-3) — Opponents: vs. Colts (6-6), at Jets (3-9), at Eagles (5-6), vs. Jaguars (4-8)
  • No. 4 -  Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) — Opponents: at Raiders (2-10), vs. Patriots (9-3), at Saints (10-2), vs. Bengals (5-7)
  • No. 5 - Los Angeles Chargers (9-3) — Opponents: vs. Bengals (5-7), at Chiefs (10-2), vs. Ravens (7-5), at Broncos (6-6)
  • No. 6 - Baltimore Ravens (7-5) — Opponents: at Chiefs (10-2), vs. Buccaneers (5-7), at Chargers (9-3), vs. Browns (4-7-1)




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