Every week, Steel City Underground will preview the Pittsburgh Steelers' AFC North rivals and the opponents those division challengers will go head-to-head against in our 'Rival Report'.
Cleveland visiting New York (Jets)
With all the optimism about the Brown's roster leading into the 2019 NFL regular season, things were brought back down to earth after the offensive line gave an underwhelming performance in Week 1. At this point, the Browns do not look like they have the answers to keeping quarterback Baker Mayfield in tip-top competitive shape from a protection standpoint. The Browns signed offensive guard Colby Gossett to the practice squad this week (releasing CB Donnie Lewis Jr.) and were able to remove guard Kyle Kalis (concussion) from injured reserve, so the offensive line will be a group to watch moving forward.
"We have a lot of people counting us out and we are going to take it one game at a time." - B. Mayfield
With Jets quarterback Sam Darnold ruled out for the game due to a case of mononucleosis, coach Adam Gase will call on veteran Trevor Siemian to run the offense. Browns coach Freddie Kitchens isn't concerned about who the signal-caller will be, saying, "We're going to try to get after the quarterback just like we did before... through coverage, through pressure. Nothing changes."
The Jets threw away a 16-0 second-half lead in Week 1. With Le'Veon Bell coming out of tests on his injured shoulder clear, he could repeat last week's performance that saw him carry the load in the run game.
"Everybody's going to throw us in the trash, and I think that's good," Mayfield told the media this week. "I know what type of men we have in this locker room, and quite frankly, I don't really give a damn what happens on the outside. I know how we're going to react, I know what we're going to do and how we're going to bounce back."
Game Info: Mon 09/16 · 8:15 PM EDT (MetLife Stadium)
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: ESPN 850 • 92.3 The Fan • 98.5 WNCX
Cincinnati hosts San Francisco
The Bengals were able to stand toe-to-toe with the Seahawks for four quarters in Week 1 and only lost by a single point. That makes this week's game one that Bengals fans are excited to see. Cincinnati's defense held Seattle to just 233 yards of total offense while veteran Andy Dalton set a new career best with his 418 passing yards.
The 49ers won the battle in the trenches with a strong defensive front last week, but Dalton didn't express he felt San Francisco was better than Seattle, necessarily. "Everybody has good players. It's the NFL," Dalton told the media. "We’ve only played one game so far. We’ve got a lot of offense left."
Third-year receiver John Ross stepped up in that game and may have put oft-injured A.J. Green on notice as he prepares for another big game on Sunday. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh told reporters in Youngstown, Ohio this week that he feels the San Francisco defensive backfield is prepared to deal with Ross. "John Ross, obviously, is a very fast human being and he's more of a jitterbug, but we see it from our guys... so I don't think there will be an adjustment for it." He brought up that his defense saw Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) during the preseason and that Ross is comparable.
"I loved their energy," head coach Zac Taylor admitted about the Bengals defense under defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. "They play with the energy that we need... but I think if we get a similar performance to that each week, we're going to be in a position to win some games."
Game Info: Sun 09/15 · 1:00 PM EDT (Paul Brown Stadium)
- TV: FOX
- Radio: 700WLW • ESPN 1530 • 102.7 WEBN
Ravens host the Cardinals
After Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson was selected as the FedEx Air NFL Player of Week 1, the Week 2 game will showcase two dual-threat signal-callers in Jackson - who was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 1 - and Kyler Murray. Jackson earned a perfect passer rating of 158.3 leading his team to a victory and looks to build from that against Arizona.
"[Jackson and Murray are] two very dynamic playmakers, no question," Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday. "They could be the future of football if they continue to work and develop."
Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor was asked to quarterback the defense by wearing the headset and being on the field for nearly every defensive snap in Week 1. He led the team with six tackles, one sack, and a pass breakup. The Ravens defense only allowed ten points and forced two turnovers.
"[The Cardinals] are way spread out more than anybody else [on offense]... but we're pretty flexible in the way we organize our defense. We want to be interchangeable. We want to move people around... create matchups... cause confusion." - Ravens head coach John Harbaugh
The area to watch is the Ravens' defensive secondary. After losing starting nickel corner Tavon Young to a neck injury, and without starting corner Jimmy Smith due to a sprained knee in the game with the Dolphins, Anthony Averett will be asked to take a much bigger role. "They always told me to be ready," Averett said after being asked to replace Smith. "I came here to play corner... I was prepared."
Game Info: Sun 09/15 · 1:00 PM EDT (M&T Bank Stadium)
- TV: FOX
- Radio: 98 ROCK • WBAL 1090 AM • 101.5 FM