Every week, Steel City Underground previews the Pittsburgh Steelers' AFC North rivals and the opponents those division challengers will go head-to-head against in our 'Rival Report'. In Week 10 of the 2019-20 NFL regular season, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals will face each other in a divisional battle, while the Cleveland Browns host the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Los Angeles Rams.
Bengals would love to play spoiler over Ravens once again
In the past few regular seasons, Cincinnati has done its best to at least split the series between their squad and Baltimore's. The Ravens lead the series 24-23-0 overall and beat the Bengals in Week 6 of this season, 23-17, but this is a matchup that is never truly decided (twice a year) until the final seconds of the game clock click down and the teams head for the locker room.
Granted, this year's Bengals team enters the Week 10 showdown with an 0-8 record while the Ravens are coming off of a big win over the (then-unbeaten) New England Patriots. With news that Carl Lawson, A.J. Green, Andre Smith, Darqueze Dennard, and John Miller returned to practice, the Bengals are hopeful they'll get some of their best playmakers back on the field against the Ravens (although Green is still experiencing setbacks and may not be ready on Sunday).
"(The Ravens are) having a great season right now. They’re doing some good things, so our guys are really excited for the challenge and the great opportunity to start the second half of the season the right way... That’s exciting. That’s fun. That’s life in the AFC North.” - Bengals head coach Zac Taylor
Rookie quarterback Ryan Finley will be going head-to-head against a Lamar Jackson who was ill at least part of this week. "As difficult as this has to be for (Andy Dalton), he's been awesome... very helpful," Finley said this week. "Obviously he's played the Ravens many times in his career, so any insight he can bring to me I'm definitely going to take." While Finley grabs the start, Jackson has been on quite a tear in the NFL this season. He has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week twice this season and has 637 yards of rushing, on pace to shatter the single-season rushing record for a quarterback currently held by Michael Vick (1,039 yards in 2006). Jackson has also logged 1,813 passing yards (64.3 percent completion rate), 12 touchdowns to five interceptions.
Where this game will get interesting is how both defenses step up and respond in this game. If the Bengals can find a way to contain Jackson, they could play spoiler despite their win-loss record this season. It won't be an easy task, as the Patriots discovered (and they are fielding the No. 1 defense in the NFL). Conversely, the Ravens defense will be trying to make sure they've adjusted to a quarterback in Finley that they have yet to get many films on beyond last week and collegiate highlights.
Game Information: Sun 11/10 · 1:00 PM EST (Paul Brown Stadium)
- TV: CBS
- Radio:98 ROCK • WBAL 1090 AM • 101.5 FM (Baltimore Market) - 700WLW • ESPN 1530 • 102.7 WEBN (Cincinnati Market)
- Ravens Injury Report
- Bengals Injury Report
Urgency builds as Browns face Bills
After losing four straight games, the Browns (2-6) - favored by many to win the AFC North - fell four games back in the divisional race and are now feeling a sense of urgency to get back into it. They'll try to get back on track against a Bills team that is off to its best start since 1993.
Buffalo has benefitted from a schedule that has seen them face opponents that have a combined 9-42 record and have trailed or tied each of their opponents in their first five wins before finally shutting the door. Offensively, quarterback Josh Allen has settled down in the pocket during his second season in the league and has been able to orchestrate three fourth-quarter comebacks this year. Defensively, the Bills have held 12 straight opponents to a single passing touchdown or less (the league's longest current streak) and are allowing just 16.4 points per game.
With Baker Mayfield experiencing a sophomore slump of sorts, leading the NFL with 12 interceptions, this is an opportunity for the young quarterback to get back some of his past swagger. He insisted this week that he won't be reinventing himself but thinks that Cleveland's offense is close to being what the team envisioned.
"I have to continue to be me, push (my teammates) to be better... it has to be that I am counting on them and you can count on me to do my job as well." - Baker Mayfield
Cleveland will get running back Kareem Hunt back from an eight-game league suspension for off-field altercations this week. As a rookie (2017) with the Kansas City Chiefs, Hunt led the league in rushing. How Freddie Kitchens and the coaching staff utilize him alongside Nick Chubb in the offensive backfield will be something to keep an eye on and could give Mayfield more options in balancing the play calling on offense.
"It's not like one person is by himself," said veteran safety Morgan Burnett. "We're all in it together... I think you see a person's character when you're going through adversity." One area he feels the Browns, overall, will do better with is consistency. The Browns have been guilty of dealing self-inflicted wounds this season and if they hope to find more wins in the second half of the season they'll need to limit mistakes while pulling together.
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks understands that stopping Buffalo's run game will be key after the Browns defense has struggled to make tackles and limit opponents from gaining yardage against them. "We have to do a great job of staying in our gaps and getting off blocks," Wilks said this week. "The challenge is going to be trying to stop the run game and really try to get (Bills QB) Josh Allen in a situation where he has to drop back and pass the football."
Game Information: Sun 11/10 · 1:00 PM EST (FirstEnergy Stadium)
- TV: CBS
- Radio: ESPN 850 • 92.3 The Fan • 98.5 WNCX (Cleveland Market)
- Browns Injury Report