Week 8 was not kind to the AFC North with all teams losing apart from the Steelers, who were on a bye week! Whilst the Steelers still look to be the force of the North there were still conclusions to be drawn in the ultra-competitive division.
New Orleans Saints 24, Baltimore Ravens 23
The Ravens defence continued its impressive run. This game saw the NFL’s top scoring offense against the top defence. Although the Raven’s lost and it will be a trivia question forever more (against which team did Drew Brees record his 500th passing touchdown?) the defence held the best offence in the league to just 24 points!
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who I questioned in my pre-season preview, has looked rejuvenated in 2018. Flacco has already passed for 2067 yards, 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. This is only 7 less than he threw last year and we’re not even at the halfway point of the season. Once again John Brown was a huge part of this. On 28 receptions John Brown has an average of 19.9 yards, good for 558 yards
Justin Tucker is human after all. When Tucker sliced the potential game tying extra point wide right, it appeared like a glitch in the matrix. It was the first extra point that Tucker had missed in seven years. So far in his career Tucker has converted 222 of 223. That’s 99.6 per cent for those of you keeping score
Kansas City Chiefs 45, Cincinnati Bengals 10
Cincinnati are a 4-3 team but take away A.J. Green and they struggle. When not passing to Green, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed just 8-of-15 passes for 31 yards. Dalton did not look good in this one, throwing several questionable passes, one of which was picked off and returned for a touchdown.
In order to win in the NFL, consistency is key. The Bengals don’t have it on defence. Despite several impressive performances in weeks past, they didn’t show up against the Chiefs. Whilst not helped by a struggling offense, the Bengals repeatedly failed at the basics. A prime example of this was Kareem Hunt’s ridiculous run which you can see here . The Chiefs finished the game with an absurd 551 yards and 33 first downs.
The injury bug is real for Bengals’ tight ends. Cethan Carter was placed on injured reserve before the season even started. Longtime backup Tyler Kroft has a broken bone in his foot and is expected to play any time soon. Tyler Eifert was carted off the field in Week 4 against Atlanta. On Sunday, Mason Schreck was the latest victim, leaving the field on a cart. Unless they are able to trade for someone or sign a guy off the street,their tight ends for the rest of the season will be C.J. Uzomah, Matt Lengel and German import Moritz Bohringer. Former practice squad member Pharaoh Brown (6-6, 258 pounds from Oregon) was added this week to provide depth.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Cleveland Browns 23 (OT)
Penalties kill teams. Hue Jackson has not been able to install an NFL calibre of discipline. The team once again saw their performance dotted with yellow. The Browns collected 14 penalties for a whopping 114 yards. Along with questionable play calling on offence the Browns inability to play a clean game has got fans questioning Hue Jackson’s position. For what it’s worth I see no reason why the Browns’ coach tenure continues should the Browns lose on Sunday?
The Browns offensive line could really do with Joe Thomas. The Browns allowed five sacks on Sunday to a Tampa Bay defensive front that was missing key components like Gerald McCoy and Vinny Curry. If teams like the Giants are unloading talent maybe they make a play for a respected veteran.
Cleveland are too talent laden to be 2-4-1. The young talent on the roster, which clearly should include second round pick Nick Chubb, has seem a significant talent influx the last two years. However, they are not talented enough to fall behind 16-2 in the first half against quality opposition. Despite a valiant second half performance from Baker Mayfield, the team must find a way to play for 60 minutes