While the Pittsburgh Steelers may be sulking in the corner at the moment after posting a 0-1-1 record in their first two games, the good news is that this was a bad week for the AFC North as a whole, with the Cleveland Browns also losing their contest yesterday to the New Orleans Saints.
The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals already squared off against each other on Thursday night, with the Bengals emerging victorious, so they stand atop the division right now on their own with a 2-0 record after posting losing seasons in consecutive years.
The Ravens exploded offensively in their season opener, but came back down to reality against the Bengals, and are now 1-1 on the year, with the Browns matching the Steelers’ 0-1-1 record. It’s true that Pittsburgh is tied for the worst record in the division, but the good news is that nobody looks like they’re going to run away with things.
And I mean that regarding the on-field play, not the records, since it would be ridiculous to make such an observation two weeks into the season. The worst possible outcome one could have through two games is being two games behind with 14 left to play.
But even with the Bengals getting off to a 2-0 start, they haven’t necessarily looked like the Cincinnati team of 2015 that ran away with the division and should have beaten the Steelers in the postseason even without their starting quarterback, Andy Dalton.
Make no mistake, A.J. Green has been playing at another level. After scoring three touchdowns against the Ravens, he now has four on the season with 11 receptions for 161 yards. He had 61 touchdown receptions on his career now, which puts him in front of Antonio Brown, who has 60.
Yet Green has always been a strong performer against the Ravens, for whatever reason, and Joe Flacco has always struggled against the Bengals. Cincinnati usually has Baltimore’s number, especially at home, where Thursday’s game was played, and their victory in week one was not convincing either.
The Browns? Well, it’s been a long time since they’ve won a game, so we can just leave it at that. And the Ravens still have a lot to prove as well, particularly concerning the stability of their offensive line, and their ability to put pressure on the quarterback.
The Steelers will get a chance to face each of their division rivals soon enough. Following their Week Three game in Tampa Bay, they will host the Ravens, then visit Cincinnati two weeks later before hosting the Browns, and then traveling to Baltimore.
Four of the next six games will be AFC North football. So we should know soon enough more about the character not just of the Steelers, but of the division at large.