By Gene Winner
AFC NORTH MATCH-UP’S:
How will the division shape up after this weekend’s match-up’s? Take a look at the other teams in the AFC North:
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans
Houston (2-1) possesses some effective weapons in receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster. WR Johnson leads the team with 21 receptions for 316 yards and 2 TD’s. RB Foster sat out last week (strained hamstring) against New Orleans, but is expected to play this Sunday. RB Ben Tate has filled in well averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 100.3 yards per game.
This will be a real test for Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1), particularly their secondary who are currently ranked first against the pass. But that stat could be a little deceiving. After losing to Baltimore, the Steelers defense shut out the Seattle Seahawks in Pittsburgh and then won on the road in a tight game against the Manning-less Indy team. The Steeler’s O-line has some serious issues protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and opening running lanes for their ground game.
The Texans hired Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator and switched to a 3-4 defense. OLB/DE Mario Williams (2 sacks) and DE Antonio Smith (3 sacks) could pose some problems for the Steelers offensive line. Houston added CB Jonathan Joseph (former Bengal) in the offseason. Joseph has 2 interceptions on the season and will likely go up against the Steeler’s WR Mike Wallace.
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns
The Titans (2-1) have started out well under new head coach Mike Munchak. When the Titans bring their ‘A game’ they can win. Ravens fans know that all too well. Can the Titans pull out a win in Cleveland? The bad news for the Titans is that they lost their star receiver Kenny Britt for the season. RB Chris Johnson still hasn’t gotten the rust off from the lengthy holdout.
The Cleveland Browns (2-1) have RB Peyton Hillis back in the line-up. Hillis missed last week’s game with an illness. QB Colt McCoy has been improving and lead a drive in last Sunday’s contest to help put the Browns in front for a win. The Browns run defense has struggled early this year, ranking near the bottom 29th against the run. If RB Chris Johnson has a breakout performance it could be a deciding factor in this match-up.
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals
Will the red hot Bills be able to continue their success? The Bills have much confidence at 3-0 and beating the New England Patriots in dramatic fashion only adds to their early success. The Bills aren’t just a passing team, they have a great run game with Fred Jackson and company. RB Jackson is averaging 6.5 yards per rush (303 rush yds.).
The Bengals (1-2) have been competitive this season. Rookie QB Andy Dalton has been starting for the team. In 3 games started Dalton has 3 touchdown passes and 2 INT’s. He’s thrown for 570 yards with a 61.4 completion percentage.