There wasn’t a whole lot to feel happy about Monday morning for the Ravens.
But after a frustrating 23-20 loss in Buffalo, one thing that gave Head Coach John Harbaugh some comfort was the fact that his team was still in first place in the AFC North.
With the Browns’ Week 4 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, there is a three-way tie for the top spot. The Ravens, Bengals and Browns are all 2-2.
“It’s a consolation, no doubt,” Harbaugh said. “It’s week-to-week in the National Football League. Here we sit; we’re tied for the lead in our division with a tiebreaker on Cleveland. And if I’m in Pittsburgh, I’m looking at it like, ‘We’re two games out of the lead in the division.’ They’re right there.”
The AFC is dominating the NFC in cross-conference games, creating more distance between the Ravens and the top teams in the conference. Six AFC teams have better records than Baltimore.
There are a lot of games left to be played. But as it stands now, the Ravens’ best chance of reaching the playoffs is to win the division. It’s still up for grabs.
“Whoever wins the division games is going to win the division,” Harbaugh said. “But, we can do our cause a whole lot of good by going down to Miami and playing our best and winning the football game. That’s going to be our objective.”
Here’s a look at the rest of the AFC North through the season’s first quarter:
Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
The Bengals were riding high after home wins over Pittsburgh and Green Bay. But they were held to just six points on two field goals Sunday in Cleveland. Their other loss was to the Bears in the season opener. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw two interceptions and fumbled twice. Through four games, Dalton is completing just over 50 percent of his passes to top target A.J. Green, and the Pro Bowl wide receiver is averaging a career-low 11.5 yards per catch. Rookie running back Giovani Bernard is starting to flash his potential as a playmaking weapon.
Cleveland Browns (2-2)
The Browns were written off when they traded perhaps their best player in running back Trent Richardson for a first-round pick two weeks ago. They were winless at the time. Since then, they’ve won two straight games against Minnesota and Cincinnati. Quarterback Brian Hoyer has taken over for Brandon Weeden and put up 590 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Tight end Jordan Cameron has been a big-time player with five touchdowns and the return of suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon has added the big play (14 catches, 217 yards, one touchdown).
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
The Steelers are 0-4 for the first time in 45 years and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said they’re the worst team in the NFL. Pittsburgh is losing in the trenches, where it used to make a name for itself as the league’s bully. The Steelers are 29th in rushing yards per game (58) and 29th in opponents’ rushing yards per game (122.8). Pittsburgh is losing by more than 10 points per contest and coming off a defeat from previously winless Minnesota in London. The Steelers also lost to Tennessee, Cincinnati and Chicago.