Browns: Another Defeat Drops Browns to 2-6
Having lost four straight games, the Cleveland Browns (2-6) are in trouble. They lost to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, 24-19, in the first career start for Denver quarterback Brandon Allen, who replaced Joe Flacco.
This wasn't what the Browns expected in September when they were favored by many to win the AFC North. The farther Cleveland falls behind division-leading Baltimore (6-2), the more difficult it will be for the Browns – the preseason favorites in many pundits' eyes – to get back into the race.
The Browns, who are amidst a four-game losing streak, have a lot going on.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield drew a lot of attention for his facial hair, which was shaved into different looks before and after the game.
After halftime, the NFL told wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to change cleats for the second half or they wouldn't be allowed to play. According the league, the shoe colors of Beckham and Landry did not conform to rules.
After the game, safety Jermaine Whitehead posted several threatening messages on social media. The threatening posts were directed at people who criticized his performance after Whitehead played with a brace on his left hand and missed several tackles.
Sunday night, the Browns issued a statement calling safety Whitehead's tweets "unacceptable and highly inappropriate" and on Monday, they parted ways with the veteran, even though he had started all eight games.
Meanwhile, just eight games into his first season as head coach, Freddie Kitchens was answering questions about his job security.
"It really doesn't concern me," Kitchens said via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It's not my decision. I've never worried about it before, I'm not worried about it now. I'm not going to worry about it in the future. I'll just do the best job I can do."
It won't get easier this weekend when the Browns host the Buffalo Bills (6-2). Cleveland is 0-3 at home this season, while Buffalo is unbeaten (3-0) on the road.
Steelers: Steelers Happy to Be 4-4 at Midway Point
The Steelers may now be the Ravens' biggest threat in the division after notching their third straight win Sunday versus the Indianapolis Colts, 26-24. Pittsburgh now sits two games back at 4-4.
Trading a 2020 first-round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick continued to pay dividends. A 96-yard pick-six by Fitzpatrick changed the game's momentum, with Pittsburgh trailing 10-3 just before halftime. Instead of falling behind by two scores, Fitzpatrick's touchdown tied the game. It was Fitzpatrick's fourth interception since being traded from the Miami Dolphins to Pittsburgh in Week 3.
Pittsburgh held on for the victory when veteran Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri missed a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal during the final two minutes.
After losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season and starting 1-4, the Steelers have refused to fold and now are preparing to host the Los Angeles Rams. The Steelers just keep finding ways to win, even if it's not pretty.
"It's good to be .500 at the turn," Head Coach Mike Tomlin said via the team's website. "We'll work forever trying to get that September stench off of us, but that's life in this thing. I appreciate the effort and fight. It's good be sitting at 4-4. I never thought I'd hear myself say that."
Bengals: A.J. Green Is Coming Back to Face Ravens
After a bye week, the winless Bengals (0-7) are hoping some new injections into the lineup will help them get their first victory Sunday when they host the Ravens.
The Bengals could see star wide receiver A.J. Green will make his season debut against the Ravens after missing the first seven games following ankle surgery. Green was on the practice field Monday.
Fourth-round draft pick Ryan Finley will make his first start at quarterback, and Head Coach Zac Taylor is doing everything he can make sure Finley is ready.
"He's done everything we've asked him to do so far," Taylor said via the team's website. "He had a good training camp. He's absorbed the playbook the right way as any backup would. He had a great college career. That's why we drafted him. He's got a very calm demeanor, a consistent demeanor. I think the guys will respond to that. He throws with great anticipation and accuracy. He's got good touch down the field and he can extend plays in the pocket a little bit."