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Around the AFC North

Posted Oct 29, 2013

BALTIMORE: The Ravens will come off their bye this Sunday via a 1 p.m. rematch with the Browns. Baltimore won the initial meeting this season, 14-6, on Sept. 15 at M&T Bank Stadium, and has won 11 consecutive games in the series. The last Ravens’ loss to the Browns occurred on Nov. 18, 2007 (33-30 in overtime). Baltimore leads the all-time series 22-7 (10-4 in Cleveland).

Following the loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field, Coach John Harbaugh explained his plan for the team’s upcoming bye:

“Hopefully, it will be an opportunity for us to continue to improve. I feel like we’re improving our football team. The thing we have to do is find a way to win these games. You’ve got to find a way to become a good football team through finding a way to win. We’re 3-4, by no means out of it. We’re in the chase for the AFC North. Cincinnati has the edge. They’re the team that everybody is going to be trying to chase down now, and we’re going to try to go get them.”

Baltimore announced the signing of current free agent and former Bengals running back Bernard Scott, a move that fills the roster spot opened when tackle Bryant McKinnie was traded to the Dolphins. Scott tore his ACL early in the 2012 season and was released by the Bengals from their PUP list in September. Scott’s arrival gives the Ravens some insurance in the event that Bernard Pierce’s hamstring injury keeps him out of the lineup in Week Nine or beyond. Pierce has played in every game this season, but he didn’t practice during the Ravens’ bye week. Ray Rice has been bothered by a hip injury for several weeks, but Rice recently said he’s feeling better and that he thinks the rest of the season will bring better results.

CLEVELAND: After allowing 31 points to Detroit on Oct. 13 and 31 to Green Bay on Oct. 20, Cleveland surrendered 20 first half points on Sunday at Kansas City. But the Browns’ defense dug in thereafter and played much better in the second half of what became a 23-17 loss to the Chiefs.

The points-allowed total dropped from 20 in the first half to three in the second half. The yards allowed were chopped from 296 to 31. And the first downs allowed fell from 16 to three.

Cleveland entered the game allowing an average of 4.54 yards per play, second in the NFL, and gave up only 4.7 yards per snap against Kansas City.

The three-game winning streak the Browns posted to get to 3-2 has been followed by a three-game losing streak that has them at 3-5 and in third place in the division, but there are indications that the team is not about to collapse in the manner of some of the groups that preceded it.

For instance, the Browns and Houston Texans are the only NFL teams not to have allowed a 100-yard rusher or a 300-yard passer so far this season.

Jason Campbell provided stability at quarterback by completing 22 of 36 for 293 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 105.4 in his first start at quarterback for the Browns. Campbell’s passer rating for the season in Cleveland is 97.8, while Brian Hoyer posted an 82.6 rating during the winning streak and before he tore his ACL, and former No. 1 pick Brandon
Weeden is at 66.5 for the season.

After hosting the Ravens this Sunday the Browns will get their bye, then visit the Bengals (Nov. 17) and host the Steelers (Nov. 24). If there is going to be a move made by these Browns – either up or down in the AFC North – it figures to happen between now and that visit from the Steelers.

CINCINNATI: Quarterback Andy Dalton stayed hot in a 49-9 victory over the Jets. Dalton completed 19 of 30 passes for 325 yards, with five touchdowns and one interception, and a passer rating of 125.7. Dalton achieved 100.0 or better in passer rating for the third consecutive game for the second time in his three-season career. He also did so in games nine through 11 last season. The Bengals improved to 13-1 when Dalton has a triple-digit passer rating.

Dalton’s five TD passes were a career high.

Wide receiver Marvin Jones set a Bengals record by catching four of Dalton’s scoring throws on the way to a career-high eight receptions for 122 yards.

Jones became the first NFL wide receiver with four TD catches in a game since Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in 2007.

The blowout was atypical for the Bengals, who had won consecutive games on last-play field goals (one in overtime) and had triumphed by one score four times in their first five victories this season (the exception there was Cincinnati’s 20-10 victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 16).

Cincinnati improved to 4-0 at home for the first time in Coach Marvin Lewis’ 11-season tenure. Lewis beat Jets Coach Rex Ryan for the first time (1-3, 0-1 postseason).

The Bengals returned two interceptions for touchdowns against the Jets, the first time they had done that twice in a game since Dec. 16, 1984 against Buffalo.

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