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AFC North: Final Word

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Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:

Slowing Elvis: There are many great matchups to watch in Sunday’s high-profile game between the undefeated Denver Broncos (6-0) and Baltimore Ravens (3-3). But perhaps the most important will be NFL sack leader Elvis Dumervil against Baltimore’s offensive tackles. Ravens left tackle Jared Gaither (neck) said he plans to return, but he has been in and out of practice this week. Baltimore could certainly use Gaither against Dumervil and a Denver defense that’s allowing just 11 points per game. Rookie Michael Oher is holding his own. But Baltimore’s offensive line is at its best when both tackles are healthy and productive.

Where is McGahee? As a backup to Ray Rice, tailback Willis McGahee averaged 5.9 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) in the first three weeks. The Ravens were 3-0 in that span. But in the past three games, McGahee has 13 carries for 12 yards and zero touchdowns. Baltimore has gone to the pass more often, and Rice registered most of the run attempts. But at some point look for the Ravens to focus back on the ground game, and it could start against Denver.

Little help: Here is an awful stat for the Cleveland Browns: Their second-leading receiver in terms of yards is Braylon Edwards, but the former Brown hasn’t been on the team since Week 4. Rookie Mohamed Massaquoi has taken over as the No. 1 receiver with 17 catches for 300 yards. But Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey and Mike Furrey haven't done much to help the team since Edwards was shipped to the New York Jets. In Week 7, Cleveland's receivers couldn't get open in a 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The group also has problems with drops.

Dead even: For those keeping track, the AFC North vs. NFC North battles are even at 4-4 as we approach midseason. The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-0, with wins over the Packers and Chicago Bears. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-1, with a loss to Chicago and wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. The Browns are 0-2, with losses to Green Bay and Minnesota, and the Ravens also lost to the Vikings.

Big targets: There are several reasons Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco is much happier this year. Not only is his team in first place, but Ochocinco is among the NFL's most targeted wide receivers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown the football in Ochocinco's direction 63 times, fourth most in the NFL. Ochocinco has 39 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns. Pittsburgh receivers Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward are also tied for eighth, being targeted 55 times each.