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Friday, November 19, 2010
Final Word: AFC North

By James Walker

» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:

Getting hot: The Cleveland Browns have another tough test on the road Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4), which marks another important point in Cleveland's season. The Browns (3-6) have a chance to get hot in the second half of the season as the soft part of their schedule approaches. After Jacksonville, the Browns face four straight opponents that currently have losing records. Cleveland has been competitive in nearly every game this season. But it's now or never for the Browns to start getting wins, pad their record and get closer to .500.

Mohamed Massaquoi
Mohamed Massaquoi and Cleveland's receivers have made little impact this season.
Disappearing act: But to go on a winning streak, the Browns need to get more production from their receivers. Former second-round picks Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie have been huge disappointments in their second season. The pair has combined for only 24 receptions for 262 yards in nine games. Cleveland's leading receivers are tight end Ben Watson (36 catches) and running back Peyton Hillis (34 catches), both of whom have more catches than Robiskie and Massaquoi combined. Cleveland might want to consider using athletic backup tight end Evan Moore more frequently in the offense. Wide receiver is a major position of need for the Browns next offseason.

Strength versus strength: The Pittsburgh Steelers were picked apart by quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last week, but they get a much better matchup Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders (5-4) have won three straight, but they did it running the football. Oakland is second in the NFL in rushing and goes against the league's No. 1 run defense in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have struggled mightily against the pass this season. But Oakland only throws for 198.8 yards per game. Establishing the run will be crucial for the Raiders.

The streak: Although it sounds odd, the Cincinnati Bengals haven't beaten the Buffalo Bills in 22 years. The Bills will try to improve to 10-0 in that span against the Bengals, who have an NFL-high six-game losing streak. The Bengals need this game to avoid further embarrassment in what already has been an ugly season. The game will be blacked out in Cincinnati because of poor ticket sales. With the teams a combined 3-15, there wasn't enough interest in this game. It also marks the end of a 57-game sellout streak for the Bengals.

Taking advantage: The Baltimore Ravens are struggling in the secondary, but that probably will stop against the banged-up Carolina Panthers. After facing a several top quarterbacks this season such as Brady and Matt Ryan, Baltimore gets NFL journeyman Brian St. Pierre, who has thrown only five passes in eight NFL seasons. St. Pierre was picked up off the street by the Panthers after injuries to starter Matt Moore (shoulder) and rookie Jimmy Clausen (concussion). The Ravens also have had the luxury of 10 days to prepare, making Baltimore a huge favorite.