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Thursday, October 18, 2012
Who has the NFL's third-worst defense?

By Jamison Hensley

It's been a down year in general for all of the defenses in the AFC North. But the defense that has suffered the most is the Cleveland Browns.

After ranking 10th in the NFL last season, the Browns' defense has dropped to 30th in the NFL. There's an obvious reason for the struggles: injuries.

The Browns haven't had defensive tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral muscle) or outside linebacker Chris Gocong (Achilles) all season. Outside linebacker Scott Fujita has missed two games, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin was sidelined last Sunday and middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was knocked out of a game a couple of weeks ago. Plus, cornerback Joe Haden missed four games due to an NFL suspension. It would be easier to list the starters on defense who haven't missed time.

The Browns have good young talent on defense, but they don't have much depth. When starters get injured, there is a drop-off to the backups (although defensive lineman Billy Winn has looked good at times). That's how a defense falls 20 spots in the rankings.

A look at how the AFC North ranks in the NFL's major statistical categories:

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Offense: Overall (10th), run (21st), pass (8th) and scoring (13th).

Defense: Overall (15th), run (21st), pass (17h) and scoring (22nd-tied).

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Offense: Overall (25th), run (27th-tied), pass (16th) and scoring (19th).

Defense: Overall (30th), run (25th), pass (20th) and scoring (22nd-tied).

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Offense: Overall (8th), run (14th), pass (11th) and scoring (9th).

Defense: Overall (26th), run (26th), pass (22nd) and scoring (11th).

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Offense: Overall (16th), run (31st), pass (7th) and scoring (17th).

Defense: Overall (5th), run (10th), pass (4th) and scoring (17th-tied).