AFC North: 2010 Week 3 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Bengals 20, Panthers 7

September, 26, 2010
Here are some thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 20-7 win against the Carolina Panthers:

What it means: The Bengals showed maturity and took care of business against a lesser opponent on the road. Cincinnati has dominated the AFC North recently but struggled outside of the division. So every win outside of the AFC North demonstrates growth by the team.

What I liked: Cincinnati's defense showed up for the second straight week, holding Carolina (0-3) to just seven points. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen made his first NFL start and finished with 188 yards and one interception. After getting throttled by the New England Patriots, the Bengals have allowed just 17 points combined in the past two games.

What I didn't like: Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer continued his slow start by throwing for 195 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Palmer has a lot of new weapons in the passing game this year, so there is no excuse for him not to produce, particularly when he's turning over the football. Palmer's passer ratings in the first three games this season have gone from 92.5 to 60.1 to 53.3 against the Panthers.

What's next: The Bengals will play their second division game of the season when they travel next week to play the Cleveland Browns (0-3). Cincinnati swept the Browns in two games last season. The Bengals improved to 2-1 and remain one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) in a competitive AFC North division.

Wrap-up: Ravens 24, Browns 17

September, 26, 2010
Here are some thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' victory over the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Ravens improved to 2-1 on the season and 1-1 in the division with a win over the Browns. Baltimore, after scoring just 20 points in the first two weeks, helped out the defense by scoring 24 points. For the Browns, they fought hard but lost their third straight game to start the season. Cleveland doesn't have many easy games on its schedule but has been competitive each week.

What I liked: There were some things I like from both teams. For Baltimore, the offense finally showed signs of life, particularly the passing game. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 262 yards and all three touchdowns were to receiver Anquan Boldin. For the Browns, they played tough and pushed the Ravens into the fourth quarter, despite being a huge underdog.

What I didn't like: Baltimore's run defense was unusually shaky in this game. Browns running back Peyton Hillis torched the Ravens for 144 rushing yards and a touchdown. That will be something Baltimore needs to clean up. For the Browns, they blew a second-half lead for the third straight game. Cleveland led 17-14 in the fourth quarter, but it couldn't stop Baltimore's offense from scoring 10 straight points to seal the game.

What's next: The Ravens have a big rivalry game next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0), which is always one of the most physical games of the season. Baltimore will try to take advantage of Pittsburgh in its final game without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. For the Browns, the schedule doesn't let up as they host the defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) in the "Battle of Ohio." The Bengals swept the Browns in two games last season.