AFC North: 2013 NFL Midseason Report AFC North

Midseason Report: Baltimore Ravens

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
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In a span of nine months, the Baltimore Ravens have gone from atop the football world to third place in the AFC North. The defending Super Bowl champions have lost four of their past five games and dropped to 3-5, their worst record at the midway point since the 2007 season.

The Ravens are two games behind the Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) and play the AFC North leaders twice in the second half of the season. In order to make any major move forward, the Ravens have to find a way to start faster on offense and finish stronger on defense.

So far, the Ravens have earned a first-half grade of C-minus. Their past four losses have been decided by a total of 14 points. But all three of their wins have come against teams with losing records and against two quarterbacks (Brandon Weeden and Matt Schaub) who are no longer starters.

Here's the first-half assessment of the Ravens:

Midseason Report: Cincinnati Bengals

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
9:00
AM ET
 
The first half of the Cincinnati Bengals' season went about as well as anyone around the club could have imagined. The team has a 6-3 record with wins over the Packers, Patriots and Lions. They clearly were one of the NFL's top teams.

But now that the second half has officially begun for the Bengals (Thursday's 22-20 overtime loss at Miami was game No. 9), will they be able to return to the winning ways that defined the season's first two months? Or will they revert to their old losing ways?

Before the Bengals take on the Baltimore Ravens this weekend, we take a look at how they have fared so far in this position-by-position evaluation:

 

Midseason Report: Pittsburgh Steelers

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
9:00
AM ET

The Steelers lost five of their last seven games a year ago to finish 8-8 and with the first non-winning season in Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach. The season was framed, at least by optimists, as an aberration and deemed unacceptable by the organization that has won six Super Bowls.

If only people knew the Steelers’ second-half swoon in 2012 was but a precursor to what has transpired through the first half of this season.

The Steelers are 2-6 and need a miracle approximating the scope of the Immaculate Reception to make the playoffs. They have all but played themselves out of postseason contention before the leaves have fallen, leaving players as stunned as they are angry.

“If you would have told me in the offseason [that the Steelers would lose six of their first eight games]) I would have told you no way,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “We’re the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a great organization and it’s a winning organization.”

It’s also one that has struggled in almost every aspect on the field, and the tough times the Steelers have experienced are reflected in their midseason grades:

Midseason Report: Cleveland Browns

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
9:00
AM ET

Expectations can define a season. A team that’s supposed to be playoff-caliber that enters the bye with a record below .500 is disappointed. But a team that’s not supposed to win much, that hasn’t won much and that enters a Week 9 bye week one game below .500 is upbeat.

Especially when said team has started three different quarterbacks, lacks a run game and traded its starting running back. Oh -- and lost its first two games. These are your Cleveland Browns, a team that by all convention and logic should be nowhere near 4-5.

But the Browns pieced together four wins in seven games after their losses to start the season, and played one of its most complete games in beating Baltimore on Sunday. Jason Campbell was never expected to be a lifeboat, but he’s played that way for two games. And with a division game against first-place Cincinnati right out of the bye, the Browns have a chance to actually be competitive in the AFC North for the first time in a long time.

This adds up to a better-than-expected start that gives the Browns (remember the expectations) a sold B in the first half.

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