AFC North: Final Word 2011 Week 5

Final Word: AFC North

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 5:

Protect Ben Roethlisberger: The Steelers' quarterback has a sprained left foot and won't be able to elude pass-rushers as he has done in the past. Roethlisberger has been sacked 14 times this season, which is tied for third most in the NFL. Injuries have made it difficult for Pittsburgh to maintain continuity on its offensive line. If recently signed Max Starks starts at left tackle, it will mark the 10th different starting offensive lineman for the Steelers this season -- two more than any other team in the NFL (according to ESPN Stats & Information).

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesAndy Dalton has performed well away from home this season.
Road warrior rookie: The Bengals' Andy Dalton has displayed a great deal of poise for a first-year quarterback, especially when it comes to handling the adversity of playing on the road. In two starts away from home, Dalton has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 413 yards. He has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 105.7 rating. Dalton should target tight end Jermaine Gresham against the Jaguars, who got lit up Sunday by Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (10 catches for 132 yards and one touchdown).

Another test for run defense: The Steelers have another shot at redeeming themselves when it comes to stopping the run. Pittsburgh already has allowed more 100-yard rushers in four games this season than in the previous three seasons combined. The Steelers are looking to get back on track against a running back who righted himself last week. Titans running back Chris Johnson gained more yards rushing on Sunday against the Browns (101 yards) than in his first three weeks (98 yards) combined. Pittsburgh's front seven will be without linebacker James Harrison (eye) and defensive end Aaron Smith (foot).

Validation time: The Bengals surprised everyone with an upset win over Buffalo, which evened their record at 2-2. But Cincinnati started last season 2-1 before losing 10 straight games. The Bengals can prove they're a different team with their next three games against opponents whose combined record is 2-10 -- at Jacksonville (1-3), home against Indianapolis (0-4) and at Seattle (1-3). Those just happen to be the three worst offenses in the NFL, and Cincinnati just happens to have the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

Moving on up: It looks like a strong possibility that Steelers running back Isaac Redman will go from third string to the starting lineup. Pittsburgh's top two running backs -- Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) and Mewelde Moore (ankle) -- didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. If both are sidelined, Redman would have to carry the workload against the Titans and the NFL's eighth-ranked run defense. Undrafted out of Division II Bowie State in 2009, Redman has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his two-year career. He has never carried the ball more than 10 times in a game.

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