Final Word: AFC North


Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:

Beating Big Ben at Heinz: The Ravens have lost five straight times to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at Heinz Field, where he has thrown 10 touchdowns and two interceptions against Baltimore during that streak. The last time the Ravens beat Roethlisberger on his home turf was 2006, which is also the last time they won the division. But Roethlisberger has some motivation as well. He turned the ball over a career-high five times (three interceptions and two fumbles lost) in the season opener at Baltimore, the most turnovers by a player in a game this season. Since then, he has six turnovers in seven games.

Rookies on the road: The Bengals' young players are bucking the trend that they're supposed to struggle away from home. Maybe Cincinnati's rookies just like playing in front of packed crowds, something they don't see at Paul Brown Stadium. First-year quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 64.4 percent of his passes and has averaged 190 yards passing on the road this season. He has thrown seven touchdowns and three interceptions for a 91.8 passer rating on the road, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His prime target has been rookie first-round pick A.J. Green, who is looking for a touchdown catch in his fifth straight road game. Cincinnati takes a 3-1 road record into Tennessee.

Slumping at the start: The Browns' first-quarter woes aren't just a rut. It's becoming the Grand Canyon in terms of dysfunction. Cleveland has been outscored 44-3 in the first quarter this season, and the three points are the fewest in the NFL. It's actually the fewest by a team in the first quarter through the first seven games of a season since the 2000 Cardinals had three points (this comes courtesy of ESPN Sports & Information). Don't look for this trend to change at Houston on Sunday. The Texans have outscored teams 57-13 in the first quarter.

Stopping the big runs: The Bengals shouldn't have much concern over the NFL's No. 2 run defense going against struggling running back Chris Johnson, right? Well, maybe they should have some concern. Cincinnati has been strong against the run overall, allowing only two running backs to go over 66 yards rushing. The Bengals' weakness has been the big runs. They've given up a run of at least 16 yards in all but one game, and there have been three 20-plus yard runs against them in the past four games. Johnson has only broken two runs over 20 yards this season, but he's had 44 in his previous three seasons.

Cooking with Rice: The Steelers have allowed only three 100-yard rushers in their last 58 games (dating back to 2007), and Ravens running back Ray Rice has produced two of those. He gained 141 yards on the ground at Pittsburgh in December 2009 and ran for 107 yards in the season opener against the Steelers. In that last meeting, Rice became the first running back since Jacksonville's Fred Taylor in 2007 to rush for over 100 yards and average over five yards per carry in a game against the Steelers. Pittsburgh ranks No. 8 in the NFL in run defense this season.