Final Word: AFC North

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
1:30
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 3:

Bay Area blues: The Steelers fly cross-country to play Oakland, which is not Ben Roethlisberger's favorite part of the country. He is winless in his two trips to the San Francisco Bay Area, throwing a total of seven interceptions. He was picked off three times and failed to lead a touchdown drive in last season's 20-3 loss at San Francisco. That doesn't compare to the nightmare he endured in Oakland six years ago. Roethlisberger threw four interceptions against the Raiders and watched two of them get returned for touchdowns. It didn't help that he got sacked five times a week after he had a reported concussion.

[+] EnlargeJoe Flacco
Jeffrey G. Pittenger/US PresswireJoe Flacco has performed exceptionally well in the week following losses the past two seasons.
Rebound Raven: Losses bring out the best in Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco. In games after a defeat the last two seasons, Flacco has averaged 271.8 yards passing with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Three of Flacco's eight career 300-yard passing games have come a week after a loss. The last time he lost consecutive games was October 2009. Flacco, who faces the Patriots on Sunday night, is looking to bounce back from one of his worst halves. Last Sunday, he was 8 of 25 for 140 yards after halftime in a loss at Philadelphia.

Drought for Browns: Cleveland has dropped its last eight games, which is by far the longest active losing streak in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The second-longest streak is just three games (Raiders). The last time the Browns won was 306 days ago, when they beat the Jaguars. It's not as though Cleveland has been blown out during this rough stretch. The Browns' last five losses have been by a total of 21 points, an average margin of defeat of 4.2 points. This marks the longest losing streak for the Browns since they dropped 10 straight from Week 12 of 2008 through Week 4 of 2009.

Less pressure for Dalton: Don't expect Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to feel sorry for the Redskins losing pass-rusher Brian Orakpo for the season. Dalton has struggled mightily this year when under duress. He has been sacked 10 times and has completed 3 of 10 passes this season when under pressure, according to Pro Football Focus. It should be a safer pocket for Dalton at Washington on Sunday. Orakpo's 28.5 sacks in his first three seasons are a Redskins record.

Rev up the run game: The Steelers are disappointed that their running game ranks 30th in the NFL. They should be disturbed if it can't get back on track at Oakland. The Raiders allowed a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry last season and gave up 263 yards rushing (and four rushing touchdowns) at Miami last Sunday. It's unknown whether Rashard Mendenhall (knee) will play his first game of the season Sunday, but Pittsburgh could use his help. The Steelers' backups, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, haven't filled the void. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Pittsburgh's running backs are averaging an NFL-low 0.7 yards before contact.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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