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Friday, November 25, 2011
Final Word: AFC North

By Jamison Hensley

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 12:

Struggling with scoring: The Browns' offense has showed signs of life recently. Colt McCoy completed more than 70 percent of his passes the past two weeks and Cleveland gained more than 100 yards rushing last Sunday. Now, it needs to show up on the scoreboard against Cincinnati in Sunday's Battle of Ohio. The Browns have been held to 17 points or fewer in eight straight games and nine of 10 games this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's tied with the Jaguars and Rams for the most such games. The Bengals have allowed the eighth-fewest points this season (19.5 per game) and have held half of their opponents to 17 points or fewer this season.

Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is the best in the NFL when it comes to completing passes under durress, connecting on 60 percent of such passes.
Best under duress: It seems like Ben Roethlisberger, who has a fractured right thumb, thrives when playing in pain. But there's no question that he is the best when it comes to handling pressure this season. Roethlisberger is completing 60 percent of his passes this season when under duress, the best rate among qualified quarterbacks. According to ESPN Stats & Information, "under duress" is defined as situations when defensive pressure forced players to throw early, off-balance or when they were getting hit.áThe league average for completion percentage while under duress is 38.5 percent.

Ending AFC North skid: The Bengals have lost AFC North games the past two weeks, but that doesn't compare with the Browns' streak in the division. Cleveland has lost seven straight AFC North road games since beating the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 4 of 2008, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It's not like the Browns have been dominated away from home. The last three AFC North road losses have been by an average margin of nine points.

New favorite target: Mike Wallace remains the Steelers' most dangerous downfield receiver, but Antonio Brown is developing a strong chemistry with Roethlisberger. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Brown has been targeted 39 times since Week 7, which is 10 more than any other Steelers player. During that time, Brown has averaged 6.5 receptions (second-most in the NFL) and 91 yards receiving (fourth-most in the league). He's also produced seven catches of over 20 yards. The Chiefs have given up 42 passes of more than 20 yards, which is tied for third-most in the NFL.

Benson likes the Browns: Running back Cedric Benson usually wins his matchup with the Browns. In six meetings, he has averaged 97 yards rushing and has scored two touchdowns. Benson gained 121 yards at Cleveland in the season opener, which started a bad trend for the Browns defense. Cleveland has allowed an NFL-worst six running backs to crack 100 yards this season.