By Samuel Njoku
It’s been a weird season in the AFC North so far this season. The Cincinnati Bengals are currently in first place in the division which shouldn’t necessarily surprise anyone. But that’s where it ends as far as sanity is concerned. The rest of the teams seem to be in their own renditions of the Twilight Zone. The Ravens are tied with the Cleveland Browns for second place in the division (you read that right). A case can be made that the Browns are more surprised than anyone about that. And then you have the Steelers with only one win registered so far this season. The Ravens and Steelers have owned the AFC North for years. Either Baltimore or Pittsburgh has won the division nine out of 11 times since the divisions were reformatted back in 2002. What’s more surprising is the way both teams seem to be losing football games.
Prior to Week 6, Pittsburgh couldn’t force any turnovers. And they’re running game has been non-existent. Pittsburgh currently ranks 31st in rushing in the NFL. Of course Baltimore hasn’t been much better. They’re offensive line has been abysmal this season. Bryant McKinnie played so poorly that he was replaced by newly acquired LT Eugene Monroe. But perennial Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda hasn’t performed well either. Coach John Harbaugh knows things have to change if they want another shot at the Vince Lombardi trophy.
“We’re definitely making changes,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “We’re not going to sit there and just stand pat with what we’re doing. So, whether it’s personnel changes, or more likely, scheme changes – not major things. Just things that will give our guys a better chance to be on the same page – that’s what we need to do.”
Sitting at 3-3, the Ravens need to get on the same page in a hurry. The Ravens are currently staring at a three-game stretch against AFC North foes starting with their bitter rivals. The Pittsburgh Steelers sit at 1-4 and can’t afford to lose another game. They’re in must-win territory before the season has reached the half way mark. But Harbaugh refuses to take them lightly. He’s fully aware what’s at stake on Sunday.
“It’s big,” stated Harbaugh. “It’s AFC North, of course. It’s Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. It’s a game that we’ve longed for, all of us here in Baltimore. We’ve always felt it’s a big rivalry. It’s certainly become that, and we look forward to playing it – we always do. We have tons of respect for them. We know what they’re about. We enjoy playing in the game, and I believe they do, too. It should be a heck of a battle.”
These games usually are.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.