Bread Crumbs AFCN Division (Week 1)

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Before we start to talk about the week 1 hi’s and low’s, we here at Sport City understand that this is “Game 1” and the first game action for several men in this division. If you follow us throughout the season you should be able to see the improvement or failure of the teams and names mentioned. With that being said, here are the week 1 bread crumbs.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

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Overall this game played out exactly how I thought it would. In the previous meetings vs the Bills this game came down to whomever won the turnover battle and how made the splash plays. The Steelers were clean in the turnover department and made the significant splash plays on special teams that produced a TD. A few things of note that I wanted to speak on. The Steelers offense is HORRIBLE right now. Now before I get my family and “homer” friends trying to start something, let me elaborate. Going into week 1 we were starting 4 rookies on the offensive side of the ball, so I’m expecting significant growing pains associated with growth and development. However, what I can’t accept is a “copy & paste” offense from a season ago. We didn’t look to push the ball down the field enough. Everything was short and at the line of scrimmage. The Steelers have the “horses” to test defenses vertically. I EXPECT them to do that going forward (starting this weekend at home vs a beat up Raiders secondary). Najee didn’t really pop off the screen with huge runs and catches. He did show himself well in passpro and he fell forward when contacted.

The defense was solid but (as a fan) I was annoyed with how the Steelers closed both the 1st and 2nd halves. It was apparent early on that this was going to be a defensive game, so we can’t allow chunk plays to be made in order to get our opponent to get into scoring range. I’d ideally like the Steelers to (in those moments) play more “man” and make the throws more difficult for QB’s.

Next Up Las Vegas Raiders (1-0)

Baltimore Ravens (0-1)

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Ok, I think I’ve officially caught my breath enough to speak on what I saw last night on Monday Night. A few things are apparent that we need to unpack. 1) The Ravens have significant OL issues. Alejandro Villanueva showed exactly why he was not retained in Pittsburgh, and that is going to be an issue going forward for Baltimore. 2) I liked what I saw out of Ty’Son Williams, and it looks like the Williams/Muarry duo is going to be the 1-2 punch that works. 3) Lamar is an exciting player to watch, however there were a great deal of passes that were missed that he should be able to make. I do think that a good portion of his struggles had to do with how badly the offensive line was getting beat up, I just honestly think that was more part of the issue and not the whole issue. Consistent help at the WR position will also go a long way in aiding the Ravens in developing into more of a balanced group.

I have NO idea what that was on the defensive side of the ball. For as long as I can remember the Ravens have been able to generate a pass rush and play solid defense. As I said previously, I understand that this is week one but Besides Patrick Queen there really wasn’t too much of anything going well for the Ravens on that side of the ball. Waller had 19 targets and WR’s were running free in the secondary. Look, I know I picked the Ravens to finish 3rd in this division and not make the playoffs but, this was a game they could’ve won and it fumbled was away.

Next Up Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

Cleveland Browns (0-1)

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I wish I didn’t have to use an old cliche but “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” works perfectly here. The Browns played an exceptional 30 min of football, the sad part is in the NFL (if you’re a Browns fan) there's 60+ min allotted and the Chiefs woke up and started to gain traction. The Browns did manage to get some things done and that’s to be congratulated. 1) Both Chubb and Hunt played well and ran with power and authority. 2) Mayfield came out slinging the ball all over the yard and was playing with confidence, he did have that turnover but overall 321 yards on 21/28 is a solid day. 3) All his “eligibles'' contributed Njoku, Landry, Schwartz, and Hooper all make timely plays to help keep the game in question.

On the defensive end I’m torn between giving praise or bringing the “hammer” down. These are the Kansas City Chefs and they can erupt at ANY moment on ANYONE. I will say this, allowing Hill to cook you for close to 200 yards is inexcusable and will need to be addressed if the Browns are going to make good on everyone’s “postseason / division crown” bet. If you review the division break down I gave you last week I mentioned that this team’s issue is going to be that secondary. You’re not going to play the Chefs every weekend but you do have some opponents coming up that have no compunction about dropping back and throwing the ball all over the yard.

Next Up Houston Texans (1-0)

Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

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The “Young guns” were out and about in the jungle this weekend. Joe Burrow looked great in his 1st action since his season ending injury last year. He received help from everyone. Joe Mixon ran the ball for 127 yards. Rookie Ja’Marr Chase got on the catch machine during the week and produced 101 yards and a “touch” in his rookie debut. Tee Higgins and Burrow connected a few times and he also saw pay dirt. So overall this was a good showing, BUT you‘ve got to close the game. The Bengals allowed the Vikings to make a plethora of plays to force OT and had a shot at winning it until Davlin Cook fumbled late into the OT period. Despite all of that this was a “gutsy” win for the young team.

On the defensive side of the ball the Bengals played well, however (as I just said) you’ve got to close. Kirk managed to hit open targets and move the ball down the field twice late in the 4th quarter to get this game into OT. In the extra session the defense stiffened and made the game altering play that ultimately gave the Bengals the upset win. They have a tough test next week. I believe this Bengals team is going to be in games like this all season. They have the talent to play vs anyone but in the waning moments are they going to be able to close out games? Time will definitely tell.

Next Up Chicago Bears (0-1)

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