By Cristian Nunez
The north division of the American Football Conference got off to a rough start this 2013 NFL season. It is the first time since 2002 that the division lost all of its opening games! The AFC north is typically a strong division, especially with the recent emergence of the Cincinnati Bengals as a playoff team. The Baltimore Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers (with the exception of a relatively poor 2012 season) have typically made strong post season showings and have been defending champions themselves in the recent past. Granted, the Cleveland Browns have not proven to be as competitive, but they have been reeling since their reentrance into the NFL in 1999, indicated by the revolving door of owners, GMs, coaches and quarterbacks.
The defending Super Bowl champs suffered the most embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Peyton Manning picked apart Baltimore, setting the record for most touchdown passes in a NFL game that resulted in a 22 point loss for the Ravens.
The Steelers took the most devastating defeat, losing three players in the process: Pro-Bowl centers Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Larry Foote and running back Stephen Howling. They ended up losing 16-19 to the Tennessee Titans.
The Bengals choked an 11 point lead over the Bears with 23 minutes left to go. Linebacker Rey Maualuga committed an unnecessary roughness infraction with 1:03 to go, giving the Chicago Bears a second wind when they were looking to punt. The Bengals lost by a field goal. The home opener looked much like the past season openers for the Browns with a 10-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Browns would take the lead in the first half 7-6 but quickly lost control in the second half.
Cleveland’s offensive line could not prevent 16 hits on QB Brandon Weeden.
The AFC North combined for 15 sacks, 24 penalties and 10 turnovers—mistakes that proved to be insurmountable. However there are 15 games left in the NFL regular season. The Baltimore Ravens, hurt badly by free agency and retirement, have drafted a group of talented defensive players. The Steelers, despite losing Mike Wallace, look forward to a promising 2013 season. The Bengals look to be formidable with the additions of Tyler Eifert and Gio Benard, along with talented defensive players Vontaze Burfict and Geno Atkins. The brand new Browns head coach, Rob Chudzinski, is optimistic about his young 2013 team!