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  • Week 6 of the NFL season brings the opportunity of a potential shakeup in the AFC North standings. Can Cincinnati stay hot and protect their lead in the division? Will Baltimore rebound from their ugly loss against Cleveland? Can the Browns stay motivated and continue their upward trend? Has Pittsburgh finally turned the corner for the season? Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)The Bengals currently lead the division at 4-1. Cincinnati hopes to extend their hot streak by holding off the 2-2-1 Steelers today at home. The Bengals 22nd ranked pass defense will have to slow down Pittsburgh’s fourth ranked passing attack. The Steelers offense seemed to finally click last week against the Atlanta Falcons in a 41-17 victory. Cincinnati will have to find a way to contain wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster as well as tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James. Pressuring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and forcing him into mistakes is key for stalling Pittsburgh’s potent offense.Meanwhile Cheap Mark Andrews Jersey , the Bengals will also have to watch for Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt. Watt has a league-high six sacks through just five games this season. Cincinnati’s receivers have the advantage over Pittsburgh’s 29th ranked passing defense. Quarterback Andy Dalton’s strong performances this season should continue this week. The Bengals would improve to 5-1 with a win, further distancing themselves in the race to win the AFC North. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1)After a bounce back win against the Falcons, the Steelers must now travel to Cincinnati to face the division leading 4-1 Bengals in a game with huge implications. Pittsburgh’s offense came alive against Atlanta with Roethlisberger throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns. The offense will look to continue rolling in Week 5; however, it will be against a much tougher Cincinnati defense this time. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins is tied for the league’s most sacks with six while defensive end Carlos Dunlap has four. Cincinnati boasts a slew of dangerous pass rushers behind those two as well. The Steelers offensive line will have to prevent the Bengals front seven from taking over the game.The real challenge for Pittsburgh will be stopping Cincinnati’s dangerous receivers. A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross all present problems for the Steelers struggling secondary.Running back Joe Mixon has emerged as a threat as well, both on the ground and in the passing game. Double teaming Green should be the top priority for Pittsburgh. A win over the Bengals would put the Steelers at 3-2-1 and only one game behind Cincinnati in the division.Cleveland Browns (2-2-1)After an upset win over the Ravens last week, Cleveland now hosts the 3-2 Los Angeles Chargers. The Browns defense is playing at a high level, leading the NFL in takeaways with 15. Cleveland’s defense held Baltimore’s offense to three field goals in a 12-9 overtime win. Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward is performing exceptionally well with three interceptions through five games. Defensive end Myles Garrett leads the front seven with an impressive five sacks. The unit must continue to play well against the Chargers seventh ranked offense. The Browns inexperience at offense tackle could present a huge problem against defensive end Melvin Ingram. Luckily for Cleveland, star pass rusher Joey Bosa is still out with a foot injury. The Browns must establish the run game early to keep the Los Angeles pass rush at bay. Running back’s Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb could see a heavy workload today.The Browns would improve to 3-2-1 with a win over the Chargers, which would put them right in the discussion of winning the AFC North. The last time Cleveland had three wins in a season was in 2015.Baltimore Ravens (3-2)After a disappointing and ugly 12-9 loss to the Browns in Week 5, Baltimore now stays on the road, traveling to Tennessee to face the 3-2 Titans.The story line of the game has been the Ravens facing former defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who has helped lead Tennessee’s defense to the seventh overall ranking in the NFL. Baltimore is coming off of a horrible game offensively and will look to find some rhythm again on Sunday. The Titans have an impressive front seven, led by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. The Ravens will have to successfully run the ball with Alex Collins to help open up the deep ball for wide receiver John Brown. Tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could play a big role in the passing game as well against Tennessee’s linebackers. On defense, Baltimore must stop the run and force quarterback Marcus Mariota to beat them through the air. Mariota has had an up-and-down season so far , only throwing for 676 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Still, Mariota is a dangerous runner, both at picking up yards and extending plays. The Ravens will have to find a way to keep Mariota inside the pocket this afternoon if they want to force him into mistakes. Baltimore would improve to 4-2 with a win this week. The division is still within their grasp and a win on Sunday would go a long way towards winning it.Is the Ravens defense underrated heading into the season? The talk of the Ravens offseason has been the addition of offensive playmakers through free agency and the draft. Baltimore added wide receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead in free agency, and drafted two more receivers in Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley. The Ravens also added two of the top tight ends in the draft to their roster, Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. Rookie tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has won the hearts of fans everywhere and should start at right tackle this season. Most importantly, the Ravens drafted the heir to quarterback Joe Flacco in Heisman-winner Lamar Jackson. Jackson has stolen every headline imaginable regarding Baltimore this offseason. With so many new and exciting pieces added to the Ravens offense, has the bread and butter of Baltimore, the defense, been forgotten? Yes, the same defense that allowed Cincinatti to score a 49-yard game-winning touchdown on 4th-and-12 with the playoffs on the line. However, let’s not forget that the Ravens defense also forced three shutouts last season and led the league in turnovers as well. Despite a disappointing finish to the season, Baltimore had one of the better defenses in the NFL in 2017, and there is no reason that the unit shouldn’t be better in 2018.Players such as Jimmy Smith Cheap Hayden Hurst Jersey , Tavon Young and Brent Urban will be returning from injury. Smith was enjoying an All-Pro level season before tearing his Achilles in Week 13 against Detroit. Young emerged as a fourth-round gem as a rookie in 2016 but sadly tore his ACL during OTA’s the following year. Young, forced to play outside due to injuries in 2016, will return to his natural position this year as the team’s nickel cornerback, where he should excel. Urban was part of a dominate Baltimore defensive line to start the 2017 season before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury in Week 3 against Jacksonville. The line never quite regained dominance without Urban, despite the emergence of second-year player Willie Henry. Henry is a player who the Ravens hope takes the next step this season. Terrell Suggs named Henry as his breakout player on the defensive side of the ball for 2018. Urban and Henry provide the best pass rush along the line, so having Urban back healthy will make for a dangerous duo. Moving Brandon Williams back to nose tackle will allow Michael Pierce to stay fresher during the season as a rotational player along the interior defensive line. Add in the projected development of second-year outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams, and Baltimore’s pass rush could improve tremendously from a season ago. Continuity in the secondary will pay dividends as well. Veterans Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson return as the starting safeties, with Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Young and Maurice Canady all returning to give the Ravens one of the deepest cornerback groups in the NFL. With a year of experience under Humphrey’s belt, he looks to become a true shutdown corner opposite of Smith. Jefferson is poised for a bounce-back season as well with new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale taking over.Martindale has been praised all offseason by players for his aggressive mindset and willingness to let players be themselves. This means that veterans such as Weddle, Suggs and C.J. Mosley will have more control of the defense and can make adjustments as they see fit on the fly. Former defensive coordinator Dean Pees was often criticized for failing to play to certain player’s strengths. This seemed to be the case with Jefferson last year, who Baltimore signed to a large contract the previous offseason. Jefferson was used as a box safety in Arizona, hovering close to the line of scrimmage. Pees used Jefferson in deep coverage far too often last year Eric Weddle Jersey , making him an exploitable weakness on the defense rather than a strength. It’s easy to see why the defense hasn’t gotten as much attention this offseason as the offense. There were no major changes or signings on the defensive side of the ball. Everything remains intact from the 2017 season, aside from a new coordinator. The problem isn’t the lack of buzz around the defense, however. columnist Adam Schein recently published a list of the top nine defenses in the NFL heading into the 2018 season. The expected teams such as Jacksonville and Minnesota head the list, but something obvious is missing after that. Baltimore is nowhere to be found in the top nine. Yes, that’s correct, New England, Atlanta, both Los Angeles teams, Arizona, Houston and Philadelphia all rank higher on the list than the team who led the league in turnovers last season. The same defense that is returning all of their key players and even regaining some from injury. The team that forced more shutouts than anyone else in 2017 is not projected by Shein as a top nine defense in 2018.The crew of Good Morning Football has a much different opinion about the purple and black.“I look at the Ravens defense and I don’t know how teams are going to score points on them,” said Fox Sport’s Peter Shrager on Good Morning Football. “They are so loaded. If they are healthy this year, the Ravens are going to compete not only with the Steelers but with every other team in the AFC. They might be a dark horse to go to the Super Bowl. Their defense is that good this season.”Rewind to this time last year and fans were hyping the 2017 Baltimore defense to be among the best in franchise history. While dominate at times, it’s safe to say that the unit underachieved in the end. This year there is less chatter. Expectations are tempered and more realistic. The Ravens defense certainly has the potential to be one of the top units of the NFL in 2018. Will they avoid the same late-game collapses that have plagued the team and caused Baltimore to miss the playoffs two years in a row? The pieces are certainly there, the key is execution now.