After yet another week of pulsating NFL football, it's time to take a look at the top story-lines coming out from each Division after Week 6.
AFC NorthCincinnati Bengals:
Can anybody stop Cincinnati right now? With Marvin Lewis' men brushing past Buffalo 34-21 this past weekend the Bengals are now 6-0 for the season, a feat they have only ever achieved two times before. Andy Dalton, protected by arguably the league's best offensive line, has been perfect from the pocket thus far with 14 Touchdowns and only two interceptions. With the Bengals getting the Bye next week, a mouthwatering Week 8 rivalry match-up with the Steelers stands in the way of this hot streak continuing. Dalton, surrounded by mouth-watering offensive players A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard, has appropriately silenced his critics this season. For years Dalton has been under fire for his inability to replicate regular season victories during the playoff period. Now it seems the Bengals are in the best position to make a run for the Super Bowl. Don't believe me? See last week's come-from-behind overtime victory over the Seahawks as proof.
At Halftime things weren't looking good for Mike Tomlin's men. The Cardinals were an offensive juggernaut gaining yardage at will and, if it weren't for some impressive Pittsburgh defence, the match could have been over well before it even began. In truth Mike Vick, who struggled to get over 50 passing yards for the half, was poor yet again. In hindsight had the former 1st Round pick remained on the field after receiving his leg injury, Pittsburgh probably would have dropped to 3-3. Instead, and much to the praise of third-string Quarterback Landry Jones, the Steelers are now 4-2. Jones ended the 25-13 win 8-for-12 with 168 yards and two touchdown passes. The win now leaves Mike Tomlin with a difficult decision to make ahead of next week's trip to Kansas City. Assuming 'Big Ben' isn't ready to return from injury, does he allow Vick to re-assume Quarterback duties, or has Jones done enough to change his mind?
Aside from 'big Johnny's' latest off-field shenanigan the Browns have overseen a relatively good start by their standards. Josh McCown has been largely impressive under center with 8 touchdown passes and three picks for the season so far. However, this past weekend's performance against the Broncos left a lot to be desired. McCown threw a costly pick-6 early on and repeatedly failed to convert on third down. In saying that, with the Browns at 2-4 for the season, what more were we to expect? Head coach Mike Pettine will oversee a difficult run this coming month with trips to St. Louis, Cincinatti and Pittsburgh. While a playoff run was never in question approaching the season, Browns fans can look forward to seeing the promising partnership between McCown and lightning-quick receiver, Travis Benjamin continue to develop.
One of the league's biggest disappointments, the Baltimore Ravens round out the AFC North with a 1-5 record. This defensive unit, hampered by the absence of Prow Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs, has made a habit of providing opponents with too much space and too many points. Joe Flacco, as great as he is, is clearly struggling because of it. The Super Bowl winning Quarterback is being forced to throw caution to the win upon every possession in order to reduce whatever defecit his side happen to be chasing. And although the likes of Justin Forsett and Steve Smith Sr. are routinely posting up above-average numbers, it just isn't enough. With the franchise's only win of the campaign coming against the Steelers in overtime, the Ravens have endured tight and unfortunate losses to the Broncos, Raiders, Bengals, Browns and 49ers respectively. With the pressure mounting on Head coach John Harbaugh to try and turn things around, should Baltimore lose in Arizona this coming weekend, any hopes of attaining a Wildcard berth before will have emphatically vanished.