Any thought of the Baltimore Ravens running away with the AFC North division crown had disappeared by the time Lamar Jackson threw an interception on the final offensive play of Baltimore’s surprising loss in Miami on Thursday night. While the loss dropped Baltimore to 6-3, the bigger loss was the Ravens’ lead in what is now an extremely tight division race.
The Ravens’ lead over the suddenly-surging Steelers is down to a half game. Pittsburgh, the defending division champion and winner of four straight games, can claim first place in the North for the first time this season if it can take care of business at home Sunday against the 0-8 Detroit Lions. It would be quite the accomplishment for Pittsburgh, which through four weeks was all alone in last place in the division. The Steelers, who are 1-1 against divisional opponents, will host the Ravens in Week 13 before traveling to Baltimore in Week 18.
Pittsburgh’s winning streak has been bolstered by the play of rookie running back Najee Harris, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a defense that has been led by T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward. Pittsburgh has also received steady leadership by coach Mike Tomlin, who on Monday night became the fourth-fastest coach in league history to reach 150 wins.
Conversely, Thursday night exposed Baltimore’s subpar pass defense. The unit, ranked 31st in the NFL, allowed 290 passing yards between quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Tua Tagovailoa. Injuries have also taken a toll on the Ravens’ offense, as Jackson was sacked four times Thursday night. He was also the team’s leading rusher with just 39 yards. The Ravens will have to solve their issues on offense and in the secondary if they want to remain in contention to win the North during the second half of the season.
The Cleveland Browns, who entered play last weekend as the division’s last-place team, moved out of the cellar after routing the…