NFL insider notes: Mediocrity rules AFC North, plus Josh McDaniels on head coach radar once again

Please, someone, tell me what to make of the AFC North. Are all of these teams good? None of them? Just patently mediocre (like much of the league)?

I can’t figure it out on my own.

But this much is certain – none of these teams seems capable of running away with this division, and it might only get more bonkers from here as we head into a stretch where the Ravens, Browns, Bengals and Steelers truly begin to meet with greater regularity. In this topsy-turvy division, sometimes not playing at all is the best thing possible. Because in Week 10, the Bengals (5-4) – who limped into their bye off two straight humbling defeats – fared better than anyone else, as the Ravens (6-3) were throttled by the woeful Dolphins, the Browns (5-5) yielded 45 straight points in a humiliating defeat at New England and the Steelers (5-3-1) somehow conspired with the winless Lions to complete a 70-minute football atrocity that resulted in a 16-16 tie.

We know at least one of these teams is going to the postseason, but are we convinced that two or more are? How can it be that whenever it appears an opportunity is there for one of these teams to step forward, and make a real statement, no one does? If nothing else, Week 10 was another reminder about how bonkers this league can be, and it’s clear that serious flaws remain for all these teams as we enter the playoff push.

The Ravens allowed the 30th-ranked defense to blitz them with abandon on pretty much every second and third down, they made no adjustments, their defense continued to surrender big play after big play and they were suffocated 22-10 on Thursday night in the lowest output of the Lamar Jackson era. But we were only getting started. The AFC North had more follies to come.

The Browns looked great on their opening drive, roaring behind the run game for a 7-0 lead. Then the beatdown began. The Patriots doubled Baker Mayfield’s tight ends and he…


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