Week 1 brought chaos to the AFC North, but the Steelers remain on top
The AFC North came into Week 1 and did nothing they were supposed to. The Ravens played the best offense of the week, the Browns showed that hype is only hype and the Steelers, to put it lightly, stunk. But within all the chaos, Pittsburgh remains top dog in the division.
Coming into the year, Cleveland was the team to beat. The North was headed back to Ohio, and Baker Mayfield was leading the the Browns to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore was the unknown. The Ravens had a lot of talent, but lost a number of defensive players in the offseason, and no one really knew what to expect.
Cincinnati isn't a concern. Before training camp, the NFL already gave up on the Bengals. This team remains a mess, and within major changes in the future, they'll slowly crawl their way back into the conversation.
And then, there's Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown-less, Le'Veon Bell-less Steelers. A team who headed into New England with more to prove than any team in the league, who proved absolutely nothing.
When you reflect on the AFC North following Week 1, you have plenty of question marks. The Ravens winning was foreseen, but not in the fashion they did. Lamar Jackson shouldn't have thrown for five touchdowns, or dominated with his arm instead of his feet.
Maybe he's a new quarterback. Maybe he can lead Baltimore to a record-breaking season, and transform how they've won games throughout history.
It's all a maybe, though. The Ravens 59-10 win over the Dolphins was impressive, but if we've learned anything this offseason it's that Miami isn't trying to win. Making how impressive the win was something we won't learn until Week 2.
Cleveland blew it. All they had to do was win against a Titans team that appeared middle-of-the-pack all preseason. It didn't have to be a major win, just a win, and it didn't happen.
Instead, they removed all faith fans and the media had in them. The Browns are no longer a playoff team until proven otherwise, and they certainly don't belong in the AFC North conversation.
Finally, there's the Pittsburgh Steelers. A team fans were saying would beat the Patriots by multiple scores after New England signed Antonio Brown. A team that was destined to win the Super Bowl after removing the noise. A team that scored 3 points in their 33-3 loss to the defending champs.
There are questions that need answers. Mike Tomlin needs to find solutions to the issues this team saw on Sunday night. It's not going to be easy, but it's certainly possible.
You can say Pittsburgh and Cleveland are the same. How do you say one team's season is over and the other remains the top choice in the division? By the kind of attention the team received during the last six months.
The Steelers aren't finding rhythm with a second-year quarterback, or adding superstars left and right. What they did over the summer was remove the stars and focus on chemistry. Implementing game plans that work with the players they've worked with for years, while adding small pieces to the bigger puzzle.
It's not a new team who isn't clicking, it's an old team who needed a wakeup call. Pittsburgh remains on top because what happened to them shouldn't have. Even if they lost, they shouldn't have lost like that.
Their ability to bounce back will be the reason they remain the favorite despite Baltimore's win and a 30-point defeat. The players within the locker room and the lack of major additions make it possible for them to rebound without any major setback.
Cleveland will struggle to put their feet back on the ground. Baltimore's Week 1 isn't known until Week 2. Pittsburgh has the tools to forget anything but the 15 weeks ahead.