AFC North Week 3 Predictions: Browns Bounce Back, Bengals & Steelers Fall in Primetime

AFC North Week 3 predictions include the Browns bouncing back, while the Bengals and Steelers fall.
AFC North Week 3 predictions include the Browns bouncing back, while the Bengals and Steelers fall. / Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

We've officially entered Week 3 of the regular season, and there's plenty of intrigue going on the in AFC North right now. The Cleveland Browns are trying to navigate life without Nick Chubb, while the Cincinnati Bengals have their own major injury concern with quarterback Joe Burrow.

Then there's the 2-0 Baltimore Ravens, who may not have to face Anthony Richardon on Sunday, and the uninspiring Pittsburgh Steelers gearing up for Sunday Night Football.

Here are our predictions for each team's result before playing in Week 3.

Browns vs. Titans

The loss of Chubb stings, and Cleveland having a shorter week after Monday Night Football doesn't help. But the Tennessee Titans present the kind of matchup that could raise the Browns' spirits.

Tennessee's far from impressed to begin the 2023 season, scoring just 15 points and losing to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, then they narrowly emerged with an overtime win against the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday. Some might argue beating Justin Herbert and company is an accomplishment, but LA's defense also owns the worst DVOA mark in the entire league over the first two weeks, so it's not a shock even the mediocre Ryan Tannehill had some success.

Now Tannehill, who's already thrown 3 interceptions and taken 8 sacks this season, must face Jim Schwartz's renewed unit. The Browns lead the league in QB knockdowns (14) and are third in pressure percentage (31.8%). They're also holding opponents to the second-fewest total yards per game.

This game has all the makings of a sluggish, old-school brawl between two run-centric squads. But Cleveland has the clear talent advantage on offense, and the better defense. I think Kevin Stefanski's club gets back in the W column here.

Prediction: Browns 21, Titans 17

Ravens vs. Colts

The Baltimore Ravens are the lone undefeated team in the division, and it'd take a catastrophic meltdown to drop their Week 3 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis hasn't looked bad to begin the year, and rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson appears like he's worth every bit of the hype. But Richardson is also in concussion protocol after leaving last week's game, putting his availability in serious jeopardy.

The Colts have zero reason to rush Richardson back, even if he does clear protocols. If anything, his promising start to the season should already have Indianapolis thinking about keeping his bright future protected. That includes sitting him coming off of a hit to the head.

Even with Gardner Minshew starting, Baltimore's hampered defense should get the job done.

Prediction: Ravens 25, Colts 13

Steelers at Raiders (Sunday Night)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are feeling themselves after taking down Cleveland in primetime, but let's be real. The Browns were in a daze after Chubb's injury, which disrupted their entire gameplan.

Beating a Cleveland team that lost arguably its most important offensive player isn't some grand accomplishment. The Steelers, by all accounts, are still not a good football team. Kenny Pickett's an underwhelming starting QB who very well could be repkaced next season, and recent first-round pick Najee Harris is approaching bust territory.

If Pittsburgh is to win in any given week, it'll be thanks to its defense. That unit will have its hands full in Week 3, however.

The Las Vegas Raiders feature a well-rounded offense with a star wide receiver in Davante Adams, great No. 2 in Jakobi Meyers, and a premier dual-threat running back in Josh Jacobs. The Steelers are at a clear disadvantage across skills positions, putting even more pressure on the defense to cover for the lackluster offense.

I believe the Raiders' attack creates enough scoring to hold off Pittsburgh on SNF.

Prediction: Raiders 20, Steelers 17

Bengals vs. Rams (Monday Night)

Everyone around the league knows Joe Burrow isn't 100% healthy. His dismal start to the 2023 season shows the Bengals likely rushed him back from his offseason calf injury, and now they're reaping what they sowed.

The mishandling of Burrow's calf issue now has the potential to upend Cincinnati's season. This is the type of ailment that requires legitimate time off to heal properly, and that's not easy to come by once you're out of the preseason. Now the Bengals must weigh sitting Burrow and losing games, or playing him while he's hurt and possibly making the injury even worse (and also potentially losing games).

With the national focus on Burrow, I think the Bengals finally bite the bullet and sit him with the Los Angeles Rams on tap. While the Rams aren't the Super Bowl powerhouse they once were, they've still got enough talent to pull of the upset, though.

Matthew Stafford's quieted any doubters by posting back-to-back 300-yard outings to begin the year, and he already has a new Cooper Kupp replacement in the form of record-breaking rookie Puka Nacua. Recently elevated RB starter Kyren Williams has given the offense a boost in the backfield as well by racking up 3 early rushing TDs.

This defense showed its sneaky side by holding the threatening Seattle Seahwks to just 13 points during their Week 1 upset. I wouldn't be surprised if Los Angeles defies the odds again, even if a hampered Burrow does suit up.

Prediction: Rams 24, Bengals 16

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Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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