Around the AFC North: Week 7 Preview

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Oct 18, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine (right) talks with quarterback

Josh McCown

(13) in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium. Denver defeated Cleveland 26-23. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns at St. Louis Rams

The Browns, like the Steelers and the Ravens, will also be on the road this week, traveling to St. Louis to take on the St. Louis Rams. The Cleveland Browns have played well under Josh McCown this season, but they haven’t been able to get any big wins so far. McCown has thrown for six touchdowns and only two interceptions over the past three weeks, yet his team fell in overtime to the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos in consecutive weeks.

The Browns defense was a disaster in 2014, but it is just as bad this season, allowing 28.7 points per game and only scoring 23.5 points per game. The run defense is a train wreck, and first-round draftee Danny Shelton has yet to make a significant impact. The defense will need to step up, starting with veterans Paul Kruger and Karlos Dansby to stop the run, and Joe Haden to lead the pass coverage.

St. Louis has leaned on its defense to stay in games all season long. The Rams will need another solid defensive performance from the team and will rely on its key players, Aaron Donald and James Laurinaitis, to shut McCown down and Isaiah Crowell up the middle. Laurinaitis and the safeties will be responsible for keeping Gary Barnidge at bay; that could be tough, considering “the Barnyard Dog” has killed defenses with 413 yards receiving and five touchdowns so far this season.

The Bengals will be watching the results of all three games since the Steelers are only two games behind and have yet to play the Cardinals and Rams, both of whom they will face later this season. If the Bengals can get Vontaze Burfict back after the bye week and be a little more rested, the Pittsburgh Steelers should have their hands full for their Week 8 match up in Pittsburgh.