Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/20/12
The Baltimore Ravens, leaders of the AFC North with a 5-1 record, have already begun to look over their shoulders, metaphorically speaking.Injuries to linebacker Ray Lewis and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata have started to raise questions whether an aging Baltimore defense can continue to perform at a high level for the remainder of the season.Fans hopeful that linebacker Terrell Suggs' return would give the unit a shot in the arm will have to wait another week, as he has been downgraded to questionable for Sunday’s game against Houston.The fate of the Ravens’ playoff hopes this season may rest on the arm of Joe Flacco.Conversely, the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff hopes may rest on their matchup this Sunday, when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in 2012. The Bengals, 1-2 after last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, can ill afford to go 1-3 in the division.The Steelers, coming off a huge 17-16 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6, have owned the Bengals recently in Paul Brown Stadium, winning 10 of the last 11 meetings. With a victory this Sunday Pittsburgh will be no worse than 2.5 games back of Baltimore, whom they have yet to face this season.As Week 7 of the NFL season dawns upon the football world, here are five things to watch for in the AFC North?1) Will a depleted Ravens’ defense be able to stop Arian Foster and the Houston rushing attack?Historically speaking, the Ravens have had one of the best run defenses in the NFL year in and year out. In 2012, teams have been able to run on Baltimore with relative ease, averaging 136 yards per game. With the aforementioned injuries to Lewis and Ngata, it appears that this unit’s job became that much tougher.2) Can a much maligned Ravens offense step up against the Texans' defense when it counts?Before the season began, all the talk centered around Joe Flacco’s transformation into an elite quarterback. Yet in recent weeks, especially against Kansas City, it appeared that the Ravens' offense was missing in action?Will Ray Rice come up with a big rushing performance in Houston? And can the Ravens' receivers, especially Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, provide Flacco with the help he needs? 3) Can the Bengals avoid falling to 1-3 in the AFC North?All season long the Cincinnati defense has looked vulnerable. Last weekend it appeared the offense took the week off as well, turning the ball over four times in an embarrassing loss to the previously win-less Browns. As mentioned, the Bengals have not fared well in recent meetings against the Steelers. A win is almost a must if they look to stay in the playoff race.4) Will Big Ben and the Steelers continue their dominance over the Bengals?Not only has Pittsburgh won 10 out of the last 11 games at Cincinnati, but the Steelers have enjoyed plenty of success overall against the Bengals when Ben Roethlisberger is at quarterback. Roethlisberger enters Week 7’s contest with a 99.9 passer rating, the third highest of his career. The Steelers are counting on Big Ben to once again deliver a big performance in the jungle.5) Can the Browns keep their momentum from last week going and defeat the Indianapolis Colts? The Browns won last year’s meeting between these two teams, 27-19 in Indianapolis against a Colts squad that appeared to be over-matched without Peyton Manning. This year, however, Andrew Luck, not Kerry Collins, will line up behind center for Indianapolis.Through six games, Luck is on pace to pass for 3,968 yards for the entire season, completely shattering the Colts' rookie quarterback record set by Manning.For Cleveland, after an abysmal start to the season by Brandon Weeden, the Browns' 29-year-old rookie signal-caller appears to have settled down. Weeden is on pace to pass for almost 4,000 yards himself, yet he needs to cut down on the interceptions if the Browns are to add a few more wins to their record. At the end of the day, the team that makes the fewest mistakes on offense should win. 
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker