AFC North Preview, Week 13: Deshaun Watson to debut vs. Texans

Week 13 of the 2022 NFL season is underground. The AFC North remains a dogfight between two teams at the top, while the other two continue to fight for an outside shot at the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

The Baltimore Ravens’ four-game winning streak came crashing down last Sunday with a disappointing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that featured yet another fourth-quarter collapse. The Ravens still remain in the lead of the division due to tiebreakers, but the margin for error moving forward just became a lot slimmer. Baltimore will host the Denver Broncos this Sunday as 9.5-point favorites, according to Draft Kings Sportsbook.

The Ravens continue to struggle in the redzone and with the play clock offensively, which has led to mounting calls for a change at offensive coordinator. Reports surfaced this week linking offensive coordinator Greg Roman to Stanford as they search for a new head coach, but for the time being, he will continue to call plays on Sunday for Baltimore.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (ankle) and safety Kyle Hamilton (knee) both practiced in full on Friday and are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) is also listed with a questionable designation after being limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday and not practicing on Friday. Quarterback Lamar Jackson returned to practice fully for the remainder of the week after leaving practice early with a quad injury on Wednesday.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

The Cincinnati Bengals remain one of the hottest teams in the league after winning their sixth game in a row last week. After a rough start to the season, the lead for the division is within reach now for the Bengals. Cincinnati will have to go through the No. 1 seed in the AFC this week, however, as they host the Kansas City Chiefs as 2-point underdogs, according to Draft Kings Sportsbook.

The Bengals defeated the Chiefs in both of their matchups last season, including a comeback win in the AFC Championship. Kansas City safety Justin Reid, who was not with the team last season, made headlines this week with his comments about the upcoming matchup. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase responded, leading to a back-and-forth on Twitter.

Chase (hip) is nearing his return to the field after practicing in full on Friday. Chase was listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest but Head Coach Zac Taylor said he is optimistic that he will play against the Chiefs. Running back Joe Mixon (concussion) and linebacker Logan Wilson (illness) are also listed as questionable. Mixon was limited in practice all week and remains in the concussion protocol while Wilson did not practice. Samaje Perine has faired well as the team’s top running back in Mixon’s absence, scoring four touchdowns in the previous two outings.

Cleveland Browns (4-7)

After defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, the Cleveland Browns will now travel to face the one-win Houston Texans this Sunday as 7-point road favorites, according to Draft Kings Sportsbook. The biggest storyline of the week is the return of quarterback Deshaun Watson to the football field and his debut with the Browns.

Watson signed a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract this offseason after being traded to Cleveland despite ongoing legal issues at the time. After serving an 11-game suspension, Watson will suit up for his first regular season game in almost two years, and it will be against his former team that drafted him with the No. 11 jumpsuit pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Tight end David Njoku was ruled out for Sunday with a knee injury he suffered against the Buccaneers last week. Cornerback Greg Newsome (concussion) will return to the field this week for the first time since Week 10. Cornerback Denzel Ward (ankle, hamstring) is also expected to play against the Texans.

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7)

After defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to face the Atlanta Falcons as 1-point underdogs, according to Draft Kings Sportsbook.

Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett continues to show signs of encouragement as the potential next franchise quarterback following in the lofty footsteps of Ben Roethlisberger. Pickett’s offensive coordinator Matt Canada, however, remains under fire due to questionable playcalling.

Running back Najee Harris is expected to play this week after exiting last week’s game against the Colts with an oblique injury while backup running back Jaylen Warren (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Sunday but is expected to play after practicing fully all week. Outside linebacker TJ Watt (ribs) landed a questionable designation after being limited in practice all week. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) remains out.

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