Midway through the season, the AFC North can make a strong argument that it has quietly emerged as the top division in the NFL.
The AFC North is the only division in the league in which every team owns a winning record.
Because of their competitiveness through eight games, all four teams have a shot to win the division title in what shapes up as a tight race in the second half of the season.
Having swept the Ravens (5-3), the Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1) hold the edge entering Sunday's games, ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) and the Cleveland Browns (4-3). Each team has been strong at home with the Bengals (3-0-1) owning the best mark ahead of the Ravens, Steelers and Browns, who are all 3-1 at their home stadiums.
The division race could be decided in the final week of the regular season on Dec. 28 when the Ravens host the Browns and the Bengals travel to play the Steelers.
Offensive success has been the hallmark of the division race. All four teams ranks in the top half of the NFL in total offense, led by the Steelers (third overall, 418.3 yards per game), the Ravens (ninth overall, 375.5 yards per game), Browns (12th overall, 355.4 yards per game) and Bengals (16th, 352.9 yards per game).
"I have a ton of respect for the teams," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday in advance of Sunday night's game against the Steelers. "I expressed that earlier in the year. I guess it doesn't really matter, it's the teams we have to play.
"The good thing is we've played most of the teams after this one, so they'll have to start playing against each other. Maybe that's a little bit of a plus for us, but it's important to get wins in the division. This is one that we're going to work really hard to get a win at."
Bengals' Green is back
Bengals All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green is set to return from a turf toe injury on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars after missing the past three games.
"If everything stays the way it is, he'll play," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told Cincinnati reporters.
With Green coming back, the Bengals get back their best offensive weapon.
Although the Bengals ruled out standout running back Giovani Bernard due to hip pointer and clavicle injuries, the running game should be in good hands. Rookie running back Jeremy Hill provides power and quickness and should be a capable replacement.
Hill, a 6-foot-1, 238-pound third-round draft pick from LSU, has rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns and has 13 catches for 131 yards.
Manziel's Twitter gaffe
Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel has over 1.2 million Twitter followers, but he still has work to do to master the nuances of social media.
Manziel accidentally posted his phone number on Twitter on Friday when it looked like he was trying to send a direct message. Manziel quickly deleted the Tweet, but not before it was retweeted over 300 times in under a minute.
Earlier on Friday, Manziel told Cleveland reporters that he's not frustrated as the backup to starter Brian Hoyer.
"I don't necessarily think that's the right word," Manziel said. "Obviously coming from the situation I've been in the past couple years of every rep, every snap, every down of every game, coming into the situation that I'm in now is going to be a lot different for me. So I'm sure there are signs of this being a different situation for me, but I don't feel frustrated. Obviously, being a competitor I want to play, but there is a difference. I feel like I'm in the role that I need to be at this time."
Off the field, Manziel has maintained a lower profile than he did during the offseason when the widely-held perception was that he was partying hard.
"My mind doesn't go directly to what my reputation is or what people think of me," Manziel said. "It's more not being a distraction to this team and what's best for this locker room and these guys. And hopefully, the thing I've tried to do since I've gotten here is let these guys know it's not all it's chalked up to be. These are the guys I care about day in and day out, and I don't need to be putting any burden or any distraction or weight on this team."