Heading into the final week of the season the AFC North has wrapped up two playoff spots and fares pretty well in my last Power Rankings of the regular season.
The Ravens won the division with a great performance against the Giants and the surprising Bengals are heading to the playoffs after beating the Steelers for the first time since 2009. Here is how the AFC North stacks up against the rest of the NFL:
10) Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been the worst playoff bound team for the last month but they did their best to rectify that last week in their thumping of the defending champion Giants. The Ravens offense hit on all cylinders, but it’s yet to be seen if that was a product of Joe Flacco figuring things out or the Giants defense being just that bad.
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Baltimore was impressive but not impressive enough to erase my memory of the last 4 weeks and their struggles on both sides of the ball. The Ravens wrap up the season with a game against the playoff bound Bengals in a game that means nothing but an extra week to get healthy.
11) Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals come in at number 11 -- one spot behind the Ravens -- but I think they are actually better than the division leader at this point. Luckily, we’ll get to find out the validity of that this Sunday. The Bengals won a great defensive battle against the Steelers and ended up beating them at their own game by picking off Ben Roethlisberger in the closing seconds to set up the go-ahead field goal. The most impressive feat was that Andy Dalton was able to put together a successful outing with little to no running game. They play the Ravens this week with nothing on the line but bragging rights and momentum heading into the playoffs.
17) Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Steelers choked. After winning in impressive fashion a few weeks ago with 3rd string QB Charlie Batch under center the Steelers went on to lose their next 3, all with Big Ben under center. Roethlisberger has proven that he is a great clutch time QB but he did not come through for Steeler fans this year.
22) Cleveland Browns
The Browns got beat up by the Broncos in Week 16 but they continue to look more and more like they will have a formidable team next year. Whether Pat Shurmer will still be calling the shots is still up in the air, but I’d guess not. One thing is for certain, whoever takes over the reins will have a bunch of young talent to coach and a bunch of fans that are eager to find the postseason.