Where do AFC North teams stand in the grand scheme of the NFL? We break that down below.

8)  Baltimore Ravens

I’ll preface this ranking by saying I have the Ravens and Steelers as a dead heat for the 8th spot.  I gave the nod to the Ravens simply because they managed to scratch out a win in Arrowhead a few weeks ago whereas the Steelers fell in a similar situation to the Titans.  The Ravens have a lot of work to do coming off their bye week. 

As odd as it is to say, that defense must get better if they want to make the playoffs.  They are 30th in rush defense and 24th in pass defense.  Joe Flacco isn’t Tom Brady and this team will not be a contender by trying to outscore opponents.  In the next two weeks the Ravens play in Cleveland and at home against the Raiders.  These two games are going to be very crucial to getting them back on track because they face off with the Steelers in two of the following three weeks.

9)  Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers remain behind the Ravens in my rankings but maybe not for long.  The “eye” test has shown that Mike Tomlin’s bunch has what it takes make their patented march into the playoffs.  Boasting the best pass defense in the NFL and the number 2 overall defense, the Steelers are poised to make a run at winning the division.  This week they travel to the New Meadowlands to take on the defending champs. 

Pittsburgh actually matches up pretty well with the Giants and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them come out with a win.  But as with the Ravens, the next two weeks are really tune-up games for the showdown that could very well decide who wins the division starting week 11.

26) Cincinnati Bengals

The good news is that the Bengals didn’t lose this week, for the first time in October.  The bad news is that it took a bye week to accomplish it.  Adding to their anguish, in the next two weeks both Manning brothers come to town leading their vaunted offenses that are hitting on all cylinders.  If Andy Dalton’s sophomore slump continues it may be Thanksgiving before the Bengals get back into the win column.

30) Cleveland Browns

The Browns are bringing up the rear in the division and I have them at 30th overall. With as much “figuring out” as the Browns have had to do with Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, and the young (but very talented) defense, I felt they deserve a higher ranking than Jacksonville and Kansas City.  However, with the shuffling of upper-level management and a brutal 3 week stretch coming up, it’s going to be virtually impossible to climb out of the cellar anytime soon.

Twitter: @skingsports