Previewing AFC North Power Rankings

December, 13, 2010
12/13/10
4:00
PM ET
The Baltimore Ravens still have to play on "Monday Night Football." But it was an exciting weekend nonetheless in the AFC North.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won their 10th game of the season, while both Ohio teams suffered defeats. Here is how things could turn out in ESPN.com's upcoming NFL Power Rankings:

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)

Previous ranking: No. 3

Result: Beat the Bengals, 23-7

Analysis: The Steelers earned their fourth win in a row. But it won't matter in this week's Power Rankings. Pittsburgh will not jump the Atlanta Falcons (11-2) or New England Patriots (11-2), who also continue to win. Still, Pittsburgh's defense is starting to gain momentum in time for the stretch run. Teams cannot run on the Steelers, and the defense is stopping the pass much better and getting interceptions. If the offense catches up, Pittsburgh has a good chance to make a deep postseason run.

Projected range: No. 3-5

Baltimore Ravens (8-4)

Previous ranking: No. 4

Result: Will play Houston on Monday

Analysis: The Ravens control their own destiny in the wild-card chase and have a chance to stay in contention for the AFC North division title tonight against the Houston Texans (5-7). This isn't an easy matchup for Baltimore, because Houston is at home and has a dangerous offense. Baltimore also struggled to score points in recent weeks. After this game, the Ravens will have a short week to prepare for the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints (10-3), making this game against Houston even more important.

Projected range: TBD

Cleveland Browns (5-8)

Previous ranking: No. 21

Result: Lost to the Bills, 13-6

Analysis: The Browns suffered their most embarrassing loss of the season to the Buffalo Bills (3-10). Cleveland has developed a reputation of playing down to its competition and it caught up to it this week. The Browns' offense was anemic and couldn't take care of the football (three turnovers). Cleveland had a chance to pad its record and get back to .500 against two bad teams in Buffalo and Cincinnati. But after losing to the Bills, going on the road to beat the Bengals next week doesn't appear to be an easy task.

Projected range: No. 23-25

Cincinnati Bengals (2-11)

Previous ranking: No. 30

Result: Lost to the Steelers, 23-7

Analysis: A pair of two-win teams won this past weekend, and the Bengals weren't one of them. The Detroit Lions were ranked lower than Cincinnati. But Detroit's upset of the Green Bay Packers will move the Lions up the Power Rankings. That means the Bengals, who are on a 10-game losing streak, will finish no higher than No. 31 this week. The Carolina Panthers are 1-12 and likely will be ranked last again.

Projected range: No. 31

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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