AFC North stock watch


Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Let's see who's hot and who's not after Week 12 in the AFC North division:

Who's hot?

1. Ed Reed, S, Baltimore Ravens

In case anyone had doubts, Reed is still an elite safety in the NFL. Despite playing through neck and shoulder injuries, Reed continues to perform at a high level. On Sunday, he recorded two interceptions in a 36-7 thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles. Arguably the biggest play of the game came in the second half when Reed intercepted a pass deep in the end zone and returned it 108 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest interception return in NFL history. Reed broke his own record of 106 yards that was set four years ago.

2. Dick LeBeau, defensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week, the Steelers celebrated 50 years of NFL service as a player and coach for LeBeau. That is an amazing accomplishment in itself. But not only that, LeBeau's defenses remain on the cutting edge of the NFL after all these years. The Steelers' defense has yet to have a bad game, and LeBeau is arguably the biggest reason Pittsburgh is sitting pretty at 8-3 and in a position to win every single week.

3. Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers

LeBeau is the brains on the sidelines, but Polamalu is the heart and soul of Pittsburgh's vaunted defense on the field. He had another stellar performance in Week 12, garnering six tackles and an interception in a 27-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. It was his second pick in as many weeks and fifth on the season. Polamalu has stayed healthy all year and is playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Who's not?

1. Chad Ocho Cinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

It doesn't get much worse for a player than to be deactivated and sent home the day of the game. That's what happened to Ocho Cinco before last week's 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Reportedly he was late for a team meeting the night before the game and subordinate to the team and head coach Marvin Lewis. This may be the last straw for Ocho Cinco in Cincinnati. He clearly wants out and the team is not getting the same level of production from the receiver. Expect a mutual parting of ways before the 2009 season.

2. Brady Quinn, QB, Cleveland Browns

What happened? Just last week Quinn was viewed as the savior and future of the Browns' franchise. Suddenly on Sunday he was benched. Quinn finished the game 8-of-18 for 94 yards and two interceptions. It was a surprising move after just experiencing a benching two games prior. But backup Derek Anderson (51 yards, one interception) didn't do much better, which opens a question of who the Browns should turn to moving forward.

3. Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have nothing left to play for, but Benson is on a five-game audition for his current team and the rest of the NFL. In Cincinnati's only national game of the season, he had just 35 yards on 16 carries for an average of 2.2 yards per carry against the Steelers. Benson has shown flashes of being a former first-round pick, but he needs to be more consistent down the stretch if he wants to win Cincinnati's starting tailback job for 2009.