Monday, October 25, 2010
Previewing AFC North Power Rankings
By James Walker
It was an eventful Week 7 in the AFC North as all four teams played outside the division.
Here is how Sunday's games could impact ESPN.com's upcoming Power Rankings:
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1)
Last week: No. 1
Result: Beat Miami, 23-22
Analysis: There will be complaints all week about how the Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins via a controversial fumble. But that likely will have no impact on this week's Power Rankings. ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton has been voting the New York Jets No. 1 for the past few weeks, while the rest of the panel voted the Steelers as the top team. Look for the Steelers to remain at the top this week. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
Projected range: No. 1-2
Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
Last week: No. 4
Result: Beat Buffalo, 37-34 (OT)
Analysis: The Ravens barely took care of business by beating the Bills in overtime, and that won't earn many style points. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Baltimore dropped a spot or two this week after barely surviving at home against the NFL's only winless team. Although the Ravens aren't happy about their performance, the good news is they are going into the bye at 5-2, which is a very good start.
Projected range: No. 4-6
Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
Last week: No. 20
Result: Lost to Atlanta, 39-32
Analysis: This ship is sinking fast. The Bengals simply do not play smart as a football team, and the bye week produced no improvement in that area in a 39-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. I rated the Bengals the lowest on the panel last week, because I didn't like the way they were playing in back-to-back losses to the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although this team has depth and talent, its execution is near the bottom third of the league.
Projected range: No. 24-26
Cleveland Browns (2-5)
Last week: No. 30
Result: Beat New Orleans, 30-17
Analysis: After a huge win over the over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on the road, the Browns should finally get a little respect in the Power Rankings. This could be the first time all season the Browns are ranked higher than the Bengals. Right now the Browns are certainly playing better football, and considering Cleveland owns the head-to-head advantage, I will vote the Browns higher than the Bengals in my ballot this week. I'm curious to see if my fellow panelists will do the same.
Projected range: No. 25-27