AFC North: 2013 NFL Week 10 Power Rankings

A weekly examination of the Bengals' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 9 | Last Week: 7 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Cincinnati Bengals avoided a possible free fall in the Week 10 Power Rankings released Tuesday. Instead of dropping dramatically, they slipped only from seventh to eighth five days after losing at Miami 22-20 in overtime. The four-person voting panel agreed with most who cover the team: that while the loss wasn't good, for now, it wasn't a death knell on the season, either.

It will be interesting to track what impact injuries will have on the Bengals. With a pair of tough division games looming before a bye, one would have to imagine that wins will help them rise through the rankings, particularly given how beaten up they are. Then again, the injuries -- four players have been lost for the season since it began -- could eventually be held against them. It could be a question of, as well as the Bengals have fought through their ailments lately, how much will they be able to keep doing the same by season's end?

Cincinnati has already beaten three of the current top-10 teams and will face a fourth, No. 2 Indianapolis, later this season.
A weekly examination of the Steelers’ Power Ranking:

Preseason: 16 | Last Week: 27 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Pittsburgh Steelers held steady in the rankings despite giving up the most points in franchise history in a 55-31 loss at New England. The offense kept pace with the Patriots for almost three quarters, but New England scored touchdowns on all four of its possessions in the fourth quarter to blow open the game. Here is a breakdown of the voting:

Ashley Fox: 29

Mike Sando: 22

Kevin Seifert: 28

John Clayton: 28

Dan Graziano: 27

Jamison Hensley: 28

The Steelers are 2-6 for the first time since 2006, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has vowed that he won't let any thoughts of quitting seep into the locker room. The Steelers won six of their last eight games in 2006, and that seems to be a best-case scenario this season given the struggles they have had on both sides of the ball.

The Steelers do play five of their final eight games at Heinz Field, and only three of their remaining opponents have winning records.
A weekly examination of the Browns’ Power Ranking:

Preseason: 28 | Last Week: 21 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Cleveland Browns are inching closer to relevance in the weekly ESPN Power Rankings. Relevance for these and other purposes is hereby defined as “in the top half of the league.”

That’s not a place where the Browns have spent much time since 2007, their last winning season. In 2012, the Browns spent 12 weeks ranked in the 30s (a nice way of saying 30th, 31st or 32nd), and from 2008 through 2012 they were in the 20s or 30s every week but the first three of the 2008 season.

A rather impressive win over Baltimore moved the Browns back to 18th, where they were three weeks ago. They were “relevant” (see definition above) this season after Week 6, when they were 16th, but Cleveland has not been higher than that since the second week of the 2008 season.

Since the rankings started in 2002, the Browns have had only 14 weeks in which they were in the top half of the league. The goal the final seven games is simple and clear: relevance.
A weekly examination of the Ravens' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 8 | Last Week: 15 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Baltimore Ravens' free fall on the Power Rankings continues -- they drop six spots this week. This is the Ravens' lowest ranking of the season and the team's worst showing in six seasons under coach John Harbaugh. The last time the Ravens were out of the top 20 was the end of the 2007 season, when they were 5-11 and ranked No. 25.

If you're looking for consolation, the Ravens aren't the only highly regarded team to disappoint this season. Three other teams that were in the preseason top 10 are currently ranked 20th or worse: the Washington Redskins (No. 22), Atlanta Falcons (No. 26) and Houston Texans (No. 28). The Ravens were in the top 10 only four weeks ago before suffering a three-game losing streak. As one of six voters on the Power Rankings, I put the Ravens at No. 21.

As far as the rest of the AFC North goes, the Cincinnati Bengals dropped one spot to No. 8, the Browns rose three spots to No. 18, and the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed at No. 27 for a second straight week.

Dan Graziano, Mike Sando and I will be discussing the Power Rankings in a live “Spreecast” chat at 1:30 p.m. ET. Click on the link here to join the chat.