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AFC North going for rare trifecta

12/19/2014

If the top three teams in the AFC North -- the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens -- all win this week, it would mark just the second time that an AFC division has had three teams with at least 10 wins since the current eight-division format began in 2012.

The only other time this occurred was in 2007, when the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans all finished with double-digit wins.

"We take pride in the division, for sure," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It’s a great division. We thought all season it was going to be a great division, and it’s proven to be that way. So, we’re just appreciative to be in the hunt at the end. [We’ll] try to do our best to finish strong.”

The Bengals (9-4-1) lead the AFC North, and the Steelers (9-5) and Ravens (9-5) are a half-game back. The Bengals play host to the Denver Broncos (11-3) on "Monday Night Football," the Steelers face the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) at home and the Ravens play at the Houston Texans (7-7).

The records of the AFC North teams are inflated due to playing the AFC South and NFC South, the two worst divisions in football. The AFC South is the only division that has two teams with double-digit losses, and the NFC South doesn't have a team with a winning record.

As a result, the four AFC North teams have a combined one out-of-division win against a team that currently has a winning record. That was the Steelers' 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in October.

If the season ended today, the Bengals, Steelers and Ravens would all make the playoffs. In the 13 years of the current playoff format, a division has sent three teams to the playoffs in the same season five times. The only time that has happened in the AFC North was in 2011, when the Ravens won the division and the Steelers and Bengals earned wild-card berths.