AFC North Power Rankings analysis

December, 29, 2010
12/29/10
2:30
PM ET
The AFC North went 3-1 in Week 16. Here is how the results impacted ESPN.com's Power Rankings:

Baltimore Ravens (11-4)

Cumulative vote: No. 3

Walker's vote: No. 3

Analysis: The Ravens moved up one spot after the Philadelphia Eagles lost on Tuesday night. Baltimore earned the season sweep over the Cleveland Browns, 20-10, in Week 16 to clinch a playoff berth. Barring a Browns upset over the Steelers, the Ravens will be a wild-card team but extremely dangerous in the playoffs. I think Baltimore matches up well with just about every AFC playoff team -- including the New England Patriots (13-2).

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

Cumulative vote: No. 5

Walker's vote: No. 5

Analysis: Pittsburgh moved up one spot in ESPN.com's Power Rankings after pummeling the lowly Carolina Panthers. Many in Steeler Nation were upset last week that Baltimore was rated ahead of Pittsburgh, even though the Steelers won the most recent meeting and likely will win the AFC North. It's a legitimate beef. But of the top five teams, I ranked Baltimore ahead of the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh behind the Saints after watching those three teams play head-to-head this year.

Cleveland Browns (5-10)

Cumulative vote: No. 25

Walker's vote: No. 28

Analysis: The Browns enter the final week of the season on a three-game losing streak. Cleveland fell three spots after losing to Baltimore. I ranked the Browns No. 28 because they've lost to some bad teams (Buffalo, Cincinnati) and have lost the formula that's made the team successful earlier this season. With questions about the future of the coaching staff and a key injury to running back Peyton Hillis (ribs), Cleveland will have a tough time beating Pittsburgh this week.

Cincinnati Bengals (4-11)

Cumulative vote: No. 30

Walker's vote: No. 25

Analysis: I was a little surprised Cincinnati stayed in the same spot after picking up a quality win over the San Diego Chargers. The Bengals dominated that game from start to finish, but it didn't impress the panel. I was impressed and rated Cincinnati No. 25. They've had an awful season, but they're playing solid football the past two weeks. A road game against Baltimore will be a huge test.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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