Tuesday, November 30, 2010
AFC North Power Rankings analysis
By James Walker
The AFC North had a solid 3-1 record in Week 12.
Here is how the games impacted this week’s NFL Power Rankings:
Baltimore Ravens (8-3)
Cumulative vote: No. 4
Walker's vote: No. 3
Analysis: I'm not sure why the Ravens dropped one spot this week and swapped with the New York Jets to land at No. 4. Baltimore picked up a quality win by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4), while the Jets defeated the lowly Cincinnati Bengals (2-9). Plus, the Ravens own the head-to-head advantage, although that doesn't always come into play in the Power Rankings. My one complaint about New York, which I voted No. 6, is it padded its record by beating a lot of bad teams. Its last quality win was against the New England Patriots in Week 2. Both the Ravens and Jets have huge games against top opponents this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
Cumulative vote: No. 5
Walker's vote: No. 5
Analysis: The Steelers are right where I expected. All four voters had Pittsburgh No. 5 across the board. The Steelers are winning, but their offense is inconsistent and the penalties have been plentiful. Still, Pittsburgh is 8-3 without playing its best football. We will know exactly where the Steelers stand after Sunday's huge showdown against the Ravens. This rivalry usually brings out the best in both teams.
Cleveland Browns (4-7)
Cumulative vote: No. 24
Walker's vote: No. 26
Analysis: The Browns dropped one spot to No. 24 this week and have developed an ugly trend of playing down to their competition. If it wasn't for a missed field goal by John Kasay, Cleveland could have lost at home to the Carolina Panthers, who were ESPN.com's No. 32 team. Veteran Jake Delhomme doesn't look like the answer at quarterback. This team played its best ball when rookie Colt McCoy was under center, but he's nursing a sprained ankle. Cleveland has a tough road game coming up against the Miami Dolphins (6-5).
Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)
Cumulative vote: No. 30
Walker's vote: No. 30
Analysis: The Bengals are bad, but I did move them up one spot in my ballot this week after a somewhat competitive performance against the Jets. Every voter agreed on Cincinnati, as well, and ranked the Bengals No. 30 across the board. They probably won't win many games the rest of the season. So at this point it's about competing on a weekly basis. That has been challenging enough, as Cincinnati hasn't won a game since Sept. 26. Things won't get any easier against the New Orleans Saints (8-3) Sunday.