Tuesday, December 7, 2010
AFC North Power Rankings Analysis
By James Walker
The AFC North went .500 in Week 13.
Here is how things shook out in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings:
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Cumulative vote: No. 3
Walker's vote: No. 4
Analysis: Pittsburgh moved up two spots to No. 3 this week after a huge 13-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh jumped Baltimore along with the New York Jets, who I've been saying for weeks are overrated and confirmed it with a 45-3 blowout to the New England Patriots. I voted Pittsburgh No. 4. The only difference is I ranked the Saints ahead of the Steelers after sharing the same record and winning the head-to-head battle.
Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
Cumulative vote: No. 4
Walker's vote: No. 5
Analysis: ESPN.com's panel showed the Ravens a lot of respect by keeping them at No. 4 for the second straight week, despite a tough loss to Pittsburgh. Baltimore led the game throughout but gave up 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to even the season series with the Steelers. The Ravens are still a force in the AFC. But they probably lost their chance to have home-field advantage in the playoffs and will need some help to get back in the AFC North race with the Steelers.
Cleveland Browns (5-7)
Cumulative vote: No. 21
Walker's vote: No. 20
Analysis: The Browns haven't reached the teens all season in ESPN.com's Power Rankings. One more win might do it, and Cleveland has a good shot this week against the lowly Buffalo Bills. The Browns are 4-2 in their last six games and seem to be getting all the breaks lately. Perhaps this momentum could carry Cleveland to a .500 finish.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-10)
Cumulative vote: No. 30
Walker's vote: No. 30
Analysis: This was the only team that matched my personal vote with the final tally this week. Everyone agrees the Bengals are one of the bottom three teams in the league, but they're not quite as bad as the Detroit Lions (2-10) and Carolina Panthers (1-11). The Bengals showed some fight in a 34-30 loss to New Orleans. But they continue their season-long trend of making mistakes at the worst possible time, which is what bad teams do. The Bengals have another chance to pull off an upset Sunday against the Steelers. Cincinnati played the Steelers tough at home earlier this season.