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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: AFC North outlook

By Jamison Hensley



A look at how the AFC North teams stand in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings. I don't have a vote, but I can certainly chime in:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Power Ranking: No. 2

Record: 9-3

Comment: The Ravens remain No. 2 for the second straight week. Baltimore won't be able to move much higher, considering the undefeated Packers will likely stay No. 1 even if they lose a game. The Ravens' résumé of wins is impressive: San Francisco, Houston, Pittsburgh (twice) and Cincinnati. That's one-third of the current playoff field. That's what makes some of Baltimore's losses (namely Jacksonville and Seattle) so bizarre.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Power Ranking: No. 5

Record: 9-3

Comment: The Steelers stay at No. 5 for a second straight week after an impressive 35-7 win over the Bengals. The AFC North is the only division to have two teams in the top 5. The Steelers' only losses have come to No. 2 Baltimore and No. 7 Houston. The second loss to the Ravens is the painful one. Pittsburgh is one major lapse (a 92-yard touchdown drive by Joe Flacco) away from having an eight-game win streak and the inside track for a division title.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Power Ranking: No. 14

Record: 7-5

Comment: The Bengals should be thankful they only slipped one spot after getting routed in Pittsburgh. They're not even the lowest-ranked 7-5 team. The Raiders (who lost to Miami) and the Bears (who fell to Kansas City) dropped past Cincinnati after more troubling losses. The Bengals have a critical game against the No. 7 Texans on Sunday.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Power Ranking: No. 28

Record: 4-8

Comment: The Browns are the lowest ranked of the 4-8 teams and deservedly so. Their offense and defense both failed to show against Baltimore. Here's an interesting note: three of the Browns' wins have come against teams who have or eventually might fire their head coaches (Jacksonville, Miami and Indianapolis).