Tuesday, December 27, 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:
Power Ranking: No. 5
Comment: There was no change in the top six, so the Ravens remain at No. 5 for a second straight week. But Baltimore hasn't been playing at its best recently. Over the past two games, the offense has been hot-and-cold and the defense has looked vulnerable. Still, the Ravens can win the AFC North and secure a first-round bye in the playoffs for the first time in five years if they beat the Bengals.
Power Ranking: No. 6
Comment: As expected, the Steelers routed the Rams even without Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh has beaten the teams that it's supposed to beat, improving its record to 7-0 this season against teams that currently have losing records. But the Steelers are 1-4 against teams who have clinched playoff berths. That's got to change if the Steelers want an extended run in the postseason.
Power Ranking: No. 10
Comment: The Bengals were the only AFC team that moved in the rankings from last week. Cincinnati jumped three spots into the top 10 -- or should we say somersaulted there -- after ending Arizona's four-game winning streak and securing its third winning season in two decades. But it's tough to move the Bengals too much higher because they're 1-6 against teams that currently have winning records.
Power Ranking: No. 28
Comment: Even though they only lost by six points at the Ravens, the Browns looked like the NFL's worst team at times with their time management mistake at the end of the first half and their offside penalty at the end of the game. Cleveland has lost five in a row, which is its longest losing streak since 2009. The Browns' four wins have come against teams whose combined record is 18-42 (.300).