Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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: The Ravens remain at No. 5 for a third straight week, sitting behind the top seed in the AFC (New England) and a team that they've beaten (San Francisco). Baltimore was rewarded with a first-round bye in the playoffs, but the Ravens haven't hit their stride going into the postseason. The overall season was a big success for the Ravens, who went undefeated at home and in the division for the first time in team history.
Power Ranking: No. 6
Comment: The Steelers are still stuck at No. 6 even though they won six of their final seven games to end the regular season. Pittsburgh is the highest ranked of the wild-card teams. The Steelers continue to beat the teams they're supposed to beat, finishing the season with an 8-0 record against teams that currently have a losing record. Pittsburgh is 3-4 against the teams who made the playoffs.
Power Ranking: No. 11
Comment: For the second straight week, the Bengals were the only AFC team that moved in the rankings. Cincinnati dropped one spot after losing to AFC North champion Baltimore, which continues a disturbing trend. The Bengals are 1-6 against teams that currently have winning records. Cincinnati isn't the lowest-ranked playoff team. That honor goes to Denver, which is ranked No. 14.
Power Ranking: No. 28
Comment: It's never positive when a team ends a season on a six-game losing streak. But you have to give the Browns credit for staying in these games and not imploding like Tampa Bay. Cleveland's last three losses were by a total of 13 points. Still, there's a lot of work to be done. The Browns' four wins have come against teams whose combined record is 20-44 (.312).