NFL Nation: New England Patroits

AFC North Power Rankings analysis

November, 2, 2010
11/02/10
2:18
PM ET
With the division going winless in Week 8, here is how things stand in ESPN.com's latest Power Rankings:

Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Cumulative vote: No. 2

Walker's vote: No. 2

Analysis: As expected, the Ravens moved up two places after the bye. The Steelers and New York Jets both lost on Sunday. The Ravens have won four of five games and are well rested. They have set themselves up well to make a second-half push, and it starts Sunday against the tough Miami Dolphins. I still expect the Ravens to be more dominant and efficient, considering their talent. But it's hard to nitpick too much when they're winning. Baltimore is deserving of this No. 2 post.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)

Cumulative vote: No. 3

Walker's vote: No. 3

Analysis: A road loss to the New Orleans Saints knocked the Steelers from the No. 1 spot this week. Pittsburgh dropped two places to No. 3. All four members voted the same. The Steelers were outplayed by the Saints on both sides of the football. Still, Pittsburgh had a chance to win late until tight end Heath Miller fumbled the ball, eliminating a chance for the Steelers to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Steelers will play their third consecutive road game Monday against the Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-5)

Cumulative vote: No. 25

Walker's vote: No. 26

Analysis: Our Power Rankings panel missed the boat for the second week in a row by voting the Bengals higher than the Browns. This time only one place separated the two teams. I understand the decision. If you don't closely watch the Bengals stumble through games every week, like this AFC North blogger, you may feel on paper they should still be rated higher. But, simply put, the Browns are playing better football with less talent and they won the head-to-head meeting over Cincinnati. Surprisingly, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, who was right about the Bengals all along, gave Cincinnati the highest vote at No. 23 and the Browns the lowest vote at No. 28.

Cleveland Browns (2-5)

Cumulative vote: No. 26

Walker's vote: No. 25

Analysis: The Browns moved up a couple places to No. 26 this week, one spot lower than my personal vote. Cleveland still has to prove its win over the New Orleans Saints wasn't a fluke. The Browns will get a chance to gain even more respect this week against the New England Patriots, who are ESPN.com's No 1 team.

Ravens halftime notes

January, 10, 2010
1/10/10
2:44
PM ET
The Baltimore Ravens lead the New England Patriots 24-7 at intermission.

Here are some halftime observations:

  • Baltimore is a notoriously slow-starting team. But this was the best start the Ravens had all season. An 83-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice ignited the team, and three early turnovers forced by the defense gave Baltimore a 24-0 lead. The Ravens are not a team that blows big leads. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the second half.
  • At this rate, consider this a coming-out party for Rice. In front of a national audience, the first-time Pro Bowler is putting his best foot forward in a huge playoff game. Rice is breaking the first tackle on most runs and has 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the first half.
  • Not challenging the muffed punt was a bad decision by Ravens coach John Harbaugh. New England's Kyle Arrington recovered the ball, but appeared to lose control as he was falling out of bounds. The play led to New England’s only touchdown of the first half.
  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady does not look comfortable in the pocket. The Ravens are getting solid pressure against New England, and Brady is making rushed decisions, including his two interceptions. The Ravens have two sacks and two additional hits on the quarterback. They need to keep the pressure going to hold the lead in the second half.

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