AFC North Round Up, Week 13: Steelers and Ravens Make it Two-Way Race with Just Four Games to Play

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on while playing the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 4, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 35-7. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Another week, another tour around the AFC North to see how the divisional standings look, who did what this week, and where the contenders within the division stack up against the rest of their playoff contending peers in the conference.

AFC North Standings (through Week 10)
Team Record Div. Record Conf. Record Streak Scoring Differential
Baltimore Ravens
9-3 4-0 6-2 Won3 + 104
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-3 2-2 7-3 Won 3
+ 73
Cincinnati Bengals 7-5 2-3
6-4 Lost 1 + 20
Cleveland Browns 4-8 0-3 3-6 Lost 2 - 65

AFC North Week 12 Breakdown

Baltimore Ravens
  • Record: 9-3

  • Week 13 Result: 24-10 W at Cleveland Browns
  • How they did it: Much like the Steelers did against Cincinnati, Baltimore took care of business easily against the Browns on Sunday afternoon. Had Billy Cundiff not missed two first half field goals, the game could have been even more lopsided than the final score suggested. Also similar to Pittsburgh was the way in which Baltimore went about winning handily -- instead of asking Joe Flacco to throw the ball 35+ times unnecessarily, Cam Cameron finally fed Ray Rice the rock early and often. The reward? A 204 yard performance on 29 carries from the Rutgers product. The 29 carries . To boot, Ricky Williams got 16 carries himself (as many as Rashard Mendenhall), which he took advantage of to the tune of 76 yards and 1 TD. Rice's 204 yards set a career high, and his 29 carries were the most in a game this season, a just two shy of his career high of 31 set against New Orleans in 2010.
  • Remaining Games: vs. Indianapolis Colts, at San Diego Chargers, vs. Cleveland Browns, at Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Record: 9-3
  • Week 13 Resultvs: 35-7 W vs. Cincinnati Bengals
  • How they did it: The Steelers weren't able to really get their first series of punches in until the second quarter, but once they connected one on the chin of the Bengals in that period, the hits came fast and furious for the next 20 or so minutes of game clock after which the Steelers found themselves leading comfortably, 35-7, with plenty of time still left in the third quarter. Nothing on the stat sheet really stands out at you -- both from an individual and a collective standpoint -- but the Steelers were really quite sound in all three phases of the game. I suppose James Harrison's second three-sack game of the season stands out, but all came within an 11-snap span. Helpful in that those came in the middle part of the game when the Steelers were running away from the Bengals, but still, Harrison's trio of sacks alone were not the primary reason why the Steelers won. Every unit, really, played a role in the W. Great focused effort coming off Week 12 when the Steelers failed to do much right -- or at least not in succession -- against the Chiefs. No surprise to me seeing Mike Tomlin using the sub-par effort as motivation to get his team ready to play more cleanly down the stretch.
  • Remaining Games: vs. Cleveland Browns, at San Francisco 49ers, vs. St. Louis Rams, at Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals
  • Record: 7-5
  • Week 12 Result: 7-35 L at Pittsburgh Steelers
  • How they did it: A few things break different for Cincinnati in this one and perhaps it's a closer game. Penalties and a blocked field goal certainly prohibited Marvin Lewis' squad from establishing some much-need confidence and stability early on in the game so that they'd be able to withstand the Steelers' inevitable flurry at some point. Next Sunday's home tilt against the Texans may not be a 'must-win', but let's just say they better not lose both of their remaining two AFC games on the schedule if they hope to win a wild card. If they're going to lose a game, it'd be better off coming against St. Louis or Arizona out of conference. I don't think the Bengals will hold on, but when you lose two straight and still find yourself in the No. 6 hole this late in the season, you know you've done something right.
  • Remaining Games: vs. Houston Texans, at St. Louis Rams, vs. Arizona Cardinals, vs. Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns
  • Record: 4-8
  • Week 13 Result: 10-24 L vs. Baltimore Ravens
  • How they did it: What's the point? Cleveland's offense continues to lack explosiveness in both the ground and passing games, and after getting by with smoke and mirrors for much of the season, the Browns' defense got exposed for the only-average bunch that it is in Week 13. The Ravens rushed for nearly 300 yards (290), possessed the ball for over 37:30 seconds, and doubled up on the total yardage of Cleveland (448 vs. 223).
  • Remaining Games: at Pittsburgh Steelers, at Arizona Cardinals, at Baltimore Ravens, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

************

AFC Standings Through Week 10:

  1. New England Patriots (9-3)

  2. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)

  3. Houston Texans (9-3)

  4. Denver Broncos (7-5)

  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)

  6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)

  7. Tennessee Titans (7-5)

  8. Oakland Raiders (7-5)

  9. New York Jets (7-5)

Incredible day at the office for the AFC teams in playoff contention heading into Week 13. Outside of the Bengals, who of course lost to the Steelers, the remaining eight top seeds in the conference all won. The standings shuffled a bit due to tiebreakers (Houston's win came over a non-conference Falcons squad, for example, which explains why they fell behind Baltimore and New England despite heading into Week 13 ad the No. 1 seed and and winning to improve to 9-3 along with the Pats and Ravens). More on that in a separate post though.

Go Steelers!

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