Another week has come and gone for the four teams in the AFC North. All played this past Sunday. First to the standings.
AFC North Standings
Outlook: The Steelers turned in their best performance of the year since Week 1 on Monday Night, particularly in the second half. Huge game this coming Sunday against the Colts for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that a W there would give them a head-to-head W over an AFC foe that will be a top challenger for a Wild Card, should the Steelers eventually be passed by the Ravens.
Outlook: The Rat Birds continue to quietly go about their business (at least when they're not yapping) and now find themselves 5-3. Rookies Ray Rice and Joe Flacco had huge days in the Ravens' comeback win over the Browns. Rice rushed for 150+ yards, and Flacco threw for 248 yards on just 29 attempts, with 2 TDs. The Ravens now have two more road games against Houston and the NY Giants. Splitting those two would have the Ravens in managable position to make a playoff push in Coach Harbaugh's first year. If Ray Rice is providing that offense with a credible ground game, they'll certainly be in plenty of ball games down the stretch. I personally don't think they'll -quite- get there this year, even in the dilluted down AFC. Next year? Look out.
Outlook: The Brady Quinn Era has begun in Cleveland! Quinn, the 2nd year pretty boy out of ND, will start Thursday night against the Denver Broncos. There are worse opponents to draw in this situation. The Broncos don't stop the run very well (30th in NFL) and their pass defense ain't much better. Still, it's hard to imagine Mike Shanahan won't have some new looks for Quinn. At 3-5, this is basically it for them. 9 wins won't win this division this year, and even if the AFC East teams beat up on each other, I can't imagine two of the following teams not having at least 10 wins by year's end: Buffalo, New England, Miami, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Pittsburgh. It's make or break for Romeo Crennel with this move. His coaching life in Cleveland is in Brady Quinn's hands. Yikes.