With the Baltimore Ravens falling to the Tennessee Titans 28-12 Saturday night in the Divisional round of the playoffs, it is the third straight year the AFC North has failed to win a playoff game. Don’t get me wrong, I was pulling for Tennessee and hoping Baltimore would lose. But as a division, the AFC North appears to be way behind the rest of the NFL in the postseason.
With the exception of the AFC North, every NFL division has at least one playoff victory in either the 2019 or 2018 season. The last playoff win for an AFC North team was when the Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 18–16 in the Divisional round of the 2016 postseason. The last time and AFC North team has won a playoff game who was not the Pittsburgh Steelers was when the Ravens won in Pittsburgh in the Wildcard round of the 2014 season.
Since the NFL realigned their divisions for the 2002 season, neither the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cleveland Browns have won a playoff game. The Browns last playoff win was in the 1994 season and it goes all the way back to 1990 for the Bengals. So in the 18 years of postseason games in which the AFC North has been in existence, only the Steelers and Ravens have managed to be victorious.
The 2019 season was also only the second time since divisions were realigned in which the AFC North held the number one seed in the playoffs. The Steelers were the top seed in the AFC in 2004 but fell in the AFC championship game. This season, the Baltimore Ravens failed to get even one playoff victory.
With the Ravens loss, it is now the longest streak in which the AFC North has not had a playoff victory. In 2006 and 2007 only one team represented the North in the playoffs and were bounced in the first round. In 2006 the Ravens fell at home to the Indianapolis Colts 15-6 while in 2007 it was the Steelers who suffered a two-point loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field. The following season, the Ravens won two playoff games before falling to the Steelers in the AFC championship game as the Steelers rattled off three playoff victories to win Super Bowl XLIII.
I don’t know if I’m in the majority, but I really don’t care about the success of the rest of the teams in the AFC North. I only care about the Steelers’ success. Yes, it does give the Steelers a little bit of validation when a team who finished ahead of them in the division does well, but the rivalries are too intense for me to wish continued success for any of the Steelers’ divisional foes. So even though the division is not looking good with not being able to finish the deal in a postseason game, all I really care about is the Steelers next playoff victory.