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AFC North Recap: Bengals take the crown, but only the Browns are dead

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2021 AFC North champions, and they deserve it.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The seventeenth week of NFL football is behind us, and it was quite the week in the AFC North division. With that said, it is time to see how the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns all did in the week that was.

Time to take a look...

Los Angeles Rams - 20
Baltimore Ravens - 19

The game between the Rams and Ravens didn’t mean much for the Steelers, based on the fact the Steelers play the Ravens in Week 18. Nonetheless, it was shocking to see Matthew Stafford look so inept at times against a depleted Ravens’ defense. In my opinion, it is crazy how these AFC North teams look when they play non-divisional opponents. The familiarity between the Ravens, Bengals, Browns and Steelers is incredible, and is a reason why these divisional games are always a toss up. Throw in an NFC West team like the Rams who had to travel across the country for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff, and you get the end result. The Ravens are a scrappy team, and I’ll give John Harbaugh a ton of credit for keeping them competitive, and their thin playoff hopes alive heading into Week 18.

Cincinnati Bengals - 34
Kansas City Chiefs - 31

In what was clearly the shocker of the weekend, the Bengals threw a giant wrench into the Ravens and Steelers’ playoff hopes. With the win, it locked up the AFC North title for Cincinnati, and made the odds of either Baltimore or Pittsburgh making the playoffs extremely long. There comes a time when you have to tip your cap to a team, and the time to tip the cap to Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and company would be after their Week 17 performance. Chase and Burrow are going to be a dagger in the thorn of AFC North competition for years to come, and don’t expect that to change anytime soon. The Bengals have won the AFC North, locked up a playoff spot, and might just be the face of the division moving forward. It makes me sick to my stomach saying that, but it just might be true.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 24
Cleveland Browns - 16

Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game lived up to the billing. No, Roethlisberger didn’t play his best game, but when he needed help he got it. Whether it was the defense’s nine sacks, T.J. Watt’s relentless style of play, Akhello Witherspoon continuing to play at a high level, Najee Harris tearing up the Browns’ defense or even Chris Boswell being the Mr. Reliable everyone expects every week. For all the times Ben Roethlisberger has lifted up this team throughout his 18 year career, it was fitting this game it was the team who lifted him up. Only the cynical will look back on this game and remember Roethlisberger’s lackluster performance, while the other fans will think back on what a magical moment it was for those in attendance at Heinz Field, and those watching on national television around the world. What a night for No. 7.

AFC North Standings

Cincinnati Bengals - 10-6-0
Pittsburgh Steelers - 8-7-1
Baltimore Ravens - 8-8-0
Cleveland Browns - 7-8-0

Week 18 AFC North Schedule:

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals — 1 p.m. ET, Sunday
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns — 1 p.m. ET, Sunday

A look ahead...

Final opponents for all AFC North teams:

Baltimore Ravens: vs. Steelers
Cleveland Browns: vs. Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers: at Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals: at Browns