The sixteenth 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.
New Orleans Saints - 17
Cleveland Browns -10
Like the Steelers, the Browns’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread, and their loss along the shores of Lake Eerie to the Saints plunged those hopes for good. The Browns are the first AFC North team to be eliminated from the AFC Playoffs. Like the Denver Broncos faithful are wondering with Russell Wilson, many Browns fans are wondering if Deshaun Watson is the guy they paid handsomely and committed to for the long haul, or if his time off proved to be too much to overcome. Those questions will last well into a very long offseason in Cleveland.
Cincinnati Bengals - 22
New England Patriots - 18
At one point this game was a Bengals blow out vs. a struggling New England team, but in the second half the Patriots stormed back and were close to taking the lead before a fumble did them in. Some might not want to admit it, but Cincinnati is proving, once again, to be one of the front-runners in the AFC. They have the ability to stand toe-to-toe with teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, and will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens - 17
Atlanta Falcons - 9
Again without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens punched their ticket to the playoffs with a dominant defensive performance. Against rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Ravens did what they often do vs. rookie quarterbacks — limit them in every possible way. While the Baltimore defense has had shades of dominance, their offense hasn’t been the same since coming off their bye week, and that was even with Jackson at quarterback. If they want to do damage in the postseason, they’ll have to show they can score with the high-flying teams who average well over 20 points per game.
Pittsburgh Steelers - 13
Las Vegas Raiders - 10
The 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception brought plenty of drama. Mourning the loss of legend Franco Harris, the Steelers and Raiders had a slugfest of a game which ended in the same score as the game back in 1972. The game-winning play wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it was 50 years ago, but the drive with just under three minutes remaining in the game was one of those memorable moments. It hopefully is the first of many for rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Pickett to Pickens connection is one which hopefully will be talked about for years to come.
AFC North Standings
Week 17 AFC North Schedule:
Cleveland Browns at Washington Commanders — 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens — 8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals — 8:15 p.m. ET, Monday
A look ahead...
The final opponents for all AFC North teams:
Baltimore Ravens: vs. Steelers, at Bengals
Cleveland Browns: at Washington, at Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers: at Ravens, vs. Browns
Cincinnati Bengals: vs. Bills, vs. Ravens