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AFC North Recap: Two in, two out, as the regular season comes to an end

The season is over for half of the AFC North, while the other two prepare for a long offseason.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The eighteenth, and final, 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.

Cincinnati Bengals - 27
Baltimore Ravens - 16

The Bengals and Ravens squared off in the regular season finale with the NFL making a ruling that if the Ravens beat the Bengals Sunday, a coin flip could decide where the AFC Wild Card game would be played. It didn’t come to that as the Ravens made it clear before kickoff they were resting players and preparing for the postseason. No Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley meant Anthony Brown got the start for Baltimore. No Mark Andrews equated in another massive offensive threat resting. The Ravens weren’t going to risk injury in a Week 18 game when their spot in the playoffs was already slotted. Now, with these two teams playing again next weekend, the big question is will the Ravens have Jackson back, or will he still be hampered by the PCL injury suffered over a month ago? It’s safe to say, if he can’t play, the Bengals might be too much for a banged up Ravens team to handle.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 28
Cleveland Browns - 14

The Steelers needed to win, and get help, to make the AFC Playoffs. They won, but didn’t get the help necessary to make their postseason dreams come true. However, if there was a way for the Steelers to finish the season on a high note, without making the playoffs, it would be winning four straight and beating their rivals by 14 in front of the home crowd. That’s exactly what they did, and the win had a ripple effect. Much to the dismay of many Steelers fans, it kept Mike Tomlin’s non-losing streak in tact, it also lifted their division record to 3-3 on the year, and also helped them avoid a losing record at home for the first time in a long time. Sure, the playoffs didn’t happen, but Steelers fans will have plenty to look forward to this offseason with a great core of players remaining for at least the 2023 season.

AFC North Standings

Cincinnati Bengals - 12-4
Baltimore Ravens - 10-7
Pittsburgh Steelers - 9-8
Cleveland Browns - 7-10

AFC North Playoff Schedule:

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals — 8:15 p.m. ET, Sunday