For the final time in the 2016 season, I’ll recap what went down in the AFC North Division in the week that was. Week 17 was all about the divisional matchups, but what you actually saw when the dust settled was a rather mediocre division.
Before we get to all of that, it’s time to recap the games:
The Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs in Week 16, and the Bengals were eliminated in Week 15, but the Bengals were the team who actually came out to play in Week 17. The Ravens seemed to be more interested in getting their vacation plans intact rather than winning their last game of the regular season. Maybe they were losing for draft position, but it was a shame to see Steve Smith Sr. go out the way he did. He’s a player you hate when he’s not on your team, but you love him if he is. Unfortunately, the Ravens sent him off with a dud performance.
If there was an award for the weirdest game of the day, it would have to go to the Steelers vs. Browns showdown at Heinz Field. Not only did the Browns seem okay with trying their little hearts out to lose the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they even managed to find a way to mess up those plans. A Landry Jones interception returned for a touchdown? Think again. A fumble into the end zone gives Pittsburgh the ball back. Crowell in the red-zone ready to punch it in? Nope...fumble. Robert Griffin III about to put the Browns up 21-0? No, try a Ryan Shazier interception instead. And that was just the tip of the iceberg in this meaningless showdown. But if you watched the game, you certainly remember all of the oddities that took place. Nonetheless, the Steelers win seven games in a row heading into the playoffs.
So, the AFC North is ruled by the Steelers again but, overall, this division was a huge disappointment. Most picked Pittsburgh to win it all, but no one saw the Bengals falling flat on their faces, or the Ravens being as hot and cold as they were. There was a time when the AFC North had three teams in the AFC Playoffs. Now? Just one.
For the final time this year, it’s time to update the division standings.
2016 Final AFC North Standings
Pittsburgh Steelers - 11-5
Baltimore Ravens - 8-8
Cincinnati Bengals - 6-9-1
Cleveland Browns - 1-15