For the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, there is still plenty to play for with 5 games remaining in this 2015 NFL season. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your fan loyalty, the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens can't say the same thing.
After 12 weeks of NFL action, the Bengals have a firm grip on the division with a 9-2 record. After Cincinnati, the Steelers at 6-5 are the second best team followed by the 4-7 Ravens and 2-9 Browns. Quite the difference from 2014 when 3 teams from the AFC North were represented in the AFC Playoffs.
Nonetheless, with Week 13 at the doorstep, it is time to take a look at the AFC North's Week 13 schedule, and how it could impact each team moving forward.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns - 1:00 p.m. EDT
In a no-brainer pick in this Week 13 matchup of division rivals, the Browns and head coach Mike Pettine try to cling to any ounce of life they have left in them after such a dismal season. Quarterback Josh McCown is out for the season with a collar bone injury, and the team is turning to Austin Davis rather than Johnny Manziel due to Manziel's most recent transgressions off the field. If the train wreck that is the Browns isn't enough to drive you away from this game, the fact the Bengals are possibly the most complete team in the league should make this game a laugher. If you a fan of competitive NFL football, this might not be the game for you Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins - 1:00 p.m. EDT
The Ravens are hanging by a thread in terms of their hopes of making something out of their injury-plagued season. If they win their final 5 games they will finish 9-7, but tiebreakers would likely ruin any chance the team has at making the postseason. Despite the Ravens' poor record doesn't spoil the fact this game has a bit of intrigue to it. The Dolphins (5-6) are in a must-win situation, and the Ravens could be the perfect spoiler for the Dolphins playing at home. If you love the Matt Schaub vs. Ryan Tannehill story line, this game is for you.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts - 8:25 p.m. EDT
Speaking of must-win games, this is about as close to a must-win game for the Steelers as it gets. With 5 games remaining, Pittsburgh desperately needs a win to propel themselves back into the playoff picture. Not only would this game give the Steelers their 7th win, it would be a crucial AFC victory for the home team. The Steelers' poor AFC record will be an integral part of their postseason hopes if it comes down to tiebreakers. On Sunday Night Football, there will be a lot at stake for the boys in black and gold.