Nov 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones (97) reacts to a play against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
With the Baltimore Ravens losing Sunday in overtime against the Chicago Bears, coupled with a Cincinnati Bengals win over the Cleveland Browns, the Bengals are alone in first-place in the AFC North by 2.5 games. They get to rest-up on their bye week while the other three teams in the division are in action today.
Here is the most updated standings in the North:
In this week’s division action, the Cleveland Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Baltimore Ravens host the New York Jets.
And here’s the remaining schedule for all four teams for the rest of the season after Week 12:
Nov 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor celebrates an interception as Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson (81) reacts during the second half at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won the game, 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals just need to keep winning, but with their bye week this week, they’re guaranteed to lose half of a game in their lead. While the Browns and the Ravens were viewed as the only challengers to them just last week, the mediocrity of the four teams in this division has allowed the Steelers to claw their way back to relevancy in the AFC playoff picture.
Despite their 0-4 start, they are just a game out of the race for the second wild-card berth. That essentially makes this week’s rivalry game between they and the Browns a playoff game of sorts, in that the loser will have no realistic shot of winning the division.The Steelers’ six remaining opponents have a combined record of 29-32. Only the Bengals (7-4) have a winning record, and the Steelers play them at home on Dec. 15, so they have a real shot at winning the North.
And the chase for the final playoff spot in the AFC is wide open for all four teams in the North, as the New York Jets (5-5) and Miami Dolphins (5-5) are barely leading for the sixth spot pack.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Jets come to Baltimore vs a Ravens team that will be in must-win mode. Baltimore should win at home against a young Jets team that struggles mightily to win away from New York, and that would muddy-up the playoff picture even more.