AFC North Power Rankings: Pittsburgh Steelers’ struggles pushing Baltimore closer
By Alex Fasano
The AFC North saw more change as the Pittsburgh Steelers suffered their third straight loss, falling to Oakland.
Week 15 saw some hiccups for the AFC North. The Browns were the only team from the division to walk away with a win. Now the Steelers and Ravens are separated by half a game, making these last few weeks very important to the postseason picture.
While they may not be mathematically eliminated quite yet, you may as well count them out. After the Bengals fell to the Chargers, 26-21, Cincinnati sits at 5-8, and has little to no hope of seeing the postseason.
Andy Dalton and AJ Green are out, and Jeff Driskel isn’t the answer, only throwing for 170 and a touchdown. Even with the loss, Joe Mixon had a day, gaining 111 yards and a score, on 26 carries.
The defense played well too, holding Philip Rivers and the Chargers to under 300 total yards. However, the mindset inside the locker room is rough, and the team might be looking to make some moves this off season.
The Browns continue to have fun the rest of this season. Taking down the failing Panthers, 26-20, the Browns have a lot of balance on both sides of the football. Baker Mayfield threw for 238 yards and a score, while Nick Chubb ran for 66 yards and a touchdown.
They totaled 116 total yards on the ground. The Browns could finish 8-7-1, if they manage to win out, which is very much possible against the Broncos, Bengals, and Ravens.
The Ravens are fighting for their lives right now. Coming up just short against the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in overtime. Baltimore’s top 5 defense was torched for 441 total yards, 377 of which, came from Patrick Mahomes. Lamar Jackson had 218 total yards and two touchdowns. Jackson, Gus Edwards, and Kenneth Dixon combined for 198 rushing yards.
The Ravens still hold that AFC #6 seed and need to win out in order to stay in the race. Like their division rivals in Pittsburgh, Baltimore’s schedule favors the bold, with games against the Bucs, Chargers, and Browns in that order.
A dark cloud has appeared over the Steel City, as the Steelers fell to the Raiders 24-21. What a turnaround for this team. So much potential, plenty of talent, huge expectations, and yet, they can’t get it done when it matters most.
Ben Roethlisberger was hurt, but then came back to the sidelines, but didn’t go into the game right away, whatever the case may be, he still finished with 282 yards and two scores. Juju Smith-Schuster went off for 130 yards and two scores.
Is it coaching? Is it the special teams? Are there leadership concerns? Maybe all the above. Despite all the chaos, the Steelers still control their own destiny, holding onto the #4 seed. They host the Patriots this week, visit the Saints next, and end with Cincinnati at home.