AFC North Power Ranking 2018 Season in Review: Pittsburgh Steelers crumble
The Pittsburgh Steelers were top dog in the AFC North right up until the end, and will now spend their postseason at home.
2018 is officially behind us. It’s a new year and that means, another postseason in the NFL. The AFC North finished in dramatic fashion, with the Baltimore Ravens earning their fifth division title and the #4 seed in the playoffs. The Steelers epic collapse included losing four of their last six and ended with drama in the locker room between Antonio Brown and Big Ben. The Browns fell in their last game but finished with seven wins for the first time since 2014. The Bengals, and their injured plagued season, ended in last place for the first time since 2010.
What was once the Cleveland Browns, is now the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals finished in last place for the first time since 2010. After Andy Dalton went down, Jeff Driskel stepped in. After AJ Green went down, Tyler Boyd stepped in. After Boyd went down, the season went as well. A plague of injuries hindered this team, especially after starting 5-3 entering their bye.
Dalton finished the season with 2,566 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and an 89.6 passer rating. The biggest positive to take away from the year is Joe Mixon, who finished 1,168 yards and 8 touchdowns, in his second year.
After the season, the team fired head coach Marvin Lewis, who after 16 seasons, finished with 131-122-3 (.518) and 0-7 in the postseason. This offseason will be filled with physical therapy, a new hiring process, and developing a game plan to counter the rest of this incredibly talented division.
This 2018 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers could go down as one of the worst collapses in NFL history. After going 7-2-1, the Steelers lost 4 of their next 6 games to finish 9-6-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The most unbelievable aspect throughout all of this, must be the amount of talent on this team.
It’s insane that they collapsed like this. Ben Roethlisberger finished with the most passing yards in the NFL this year, with 5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, and a 96.5 passer rating. Antonio Brown ended with 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns, while fellow star wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster finished with 1,426 yards and 7 touchdowns.
James Conner had his breakout season, with 973 yards and 12 touchdowns in the aftermath of the Le’Veon Bell drama throughout the season. Drama surrounding All-Star players, a complete lack of defense, coaching troubles, the list goes on and on! Something needs to be done in Pittsburgh this off-season, and whether it can be resolved before next season remains to be seen.
The Cleveland Browns had a much better season than their record shows. Finishing at 7-8-1 doesn’t seem like a good year, but the Browns came in 3rd place in the division for the first time since 2010.
The future is secure in Cleveland, as Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb have taken over the franchise. Baker finished his rookie year with 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a 93.7 passer rating. Nick Chubb finished his rookie year with 996 yards and 8 touchdowns. The biggest question this offseason comes from the front office.
After the dust eventually settles from the Hue Jackson debacle, do the Browns decide to keep Gregg Williams or move in a different direction? Whatever decision they make, the talent on this team in there and they have all the potential to walk away with a playoff berth, possibly even a division title.
The Baltimore Ravens have done it! Winning six of their last seven games, with a rookie quarterback, and a league best defense, the Ravens earned their 5th division title in franchise history. What a year for this Baltimore team.
Entering their week 10 bye at 4-5, the team benched their franchise quarterback Joe Flacco for the last rookie QB drafted in 2018, Lamar Jackson. The young stud finished his rookie year with 1,896 total yards (695 rushing), 11 total touchdowns (5 rush), three interceptions, and an 84.5 QBR. The team’s defense finished in the top five in total yards allowed (1st – 292), rushing yards (4th – 82.5), passing yards (5th – 210).
This team is starting to look like the proverbial playoff dark horse, with this dominant defense. The postseason begins with the Wild Card round, as the Ravens host the Los Angeles Chargers.