Pittsburgh Steelers: Who Is Ready To Capture The AFC North?


With five games remaining on the schedule, the AFC North heads into Week 13 with all four squads three games over .500. It is the first time in the history of the National Football League – according to the Elias Sports Bureau – that every team within a division is three games over .500 at any point in the season.

It also helps this season that the AFC North is 10-1-1 overall against the NFC South this season.

The bye weeks are in the books as the Bengals and Ravens are currently enjoying two-game winning streaks while the Browns and the Steelers are both coming off wins in their last contests played.

1) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4): Ben Roethlisberger is one of the most successful quarterbacks in the league in moving the ball down the field. The 6-foot-5, 241-pound signal caller is averaging 7.85 yards per passing attempt for his career which is fourth among active quarterbacks and ahead of this week’s opponent Drew Brees, who has 7.50 yards per attempt, with the New Orleans Saints.

While Jarvis Jones, Ike Taylor, Ryan Shazier, Troy Polamalu, and Shamarko Thomas made it back to the practice field on Monday, it is Lawrence Timmons who keeps rolling along as he extended his streak of consecutive regular-season games started to 64, which is the longest active streak among current Steelers.

The Black and Gold finish out the season on the road, at New Orleans, at Cincinnati, and at Atlanta, and at home at Heinz Field against Kansas City and Cincinnati. The combined record of their final five opponents is 29-24-2.

2) Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1): Despite Andy Dalton throwing an interception in the third quarter that was returned 60 yards for a score by the Texan’s Johnathan Joseph, the quarterback of the Bengals completed 24 of 35 for 233 yards and a touchdown to bring about another Cincinnati victory.

The defense has been getting the job done against the run as they have not allowed more than 75 yards rushing the last two weeks.

Coach Marvin Lewis’ crew close it out at Tampa Bay, at home against Pittsburgh, at Cleveland, at home against Denver, and at Pittsburgh. The combined record of that quintet is 31-24.

More from Ben Roethlisberger

3) Baltimore Ravens (7-4): Justin Forsett has been leading the charge on offense for the Ravens on their two-game win streak. The 5-foot-8, 197-pound running back has put up at least 100 yards and two touchdowns in each of the past two games. The seven-year veteran rushed for 182 yards and a pair of scores last week in Baltimore’s win at New Orleans.

Joe Flacco kept drives going against the Saints last Sunday as six of his seven pass completions on third down led to first downs. He was sacked only once, and he had no interceptions.

Coach John Harbaugh’s flock is at home to take on San Diego, away at Miami, home again against Jacksonville, away at Houston and then conclude the season at home against Cleveland. Those teams have put up a combined 26-29 record.

4) Cleveland Browns (7-4): In a game Cleveland almost gave away on Sunday to the Falcons in Atlanta, one of the bright spots for the Browns was undrafted rookie running back Isaiah Crowell as he rolled up a season-high 88 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.

Josh Gordon made his presence know in the Georgia Dome as the All-Pro wide receiver in his return, hauling in eight passes for 120 yards.

Coach Mike Pettine’s squad is going to end the season at Buffalo, home against Indianapolis then Cincinnati, away at Carolina and at Baltimore. Those five have combined for a 30-24-1 record.

Last Thoughts: Right now the win column in the AFC North looks like a slot machine in Vegas with seven’s lined up in a row to hit the jackpot. It would appear that Baltimore has the easiest road to the top while Cleveland has the edge on the toughest path as they come down the back stretch, playing three of five on the road.

My Prediction: I think the Steelers offense will seize the scoreboard over the last five games and Pittsburgh wraps up the season in first place with an 11-5 mark. Who in your opinion will capture first-place in the AFC North? Let City of Champions know in the comments section below.