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NFL Power Rankings: AFC North, Week 14

Washington Football Team v Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington Football Team v Pittsburgh Steelers
Amaar Burton
ANALYST
Modified 09 Dec 2020
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Technically, it's not too late for the second-place Cleveland Browns or the third-place Baltimore Ravens to catch the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers in the standings.

The Steelers' stunning loss to Washington on Monday -- their first of this NFL season -- leaves them with an 11-1 record entering Week 14. The Browns are 9-3 and the Ravens are 7-5. If the Steelers lose their remaining four games and their AFC North runners-up get hot, the Steelers could get caught.

But that's not likely. Even though Pittsburgh looked vulnerable in their loss, they're still the class of the division and one of the NFL's legit Super Bowl title favorites.

Coming off a late-ending NFL Week 13, here's the AFC North power ranking going into NFL Week 14.


4. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1)

The Bengals struck first in Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, as fill-in quarterback Brandon Allen connected with receiver Tyler Boyd on a 72-yard touchdown. And that was all the Bengals had.

Cincinnati didn't score again in the 19-7 loss, their fourth straight defeat. Allen was knocked out of the game and replaced by Ryan Finley, but Allen is expected to start next week when the Bengals host the Dallas Cowboys.


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3. Baltimore Ravens (7-5)

It's too early to say the Ravens are back, but they did snap a three-game losing skid on Tuesday and looked pretty good in the process. NFL MVP Lamar Jackson returned from COVID-19 in the Ravens' 34-17 win over the Cowboys, running for one touchdown and throwing for two scores.

The Ravens relied heavily on the run game against Dallas, perhaps even more than usual after learning they wouldn't have wide receiver Dez Bryant only a few minutes before kickoff. Bryant tested positive for COVID-19.

That strategy may not work against the NFL's better defenses, so Baltimore will need to get its passing game in order. They face the Browns on the road on "Monday Night Football" in Week 14.


2. Cleveland Browns (9-3)

The Browns did everything they could to blow a 38-7 halftime lead against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. As great as Cleveland looked in the first half, they looked just as terrible in the second half. Fortunately for them, the Titans ran out of time to come all the way back, and the Browns survived with a 41-35 victory.

The win ensured that the Browns will have their first over-.500 season since 2007, and they're in good position to make the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Typically carried by their running game, on Sunday the Browns were led by quarterback Baker Mayfield's four touchdown tosses and 334 yards.

Cleveland hosts the Ravens on "Monday Night Football" in Week 14.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1)

In the Steelers' defense, Monday's game against Washington was their third game in 16 days and they had a short turnaround going from playing the Ravens on Dec. 2 to Washington on Dec. 7. That's a tough schedule for even the best NFL team.

Pittsburgh's offense struggled in the 23-17 loss. Their leading rusher (Anthony McFarland Jr.) had just 15 yards. The running back who had the most carries (Benny Snell Jr., with eight) gained a total of five yards. Their two best receivers (JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool) combined for 66 yards on nine catches.

The defense was mostly solid, with the exception of allowing Washington's fourth-quarter comeback.

It's not like anyone expected the Steelers to go 11-1 through their first 12 games this season. They'll take the criticism for the loss now but this is still a team that's better than expected and among the NFL's elite.

Pittsburgh goes on the road to play the Buffalo Bills in Week 14.

Published 09 Dec 2020, 16:06 IST
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