Well now that wasn’t expected!
The Cincinnati Bengals, led by backup-to-the-backup QB Ryan Finley, defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 to drop Mike Tomlin & Co. to (11-3) on the season. Just three weeks ago, the AFC North crown looked like a lock for the Steelers but now, doubt abounds. With two games remaining (COLTS, @Browns) it is quite possible that Week 17 will be a battle for the North in Cleveland on January 3 if the Browns beat the Jets on Sunday and the Steelers lose to the Colts.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, should the Steelers struggles continue, and there’s little evidence to suggest they won’t, and their slide brings them to the point of (11-5), the Browns would win the AFCN, assuming Cleveland beats the Jets this weekend. And as a wildcard pitted against the Steelers, the Ravens lose out by virtue of their (0-2) head to head record.
There’s a chance that the North ends up in a three-way tie, with each team finishing (11-5). And if it does, the Steelers will advance based upon the best head-to-head record amongst the three teams.
• Steelers: 3-1
• Ravens: 2-2
• Browns: 1-3
The Ravens and Browns would then be placed amongst the teams vying for a wildcard.
Should the Dolphins win out, they would finish at (11-5). If the Colts win out (@Steelers, JAGUARS) they will finish at (12-4) with the potential to claim the AFC South. And the Titans will be forced to travel to Lambeau Field to face the Packers on Sunday night and win, otherwise they could drop to (11-5) or worse, should they then go into Houston and lose to the Texans.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins and Titans all finish at (11-5). Which three teams would qualify as wild cards?
By virtue of their conference records, both (8-4) in this scenario, the Dolphins and Titans would advance. The Ravens and Browns would have (7-5) conference records and their tiebreaker would be determined by head-to-head records, which of course the Ravens own at (2-0). The Browns would go home and start planning for the offseason.
We’ll be breaking down all the tiebreakers on Monday evening on the Ravens Rap which you can find on Facebook Live!