AFC North Disappointing in Week 14

Charles LeClaire/ US PRESSWIRE

For a division with three playoff contending teams, the AFC North was hard to watch on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers all lost to lesser opponents in Week 14. On the bright side, all of these teams only lost divisional ground to the 5-8 Cleveland Browns. However, the Indianapolis Colts improved to 9-4 with a victory over the Tennessee Titans. Entering the day 7-5, both the Bengals and the Steelers have to start worrying about possibly botching their chance at an NFL postseason birth.

The Bengals bandwagon had increased with a four game winning streak prior to Sunday, not to mention a win against the Super Bowl defending New York Giants four weeks ago. A loss to the Dallas Cowboys at home may have resulted in a few less folks on the wagon. More importantly, the Bengals have little room for error further on in 2012 as they visit the Steelers in week 16 and a home game finale against the division leading Ravens. Cincinnati must try to avoid fourth quarter collapses like the one on Sunday.

Perhaps the most confusing team of these three is the Baltimore Ravens. A stout running game compiled with a veteran quarterback does not seem to be getting the job done in recent weeks. After a loss in last weeks grudge match with the Steelers the Ravens lost another heartbreaker to the Redskins on Sunday. While there is plenty of blame to go around for a second straight loss, the heat always rests of the shoulders of the quarterback, Joe Flacco. I know its not fair, but that is the NFL.  Flacco goes back home to Baltimore next week against the Denver Broncos in hopes to win the AFC North outright.

After last weeks win, I acclaimed the Steelers to be the most dangerous of the most these three teams moving forward in 2012. While I stand by the veteran leadership in Pittsburgh, the display against a lowly San Diego Chargers team was unacceptable. A road win against the Cowboys next week would give the Steelers their 8th and inch that closer to the last wild card spot. I still have my eye on this club moving forward. However, all three of these teams are giving bad playoff impressions.