The Bengals had Week 9 off but the two other AFC North teams in the playoff hunt were clashing with the Steelers in Baltimore to play the Ravens. A Steelers win would mean their hold of first place in the division would remain, while a win for the Ravens would have put the Bengals in first place in the division coming out of the bye.
With the Bengals hosting the Saints next week, they want every leg up in the standings that they could get. As the season’s end draws closer, the Bengals will want to try and take first place from the Steelers so that they can play a playoff game in Cincinnati.
But, the Steelers won and now remain in first place in the division. Here’s a look at how things played out in Week 9 for the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns who hosted the Chiefs.
Pittsburgh Steelers (First place in the AFC North)
The Steelers led for most of the game thanks to solid efforts from Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner. Big Ben threw 47 passes, completing 28 of them and tossing two touchdowns, while Conner gained more than 150 total yards on the day.
Even though the Ravens made a valiant push at the end, the Steelers were able to hold on and beat their division foes, 23-16.
The Steelers are now 5-2-1, and the tie with Cleveland in Week 1 is making everything more complicated. But since they have the same number of wins than the Bengals and one fewer loss, the Steelers will stay in first place by means of a better win percentage. NFL ties count as both a half win and half loss when calculating standings. The Steelers’ only division game left in the regular season is the showdown with the Bengals at Heinz Field in Week 17, which could be the first of two such meetings in a row if the current playoff standings hold.
Baltimore Ravens (Third place in the AFC North)
Even though the Ravens were only down by one score, they were unable to complete the comeback against he Steelers. The Ravens’ running game was abysmal, netting only 61 yards on 16 attempts between four different players. Joe Flacco could not make up for the lack of ground game, and only passed for 216 yards and no touchdowns. He played one of his worst games of the season.
Ty Montgomery — who the Ravens just traded for this week — was not active, but should be when the Bengals play the Ravens in Week 11, following Baltimore’s Week 10 bye.
The Ravens are now 4-5 with their only division win coming against the Steelers in Week 4. They could have had a chance to climb up the standings with a win against Pittsburgh, before going into their Week 10 bye. With the loss, the Ravens could have a hard time making up the lost ground, and will now head into their bye with their first losing record this season.
Cleveland Browns (Fourth place in AFC North)
With interim head coach Gregg Williams at the helm for the first time, the Browns predictably lost to the Chiefs in blowout fashion.
Patrick Mahomes passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 37-point day, and the Browns losing one of their best defenders, Denzel Ward, didn’t help. Even though rookies Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb had good days on offense, they couldn’t even make it a close game. The Chiefs came out on top, 37-21.
The Browns’ season is all but over after parting ways with now-former head coach Hue Jackson. They are too far behind to realistically make a playoff push. They do have two games against the Bengals and one more game agains the Ravens, so they could play spoiler to one of their division rivals later on this season.
AFC North standings heading into Week 10:
Steelers: 5-2-1 (3-1-1 in division, 2-2-1 in conference)
Bengals: 5-3 (1-1 in division, 3-2 in conference)
Ravens: 4-5 (1-3 in division, 4-3 in conference)
Browns: 2-6-1 (1-1-1 in division, 2-4-1 in conference)