AFC North Roundup: Ravens watch division disappear


Well, it was a quiet week around the AFC North with just one team still in playoff mode. The Cincinnati Bengals erased any hope of continued play with their tragic second-half against San Diego, en route to a 27-10 defeat. Once again, the Bengals finished the regular season as the top of the division and once again, they bowed out quickly without earning a playoff victory. The defense gave the home team several chances to stay in the game. Unfortunately, the offense gave it away just as quickly on most instances.

The Steelers and Ravens had a pretty quiet week, as one of the only disturbances were assistant coaches making the head coach rounds (see Caldwell, Jim) and others being removed from their positions (see Bicknell Jr., Jack).

The Browns, on the other hand, were one of the busiest teams not involved in the second season, as they welcomed in several candidates for their head coaching vacancy. Who gets the job? Who do they retain? Those questions should be answered later this week, but until then, let the speculation begin! (Head over to our Browns’ site and get involved in which coach you would hire.)

Big Winner

While no one team or individual won a game this week, there were a couple individuals that will benefit from being eliminated from contention. Those names would be Bengals offensive and defensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer. Both have been bantered about for a few weeks now and with their team’s elimination, they can now begin to take interviews. While Gruden’s offensive “wizardry” could be questioned after some of the play-calling from yesterday, Zimmer’s stock with this Bengals’ defense could not be higher. Expect one, if not both, to be with a new job title by February.

Big Loser

It may not be completely deserved, but Andy Dalton was the unquestioned loser of the weekend. Three turnovers was bad, but his timing could not have been worse. The entire day was a bit of ho-hum effort out of Dalton, but his most explosive play-makers did very little to help the third-year signal caller. Running back Gio Bernard and wide-out A.J. Green let sure-fire touchdowns slip through their hands. Dalton could have used some help on Sunday, but he surely didn’t do himself any favors.

Divisional MVP

I’m going to go out into left field for this one, but if there is one person involved with the AFC North that can consider him or herself a very valuable person in his own life, it’s Rob Chudzinski. While he may not have a job next season, he will be paid handsomely (to the tune of $12 million) to do so. His family gets to spend time with their dad/husband and with the financials coming in, they can probably do so on a remote deserted island…. or DisneyWorld. Sounds pretty valuable to me!

Tweet of the Weekend

Much like the aforementioned Biggest Winners, this tweet will revolve around the Bengals’ coordinators. You could read several much like this one.

What It All Means

It means that, while competitive, the AFC North was just not that good this year. All four teams seem to have issues that are addressable, but no one is putting any of these four into next season’s Super Bowl. Cincy is growing, but they will have to deal with plenty of pressure in regards to not only their quarterback position, but their head coaching one, as well. Should Marvin Lewis be back with this team? Quarterback issues will dominate the offseason in Cleveland, while the Ravens and Steelers look to reverse their abnormal performance from this season.

What’s Next

A whole lot of hand-wringing and speculative conversations on how to “fix” each of the four teams that are currently not competing for the Lombardi Trophy. Cleveland needs a head coach. Pittsburgh has some decisions to make at wide-receiver and Baltimore needs to figure out how to run the ball, again.

–If you want to check out a few guys that the Ravens need to target, now, CLICK HERE.

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