AFC North

AFC North Week 16 Recap

Antonio Brown makes the game winning play, while 2+ Ravens defenders do not. That's the difference between the 3-seed and off-season packing.
AFC North Week 16 Recap
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Well, that’s all folks! After the Steelers topped the Ravens in an epic Christmas Day battle, week 17 will be limited to AFC North teams simply going through the motions (but can significantly alter their draft position). The Steelers are locked into the 3-seed and can take the week off if necessary. The Ravens (currently drafting 17th) and Bengals (8th) will simply be playing for pride. If the Steelers do take the week off, the Browns could again be risking the number one pick with another unexpected win after slipping by the Chargers on Christmas Eve.
 
 
San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns
 
CONGRATULATIONS BROWNS FANS!!!
 
Just a few weeks ago, the Chargers seemed to find their stride and were lurking just outside of wildcard contention. Saturday, the Browns bottled up their running game, contained Philip Rivers for the most part, and blanked the Chargers for the game’s last 21 minutes, surviving two field goal attempts in the process. The Browns won for the first time since taking out the 49ers Dec 13th, 2015, and won for just the 2nd time in their last 26 games.
 
Next up, the Browns head to Pittsburgh in a game that means nothing to the Steelers other than playoff momentum, but could mean the difference between drafting #1 or #2 for the Browns.
 
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
 
This game summed up the Bengals season: injuries, zero running game (in general), an active but ineffective Andy Dalton, and kicking woes.
 
This primetime game was nearly unwatchable as the Texans were blanked in the first half with a struggling backup quarterback. Their first 1st down came with 6:29 left in the 2nd quarter, and their best drive ended at their own 39 yard line. The Bengals were barely better. They totaled just three 1st downs before their 5-minute field goal drive ended the half at 3-0 Bengals.
 
The Texans offense made some adjustments heading into the 2nd half, and the game became a little more watchable. They began with two long field goal drives, and two drives later scored their only TD with a 4-play 75-yarder with 8:41 left in the 4th (and a failed PAT). The Bengals on the other hand were again bottled up minus a single play. That happened to be an 87-yard TD catch and run from Dalton to Brandon LaFell. Other than that, the Bengals managed 21 total yards until their last drive that resulted in a 43-yard missed field goal that ended the game. It was the Bengals 7th miss of the season to go with six missed PATs. They have not made a field goal beyond 47 yards all season.
 
Next up, the Bengals host the Ravens in a game that will see the Bengals draft anywhere from 7th to 10th, and the Ravens anywhere from 13th to the dreaded highest non-playoff making position of 20th.
 
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
 
The Steelers won their third straight close game (and 6th overall win in a row), catapulting them into the AFC’s 3-seed, while the Ravens close-game woes once again cost them a winnable contest (their 5th of the year, or all minus games in New England and Dallas), relegating them to vacation prep and draft positioning. The game was won by inches on an Antonio Brown stretch with nine seconds remaining against Ravens all-pro LB Mosley and FA pick up safety Eric Weddle, who were in position to drop him at the 2 yard line. AB won, as did the Steelers. The result was reminiscent of Raven playoff elimination plays of the past (or lack of playmaking). See playoff games versus the Patriots, Patriots, and Titans to name a few. The Ravens had just taken the lead with 1:18 remaining, and the Steelers drove 75 yards in just over a minute with just one (short) 3rd down conversion needed. in the 4th quarter, the Steelers scored TDs on all three drives and gained 240 yards.
 
The Steelers obviously watched Ravens/Eagles game tape for this one. The Ravens struggled mightily against the run the week prior, similar to the issues they had with the Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers gained the running advantage over the Ravens defensive line on the game’s first drive and carved through the Ravens defense for an easy 87-yard 9-play touchdown drive. It looked to be a long day for Baltimore but Ravens defense quickly adjusted, and the Steelers managed just two first downs the rest of the half. The Ravens countered with four sustained drives that essentially set the tone for the final score. Those four drives resulted in a field goal, a fumbled field goal attempt, an 8-play 4:05 minute punt after a holding penalty knocked them out of field goal range, and a field goal.
 
The 3rd quarter started and ended with two Roethlisberger INTs resulting in 10 Ravens TD and FG, respectively, but their 10 point lead heading into the 4th was not enough as the Steelers offense caught fire and the Ravens defense tired.

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