AFC North Power Rankings: Cleveland Browns hold their ground, still chasing Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens remain on top while the Cleveland Browns look to separate themselves from the other 5-3 teams in the AFC North
Arizona Cardinals v Cleveland Browns
Arizona Cardinals v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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2. Cleveland Browns (5-3)

What puts the Cleveland Browns ahead of the other two teams in the AFC North that have identical overall records of 5-3? There are several indicating factors that give them the edge. Neither the Bengals nor the Steelers have a positive point differential on the season. However, the Browns are plus 42 in point differential through eight games.

The Browns also have three wins by 20 points or more thus far demonstrating their ability completely dominate teams when they play complimentary football. On three separate occasions, Cleveland's defense has been able to keep NFL teams from scoring a single solitary touchdown. Oh yeah, the Browns have done all of this despite having poor quarterback performances in all but two of their games.

But now let’s talk about the most important differentiator…the quarterback. We are only eight games into the season, but it has already been a wild roller coaster for Deshaun Watson and everything surrounding the polarizing signal caller. Watson started the season off rusty and mostly ineffective. The former Pro Bowler finally figured it out in week three and then spent the next month sidelined with a rotator cuff injury.

After finally returning to action, Watson looks like he's starting to round back into the form that made him a wanted commodity by a third of the league despite being embroiled in off the field turbulence. But the bottom line is, the last two games that Watson has started and finished he has completed 73% of his passes for 508 yards and four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Watson still has a ton left to prove, but even if he just plays at the level that he did in week nine the Browns will be a handful for any team. However, if Watson keeps improving, then Cleveland is a legitimate contender to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That is a crazy sentence to read, isn’t it?